|Friday, 6 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-04-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 25 April 2007 Issue No: 2578
 Changes and reforms strong and steadfast commitment, PM saysPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis, speaking during a roundtable discussion organised by the Economist magazine on Tuesday on "Highlighting the priorities of Greece in foreign and internal policy," said that changes and reforms are a strong and steadfast commitment.
Karamanlis said that the government has shaped the terms and preconditions for a reformist cycle with continuity and escalation, adding that "there can be no concessions and discounts on this path because only with changes and reforms can Greece assimilate the vibrations of the new era and turn them into advantages."
The prime minister referred to economic policy, saying that the initial results of the new economic and development policy confirm the correctness of the government's options and inspire optimism. He mentioned in particular that the deficit has been reduced to 2.6 percent of GDP and is continuing to fall with sure and firm steps.
Karamanlis further noted that growth rates are among the highest in the eurozone, the competitiveness of the economy has begun to improve, as is ascertained with the increase in investments, exports and the tourist influx, total investments are increasing considerably, tourism is registering a strong momentum and inflation, despite the increase in international oil prices, is following a downward trend, while employment fell to levels below 9 percent after many years.
The prime minister also focused on the country's foreign relations, referring in particular to Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
As regards neighbouring Turkey, Karamanlis said that the government is following a strategy of good neigbourliness and supports its European adjustment, but made it clear that "its full response to the principles and prerequisites of the European Union also means its full accession for us. The wager is up to itself and it must, if indeed it wants to move towards Europe, move along the lines set by the European Union."
On the question of FYROM, the prime minister said that modern-day Greece, exercising a policy of open horizons, is encouraging the European prospects of neighbouring countries and supporting their adjustment to European models.
"We make it clear that FYROM, in its course towards Euroatlantic institutions, must and should contribute to the achievement of a mutually acceptable solution to the pending issue of its name," he concluded.
 Ministers, Athens mayor address Economist conferenceDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Tourist Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis addressed the Economist magazine's international conference on the issue of "Revealing new global priorities" on Tuesday.
Sioufas said that investments exceeding 30 billion euros are expected in the region of southeastern Europe in the next few years in the sector of electricity and natural gas alone, as a result of the overall strategy on deepening energy cooperation between the member-states of the Energy Community of southeastern Europe.
Focusing on the government's initiatives in the energy sector, Sioufas referred to the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline and the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.
Avramopoulos referred, among other things, to the need "to remove guilt from the notion and practice of entrepreneurship," adding that "we must achieve at last what must be our goal, reconciliation between the country's business forces in a strong alliance with the state, casting bridgeheads in the international market."
Petralia said on her part that according to all the data concerning arrivals and bookings, more tourists than ever will be visiting Greece this year, while at the same time more investments than in any other year in the past are underway through the development law and though the Competitiveness Programme.
The minister also placed emphasis on safeguarding the quality of services provided in the tourism sector and stressed that the goal is to make high level quality a dominant and inseparable element of the Greek tourist identity.
Kaklamanis referred to the need to strengthen the role played by cities in growth and employment.
"If we turn our cities into strong poles of metropolitan development, centres of international European and global lavel, we will be able to personify our policies and develop a new relation of confidence with citizens," he said.
 Inner Cabinet approves Municipal Employees' CodeThe Code of Municipal and Community Employees was unanimously approved at an Inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told reporters afterwards that the municipal and community employees have their own code for the first time since 1981, facilitating the rational usage of personnel and the implementation of existing regulations.
Through the new code, municipalities will provide better services to the public, while a seniority system will be in effect allowing for personnel promotion, he said.
Pavlopoulos pointed out that the municipalities will play a major role in the 4th Community Support framework (CSF), pointing out that results will be better if personnel are used in the best way.
He stressed that the government places emphasis on the continuous training of municipal employees, adding that the municipal employee code is almost identical with the civil servants' code and puts an end to the practice encouraging the existence of two categories of employees.
 FM and British minister discuss Kosovo, Turkey, Cyprus and Middle EastForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and British European Affairs Minister Geoffrey Hoon discussed a number of issues including developments in Kosovo, Turkey, Cyprus and the Middle East in talks held on Tuesday in the presence of Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis.
The need was agreed between the two sides for the Security Council to take a decision on Kosovo and the position of Russia, for which intense scepticism was expressed, was highlighted as a "key" to further developments.
A review of the state of the Cyprus issue was also made, for which the Greek side pointed out, among other things, that it is up to Turkey to move for the implementation of the July 8 agreement.
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on July 8th 2006, during a meeting in the presence of then UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim 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.
 Greece urged support of Palestinian government at EU Council, spokesman saysGreece had urged support for the new national unity government in the Palestinian territories during a meeting of European Union foreign ministers, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Tuesday.
"Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis argued yesterday before the foreign ministers of the EU that the EU must send a clear message of support for the new Palestinian national unity government," Koumoutsakos said.
"Confirming this position, the foreign minister also submitted to her European counterparts a proposal that the Palestinian foreign minister be invited to one of the upcoming General Affairs Councils," the spokesman added.
He had been asked to comment on the visit to Greece by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who met Bakoyannis on Saturday.
Koumoutsakos also noted that Greece always put forward "specific proposals" that aimed to promote the peace process and was active on both a bilateral level and within the framework of the EU.
 Indian President Kalam due in Athens Wednesday on 4-day state visitThe President of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, was due to arrive in Athens on Wednesday for a four-day state visit to Greece, leading a high ranking delegation.
The delegation accompanying Kalam on the April 25-28 visit includes minister of state for New and Renewable Energy Sources Vilas Muttemwar, Rajya Sabha (Council of States, the upper house of the Indian parliament) members T.R. Zeiland and Pyaremohan Mohapatra, four eminent scientists, and senior officials.
