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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-30

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

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

Saturday, 30 June 2007 Issue No: 2632

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM briefed on wildfires front at fire brigade HQ
  • [02] PM chairs emergency dawn meeting as forest fires raging on six fronts
  • [03] Premier Karamanlis chairs an evening meeting on fires
  • [04] Parnitha fire a 'biblical disaster', PASOK's Papandreou charges
  • [05] Papandreou hastens return to Athens due to fires
  • [06] Socialist International sends message of support to fire-stricken Greece
  • [07] Papariga attacks government, PASOK fire-fighting policy
  • [08] Gov't defends state services' response to barrage of wildfires
  • [09] President makes dramatic appeal for protection of environment
  • [10] Supreme Court intervention over Attica fires
  • [11] Mont Parnes resort says wildfire kept at bay, guests evacuated
  • [12] PASOK leader visits fire stricken region in Aghia, Larissa
  • [13] Foreign ministry responds to Turkish comments on Papoulias' Armenia visit
  • [14] FM on draft European Constitution during Parliament debate
  • [15] NATO commander to visit Greece
  • [16] Urban terror cell added to EU terrorist list
  • [17] SE Europe economic integration will be the next 'economic miracle'
  • [18] Contract for new stretch of nat'l hwy signed, worth 1.15 bln euros
  • [19] FinMin: Exports forecast to comprise 9.8% of GDP in 2007
  • [20] SEBE signs agreements with Armenia's leading business unions
  • [21] Retail turnover index up in April 1.7%, y/y
  • [22] Cooperation agreement between Patras, Sicily R&D parks
  • [23] SAOS Ferries adds northern Greece routes
  • [24] Piraeus Real Estate pays out dividend
  • [25] Kreka rules out dividend payment for 2006
  • [26] Greek stocks end week up
  • [27] The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, Athens Medical Centre, Lannet and Marfin Laiki.
  • [28] Greek bond market closing report
  • [29] Foreign Exchange Rates - Saturday-Monday
  • [30] European Commission adopts Green Paper for climate change
  • [31] Heat wave recedes after reaching record levels
  • [32] Nine small fires reported in Cassandra, Sithonia in Halkidiki
  • [33] Supreme Court president to step down due to age
  • [34] Conference on 'Participation and Democracy in Europe'
  • [35] Archbishop's condition good, doctors say
  • [36] Strong earthquake jolts north-western Greece
  • [37] School for army spokespersons in Thessaloniki
  • [38] Corinth celebrates patron saint Apostle Paul feast
  • [39] Road accident statistics
  • [40] Sports minister Orfanos in Turkey on Sun.
  • [41] Sunny on Saturday, cooler temperatures
  • [42] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [43] Archbishop Demetrios of America to visit Cyprus Politics

  • [01] PM briefed on wildfires front at fire brigade HQ

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed on the bevy of wildfires that have been sweeping the country during a visit at the fire brigade's headquarters in downtown Athens on Friday, with the worst blaze still visible atop Mt. Parnitha, to the north of the Greek capital, in the early afternoon.

    While there, the prime minister also addressed a message to the men and women of the fire-fighting forces over the radio, urging them "good strength and good courage" in battling the flames.

    "On behalf of the State I want to thank you because, always in crucial hours like the ones we are now going through, you fight with all your heart. Above all, it requires spirit for one to fight in such adverse weather conditions, unheard of in our country, to fight with fires of such magnitude.

    Karamanlis has cancelled his engagements for Friday afternoon and Saturday, so he will not be attending a ruling New Democracy pre-conference event that starts on Friday evening on Corfu, nor carrying out a scheduled visit to the Egnatia Highway on Saturday.

    [02] PM chairs emergency dawn meeting as forest fires raging on six fronts

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis chaired an emergency early morning meeting on Friday as six major forest fires continued to rage across the country, including a massive fire front on Mt. Parnitha in Athens, causing widespread devastation to the densely forested slope.

    The 6:30 a.m. meeting, which lasted for more than two hours, reviewed the situation and the available airborne firefighting means for optimum distribution of the airborne and land forces.

    Public order minister Vyron Polydoras told reporters after the meeting that Karamanlis called the meeting for early morning so that the availability of the firefighting means, especially the airborne units, as well as the overall situation, could be examined.

    "It was a difficult time, and we waged difficult battles, with success," Polydoras said, adding that most of the fire fronts were receding, although the blaze on the western side of Parnitha at the Dervenochoria, where the fire had begun, had rekindled.

    According to firefighters, six firefighting planes, two helicopters, 130 firefighters with 51 fire engines, 70 land teams and 300 conscripts were tackling the Parnitha blaze.

    Polydoras said a strong confrontation of the fires was taking place with airborne and land forces, noting that the continuing fire at Pelio was a cause of worry, and airborne means have also been dispatched there.

    Also, the fire at Melivia, in Larissa, appeared to be receding, Polydoras said, adding that the firefighting forces were particularly vigilant to prevent it from heading towards Kissavos.

    Polydoras stressed the great difficulty posed by the fact that a large number of fires were blazing away simultaneously, coupled by several rekindlings, and thanked the firefighters and volunteers for their contribution to the effort.

    He further said he was concerned by the "suspicious, dangerously large number of fires" that broke out Thursday afternoon "in the critical period between 3:00 and 6:00", noting that there had been good cooperation among the relevant ministries and agencies, but also good preparation, stressing that "the battle continues, and we're not yet over the hurdle".

