|Saturday, 25 May 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-07-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 5 July 2007 Issue No: 2636
 PM confers by phone with Lebanese counterpartPrime minister Costas Karamanlis spoke by telephone on Wednesday with Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora, at the latter's request.
Siniora briefed the Greek prime minister on the developments in the Middle East, while Karamanlis outlined the briefing he had received by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on her recent visit to Lebanon, as well as on Bakoyannis' talks there with Siniora and members of the Lebanese cabinet.
Karamanlis reiterated Greece's determination to contribute, together with the EU, to strengthening the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Lebanon, and conveyed to Siniora Greece's sentiments of solidarity over the loss of soldiers in the attack against the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
The Greek premier also underlined Greece's approval of the Lebanese government's efforts for the consolidation of security and stability in the country, and stressed that the national dialogue was of prime importance for defusing the tension and attaining political understanding.
 Karamanlis and justice minister discuss promotions in judiciaryPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras met on Wednesday morning to discuss changes in the leadership of Greece's judiciary after several top judges went into retirement at the end of June.
In statements to reporters, Papaligouras stressed that this was a difficult conjunction for the judicial body, since its new leadership would have to carry on the clean-up of justice and handle a number of crucial cases that were now before the courts.
"I am certain that the new leadership of Justice will rise to its absolutely independent and impervious role in dealing with all these issues," he said.
Replying to questions, he said the justices to be promoted to the top judicial posts would be approved by the Cabinet. Questioned regarding the objections raised by main opposition PASOK to the criteria used in this selection, meanwhile, he accused "centres" within the main opposition party of "attempting to corrode justice".
 Bakoyannis meets Pope, discusses Ecumenical Patriarchate, TurkeyVATICAN (ANA-MPA L. Hatzikyriakos)
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was given a private audience at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday. During the 15-minute meeting, they discussed issues concerning the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey's prospects of joining the European Union and the situation in the surrounding region.
"Today's meeting with Pope Benedict XVI was for us particularly important because it gave us an opportunity to have a detailed discussion on issues concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the need for international support for the Ecumenical Patriarchate at a time that is particularly difficult, in the wake of the Turkish court's decision," she said after meeting the Pope.
The minister was referring to a recent decision by a Turkish court that disputed the right of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar to call itself as "Ecumenical" - a title that has followed it down several centuries - and asserted that it actually represented only a tiny community of Greek Orthodox Christians that still remain in Turkey.
The Greek minister stressed that this was a time when "we must unite our voices and explain to all that decisions of this sort have absolutely no place in the modern world".
She underlined that the ecumenical nature of the Patriarchate in Fanar was not disputed by its history nor by those of the Orthodox faith, who recognised the foremost primate of the Orthodox Church as the Ecumenical Patriarch.
"The message of Pope Benedict was exceedingly clear and I believe that the Vatican will continue to carry it everywhere with the same intensity," Bakoyannis added, noting that the Pope had also expressed his best wishes for the speedy recovery of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church.
"He was fully informed about the state of the Archbishop's health and, as you remember, he had also sent a telegram and one of his representatives to Athens," she said. Christodoulos has been in hospital for the past weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a tumour from his intestine.
Bakoyannis then had a longer meeting with the Vatican's foreign minister, the Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.
She said that her talks with Mamberti had covered Greece's dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over that republic's adopted name of 'Macedonia', following the Archbishop's recent visit to Skopje, and other issues concerning the area.
 PASOK leader arrives in Fanar, meets Patriarch BartholomewISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)
Greece's main opposition leader George Papandreou, head of PASOK, arrived in the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar on Wednesday and was received by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
"The Ecumenical Patriarchate has inalienable rights and, of course, no one can dispute the Patriarchate's ecumenical nature," Papandreou said during his visit.
PASOK's leader and the Patriarch had a lengthy discussion, followed by a dinner given in Papandreou's honour by Bartholomew.
In statements addressed to Bartholomew, Papandreou said he visited Istanbul in order to express his support and sympathy for the Ecumenical Patriarchate as an institution, and also to the Patriarch in person.