This visit comes 21 years after the last State visit by an Indian President to Greece in November 1986, and highlights the growing interaction between the two countries in various fields, according to a press release by the Indian Embassy in Athens.
During the visit, an agreement for cooperation in Science and Technology will be signed, providing a framework for cooperation in this important area between institutions of both countries. The two countries are also likely to conclude an agreement on promotion and protection of investments, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation between the Diplomatic Academy of Greece and the Foreign Service Institute of India, the announcement said.
President Kalam will meet with his counterpart President Karolos Papoulias for discussions on issues of common interest, while a state banquet will also be hosted Papoulias.
The Indian president will also meet with prime minister Costas Karamanlis, who will also host a lunch in Kalam's honour.
Kalam's itinerary further includes meetings with Greek parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki, who will present him with the Gold Medal of the Hellenic Parliament; Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who will present the Indian dignitary with the Gold Medal of Merit of the City of Athens; main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou; and the ministers of tourism and development, as well as intellectuals and academics.
A reception will be hosted in Kalam's honour by the Indian Ambassador to Greece.
Further, Kalam will deliver a keynote address to a distinguished gathering organized by the prestigious think tank, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), on the theme "Dynamics of Peace and Prosperity".
The Indian President's itinerary also includes a visit to the Hellenic Aerospace Industries complex (HAI) located at Schimatari, , and the National Council for Scientific Research "Demokritos", where he will address the scientific community on "Convergence of Technologies" and visit research facilities. He will also visit the Hadzipatreion rehabilitation centre for children with cerebral palsy and will present ten computers in support of the centre's activities.
President Kalam will also pay a visit to the Faliron War cemetery in Athens, where there are graves of Indian servicemen who died during World War II.
Greece has cordial and friendly relations with India, supports Indian's claim for permanent membership of the UNSC, and was one of the countries that co-sponsored the G-4 draft resolution on UNSC expansion, the embassy announcement said. Recent visits to Athens of minister of state for external affairs Anand Sharmain August 2006, and a Parliamentary delegation led by Lok Sabha (House of the People, the Indian parliament's lower house) Somnath Chatterjee in September 2006, and a visit by Greek National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis to India in February 2007, have given momentum to relations between Greece and India. Greece is a member of the EU, the Eurozone, the Schengen Group, and has been playing an active role in the integration of South Eastern European and Balkan countries into the EU, the embassy announcement noted.
It said that about 13,000 Indian migrants, mostly from Punjab, are in Greece, working mainly on farms.
According to figures released by the embassy, Indian exports to Greece rose sharply to 614 million dollars in 2006 from 396 million dollars in 2005, marking an increase of 55 percent, while Greek exports to India jumped to 63 million dollars in 2006 from 42 million dollars in 2005, rising by 48 percent.
Partnerships between Greek and Indian companies have also been increasing. Greek banks have contracted IT services from Indian companies such as i-Flex solutions, Infosys, and TCS, while Eurodyn, a Greek IT company, has set up a subsidiary in Bangalore. Also, i-Flex solutions is likely to set up a company in Greece in the near future, the embassy press release continued.
Further, Pisani Group of Greece has set up a 50 percent joint venture in Dindigul for exports of speciality stone and granite products, M. J. Mailis of Greece has set up a joint venture in Gujarat for production of secondary packaging materials. and Jain Irrigation Systems has invested in Eurodrip, a Greek company.
"There is good potential for Indian and Greek companies to cooperate fruitfully in areas such as IT, shipping, tourism, manufacturing, and energy," the embassy announcement concluded.
 PM to meet with Parliament president, development minister on WednesdayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will have separate meetings on Wednesday with Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and former New Democracy party president Miltiadis Evert.
On Wednesday evening, the prime minister will address a reception given by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) within the framework of a conference on the model for a future European.
On Monday, meanwhile, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said an Inner Cabinet meeting on the same day focused on a new personnel code for local governments, an initiative aimed at upgrading the existing code of municipalities and prefectures, particularly ahead of the 4th Community Support Framework.
In an unrelated issue, Roussopoulos said the relevant economy ministry is continuing to study an offer by J.P. Morgan for the annulment of a controversial bond issue purchase by the civil servants' supplementary fund.
 Greece on relations with Turkey, incident with ItalyGreek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Tuesday said Greece had lodged a demarche with both Italy and Turkey over an Italian application to Turkish authorities for a NAFTEX for the Italian research vessel "Urania".
He said the Italian request to Turkey had been withdrawn in response to Greece's protest and a new request lodged with Greek authorities that was approved.
A Greek NAFTEX - and not a NOTAM as reported in the press - was issue last Friday, while a demarche over the issue of a Turkish NAFTEX was lodged with Ankara, the spokesman said.
 No demarche to US over FYROM, Greece saysGreece has no plans to lodge a demarche with the United States over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Tuesday.
According to the spokesman a demarche would be superfluous, given that there were regular diplomatic contacts on all levels to brief the U.S. side on Greece's positions on the issue.
"There is contact on a very regular basis between officials of the Greek Embassy in Washington and officials at the State Department. Similar meetings are also held in Athens. Therefore there is no question of a demarche. The positions and general spirit of the U.S. positions are known," Koumoutsakos said.
Greece's position on the dispute with FYROM over the republic's adopted name of 'Macedonia' continues to be that finding a mutually acceptable solution would have positive repercussions on three levels - in its bilateral relations with Greece, on a regional level and in terms of FYROM's EuroAtlantic prospects.