    Polydoras also noted the intensity of the wind, which were a cause of worry for the firefighting effort over the next few days.

    Replying to a press question, Polydoras said that there had been reservations on dropping water near the Public Power Corporation (DEH) pulons at the Dervenochoria, and explained that the fire had spread due to winds blowing in the area and the thick folliage.

    He said that the unprecedented high temperatures throughout the country were also partly responsible for the intensity of the blazes, adding that the strategic deployment of the firefighting forces had prevented the Parnitha fire from raging down to the foot of the mountain cluster, namely to the populated town of Thrakomakedones, the Kleiston Monastery road, and the Liosia-Zefyri road.

    Asked whether the prime minister was displeased, Polydoras replied in the negative, adding that Karamanlis had analysed the facts and given instructions for the forces to be deployed where they were needed, stressing that "we have done a lot of work and are continuing to do so, and must continue the battle with cool-headedness".

    Regarding the fire at Schimatari, Polydoras said it was now partially under control, adding that there was no particularly worry given that the site was easily accessible by both land and airborne means. The fire at Schimatari, which broke out on Thursday, had rekindled earlier, burning its way to the coast of Avlonas and Ritsona, and was being battled by 70 firefighters with 21 fire engines and a 15-member land team, aided by a helicopter.

    Another large front was burning in Pelio, with three blazes at Neochori, Kalamaki and Milies, which were being tackled by 123 firefighters with 49 fire engines, an 87-strong team on foot, and 100 conscripts, aided by two airplanes and a helicopter dropping water at Neochori and Kalamaki and three more planes and a helicopter dropping water at Milies.

    Also blazing away were the fires at Agia and Melivia in Larissa, which were being battled by 116 firefighters with 36 fire engines, a 30-member team on foot and 100 conscripts, assisted by five firefighting planes.

    Another front also continued to blaze away for a fourth day at Karaouli in Elefsina, in a difficult to access area of pine forest, and was being tackled by 42 firefighters with 14 fire eingines and a 60-strong land team.

    Finally, a fire that broke out shortly after midnight in a pine forest at Chryssokelaria, Messinia, was also blazing away, being tackled by 20 firefighters with 8 fire engines and a helicopter.

    [03] Premier Karamanlis chairs an evening meeting on fires

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis chaired on Friday evening a new meeting -the second in the day- to review the situation prevailing in the fire-fighting front across the country.

    Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras told reporters afterwards that the situation had been evaluated on data provided by himself and Civil Protection Secretary General Panayiotis Fourlas, noting at the same time that the fire on Mount Parnitha has been contained on its greater part.

    Polydoras added that firefighting forces are remaining on alert, as the danger of a rikindling of the blaze still exists.

    He said that the situation in other fire-fighting fronts of the country was also examined.

    Answering to questions, the public order minister said that there had been no delays in mobilising forces and that there is a continuous communication and cooperation between Fourlas and the Fire Brigade's chief.

    He also said that Premier Karamanlis was always kept informed, coordinating also the effrts deployed.

    [04] Parnitha fire a 'biblical disaster', PASOK's Papandreou charges

    Visiting the charred slopes of Mount Parnitha on Friday, following the devastating fire that swept across the mountain and much of the Mount Parnitha National Park overnight, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou spoke of a "biblical disaster" for which there was "justified outrage".

    Previously, he had been briefed on the extent of the damage by the mayor of Menidi, a west Athens district on Parnitha's slopes.

    "We must stand by all those who fought and are still fighting the fire - the forest fire-fighters and the local bodies - whose indignation we are hearing at the state's neglect," he said, while noting that this was not a time to talk about who was responsible but about the "major ecological disaster".

    At the same time, he underlined that responsibility for the disaster did exist and that those responsible would be made to pay.

    Papandreou was next due to visit the two other areas stricken by fire, Argalasti in Pelion and Agia in Larisa, where two people lost their lives as a result of the blaze on Thursday.

    The fire on Mount Parnitha - a national park that is home to several endemic species and one of the few remaining areas of forest near the Greek capital - began to the north in Dervenochoria on the mountain's western flank and then a second front caught fire further south.

    By Thursday night it had advanced to the top of the peaks surrounding Athens and ringed the capital's skyline, threatening the northwestern suburbs of Menidi and Thrakomakedones and forcing authorities to evacuate the Mont Parnes casino hotel.

    The fires came after a six-day heat wave with temperatures stuck above 40 degrees Celsius, reaching as high as 46C earlier in the week, which was the worst on record in the past 110 years. At least nine deaths as a result of heatstroke were reported, while hundreds were hospitalised, and there were also extensive power cuts as the country's electricity grid struggled to cope with demand and heat-induced damage.

    Fire brigade officials said many of the fires that raged across Greece on Thursday had been caused by explosions in electricity pylons due to the heat, though arson was being investigated in some cases.

    [05] Papandreou hastens return to Athens due to fires

    Main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou cut short his attendance at the SI Council meeting in Geneva and returned to Athens on Friday due to the extent of the massive fire raging away on Mt. Parnitha in the Greek capital.

    He has called an emergency meeting at the PASOK headquarters to examine the fire situation throughout the country.