He was referring to a recent ruling by a Turkish Supreme Court that disputed the Patriarchate's 'Ecumenical' nature and asserted that it actually represented only the tiny community of Greek Orthodox Christians that still remain in Turkey.
Patriarch Bartholomew said the court's decision was an addition to the existing outstanding problems faced by the Patriarchate in Turkey:
"This ecumenicalism is for us and for all the Christian - and not just the Christian - world, a fact and has applied from the 6th century until today," Bartholomew said during his talks with Papandreou.
"This recent decision of the Ankara Supreme Court does not in the slightest affect the outward presence, mission and testimony of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. On the other side, it is sad to see this not pleasant attitude toward the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from the powers in our country," he added.
"We hope that some solution will be given as soon as possible, especially after the elections that are coming here in Turkey," Bartholomew said, expressing hope that there would "positive developments" after the formation of a new Turkish government and noting that this would be good not just for the Patriarchate but also for Turkey, which was seeking to join the EU and must on this course "revise many of its traditional positions and attitudes".
Papandreou promised to discuss the issue of the Patriarchate with the Portuguese prime minister, whose country took over the rotating EU presidency on Monday.
"Solving the problems that you face is, of course, among the obligations that Turkey must fulfill in its course toward the EU," Papandreou noted in his talks with the Patriarch.
 Deputy FM meets with Libyan leader Qaddafi's sonDeputy foreign minister Evripides Stylianidis met Wednesday with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's eldest son, Dr. Muhammad Qaddafi, to discuss intensification of bilateral economic relations between Greece and Libya.
"The visit by the Libyan envoy comes after the visit by (Greece's) President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias to Tripoli in 2006," Stylianidis explained.
He said that, during the meeting, they examined the prospect of an underwater telecoms link between Greece and Libya, as well as developments in Greek investments in the mining of energy resources in Libya, and also the propsect of developing bilateral cooperation in the tourism and commercial sectors.
Stylianidis noted that Papoulias, during his visit to Libya, had signed with Muammar Qaddafi a framework-agreement in the tourism sector.
The two sides ascertained the "very good climate existing between the two countries and the many prospects opening up for the improvement of bilateral relations," Stylianidis added.
 Draft bill on broadcast concentration, licensing passes first hurdleA draft bill regarding the concentration and licensing of broadcasters -- television and radio -- was ratified, in principle, on Wednesday, with a full vote by the Parliament plenum scheduled for Thursday. One hundred and forty-six MPs voted in favor, 108 voted against, practically all along party lines.
Debate on the long-awaited draft bill began in Parliament late Tuesday, with the relevant minister saying transparency is finally being instituted in Greece's often chaotic broadcast landscape, whereas the opposition pointed to benefits for "specific media".
Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, in his opening address, said the draft bill also promotes "healthy competition", ensures plurality and relieves broadcasters from being held "hostage" by whatever government is in power.
Conversely, opposition parties sharply criticised the timing of bill's tabling in Parliament, as the legislature's last day of the current session is Friday. Opposition rapporteurs also disputed Roussopoulos' initial statement, saying the bill entailed "more state" dominance over independent broadcasters.
Regarding the envisioned establishment of a new digital television subsidiary by state-run broadcaster ERT S.A., Roussopoulos said the bill mandates a 51-percent share for ERT and 49 percent, maximum, for private interests. The minister said provisions in the bill close a loophole leftover by 1998 law, passed by a then PASOK government, that left open the possibility of ERT's complete privatisation.
Conversely, opposition parties charged that the digital TV provision will merely act as a "battering ram" for private interests' infiltration of ERT.
 Environment, farm ministers discuss Parnitha projectsTwo working groups will be set up to propose methods for carrying out studies on the construction of flood-protection projects for Parnitha and the mountain's reforestation following last week's devastating fires, Environment Minister George Souflias announced on Wednesday after a meeting with Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Bassiakos.
Also participating in the meeting were the regional authority chief for Attica, general secretaries of the two ministries, the chief forest warden for Parnitha and other officials.