The questions referred to a letter recently sent by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to FYROM's foreign minister, in which she noted Washington's support for FYROM's entry to NATO by 2008 and also stated that the inclusion of the name FYROM in brackets in a legislative act expressing support for NATO enlargement "does not constitute support for the temporary name for 'Macedonia' which is used at the UN".
The United States recognised FYROM with its adopted constitutional name "Republic of Macedonia" in 2004, in a bid to defuse ethnic tensions between the republic's Slav majority and the country's large Albanian minority. Macedonia was a member of the U.S.-led military alliance in Iraq.
Until the surprise U.S. decision in 2004, all Greece's NATO allies except Turkey supported its decision to refuse FYROM recognition. Washington has also repeatedly stated its support of the largely stalled process between Greece and FYROM at the United Nations to find a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute.
Greece objects to the adoption of the name 'Macedonia' by FYROM on the grounds that it may lead to future expansionist claims on the large northern Greek province of Macedonia that shares a border with tiny republic. Greeks also object to the FYROM Slavs' claim to be descended from the ancient king and conqueror Alexander the Great, whose birthplace was in the Greek province of Macedonia, which roughly coincides with the ancient Macedonian kingdom.
 Gov't on Cyprus' eurozone prospectsAthens on Tuesday commented on the issue of the Republic of Cyprus' admittance into the coveted eurozone, with the foreign ministry spokesman downplaying speculation of a "cool response" to the prospect by the current German EU presidency.
Spokesman George Koumoutsakos also reminded that the issue was briefly discussed between the Greek and German foreign ministers following the most recent Council meeting, "where there was a clear feeling that there is not something as specific as was made public on the criteria for participation of the Republic of Cyprus in the eurozone."
The Greek spokesman added that "it's well known that criteria for a country's participation in the eurozone are entirely technical and economic."
The issue more-or-less emerged on the Union's 'radar' after German Minister of Finance Peer Steinbrueck was reportedly quoted last week as saying that Cyprus' accession to the eurozone may have political repercussions, and thus should be discussed on a political level.
On Monday, main opposition PASOK leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou called on the upcoming Slovenian EU presidency (first half 2008) to "accept the accession of the Republic of Cyprus into the eurozone ... without any other preconditions apart from those existing for all member-states."
Papandreou made the comments during his meeting in Athens with visiting Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa.
 Greek, Italian presidents to attend events on Cephallonia WednesdayPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will travel to the Ionian island of Cephallonia on Wednesday, where together with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano he will attend events commemorating the sacrifice of Italian soldiers of the 'Aqui' brigade and Greek resistance fighters against the German occupation.
Thousands of Italian soldiers of the brigade 'Aqui' who had surrendered to German occupation forces on the island in September 1943 after Italy's capitulation, were massacred by the Nazis. Two hundred Greek resistance fighters were also killed by the Germans.
The two presidents will hold talks after the various ceremonies. Similar events were held in March 2001 in the presence of then presidents of the two countries Kostis Stephanopoulos and Carlo Angelio Ciampi.
 FM Bakoyannis meets Slovenian counterpartForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met in Athens on Tuesday with her Slovenian counterpart Dimitri Rupel and discussed with him the possibilities of strengthening economic relations, with emphasis on mutual investments and tourism, as well as the European prospects of the western Balkans.
"We underlined the common will for the support of the European prospects of the western Balkans on the basis of the Thessaloniki Conclusions," Bakoyannis said.
Special reference was also made to the status of Kosovo, about which both sides expressed the conviction that the safeguarding of stability and security in the region is necessary.
Bakoyannis stressed that they gave particular emphasis to the respect of good neighbourliness and the safeguarding of stability.
The Slovenian foreign minister expressed the desire for the United Nations to take a decision on Kosovo and stressed that he supports the Ahtisaari plan.
Rupel expressed to the Greek foreign minister his views for the western Balkans and particularly for Kosovo and Serbia. He accepted that "the problem we have in Slovenia is that we have not dealt enough with Serbia's problems" and agreed that Serbia has the right to enter the European Union, adding that "we in Slovenia have some views on this matter."
"If I understood well," the Slovenian minister added on the same issue, "Mrs. Bakoyannis supports Serbia's accession to the European Union and I agree with this and hope we will find some common points."
The Slovenian foreign minister "requested," as he said, Bakoyannis to help his country in the exercise of the Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2008, given that Greece has many times assumed the EU Presidency and has a great deal of experience.
Referring to economic cooperation, Bakoyannis said that "we ascertained that there is great possibilities for strengthening economic relations which we can utilise to the mutual benefit of the two countries." She added that she agreed with Rupel that circumstances are particularly favourable for the promotion of investments in both the countries as well as for the strengthening of tourism.
 Parliament president meets with Slovenian PMParliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Tuesday met with Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa, whose visit to Greece she described as a serious indication of the very good relations between Athens and Ljubljana.
After their meeting, Psarouda-Benaki stressed that relations between Greece and Slovenia at parliamentary level were also at a good level, adding that she has accepted an invitation by her Slovenian counterpart for an official visit to Slovenia.
According to a Hellenic Parliament announcement, the Slovenian prime minister spoke of the important steps of progress in bilarteral relations, at both governmental and parliamentary level, as well as the prospects for their further improvement.
 Athens mayor gives Gold Medal of Value to Slovene PMAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Tuesday gave the city's Gold Medal of Value to the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who is currently on an official visit to Greece.
"Despite his young age, he has played a considerable role in formulating the right to independence, in the building of democratic institutions and the consolidation of a moderate conception in politics in his country," Kaklamanis said.
He also said that "a recent achievement of Slovenia is the fact that only three years after its accession to the EU, the small country of two million inhabitants became the 13th country to join the Eurozone."