    Papandreou was in constant contact with Athens on Thursday, and particularly with PASOK secretary Nikos Athanassakis, who went to Parnitha earlier in the day and briefed the party leader by phone on the situation.

    The PASOK leader was due to address the SI Council later on Friday, which is due to discuss the developments in the Balkans, particularly Kosovo, as well as the Middle East, with emphasis on Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, attended by 300 representatives of member parties, including more than 40 political party leaders, heads of state and government, and officials of international organisations.

    Papandreou, who arrived in Geneva on Thursday, attended the SI opening dinner on Thursday night.

    The PASOK leader was in constant contact throughout Thursday with Athanassakis and other party officials, who kept him abreast of the fire situation in Greece.

    [06] Socialist International sends message of support to fire-stricken Greece

    GENEVA (ANA-MPA - V. Mourtis)

    The Council of the Socialist International meeting in Geneva on Friday sent a message of support and solidarity to the Greek people as they struggle with the destructive fires that have swept the country in the past few days.

    The Council began without the presence of SI President George Papandreou, leader of Greece's main opposition PASOK party, who cut short his stay because of the fires in Greece and returned to Athens early on Friday morning.

    His departure was explained by SI Secretary General Luis Ayala and met with the full understanding of the council members, while it also caused the cancellation of several planned meetings with foreign leaders, among them Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

    [07] Papariga attacks government, PASOK fire-fighting policy

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Friday attacked the government over its handling of the fires on Mount Parnitha and elsewhere, saying it had showed an unprecedented lack of coordination in the fire-fighting effort.

    Main opposition PASOK was also not spared during her press conference in Iraklio on Crete, following a visit to the prefecture's health authorities and university hospital, with Papariga stressing that "specific policies and long-term crimes of PASOK and New Democracy" were responsible for the disasters and not the current heat wave.

    Regarding the government's handling of the current fires, she said that valuable time had been lost, while she also demanded legislation that would prevent the burnt expanses being converted into real estate.

    Papariga additionally attacked the two main parties over health issues, particularly privatisation in the health sector, and urged the electorate to condemn this policy. PASOK and ND were keeping the bonds scandal alive so that people forgot the other problems, she added.

    The KKE leader's tour of Crete will end on Friday night with an open meeting at Eleftherios Venizelos Square.

    SYN party leader visits fire-stricken Dervenochoria, Parnitha

    The leader of the Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Alekos Alavanos on Friday visited Mount Parnitha and the Dervenochoria district on the mountain's western flank, following the devastating fires that raged through the area the previous night.

    In statements during his visit, he said that fires had become "a destructively routine phenomenon" in Greece. He also noted that, while weather conditions contributed to their occurrence, the extent of the damage they caused each time depended on the policies followed by the "governments of the two-party system over time" and stressed that the present New Democracy government also bore a large measure of responsibility for its policies in this area.

    "Prevention means good management and guarding but also protection from the arsonists-land grabbers, to whom the government is giving a 'nod and wink' either through the revision of article 24 (of the Constitution regarding the definition of forests), or with amendments legalising permit-less building or through the lack of forest maps and a national land register," Alavanos underlined.

    Demanding an increase in fire-lookouts and patrols and operation of the relevant services on a 24-hour basis, SYN's leader also called for the government's intervention even at this late stage to ensure the clearing of underbrush, creation of fire-protection zones and the filling of water-tanks needed to protect forests.

    He also called for better coordination of the services involved, the hiring of additional staff and the hiring of contract forest fire-fighters with indefinite contracts, while urging friends and members of his party and the party youth to join the groups and volunteer fire-fighters associations and place themselves at the disposal of local authorities in order to help with efforts to prevent and put out fires.

    [08] Gov't defends state services' response to barrage of wildfires

    The government on Friday pointed to an almost week-long heatwave as exacerbating conditions on the ground and abetting a barrage of wildfires that sprung up over the past three days around the scorched east Mediterranean country.

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said authorities recorded no less than 307 wildfires in the country between June 27 and 29.

    Moreover, Antonaros dismissed press speculation on whether state services and specific ministries were culpable due to a slow response, poor planning or both.

    "The prime minister had an emergency meeting at dawn with all competent ministers in order to be briefed on the situation created by the large number of fires and the frequency in which they erupted The state's apparatus was fully prepared; it responded quickly and is handling the disaster," the spokesman said.

    He also said the government shares citizens' "deep grief" for the losses caused by the fires, although the priority at present is to extinguish the blazes.

    "After the fires of last summer and the summer before, the government ordered the reforestation of the areas destroyed, recorded the damages and did not allow anyone to take advantage of the situation," he said during his regular press briefing on Friday.

    Regarding whatever operational problems surfaced, the spokesman referred to the frequency of the erupted wildfires and to the fact that many of the regions where they broke out are inaccessible.

    Finally, Antonaros pointed to the current situation in Italy, where he said temperatures were lower than in Greece yet the damage caused by wildfires in that country was more extensive.

    [09] President makes dramatic appeal for protection of environment

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Friday issued a dramatic appeal for protection of the environment, speaking in Kavala where he was due to take part in celebrations of the feast day of the city's patron saint, the Apostle Paul, and marking the 94th anniversary of the city's liberation from Bulgarian occupation on June 29, 1913.