Souflias announced that the next meeting will take place on Saturday, at which the first measures for Parnitha would likely be decided and announced and time schedules set. These measures would include the vital works to protect against flooding and erosion, work on the reforestation of the burnt areas, guarding the region and protecting the mountain's wildlife.
The minister announced that the mapping of the areas burnt by the army's geographical service and the Parnitha forestry department was already underway.
"Today, we had a preliminary meeting on these issues and carried out a first assessment of the situation. Our task is difficult but we will manage it," he added. He also stressed that the government would do "everything humanly possible" and that it was determined to make available all the funds necessary for Parnitha.
The environment minister announced that there would be an on-the-spot visit to Parnitha over the next few days and a meeting with all local government bodies involved, including prefects, mayors, forest wardens and preservation bodies in order to ensure good coordination.
"We will also discuss how best to use the good will of all those that have expressed a desire to contribute financially to save Parnitha," he added.
He refused to comment on the handling of the Parnitha fire or to announce dates for the projects that would now have to be carried out.
Bassiakos said that there was very good cooperation with Souflias and that the agriculture ministry would "contribute so that the flood-protection and anti-erosion works and other reforestation projects on Parnitha will proceed quickly".
 Kaklamanis proposes KEDKE give money to fire-stricken areasThe head of of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, on Wednesday proposed that KEDKE provide financial assistance to the areas stricken by the recent spate of fires from KEDKE's funds.
Kaklamanis made the proposal during a meeting of KEDKE held to brief them on his recent meeting with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.
He suggested that KEDKE give 100,000 euros to municipalities in Attica, 50,000 euros to municipalities in Thessaloniki and 75,000 euros to Larisa and Magnesia prefecture.
Regarding his meeting with Alogoskoufis, Kaklamanis said the minister had admitted that the state had withheld taxes that belonged to local government but that KEDKE and the government had failed to agree on the precise amount. They decided to set up a mixed committee between the two sides to discuss and decide what the final amount should be, provided an agreement could be reached.
The minister also promised to gradually start paying those debts from the first half of 2008 and to provide extra sums for the contract workers who had been given permanent positions for 2007.
 Gov't lashes out over top PASOK cadre's alleged involvement in questionable bond purchasesA government spokesman on Wednesday again heaped criticism on a top main opposition PASOK cadre cited by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself in Parliament on Monday evening as involved in questionable purchases of structured bonds while serving at the helm of a state-run fund.
"I don't see any reaction by PASOK to the evidence presented in Parliament by the prime minister," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters at his regular press briefing on Wednesday.
"What I see is that both the PASOK leader and the person directly involved, Ioannis Papaconstantinou, are avoiding the substance of the issue. They are not saying a word about the suspicious transactions Mr. Papaconstantinou is alleged to have made; they are trying to cover-up an issue and create a veil behind inconsequential arguments in order to skirt away from the only answer they must provide, namely, if (PASOK leader George) Papandreou continues ... to back and maintain Mr. Papaconstantinou as PASOK's general director after the evidence presented against him," the spokesman charged.
The nascent Papaconstantinou affair is part an ongoing furor initially emanating from a questionable 280-million-euro structured bond purchase by the civil servants' supplementary fund some three months ago, a development that caused a firestorm of criticism, particularly by PASOK, aimed at the government.
The top PASOK cadre served as the president of the National Road Fund, a state-run entity assigned the task of managing and exploiting the country's toll stations as well as maintenance of highways. Papaconstantinou was appointed as fund president in previous PASOK governments, while he was relieved of the post in late 2004.
Asked by reporters over Papaconstantinou's threat to take legal recourse, Antonaros noted that "when certain charges surfaced against cadres hailing from ruling New Democracy (ND) regarding an issue uncovered by ND itself, these cadres were cashiered. I don't see Mr. Papandreou doing the same thing with the general director of his own party".
 Int'l Crisis Management conference opens in AthensAn International Conference on Crisis Management, titled "Athena 2007" opened Wednesday at a central Athens hotel, under the auspices of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (GEETHA).