The Slovene prime minister said on his part that the treaty on his country's accession to the EU was signed in Athens almost four years ago, meaning one of the most important documents for independent Slovenia.
Lastly, he said that Ljubljana, that is twinned with Athens, will assume the EU presidency in the first half of next year and expressed optimism that his country's capital will be successful just like Athens was.
 FM on Gul presidential candidacy in TurkeyGreece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said Tuesday that Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul played a strong role in Turkey, in reply to press questions on the Turkish ruling AK party's selection of Gul as its candidate for the Presidential elections in the country, due in November, but declined to comment on the candidacy, saying it was a domestic issue of Turkey.
"This is an internal process of Turkey. Greece has no opinion on such matters," Bakoyannis said.
She pointed out, however, that Gul "is undisputably a personality", adding that "we have had collaboration with him, and he is a person with a strong role in Turkey".
 Book of condolences for Yeltsin at Russian embassyThe Russian embassy in Athens on Tuesday announced that it will open a book of condolences at the premises of the historic embassy building -- 7, Irodou Attikou St. -- on Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on the occasion of the death of former Russian president Boris Yeltsin.
 Finmin reiterates goal of mild fiscal adjustmentGreek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday said that verification by the European Commission of the country's fiscal deficit at 2.6 pct of GDP in 2006 was a very positive development.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister stressed that it was premature to make early judgements on the continuation of an excessive fiscal deficit procedure and noted that Greece would exit the procedure after the Commission evaluated the sustainability of the country's fiscal deficit.
"We have to ensure that the deficit will remain below 3 pct of GDP this year and that it will fall by 0.5 pct," he said, announcing a further cut of public spending by 430 million euros.
Alogoskoufis said the European Commission, in its spring estimates for EU member-state economies to be published on May 7, would announce whether Greece met its obligations before submitting its final recommendation to EU Commissioners and the ECOFIN council.
The Greek minister said annual fiscal adjustment should be around 0.6-0.7 pct of GDP - from 0.5 pct currently - and added that more emphasis would be given to combating tax evasion, leaving room for a redistribution of spending to more efficient social priorities. This goal will be included in a revised Stability and Growth Programme, due in December 2007, covering the period from 2008 to 2010. Alogoskoufis said the revised programme would include the goal of balanced budgets.
He said the government would adhere to a goal of cutting the fiscal deficit from 2.6 pct in 2006 to 2.4 pct of GDP this year.
Commenting on an ECOFIN meeting in Berlin, Alogoskoufis said EU member-states have begun discussing ways to move faster towards presenting balanced or surplus budgets.
"Greece can achieve the goal of balanced or slightly surplus budget by 2010 instead of the 2012 initial target. This means an additional adjustment of 0.6-0.7 pct of GDP, instead of a current 0.5 pct," he noted, adding that annual fiscal adjustment exceeded 2.5 pct so far and stressed that even with the new adjustment rates of 0.6-0.7 pct, fiscal adjustment will be milder in the coming years.
Commenting on a bid by Cyprus to enter EMU, Alogoskoufis said that the European Commission made a recommendation based on purely economic criteria and stressed that no political criteria were mentioned. "We are cooperating with Cyprus on its bid to enter the Eurozone," Alogoskoufis said.
 Improving competitiveness top policy priority, Greek central banker says"The Greek economy is in better shape now than it was 10 or 15 years ago in its production capacity, market function and the general macro-economic framework," Bank of Greece's governor Nikos Garganas said on Tuesday.
Presenting the central bank's annual report for 2006, Garganas noted, however, that the Greek economy faced serious challenges that needed to be dealt with to maintain high growth rates in the future, to accelerate a rise in employment, to boost social cohesion and move faster towards convergence with other developed EU states.
The most serious challenge was to combat inflation, the Greek central banker said, since the country has suffered greatly in competitiveness compared with other Eurozone states. Garganas noted that because of the shortfall in competitiveness the country failed to fully exploit from opportunities created by globalization. "Improving our international competitiveness must be our top priority economic policy," he said.
He urged social partners to contribute in achieving a goal of reducing inflation, through collective bargaining agreements on wage pay increases and through pricing policy by enterprises.
A continuation of a fiscal stabilization programme, despite a decline in the fiscal deficit, was the second biggest challenge facing the Greek economy, as the country's public debt remained at very high levels. The central bank noted that Greece was far behind other EU states in taking the necessary policy measures to reduce the impact of an expected ageing of the population and reforming the country's pension system.
Another challenge was the high unemployment rate, particularly among young people and women. Employment rates, although grew in 2006, remained relatively steady, unable to match up with strong GDP growth rates, while poverty rates remained high compared with the EU average, almost unchanged in the last decade, the central bank said. Garganas said these problems were mainly related with structural weaknesses in product and labour markets and problems in education and the tax system. He noted that the pace of structural reforms in the country was slow.
Garganas noted that a large number of pension funds, loose management, lack of infrastructure to ensure proper management and supervision gaps were chronic problems and urged that a "forthcoming reform should be widespread, compatible with OECD directives in corporate governance of pension funds and offering supervision to an independent authority".
 Trade unionists discuss strike action, criticise Garganas statementsThe leadership of Greece's two largest trade union organisations, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) representing the majority of private-sector employees and the civil servants' union ADEDY representing staff in the public sector, met on Tuesday to discuss planned strike action in May.
The two union groups leaderships, whose joint session is dubbed the National Trade Union Council, held talks on the organisation of the Labour Day and May 15 nationwide strikes, whose main demands will be the return of funds lost by Greek social insurance funds through investment in a high-risk structured bond issued by the government that was sold to them at inflated prices, as well as changes to regulations for the management of pension fund assets.
As they emerged from the meeting, trade unionists were critical of statements on the issue made on Tuesday by Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas.