    Speaking at a ceremony during which he was declared an honourary citizen of Kavala, Papoulias referred to the major fires that have broken out in many parts of the country, including Attika prefecture. "Yesterday I saw the Attika sky turn dark from the nightmare of the fire, and my heart bled. It was one of those moments that makes the human brain stop. Where are we headed? What kind of a world are we making? What will we leave behind us?. There is no time for complacency. Environmental protection must be our number one priority," the President said.

    He said that each and every citizen, individually and collectively, "must join forces to demand respect of nature, even if this affects smaller or large interests, even if this displeases some".

    "Humanity is heading towards destruction," the President warned, adding that "we must not stand idly by as spectators on this course of devastation," Papoulias said, adding that the formulation of an ecological conscience was the responsibility of the schools, "and it is our responsibility to demand it".

    [10] Supreme Court intervention over Attica fires

    Supreme Court Public Prosecutor George Sanidas on Friday ordered the head of the Athens First-instance Court Public Prosecutors' department Panagiotis Poulios to assign public prosecutors to supervise the fire department's inquiry into the cause of the blazes that swept through Attica Prefecture in the past days.

    Poulios has assigned the case to public prosecutors Eleni Raikou and Andreas Karaflos, while the fire department investigation will also look into whether the fires might be the result of arson or whether anyone is liable for starting them.

    [11] Mont Parnes resort says wildfire kept at bay, guests evacuated

    The management of the Mont Parnes casino atop fire-ravaged Mt. Parnitha on Friday stressed that the resort's facilities were not damaged, whereas guests and parked vehicles were successfully evacuated overnight.

    According to a statement disseminated by Regency Entertainment, which holds the management concession for the Mont Parnes resort, cable cars were also used to evacuate guests, children at a nearby summer camp and employees.

    The company added, however, that forestland around the resort has been ravaged.

    [12] PASOK leader visits fire stricken region in Aghia, Larissa

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou visited on Friday afternoon the region of Aghia, in the Larissa prefecture, where a fire was still raging on.

    In statements to the press Papndreou called for the reforestration of the areas and the adoption of necessary measures to avoid greater disasters in the future from heavy rains.

    [13] Foreign ministry responds to Turkish comments on Papoulias' Armenia visit

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos expressed on Friday evening "sadness over the unfounded and incomprehensible positions, such as the ones expressed today by the Turkish Foreign Ministry" in response to earlier criticism by Ankara of the Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias' recent visit to Armenia.

    "History undoubtedly teaches. However, it must mainly teach all those who have chosen not to reconcile with it, maintaining open accounts," Koumoutsakos noted.

    "With his stance and actions, the President of the Hellenic Republic confirms daily that history -even if it is not re-written - must not be an obstacle to a future of peace and cooperation among peoples," the spokesman concluded.

    According to an ANA-MPA dispatch from Istanbul, a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman criticised, earlier Friday, President Papoulias on comments he wrote in the visitors' book at the Monument of the Armenian genocide in Yerevan during his state visit in Armenia this week.

    [14] FM on draft European Constitution during Parliament debate

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday noted that a substantive dialogue in Parliament is more preferable that other scenarios concerning the stalled European constitution process, in response to a tabled question by Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alekos Alavanos regarding conclusions of a recent EU Summit meeting and the likelihood of a referendum.

    "Greece has no tradition in holding referendums to ratify international treaties," Bakoyannis said.

    "Such treaties are complex issues; a serious and substantive dialogue can only take place in Parliament, she said, adding that national assemblies will undertake to ratify the constitutional treaty, thus allowing Europe to move forward based on a decision reached by all EU member-states.

    On his part, Alavanos wondered whether the government is afraid of what the people's position will be, adding that the citizens will have to be convinced that the government's stance is the right one.

    Referring to the previous Euro constitution, Alavanos mentioned France's case, where there was disagreement between the national assembly and the people, while on the new constitutional treaty, he maintained that Ireland will hold a referendum and that Denmark is examining such likelihood, with a similar demand raised in other countries as well.

    [15] NATO commander to visit Greece

    The Supreme Commander of NATO Allied Forces in Europe (SACEUR), General John Graddock, will be visiting Greece on July 2-3 at the invitation of the Greek General Staff Chief Admiral Panagiotis Hinofotis, it was announced on Friday.

    General Graddock will also be received by National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.

    [16] Urban terror cell added to EU terrorist list

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    The European Union (EU) on Friday announced that it had added the shadowy ultra-leftist "Revolutionary Struggle" cell (Epanastatikos Agonas), responsible for a string of bombings in Athens over the years, to its revised "terrorist list".

    The EU register, which was originally drawn up to abide with a UN Security Council resolution following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is revised every six months by the Union's ministerial Council.

    Financial News

    [17] SE Europe economic integration will be the next 'economic miracle'

    The next economic miracle will be the economic integration of Southeastern Europe, Greece's national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said Friday, during a presentation of the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Black Sea Trade and Investment Promotion Programme (BSTIP) held at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA).

    Alogoskoufis said that the development of the region was of particularly importance for Greece, also, noting that Greece has contributed in that direction with its own extroversion, with Greek investments in the region having reached 15 billion euro and directly or indirectly creating 200,000 jobs.

    He said that a central axis of the economic model imposed by the global economy was the outwardness of the Greek economy, which the government is promoting.

    EBEA president Constantine Michalos noted the strong presence of Greek businesses in the wider region, adding that Greece was among the top investors in the Balkans.