The three-day conference, which runs through Friday, was inaugurated by national defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who in a brief greeting noted that such initiatives advance information and exchanges of views on the successful prevention and management of crises.
The Greek government, he said, was working for the prevention of conflicts in the region, in order to consolidate an environment of confidence, mutual understanding and cooperation, to the benefit of the prosperity of the peoples.
GEETHA chief, Admiral Panayotis Chinofitis, stressed that close international cooperation was the only way to confronting threats.
The objective of the Conference is to acquire familiarity with a broad spectrum of crisis management issues, as well as to inform and exchange views on the methods, procedures and capabilities of the International Community for crisis prevention and management, in the broader developing environment.
‘he issues to be addressed during the Conference refer to mechanisms of crisis management, developed by countries and international organizations, as well as the lessons learnt from participation in various crisis management operations and exercises at international level.
Additional issues to be addressed will be the developments in areas of international interest.
The Conference is attended by 219 political and military representatives from 44 countries and international organizations, as well as, representatives from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Defence, Ministry of Public Order, Ministry of Merchant Marine, the Secretariat General of Information, and the Secretariat General of Communication.
 Black Sea ministers discuss linking culture with developmentCulture ministers of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) countries met in the Attica resort of Sounio on Wednesday to discuss ways in which culture might be linked to economic and social development in their countries.
Participants in the meeting included the ministers of Greece, Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Turkey. They represent the BSEC's newly formed Working Group for Culture that is coordinated by Greece and was approved by BSEC foreign ministers in November 2006 in Moscow.
Its aim is to develop joint actions and programmes that "will produce tangible results and specific benefits for all BSEC member-states, with priority to the areas of contemporary art, cultural tourism, boosting inter-cultural dialogue and in the economy of culture, a notion that is gaining ever more ground within the European family," said Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis in his address to the meeting.
Greece's proposal includes the creation of a network in every sector of contemporary artistic creation in all BSEC member-states and "joint cultural routes" in BSEC countries, to which Greece was willing to contribute its own knowhow, the minister added.
In a joint announcement issued by the working group at the end of Wednesday's sessions, the ministers pledged to boost existing cooperation within the BSEC and to extend this further with UNESCO and the Council of Europe, as well as other regional and international bodies and with non-governmental cultural cooperation networks, the arts industry and business community. They also noted the need to finalise a preliminary action plan by the end of September.
 Synaspismos unveils 'SYRIZA' leftist groupings' proclamation ahead of election cooperationCoalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday unveiled a proclamation by the SYRIZA grouping of leftist parties, the banner under which Synaspismos will come under during the next general elections.
During a ceremony, veteran leftist activist Manolis Glezos, a noteworthy WWII resistance figure, referred to a programme statement envisioning cooperation by the country's leftist parties and formations.
On his part, Alavanos reiterated his estimation that the two-party system of alternating in power is in its "swan song".
Among others, the proclamation leaves open the possibility of cooperation with other leftist parties, an indirect nod to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
 German professors visit Archbishop of Athens and All Greece ChristodoulosGerman professors Christoph Broelsch and Markus Buchler arrived in Athens on Wednesday and visited the Areteion hospital in Athens where Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos is continuing to undergo treatment.
The visits "had been scheduled and were carried out in the afternoon," according to a relevant announcement.
"Cooperation followed between the Archbishop's attending Greek doctors and the German specialists, focusing on an examination of both the patient's post-operational course and the tactic to be followed in handling the liver problem," it added.
"The German professors, after being given a full briefing and after examining the patient, expressed their satisfaction over the handling of the patient's situation so far. The guests, together with their Greek colleagues, discussed and jointly agreed on the next stages concerning the further course of the patient and, mainly, the liver problem, that is potentially considered as being able to be treated," the announcement further said.
The announcement concluded by saying that "the timetable for the next stages will depend on the patient's rate of recovery from the present phase. In every case, an extension of his treatment will be required."
 FinMin addresses Constantine Karamanlis Democracy Institute eventFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis addressed an event organised by the Constantine Karamanlis Democracy Institute on the theme of "Dynamic economy, fair society" on Wednesday, focusing on the government's economic policy.