According to GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos, the first priority was to clear up the present scandal and for pension funds to recoup their losses, after which discussion on different proposals and ideas might begin. He also pointed out that a committee charged with monitoring pension fund reserves already existed within the central bank but had been completely inactive.
ADEDY President Spyros Papaspirou said that the Bank of Greece had been appointed the guardian of fund reserves and had turned them over to scandals and looting.
 Development minister meets visiting Slovenian FinMinGreek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday met with visiting Slovenian Economy Minister Andrej Vizjak and discussed ways to promote bilateral relations.
The Greek minister proposed that the two countries signed two bilateral agreements in the sectors of energy and research and technology.
The Slovenian minister said the meeting sought to lay the foundations for stronger bilateral relations in energy. "It is very important to develop bonds and relations between our two countries, and because there are not open political issues, it is much easier to achieve this goal," he said.
 SE Europe energy community forum begins in AthensDevelopment Ministry general secretary Nikos Stefanou officially opened the 10th Athens Forum of the SE Europe Energy Community that is taking place in the city on Tuesday and Wednesday. Athens was named as the seat of both the Energy Community Regulatory Board (ECRB) and the Electricity Forum, based on the energy community's founding treaty signed on 25 October 2005.
In his speech, Stefanou stressed that the Energy Community would contribute greatly to the energy security of its members but also the European Union as a whole, while its goal was to convert southeastern Europe from a passive consumer to a future energy conduit between East and West.
A major part of Greece's energy strategy in recent years was focused on reinforcing its energy ties with neighbouring countries and creating new, large-scale interconnection projects that would give Greece a more important position on the international energy map.
As examples, he listed an upcoming trilateral agreement between Greece, Italy and Turkey for the transfer of natural gas from Turkey's eastern border to Italy via Greece, which would provide the EU with yet another point of natural gas supply from the Caspian Sea.
Greece also plans to further develop existing energy grid links with Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Italy, while Greece and Italy are soon to submit a proposal to the European Commission for the creation of yet another regional energy market in the Mediterranean, as per an initiative begun by Italian premier Romano Prodi.
 Contract for building eastern Peloponnese road passed in ParliamentThe ruling New Democracy Party and the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Tuesday evening at Parliament's Plenum voted in favour of the contract for the construction of the eastern Peloponnese road.
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias noted that "the building of the road constitutes a great feat, given that the tenderings were concluded within two-and-a-half years."
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted against the contract.
 Greek merchant marine fleet totaled 2,019 vessels in FebruaryGreece's merchant marine fleet totaled 2,019 vessels with an overall gross registered tonnage of 35,607,083 in February 2007, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics service said 633 vessels were cargo ships with a grt of 14,763,677, 473 were tankers with a grt of 19,245,915 and the remaining 913 were passenger ships with a grt of 1,597,491.
 Greek enterprises' turnover up 13.6 pct in 2006, reportGreek enterprises reported healthy increase in total capital and turnover last year, although profit growth was not satisfactory in most sectors, a report by ICAP said on Tuesday.
The report, based on the balance sheets of 2,217 listed and non-listed enterprises with total capital of 34.6 pct of the total 24,452 registered enterprises, showed that turnover rose 13.6 pct in 2006, with more than half of enterprises recording a turnover growth rate higher than the annual inflation (3.2 pct in 2006). Profit growth rate was not satisfactory, Icap said. Gross earnings grew by 4.1 pct last year, while pre-tax profits were almost unchanged (excluding Hellenic Telecoms' results).
 Greek food-beverage sector's outlook positive, report saysThe food-beverage industry accounts for the biggest part of sales, added value, number of enterprises and employment in the manufacturing sector, a report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Tuesday.
IOBE said the food industry accounted for 25 percent of total turnover, 25 pct of total capital, 24 pct of total added value and more than 22 percent of employment in the manufacturing sector, while the number of food enterprises accounted for more than 20 pct of total manufacturing enterprises.
The annual report said the food and beverage sector faced four challenges: first, the diversity of products, second, restructuring and modernization of production units, third, high-quality products and fourth, strengthening export activity.
The report stressed that food industries acknowledged the need for change, steadily raising investment spending in the last few years. IOBE said Greek food-beverage enterprises estimated a 3.4 pct increase in investment spending last year, a recovery after a decline in investments in 2005.
Greek enterprises, however, still lagged behind in innovation mainly because of the small size of the companies and the market, the report said. IOBE noted that future developments in the sector were positive on the precondition that food enterprises strengthened their position in foreign markets and underlined the need to boost competitiveness.
The food/beverage sector is the biggest sector of the European manufacturing industry, with a share of 14 percent. Its 2005 sales totaled 815 billion euros and employed more than 4.0 million workers.
 KRI-KRI S.A. receives EUROCERT certificationThe KRI-KRI S.A. dairy company in northern Greece has received a Eurocert (European Inspections and Certifications Company S.A.) certification confirming that it does not use genetically modified animal feed.
According to the dairy company, the certification officially confirms that the KRI-KRI milk produced exclusively in the region of Serres, northern Greece, is free of genetically modified microorganisms.
 Greek stocks end 0.56% downGreek stocks remained under pressure on Tuesday, pushing the composite index 0.56% down to end at 4,791.1 points.
Turnover was slightly above 400 million euros of which 32.7 million were block trades.