    Greece, he elaborated, was the largest investor in Serbia and Albania, the second largest investor in Bulgaria, and the third largest investor in Romania, while it also had intense business activity on the Turkish market as well.

    Through the Programme, he added, emphasis would be placed on further activation of the Greek enterprises in the development of collaborations and exchanges of knowhow.

    The UNDP is the United Nations' most significant programme dealing with development issues, and focuses on actions in developing countries.

    The aim of the programme is to reduce poverty at global level, chiefly through the materialisation of "countries' development programmes" that cover a wide range of activities in developing countries.

    The programme's overall annual budget is 4.8 billion euro, and it is active in 166 countries.

    Greece was a recipient country up until 1986, receiving aid in the form of funding, knowhow, seminar organisation, etc., while in 1987 it became a donor country and has since them been contributing annually to the UNDP budget.

    On December 6, 2006, Greece, represented by Alogoskoufis, and the UNDP's regional director for Europe signed an agreement for the promotion of trade and investments in the Black Sea region (BSTIP), which provides for the co-financing by Greece, Turkey and the UNDP aimed at the development of the private sector and particularly the reinforcement of SMEs.

    [18] Contract for new stretch of nat'l hwy signed, worth 1.15 bln euros

    The government on Thursday signed a contract with a Hochtief-led consortium for the construction of a new 231-kilometer-long tollway from the Malliakos Gulf to the Kleidi site in central Greece, a project expected to augment the main Athens-Thessaloniki north-south road axis.

    The project is budgeted at 1.15 billion euros, with the consortium granted a 30-year concession for the project. A 54-month construction period is envisioned, as the contract will be tabled in Parliament for ratification within the next four months. Construction will reportedly begin immediately after the contract's ratification.

    The firms Aktor S.A., J&P Avax S.A., Vinci Construction Grand Projects, AEGEK S.A. and Athina ATE will participate in the construction consortium, led by Hochtief Construction AG.

    The consortium awarded the management contract consists of Hochtief PPP Solutions GmbH (35 percent); Elliniki Technodomiki TEB S.A. (20 percent); J&P Avax S.A. (16.25 percent); Vinci S.A. (13.75 percent) and AEGEK S.A. (10 percent), amongst others.

    The new highway is expected to bypass the so-called "Malliakos spur", a particularly notorious stretch of national highway associated with numerous and fatal vehicles collisions over the years.

    [19] FinMin: Exports forecast to comprise 9.8% of GDP in 2007

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday emphasised the Greek economy's budding extroversion as a central axis of the government's developmental model, speaking at a Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (OPE) event in Athens.

    According to the Greek FinMin, exports increased by 13.1 percent in 2005 in comparison to 2004 ,and by 18.2 percent in 2006 in relation to 2005. He added that during the first four months of 2007 Greek exports recorded a 14.2-percent increase from the corresponding period in 2006.

    "We quickly regaining lost ground from the 2000-2004 period, when exports were rapidly shrinking as a percentage of GDP, having dropped from 10.6 percent of GDP to 7.4 percent," Alogoskoufis said, adding that exports are expected to comprise 9.8 percent of GDP for 2007.

    [20] SEBE signs agreements with Armenia's leading business unions

    The Exporters Association of Northern Greece (SEBE) signed separate memoranda of cooperation with the Armenian Development Agency (ADA) and the Union of Manufacturers and Business Entrepreneurs of Armenia (UMBEA).

    SEBE said the cooperation agreements with Armenia's leading business associations would benefit the commerce exchange between the two countries, currently reaching 16.5 million euro annually.

    The agreements were signed on the sidelines of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias' state visit to Armenia earlier this week.

    [21] Retail turnover index up in April 1.7%, y/y

    The overall retail turnover index in Greece increased by 1.7 percent in April 2007 in comparison to the corresponding month in 2006, while in the 2006 the difference between the corresponding month of 2005 was an increase of 12.5 percent.

    Supermarkets, at 2.6 percent, posted the biggest increase.

    Conversely, the retail volume index fell by 9.9 percent in April 2007 as compared to April 2006.

    [22] Cooperation agreement between Patras, Sicily R&D parks

    The president of the Patras Scientific Park in western Greece, P. Groumbos, and the head of the Scientific and Technological Park of Sicily, A. Catara, on Friday signed a cooperation agreement covering the exchange and joint development of new technologies, innovation and research, as well as cooperation in training programmes for advanced technology and management of business and trade.

    [23] SAOS Ferries adds northern Greece routes

    The shipping company SAOS Ferries on Friday announced the start of new ferry services to northern Greece starting on July 2, using the newly refitted ferry "Express Limnos".

    They said the ship would serve routes that included: Thessaloniki-Limnos-Mytilene, Lavrio-Limnos, Limnos-Kavala, Limnos-Thessaloniki and Kavala-Limnos-Mytilene.

    The "Express Limnos" has a maximum capacity of about 1,500 passengers and 250 cars.

    [24] Piraeus Real Estate pays out dividend

    The Piraeus Real Estate Investment company on Friday announced the pay out of a 0.123-euro per share dividend during an annual general assembly meeting.

    Payment through the Bank of Piraeus will begin on Aug. 29, 2007. Beginning on Aug. 21, 2007, the company's shares will trade on the ASE without a dividend withdrawal right.