"Our aim is a fair society through a dynamic economy. Because one cannot implement an effective social policy unless he has an effective and competitive economy, that will create the suitable resources for effective social interventions. And this requires reforms. Targeted and well-planned reforms. And this is what we are doing," the minister said.
Alogoskoufis referred at length to the government's economic policy, stressing that its results are tangible. He placed emphasis on the decrease in the fiscal deficit below the 3 percent of GDP limit, to 2.6 percent, the decrease in the public debt from 108.5 percent in 2004 (this year it is expected to be limited to 100 percent of GDP), to high development rates (3.7 percent in 2005, 4.3 percent in 2006 and 4.6 percent in the first quarter this year) and the GDP per capita as a percentage of the European Union's average that will reach 80 percent this year.
"We are covering the ground that we had lost over 25 whole years," he said.
The finance minister also referred to the decrease in unemployment from 11.3 percent in the first quarter of 2004 to 9.1 percent in the first quarter of 2007. Employment increased from 56.7 percent to 61 percent. The real available income of households increased by 4 percent in 2006 and 3.4 percent in 2005, as against an average of 1.8 percent during PASOK's 8-year governance.
Lastly, the minister referred to the de-escalation of inflation and to the strengthening of social cohesion through specific action.
 FinMin addresses maritime economists conferenceFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis addressed the 17th International Union of Maritime Economists Conference on Wednesday, stressing that the international economy is achieving positive performances for the fifth consecutive year which are also reflected in the shipping sector and in Greek shipping in particular.
Alogoskoufis focused on "considerable progress achieved by the Greek economy over the past three years, particularly on the increase in development, the restructuring of public finances, the improvement in competitiveness, the increase in exports and the decrease in unemployment, in parallel with the boosting of social cohesion."
The minister said that the good performances of the Greek economy reflect the effectiveness of the economic policy and of the reformist programme of the government.
Referring to Greece's geopolitical position in southeastern Europe, he underlined that it is one of the country's strategic advantages and revealed that southeastern Europe has the preconditions to become Europe's economic miracle over the next 15-20 years.
Alogoskoufis also said that Greece has entered an era of economic and social progress, having a dynamic economy and a central role in developments in the wider region.
"We are determined to continue our reformist programme to further strengthen development, employment and social cohesion," he concluded.
 Greek state's proceeds from OTE equity sales total 6.09 bln euros, reportThe Greek state's proceeds from the sale of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) shares during the period 1996-2007 totaled 6.09 billion euros, a report by Alpha Bank stated on Wednesday.
The report cited what it called the "remarkable success" of the latest sale of 52.4 million shares of OTE, 10.7 pct of the telephony utility's equity capital, at 21.4 euros per share. The sale was several times oversubscribed and proceeds from the sale totaled 1.12 billion euros, covering 65 percent of the government's budget target from privatisations (1.7 billion euros) in 2007.
Following the sale, the Greek state's participation in OTE totals 28 percent.
Alpha Bank's analysts said the previous sale of OTE's shares was made in September 2005, a total of 49.06 million euros worth 835 million euros. The report said the government was expected to sell an equity stake in the Postal Savings Bank through the Athens Stock Exchange.
 Greek households' debt up 24.7 pct in April, yr/yrCredit expansion maintained high growth rates in the first four months of 2007, with net new borrowing by the private and public sectors totaling 3.2 billion euros, up 11.2 percent compared with the same period last year, the Bank of Greece announced on Wednesday.
The central bank, in its monthly report, said this development mainly reflected an 8.4-billion euros net borrowing by businesses and households (up 19.2 pct from 2006), while net borrowing by the public sector was down 13.9 percent, or 5.1 billion euros.
Households' debt in mortgage and consumer loans totaled 91.4 billion euros in April 2007, or 44 pct of the country's Gross Domestic Product, up 24.7 pct from the same period last year. Mortgage and consumer loans grew slightly faster in April, after a 24.5-percent growth rate in March.