The Big Cap index fell 0.6%, the Mid Cap index dropped 0.63% and the Small Cap index rose 0.24%.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 152 to 110 and another 43 were unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.20%
Personal & Household: -1.65%
Raw Materials: +0.26%
Travel & Leisure: -0.29%
Food & Beverages: -0.44%
Financial Services: +0.05%
The stocks with the highest turnover were DEH, National Bank, OTE and Marfin Popular Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.62
Public Power Corp (PPC): 18.32
HBC Coca Cola: 32.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.14
Emporiki Bank: 21.20
National Bank of Greece: 41.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 30.60
Titan Cement Company: 43.10
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices saw their discount widened in the Athens Derivatives Exhange on Tuesday with turnover a moderate 185.954 million.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.65 percent, while the April contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.72 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index was 10,864 contracts worth 136.492 million euros, with 32,544 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 856 contracts worth 25.980 million euros, with 1,311 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 1,916 contracts worth 3.313 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank (977) followed by Alpha Bank's contracts (664), OTE (407), Intracom (321), Piraeus (250), ATEbank (224), Mytilineos (220) and Viohalco (213).
Volume in stock repos was 1,622 contracts and in reverse stock repos 383 contracts.
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 3.050 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.470 billion were bids and 1.580 billion euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 850 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.23 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.42 pct and the German Bund 4.19 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were largely unchanged. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.84 pct, the two-day rate was 3.84 pct, the one-month rate 3.85 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.26 pct from 4.28 pct on Monday.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.369
Pound sterling 0.684
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 9.266
Japanese yen 162.68
Swiss franc 1.651
Norwegian kroner 8.167
Cyprus pound 0.586
Canadian dollar 1.534
Australian dollar 1.655
 Culture Minister on visit to ChinaCulture Minister George Voulgarakis was due to depart Tuesday for Beijing where he will be examining relevant premises for the holding, for one year, of Greek cultural events.
Greece is the theme country for this year.
Voulgarakis and Chinese authoritiesis are expected to sign a cooperation protocol for the holding of Greek cultural events in the country from October 2007 until the beginning of the Olympic Games in 2008.
Voulgarakis told reporters that the programme of the events was ready and that efforts would be made to keep costs under 30-35 million euros - less than the amounts spent by France and Italy when they were theme countries in the past two years.
 Greece first in legislation protecting copyrightsGreece is first in legislation protecting copyrights but, on the other hand, it also comes first in piracy.
The country included in January 2007, in the existing law 2121 dating back to 1993, two European Union directives as soon as it received them, concerning the imposition of copyrights and the right to monitor the sale of works by visual art creators.
A bill was also ratified in Parliament during the same period by which fines and penalties become stiffer, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said on Tuesday, in light of International Copyrights Day on April 26.
Voulgarakis said that Greece is participating in the international discussion on copyrights and related rights, a sector requiring protection.
 Minister opens road safety conferenceTransport Minister Michalis Liapis opened a one-day conference on road safety held by the transport experts' association and the Road Safety Institute "Panos Milonas", under the auspices of the ministry.
The minister outlined a new public awareness campaign on road safety a new traffic code, which will be printed in 100,000 copies. The new code will also be available to the public through the ministry website www.yme.gr <http://www.yme.gr>.
Liapis was also shown a simulator re-enacting driving conditions under the influence of alcohol.
Greece has traditionally posted amongst the worst traffic fatality rates in the European Union.
 Slight increase in number of secondary level pupils during 2004-05The number of pupils in Greece's secondary education level increased by 0.6 percent during the 2004-2005 school year (yr/yr), according to the National Statistical Service (ESYE) on Tuesday.
Additionally, teaching staff increased by 3.5 percent in junior high schools during the same period; 5.8 percent at high schools.
The ratio between teachers and pupils was 1:7.4 during the 2003-2004 school year at junior high schools; 1:8.8 for high schools. During the 2004-2005 school year, the respective ratios were 1:7.2 and 1:8.4
Finally, the statistical service noted that approximately one-third of the second sector's pupils attended schools in Attica prefecture (the greater Athens area).
 President lays foundation stone for children's cancer hospitalPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday laid the foundation stone of Greece's first-ever Children's Cancer Hospital, which is due to be completed in 2009.
The new hospital will be built on two plots adjacent to the existing Aghia Sofia Children's Hospital in Athens that cover 14,880 square metres, one of which was donated by the national defence ministry.
It will consist of four buildings, including a bone-marrow transplant unit, three oncological and haematology units, pain surgery, out-patient surgeries and PHT diagnostic centre. Other features will include a school for hospitalised children and a hostel for parents.
The foundation ceremony was attended by many ministers and politicians, among them Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and former Greek premier Constantine Mitsotakis, the honorary president of ruling New Democracy.
Also among the speakers was Marianna Vardinoyannis, president of the Elpida Association of Friends of Children with Cancer that was largely behind the drive to build the new hospital, who appeared visibly moved and said that the dreams of the association were finally becoming a reality after many years of effort.
 Conference of Byzantinists held at Queens College, New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
The achievements, influence, art, institutions and philosophy of Byzantium were presented and analyzed in the 1st Kallinikeion Conference of Byzantinists held at Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY).
The conference was organized by the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at Queens College on the occasion of the recent donation by the Kallinikeion Foundation for the founding of a Byzantine Studies Department.
Archbishop Demetrios of America addressed the conference, which was attended by distinguished professors from American universities and heads of Byzantine departments at museums and cultural institutions.
Professor Angela Constantinides Hero, who taught in Queens College from 1978 until 1992, was the honored guest in recognition of her substantial contribution to Byzantine Studies.
Also participating in the conference were Helen C. Evans, Curator of Early Christian and Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Alice-Mary Talbot, Director of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks.
 'Stelios Ioannou School' inaugurated at Oxford UniversityLONDON (ANA-MPA/L. Tsirigotakis)
The first specially transformed Classics and Byzantine Research Centre titled "Stelios Ioannou School", in honour of late Cypriot businessman and philanthropist Stelios Ioannou, was inaugurated at Oxford University on Tuesday. It was a donation by the Greek-Cypriot Ioannou family.