    [25] Kreka rules out dividend payment for 2006

    The Kreka S.A. firm on Friday announced that it will not pay out a dividend for the fiscal year 2006, as the company's board cited a loss-making year.

    [26] Greek stocks end week up

    Greek stocks ended the week on a positive note on Friday with the Athens Stock Exchange posting a 0.97-percent increase, as the composite index closed at 4,843.78 points. Turnover was a massive 1.693 billion euros due to the transfer of 10.7 percent of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) shares that were placed during the previous session.

    The Health index jumped 2.56 percent, followed by Utilities (1.84 pct) and Food & Beverages (1.71 pct), while the Technology (0.84 pct), Chemicals (0.82 pct) and Financial Services (0.75 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.89 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.70 pct and the Small Cap index ended flat.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 136 to 125 with another 42 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.50%

    Industrials: -0.61%

    Commercial: -0.66%

    Construction: +0.57%

    Media: -0.41%

    Oil & Gas: +0.58%

    Personal & Household: +1.10%

    Raw Materials: +0.46%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.59%

    Technology: -0.84%

    Telecoms: +0.99%

    Banks: +0.90%

    Food & Beverages: +1.71%

    Health: +2.56%

    Utilities: -1.84%

    Chemicals: -0.82%

    Financial Services: --

    [27] The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, Athens Medical Centre, Lannet and Marfin Laiki.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 23.30

    ATEbank: 3.86

    Biochalko: 11.50

    El.Tex: 9.70

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.90

    HBC Coca Cola: 34.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 11.92

    Emporiki Bank: 21.50

    National Bank of Greece: 42.40

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 24.20

    Cyprus Bank: 12.52

    Intralot: 23.82

    Post Office Bank: 17.30

    Cosmote: 22.88

    Motor Oil: 19.44

    OPAP: 26.20

    OTE: 22.90

    Piraeus Bank: 27.06

    Titan Cement Company: 42.80

    Marfin (C): 8.78

    ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices narrowed their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday with turnover rising to 115.645 million euros.

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.58 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.80 percent.

    Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 7,679 contracts worth 98.045 million euros, with 36,467 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 142 contracts worth 4.440 million euros, with 1,301 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,029 contracts worth 13.159 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank' contracts (1,628), followed by PPC (800), OTE (795), National Bank (696), GEK (451) and Piraeus Bank (382).

    [28] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.471 billion euros on Friday, of which 984 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.487 billion were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 700 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.21 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.79 pct and the German Bund 4.58 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.10 pct from 4.09 pct on Thursday, the two-day rate fell to 4.08 pct from 4.18 pct, the one-month rate was 4.11 pct and the 12-month rate 4.52 pct from 4.51 pct.

    [29] Foreign Exchange Rates - Saturday-Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.361

    Pound sterling 0.679

    Danish kroner 7.501

    Swedish kroner 9.326

    Japanese yen 167.96

    Swiss franc 1.668

    Norwegian kroner 8.036

    Cyprus pound 0.588

    Canadian dollar 1.435

    Australian dollar 1.601

    General News

    [30] European Commission adopts Green Paper for climate change

    The European Commission on Friday published a 'Green Paper' calling for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and measures to adapt and lessen the impact of global warming and climate change on people, the economy and the environment.

    According to the Commission, the Green Paper presented by Greek European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas aims to stimulate public debate on how Europe can adapt to present and future climate changes, starting with a major stakeholder conference hosted by the Commission on July 3 in Brussels.

    "People all over Europe will increasingly feel the threatening effects of climate change on their health, jobs and housing, and the most vulnerable members of society will be the hardest hit. We need to fight the battle against climate change on two fronts. We must sharply reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to prevent future climate change from reaching dangerous levels, but at the same time Europe must also adapt to the climate change that is already happening," Dimas said on Friday.

    If the EU and its member-states did not plan a "coherent policy response" in advance, they might be forced into sudden, unplanned adaptation measures to "increasingly frequent crises and disasters" that would be far more costly, he added.

    The European Union's objective is to limit global warming to no more than 2C above the pre-industrial level, since beyond that threshold the risks of irreversible and possibly catastrophic planetary changes greatly increase. Yet many parts of the world are already struggling with the adverse effects of a 0.76C rise in the global average temperature, and on current trends the global temperature is likely to increase further by 1.8 to 4C this century.

    Even warming of 2C will have significant impacts, and Europe will not be spared. Europe has already warmed by almost 1C over the past century, faster than the global average, and the effects are clearly measurable. For example, glaciers are melting and low-lying ski-resorts are threatened with closure. Southern Europe is projected to dry out further and may become too hot for summer holidays. The summer 2003 heat wave caused an estimated 70,000 premature deaths. Further climate change will heavily affect Europe's natural environment and nearly all sections of society and the economy, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and healthcare. Coastal zones, low-lying deltas and densely populated river plains could be particularly affected by more frequent storms and floods. Climate change could also lead to major population shifts, including in neighbouring regions.

    The Green Paper sets out four lines of priority actions to be considered:

    - Early action to develop adaptation strategies in areas where current knowledge is sufficient;

    - Integrating global adaptation needs into the EU's external relations and building a new alliance with partners around the world;

    - Filling knowledge gaps on adaptation through EU-level research and exchange of information;

    - Setting up a European advisory group on adaptation to climate change to analyse coordinated strategies and actions.