Mortgage loans grew at 25.5 pct in April, unchanged from March, with outstanding debt at 61.089 billion euros, while consumer credit grew by 22.6 pct in April, from 22 pct in March, with debt owed to banks totaling 28.040 billion euros, of which 8.5 billion euros were credit card debt.
Businesses' debt, including securitized loans (2.694 billion euros in April from 2.745 billion euros in March) totaled 96.3 billion euros, for a growth rate of 14.4 pct, down from 15.9 pct in March.
Saving deposits grew steadily as well, totaling 177.261 billion euros at the end of April, up 11.7 pct from the same month in 2006.
 Coalition party official comments on household loansCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Political Bureau member and economic and social policy rapporteur, Panayiotis Lafazanis, commented on Wednesday on data provided by the Bank of Greece on the loaning of households.
"The exorbitant and continuously increasing, month after month, loaning of households under conditions of a continuing increase in interest rates and a looting attitude by banks towards loan recipients constitutes a great wound for working class families and a savage way of drawing the incomes of the Greek people," Lafazanis said.
"The government, instead of taking measures that will rein in the unaccountability of banks, is covering and supporting their looting practices, resulting in the Greek people working, as well almost the entire economy, so that the unbelievable super profits of funding capital can gallop year after year," he added.
 Athens International Convention Centre at Faliron indoor stadiumProcedures for the implementation of the Athens International Convention Centre at the Faliron indoor stadium will begin through cooperation between the public and private sectors.
The project, budgeted at 94 million euros, plus VAT and heavy duty maintenance and insurance cost, will focus on the funding, study, transformation, reconstruction and technical management and shaping of the area surrounding the Faliron indoor stadium.
The private agency involved in the agreement will assume the study and transformation of the project, the shaping of the surrounding area, the funding, technical management and maintenance of the project for 25 years from the commencement of the International Convention Centre's operation.
 Postbank named "Bank of the Year" in BulgariaPostbank -a subsidiary of Eurobank in Bulgaria- aims to become one of the three largest banks in Bulgaria, Antonis Hasiotis, the bank's general manager told ANA-MPA on Wednesday.
Hasiotis said a recent acquisition of DZI Bank paved the way for Postbank to reach to top in the Bulgarian banking system. He made these comments shortly after receiving the "Bank of the Year" award from Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.
Postbank won the award for recording the most dynamic growth in the banking sector last year, after an evaluation of its assets, profits, savings deposits, credit to deposits ratio and other objective criteria by a special commission headed by Bulgarian government ministers.
"We are proud for this award, for which we worked hard last year," Hasiotis told ANA-MPA.
 Greece, Cyprus participate in US food show in ManhattanGreece and Cyprus will participate in this year's International Fancy Food Summer Show 2007 to be held at the Jacob K. Javits conference centre in Manhattan, NY, July 8-10.
The Greek pavillion, organised by the Hellenic Export Promotion Organisation, will include 26 export enterprises. Among them will be the Federation of Hellenic Dairy Product Industries with the aim to promote Greek cheece products to the US market.
The International Fancy Food Summer Show is one of the biggest of its kind in the world. It brings together more than 1,800 US and more than 500 international enterprises from the food business.
 Everest SA to develop Gloria Jean's Coffees coffee house networkThe Everest SA company announced on Wednesday the finalising of an agreement on the assumption of master franchising in the Greek market of the coffee house network under the name of Gloria Jean's Coffees.
According to a relevant announcement, the initial business plan includes the development of 3-4 partnership outlets in the first stage, as well as the granting of franchising contracts at selected locations in the wider region of the Attica prefecture and in Thessaloniki.
The choice of the specific chain by the Everest group was based on a careful assessment and study of the Greek market, that has been presenting a satisfactory development rate in past years.
The first partnership outlets will have been created by the end of 2007.
 Greek stocks end 0.85 pct higherGreek stocks moved higher for the third consecutive session this week in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index rose 0.85 percent to end at 4,922.21 points with turnover a strong 495.26 million euros.