It is one of the biggest donations which have been given for the human sciences department at Oxford these past years. Oxford University houses the greatest Classical Studies School in Britain and the new "Stelios Ioannou" School creates a new "triangle" of classics with the co-existence of important research and tutorial funds which are easily accessible to students.
 Calm prevails at Athens' Korydallos prisonAbout 300 inmates at Athens' top security Korydallos prison on Tuesday evening were still inside their open cells and at the 4th wing's corridor and who had earlier in the day started breaking chairs and burning mattresses and blankets, while some of them moved threateningly towards the prison's administration.
However, the presence of riot police (MAT) who entered the prison by joint decision of the public prosecutor and the prison's director, averted the escalation of tension.
Calm prevailed at Korydallos prison on Tuesday evening, given that agreement was reached between the inmates and the prison's administration which already received and forwarded to the Justice Ministry the demands of the 300 inmates of the 4th wing.
The "uprising" by the inmates took place in support of Malandrinos prison, while they are calling for better detention conditions.
 Dukakis couple visit Jewish Museum in ThessalonikiFormer governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis and his wife Kitty on Tuesday visited the Jewish Museum in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia.
After their visit to the museum, they said they were moved and happy that they were given the opportunity to get acquainted with the history of Thessaloniki's Jewish community, with its lengthy history and tradition.
Kitty Dukakis, whose grandparents were Jews, originating from Ukraine and Hungary, expressed her strong, as she stressed, feelings about the roots of the Jews throughout the world.
Mrs. Dukakis, member of the Holocaust Museum of the United States since its founding, stated that she was impressed by the history of Thessaloniki's Jewish community and spoke with emotion about the Holocaust monument at Elefherias Square, where in the summer of 1942 the occupation forces gathered up the city's Jews. "The position where the monument is placed is that which suits it," she said.
On his part, Michael Dukakis spoke about the terrible tragedy of the Jewish people. "Wherever there is tragedy we must stop it," said Dukakis who was a candidate for the US presidency in 1988.
 Student drowns in hotel pool during school tripA tragic incident marred a school trip when an 18-year-old highschool (lyceum) pupil was found drowned in a hotel hotel swimming pool on the Ionian island of Corfu at dawn on Tuesday, during a five-day school excursion.
Apparently, the boy, together with other fellow pupils from the Technical Lyceum of Glafki, in Xanthi northeastern Greece, escaped the attention of their teacher escorts and in the early morning hours on Tuesday went swimming in the pool. According to information, the young victim did not know how to swim.
The boy's body was discovered by the hotel receptionist.
Deputy Education Minister George Kalos extended his deep condolences to the pupil's family.
Kalos stated that the case was being investigated by the Corfu prosecutor, while the ministry of education has also launched a separate inquiry, and the regional education authorities are in constant contact with the ministry of education.
Following education ministry directions, the victim's fellow pupils are being provided psychological support, while their school trip has been cut short.
Regarding the institutional framework regulating school trips, the deputy minister stated that all necessary measures have been taken for the safe transportation of the students, while there is an ongoing discussion on the conditions under which school trips are held.
The Public Secondary Education Teachers' Federation, OLME, and the Parents Association expressed their opposition to the current nature of school trips, stressing that they are not held for educational purposes and are not affordable to all pupils.
 Work stoppage on Thursday morning by personnel of Athens' tramsAthens will remain without trams for more than two hours on Thursday morning due to a work stoppage announced by this public transport's personnel.
According to an announcement, tram routes will be halted from 08:00 to 10:00 on Thursday, while the full return to normal of the routes' operation will be gradual.
The TRAM S.A. announcement urges its passengers to adjust their movements between 07:15 and 11:15.
 US Embassy Consular Section moves to new building on May 2Effective May 2, 2007, the US Embassy's Consular Section section will move to a new building on the US Embassy compound in Athens. To enter the Consular Section on or after this date, the public will use the Kokkali Street entrance near Dinokratous & Evzonon Streets.
Due to the move to a new building, the Consular Section will remain closed on Monday, April 30, while the pension section will be closed from April 27 - May 1.
All other consular services (visa issue, passport service and American Citizen Services) will close at 1 p.m. from April 27 to May 1.
 Thessaloniki antique dealers on NetThe antique dealers in Thessaloniki's second hand flee market (the well-known bit bazaar) can be found on the internet address http://www.antiques-thes.gr.
Visitors can find information regarding the Thessaloniki Antique Dealers' Association, photos of antiques, the region's map and relative newspaper clippings.
Each member of the association can inform visitors on objects up for sale.
 Police seize explosives on KytheraPolice raided two open-air quarries on the island of Kythera, in the southeastern Aegean, on Tuesday and seized more than two tons of explosives, fuses and detonators.
Three people were arrested on various counts related to the storage and documentation of the explosives.
 Home-made firebomb outside public office in PatissiaA home-made incendiary device, comprising two small propane canisters, exploded outside the office of the Secretariat for Youth and Overseas Greeks in the Patissia district of Athens in the early hours of Tuesday, causing material damage.
The fire caused by the explosion of the device, at 2:15 a.m., damaged the office's glass fronting.
 Forest fire under control in ChalkidikiFirefighters placed under control a forest fire that broke out in the southern part of Kassandra, on the Chalkidiki Peninsula sea resort region on Tuesday morning.
The fire broke out between the regions of Paliouri and Glarokavos and destroyed a few hundred acres of pinewood.
Participating in the firefighting efforts were 35 firefighters, 15 fire engines and local residents, assisted by 2 firefighting aircraft.