    [31] Heat wave recedes after reaching record levels

    The heat wave that has gripped the country in the past six days began to recede on Friday, after reaching record high temperatures that exceeded 45 degrees Celsius in several areas. The killer heat wave also claimed at least nine lives in its passing, including that of a 17-year-old girl, while another 344 people were admitted to hospital with symptoms of heatstroke.

    Power consumption on Wednesday was similar to the record levels on Tuesday and the Public Power Corporation (PPC) once again advised consumers to avoid using too many energy-hungry appliances at the same time. Peak demand nationwide reached 10,505 MW on Tuesday and 10,512 MW on Wednesday, while demand in Attica alone was 4,118MW.

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos appealed to consumers to limit power consumption as much as possible and avoid using their cars in the centre of Athens, while air-conditioned areas in municipalities and communities will remain open for the public.

    Until Friday, access to paying beaches in Vouliagmeni in Attica and Agia Triada in the Thermaikos Gulf will be free to the public.

    [32] Nine small fires reported in Cassandra, Sithonia in Halkidiki

    Nine blazes in forested areas were reported in two peninsulas in Halkidiki in northern Greece, Sithonia and Cassandra, as a result of lightning strikes during a storm on Friday. The small fires in Fokies, Marmara and Agios Nikolaos were promptly put out by forces on the ground before they managed to spread.

    By the afternoon, the majority of fire-fighters had gathered in the inaccessible mountainous region of Dragoudeli in Sithonia, where the risk of fire from lightning was higher, while the situation in the area was deemed under control, without strong winds.

    [33] Supreme Court president to step down due to age

    Supreme Court President Romylos Kedikoglou, along with 11 other Supreme Court judges, is to step down from office from Saturday when the current judicial year ends because he has reached the age of retirement.

    Similar departures are envisaged in the other two highest courts in the country, the Council of State dealing with administrative issues and the Court of Audit, and among appeals judges.

    Kedikoglou, who has come under intense criticism from the main opposition party PASOK in the past few months and was surrounded by a cloud of speculation and scandal involving undeclared stock market transactions by his son, also sparked a heated exchange in Parliament on Friday.

    Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras again defended the supreme court president in the face of criticism from PASOK MPs, with the two sides counter-accusing each other of trying to manipulate and control independent justice.

    Papaligouras accused PASOK of "cannibalism" at the expense of justice at a difficult time when its prestige needed extra protection and of "directing summary orders and threats" at it. He also accused the MPs of enlisting "deliberate inaccuracies" in their criticism of Kedikoglou, adding that there were no grounds for a disciplinary inquiry by the justice minister and that the Supreme Court president had already amply answered the charges levelled against him.

    Earlier, MPs noted that Kedikoglou's term was "ending in the midst of an outcry" and that he was the "darkest figure in the leadership of the Supreme Court".

    [34] Conference on 'Participation and Democracy in Europe'

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos defended on Friday the European Union's enlargement, "despite any problems that may arise", while addressing a one-day conference on "Participation and Democracy in Europe" organised by the Greek Centre of European Studies (EKEM) in cooperation with the European think tank organisation "Confrontations Europe' and the French Foundation for political renewal.

    "The great contribution of the European Union consists in expanding and stabilising democracy," Pavlopoulos noted.

    EKEM president Professor Costas Ifantis noted on his part that "volition for participation is not enough but its true implementation is also needed."

    European Affairs Secretary General Dimitris Katsoudas told his audience that "the development of mechanisms which will guarantee democratic institutions and provide for the right of citizens to express their opinion and participate in decision making processes, is the greatest challenge for European states and institutions."

    [35] Archbishop's condition good, doctors say

    Doctors attending Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and all Greece after he underwent intestinal surgery two weeks ago, on Friday described the overall state of his health as very good.

    According to a medical bulletin, a scheduled endoscopy of the patient's large intestine showed that the intestinal anastomosis - a procedure linking the two parts of the archbishop's intestine after a section was surgically removed - was in good shape and not the cause of the intestine's lack of function, which they attributed to a weakness or "paresis" commonly seen in patients undergoing this form of surgery.

    No other procedure apart from the diagnosis was needed and the patient was returned to his room, the medical bulletin added. The Archbishop will gradually start receiving food through the mouth and his health is expected to be restored soon, doctors concluded.

    Christodoulos underwent surgery on June 13 to remove an adenocarcinoma in his large intestine, which doctors believe developed from a polyp. They have also diagnosed what they said was an unrelated tumour some centimetres across on the right lobe Archbishop's liver, that will be treated at a later date. They said the nodule was a primary growth that was possibly linked to an earlier bout of hepatitis that had impaired liver function and not the result of metastasis.

    [36] Strong earthquake jolts north-western Greece

    A strong earthquake measuring 5.8 was recorded at 21:09 Friday. Its epicentre was located 33 klm south of the north-western city of Igoumenitsa, in the sea area between Parga and the Paxi islands.

    Geophysics Professor at the Thessaloniki University Costas Papazchos told the ANA-MPA that the quake, which was felt almost in all the north-western part of the country and the north Ionian islands, was a surface one that is why it was so strongly felt.

    No damages were reported at press time.

    [37] School for army spokespersons in Thessaloniki

    A press spokespersons school for army officers was in operation in Thessaloniki on June 18-29 for the first time ever in the history of the Greek armed forces.

    It has been decided that the school will operate on an annual basis, and the first twenty officers have already received their diplomas.