Most sectors ended higher with the Technology (4.45 pct), Media (1.96 pct) and Financial Services (1.67 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Personal/Home Products (0.88 pct), Telecommunications (0.64 pct) and Commerce (0.59 pct) suffered the heaviest losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.75 pct, the Mid Cap index was 0.73 pct higher and the Small Cap index jumped 1.21 pct.
Domiki Crete (13.42 pct), Byte (10.81 pct) and Dionik (10 pct) were top gainers, while Creta Plastics (6.98 pct), ANEK (6.86 pct) and VIS (5.06 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 173 to 92 with another 40 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.08%
Personal & Household: -0.86%
Raw Materials: +0.09%
Travel & Leisure: +1.06%
Food & Beverages: +0.90%
Financial Services: +1.67%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Marfin Popular Bank, National Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.00
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.70
HBC Coca Cola: 33.66
Hellenic Petroleum: 12.00
Emporiki Bank: 21.26
National Bank of Greece: 43.44
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 24.80
Titan Cement Company: 43.54
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices returned to discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, while turnover was a low 84.250 million euros.
The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.47 pct, while on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.02 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 4,824 contracts worth 62.823 million euros, with 37,615 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 139 contracts worth 4.490 million euros, with 1,305 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,952 contracts worth 16.936 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Intracom's contracts (3,217), followed by Eurobank (223), PPC (230), Piraeus Bank (1,372), National Bank (920) and Alpha Bank (820).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.036 billion euros on Wendesday, of which 1.349 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 687 million were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 750 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.22 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.82 pct and the German Bund 4.60 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved lower. National Bank's overnight rate eased to 4.03 pct from 4.04 pct on Tuesday, the two-day rate fell to 4.03 pct from 4.04 pct, the one-month rate eased to 4.10 pct from 4.11 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.53 pct from 4.52 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.372
Pound sterling 0.680
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 9.246
Japanese yen 168.2
Swiss franc 1.669
Norwegian kroner 8.0
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.453
Australian dollar 1.600
 Foreign national arrested for killing baby daughterA 33-year-old Syrian national has been arrested for stabbing his 22-month-old infant to death and also injuring his estranged wife's 44-year-old companion shortly after midnight in the Tavros district of Athens, and was due to be brought before a public prosecutor later Wednesday, police said.
The 33-year-old man went to his estranged wife's apartment in Tavros late Tuesday night, where he stabbed the woman's 44-year-old Greek companion and also the 22-month-old baby girl.
The baby succumbed to the stab wounds later at the Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital, while the companion was hospitalised at the Laiko Hospital and his condition was reported as not life-threatening.
The Syrian man was arrested.
Police told ANA-MPA that a restraining order had been imposed on the Syrian man, forbidding him from approaching the child, following a formal complaint lodged by the woman that he had been threatening to kill the little girl if the couple finally separated.
The man told police that he went every Sunday to the Tavros apartment to see the child, but never found anyone at home, and had not seen his daughter for about a year and a half.
 Arrest warrant issued for officer allegedly involved in police brutality incidentAn arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday for a police officer assigned to the central Omonia precinct and in relation to an incident of alleged police brutality at the station in the spring of 2005.
The warrant lists felony charges related to the mistreatment of prisoners at the precinct, images apparently caught on mobile phone video, segments of which were aired on Athens television stations over recent days.
An initial investigation points to the suspect's presence at the precinct, on the Saturday before Orthodox Easter Sunday in 2005, while he was off duty.
 Gov't shuts down 41 hotels without fire safety certificatesThe tourism development ministry on Wednesday announced a decision to close down 41 small and medium-sized hotels found in the Ionian islands, Crete and the Cyclades for failure to obtain fire safety certificates.
Minister Fani Palli-Petralia referred to a difficult but necessary decision, taken to safeguard the credibility of the country's tourism sector.
"We are cleaning up the landscape in the hotel sector," she added.
Petralia said inspections would focus on small and medium-sized hotels, the backbone of Greek tourism, and stressed that the ministry was aiming to achieve on line connection of all regional services with the central administration.