 Twenty five ancient tombs unearthed in the region of LarisaTwenty five ancient tombs dated back in the 11th century BC have been discovered in the municipality of Farsala, Larisa prefecture central Greece, during road construction works.
According to the competent antiquities department, the tombs belong to an ancient cemetery and excavations are set to continue in the region.
 Nuns found dead in convent after break-inTwo elderly nuns were found dead in the Orthokostas Convent in Peloponnesos, southern Greece, on Tuesday morning.
The nunnery, situated in a mountainous region, showed signs of forced entry, and the two nuns are believed to have been the victims of a robbery.
A team of security police officers from Tripolis were en route to the Nunnery to investigate the break-in and deaths.
 Scattered showers on WednesdayScattered showers and intermittent storms are forecast in most parts of Greece on Wednesday. Winds northerly, northeasterly, light to moderate. Gradual drop in temperatures throughout the country. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 11C and 23C and in Thessaloniki from 8C to 18C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias' display of displeasure over the bonds affair and employment minister Savvas Tsitouridis, Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Daskalopoulos' intervention on the issue, and the new Traffic Circulation Code (KOK) which enters into effect on June 3, were the main front-page items in Tuesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Bravo from Europe - Greece's deficit contained at 2.6 percent".
APOGEVMATINI: "Frank words from Karamanlis on the national issues - Clearcut message from prime minister to Ankara and Skopje on their policy".
AVGHI: "Government in waiting - Pressure for (early general) elections or government reshuffle increasing".
AVRIANI: "SEB, too, calls for elections - The economy cannot endure an extended pre-election period, SEB president Daskalopoulos warns".
CHORA: "The public sector doors open for 27,500 people - Hiring to cover the needs".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Parade tomorrow in parliament - As the government concedes overpricing in the issue of the bonds, the relevant officials are called to brief the standing parliamentary committee on finance".
ELEFTHEROS: "SEB thunderbolts on politics, economy - Early elections for exit from the crisis sought by SEB president".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Licence suspended after third violation - Careless drivers in the vise of the new KOK and point system".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "SEB bomb and ice on Savvas (Tsitouridis) - Bonds: Avalanche of developments and revelations".
ESTIA: "Sarkozy says no to mild adjustment - The French opt for the policy of reforms".
ETHNOS: "Message of displeasure by the President - Papoulias put Tsitouridis in quarantine".
KATHIMERINI: "The arrows against Tsitouridis rising in number - Manifestation of displeasure by President of the Republic".
LOGOS: "The industrialists call for elections - SEB president sees 'major commissions scandal'".
NIKI: "They concede the kickbacks - The government's line of defense collapsing".
RIZOSPASTIS: "PAME: Dynamically to the May Day strike".
TA NEA: "The President showed Tsitouridis the door - Public disdain by Papoulias over the bonds affair".
TO VIMA: "The bonds scandal: Presidential disdain and public outcry".
VRADYNI: "The vindication - Eurostat: The Greek economy recovering".
 Germany confirms criteria for Eurozone accession are economicNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said that Germany has confirmed to Cyprus that the criteria for accession to the Eurozone are economic.
Replying to questions, Pashiardis said that "there was a relevant statement by the German Ambassador in Nicosia who categorically assured that the criteria which will be valid for Cyprus' accession to the Eurozone are solely economic, just as they applied for all other countries".
To a remark that German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, during his meeting with his Cypriot counterpart George Lillikas avoided making such statement, Pashiardis said that Steinmeier might have avoided making such public statements however he assured Mr. Lillikas that the criteria for Cyprus' accession to the Eurozone are economic".
Germany's Minister of Finance Peer Steinbrueck had reportedly said on Sunday that Cyprus' accession to the Eurozone might have political repercussions and thus should be discussed on a political level. Cyprus expects to enter the Eurozone on 1st January 2008.
 Turkey's policy on Cyprus should change for a speedy settlement, says spokesmanNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
What is important for Cyprus is Turkey's policy and the need to change this policy so that efforts for a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem will speed up, said here Tuesday Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis.
Commenting on the announcement that Turkey's ruling AK Party picked Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as its presidential candidate on Tuesday, Pashiardis said that "what is important for us is Turkey's policy on Cyprus and the need to change this policy to speed up efforts to find a functional and viable solution".
"The Turkish president can contribute towards this direction", Pashiardis added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
 Cypriot President to pay official visit to SloveniaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos departs for Slovenia Wednesday for a four day official visit at the invitation of his Slovenian counterpart Dr. Janez Drnovsek.
President Papadopoulos will be accompanied by Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Antonis Michaelides.
On Thursday morning, the president will head for Brdo Castle for a meeting with Drnovsek. After military honours, the two will hold a private meeting followed by plenary talks between delegations from the two countries and statements will follow.
After an official lunch in honour of President, Papadopoulos will visit the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia for a meeting with its President France Cukjati. The Cypriot president will sign the Golden Book of distinguished guests and talks will follow between the two sides.
Later Thursday, the president will call on the Mayor of the City of Ljubljana Zoran Jankovic. The latter will present President Papadopoulos with the Golden Key of the city.
He will also visit the Consulate General of the Republic of Cyprus and be welcomed by Consul General Marija Ovsenik and then will tour the city centre.
Later in the evening, the president will attend a dinner in his honour by Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Jansa at the Villa Podroznik.
The Cypriot commerce minister will meet his Slovenian counterpart Andrej Vizjak on Thursday afternoon.
On Friday, the president and his entourage will visit Postojna Caves, the town of Piran, the Maritime Museum Sergei Masera and Lipica.
President Papadopoulos returns to Cyprus Saturday afternoon via Austria.
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