    University professors, journalists and experienced army officers who serve or have served as press spokespersons in military agencies in Greece, NATO or in peace missions abroad, undertook the task of training the army officers attending the courses offered.

    The school programme included 30 lectures and visits to newspaper and television station offices in Thessaloniki, while the trainees also participated in virtual press conferences and responded to aggressive questions posed by journalists in simulation conditions.

    [38] Corinth celebrates patron saint Apostle Paul feast

    The city of Corinth in the Peloponnese, southern Greece, is celebrating the feast of its patron saint, the Apostle Paul with two-day festivities launched on Thursday.

    The festivities include doxologies at the city cathedral and a solemn procession of the icon of Apostle Paul, founder of the Church of Greece.

    [39] Road accident statistics

    The number of road accidents throughout Greece dropped by 4.9 percent in April 2007, compared with the corresponding month in 2006, according to figures released Friday by the National Statistics Service (ESYE).

    According to the statistics, 133 people lost their lives, 154 suffered serious injury and another 1,446 were lightly injured in a total of 1,256 road accidents throughout the country in April.

    ESYE said that, in comparison with the corresponding figures for April 2006, the number of road accident-related deaths remained the same, while there was a 6.1 percent decline in serious injuries and a 6.5 percent decline in light injuries, as well as a 4.9 percent reduction in the total number of road accidents.

    Sports

    [40] Sports minister Orfanos in Turkey on Sun.

    Deputy Culture Minister, responsible for sport, George Orfanos will travel to Trabzon, Turkey, on Sunday where he will participate in a meeting of sports ministers of Black Sea region countries, due to begin on Monday.

    After arriving in Istanbul on Sunday, Orfanos will be received by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at the latter's Fanar district chamber.

    The sports minister is also due to attend the Black Sea International Games, beginning on July 2, with participation of Greece, Turkey, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Albania and Azerbaijan.

    Weather forecast

    [41] Sunny on Saturday, cooler temperatures

    Sunny weather with normal temperatures for the time of year are forecast on Saturday. Winds northeasterly moderate. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 21C and 32C and in Thessaloniki from 18C to 31C.

    [42] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The fire fronts in Mount Parnitha and the rest of the country dominated the front pages of Friday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Greece is on fire as temperatures drop - Parnitha was on fire throughout the night".

    APOGEVMATINI: "National tragedy of huge proportions - PM Karamanlis calls on government to be in a state of alert".

    AVGHI: "National disaster - The fire consumed the Parnitha National Park".

    AVRIANI: "Black day for Greece - Arsonists burned down the last remaining green region in Athens".

    CHORA: "The fires put the country on a state of alert - Suspicions of organized plan by arsonists".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Stocks sold in return for benefits - 10 percent of state-owned stocks sold by OTE telecoms to Greek and foreign investors".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Karamanlis enraged over the collapse of (Public Power Corporation SA) DEH - The overpaid president and CEO of DEH has disappeared".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Breathless".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Parnitha sends out distress signal - Fire rages out of control, camping sites and the Parnitha casino evacuated".

    ESTIA: "Parnitha inferno - The last remaining forest near Athens is destroyed".

    ETHNOS: "Crime with no excuse - Parnitha left at the mercy of fire".

    KATHIMERINI: "Parnitha at the mercy of fire as well".

    LOGOS: "Inferno across the country - Two dead in Agia, Larissa".

    NIKI: "The government a spectator - Fires rage from Evros to Crete, two dead - Biblical disaster in Attiki".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The inflammatory policy of bipartisanism and the real estate market are guilty - Ruthless speculators burn down the country".

    TA NEA: "Crime with no punishment - The government mechanism turned into ashes - The national park had no fire protection".

    TO VIMA: "Athens in the midst of fire and smoke - Greece in flames".

    VRADYNI: "Inferno - The entire country engulfed by fire".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [43] Archbishop Demetrios of America to visit Cyprus

    NEW YORK (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Archbishop Demetrios of America will be visiting Cyprus from July 3 to 6, to attend a concert of the Metropolitan Archbishopric Choir and open a seminar organised by the University of Cyprus for teachers of Greco-American schools.

    During his stay on the island, Archbishop Demetrios will meet with President Tassos Papadopoulos, President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias and Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II.

    On the evening of July 3, Archbishop Demetrios will attend a ceremony, during which President Papadopoulos will decorate former Senator Paul Sarbanes and former Congressman John Bradimas.

    In statements, Archbishop Demetrios said the two Greek-Americans had struggled for years on end for Cyprus. ''They have our full appreciation and admiration, and they deserve to be honoured,'' he noted.

    Referring to the Cyprus problem, he said there has been a small improvement and assured that ''we will strive in every way and with every peaceful means for a just solution of the Cyprus problem.''

    On July 5, Archbishop Demetrios will address the opening of a two-week seminar for teachers of Greco-American schools organised by the University of Cyprus, which will deal with Greek as a second language for English speaking students.

    In the evening, Archbishop Demetrios will attend the concert of the Metropolitan Archbishopric Choir to be held in the gardens of the Presidential Palace. Proceeds will be donated to charity.

    Archbishop Demetrios praised the relations between the American Archbishopric and the Cypriot government and University, as well as the role of the Cypriot community in the US for promoting these ties. ''With my new visit, we will further promote these relations,'' he said.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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