 Ricomex factory architects acquitted over building's collapseThe two architects that designed the Ricomex factory building, which collapsed during an earthquake on September 7, 1999 killing 39 people, were acquitted by a majority vote in a Mixed Jury Appeals Court on Wednesday.
By six votes to one, the court found that the architects Nikos Scholidis and Alexandros Dovas could not be held responsible for the structural additions made to the building, which was in any case problematic.
According to the court president Nikos Leontis, the building's collapse was an "unlucky coincidence" and "all those that might have been involved were not here".
"I feel morally obliged to tell you that we agonized over this a long time. But we had no evidence that proved the guilt of the accused. I believe that our decision is close to the reality," the judge said in comments on the court's decision.
The announcement of the court's decision caused an outcry in the courtroom as relatives of the victims protested against the judges' ruling.
A lawyer representing the victims' families, Andreas Anagnostakis, emphasised the contradictory rulings passed by the criminal courts and the civil courts, which had awarded compensation in this case.
The two architects, who originally faced charges of manslaughter with malice aforethought for the 39 deaths caused by the building's collapse, had each been convicted on a lesser charge of manslaughter through negligence by a lower Mixed Jury Court, which had passed suspended sentences of five years imprisonment.
That ruling had been reversed by the Greek Supreme Court Areios Paghos.
A Mixed Jury Appeals Court consists of a panel of one Appeals Court President, two appellate judges and four sworn jury members, who are selected by lot from a list of eligible citizens that are permanent residents of the area where the appeals court is located and have not been deprived of their political rights.
 President briefed by Leftist Youth Historical SocietyPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias met Wednesday with the Leftist Youth Historical Society (EMIAN).
The Society members briefed Papoulias on EMIAN's activities and their ongoing preparation of a full archives on the history of the leftist youth.
The delegation was headed by EMIAN president and Piraeus University alternate professor Vassilis Kostopoulos.
 Slightly hotter on ThursdayTemperatures are expected to increase slightly in the east and south of the country, while strong northwesterly winds will gradually prevail in the west and north of Greece. Winds northwesterly moderate. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 22C and 37C and in Thessaloniki from 21C to 33C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe measures approved Tuesday by the Inner Cabinet on protection of the country's forests, and the high-risk structured bonds affair were the main front-page items in Wednesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Karamanlis (prime minister) the leader of the political scene - His latest, catalytic, appearance in parliament confirmed this".
APOGEVMATINI: "10.244 hirings - Analytical charts with the positions".
AVGHI: "Bombard the prime minister with protest e-mails on the forests, at firstname.lastname@example.org ".
AVRIANI: "Storm of scandals (revelations) coming, with 'green' and 'blue' scammers the protagonists - The 'hot files' from the Simitis (PASOK) 8-year term in office to be opened up".
CHORA: "Salary increases in the Security Corps - The changes being prepared".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "They put Souflias forward, to do something over Parnitha, because they were...flooded with fear of the floods" following the devastating forest fire on Mt. Parnitha".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "SOS measures for the floods - The plan to close the wounds on Parnitha and shield Attica and the Periphery - Souflias the coordinator".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The 6 streams now a nightmare - Prof. Lekkas charts Parnitha".
ESTIA: "Parnitha causes political damage - Disappointment over the government's handlings".
ETHNOS: "They muzzled the Fire Brigade chief - With orders from above, Kois' scheduled press conference was cancelled".
KATHIMERINI: "Hasty measures for protection of the forests at the Parnitha national park".
LOGOS: "Reforestation here and now - Measures announced by government - Souflias undertakes coordinator's role".
NIKI: "The Holy Trinity of the Right - Papandreou: Manipulation of the mass media, money, state-booty".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Not one euro in funding from 2001 to 2005 - The ND and PASOK governments' criminal policy in the area of '(forest) fire prevention".
TA NEA: "He's seeking life raft in 'scandals', Souflias - Blue 'rock' the choice of Karamanlis".
TO VIMA: "The new scandal - With 180 million euro bond, they made turnover of 2.5 billion euro - And the Akropolis (brokerage implicated in the structured bond affair) commission reached 9 million euro from 700,000 euro".
VRADYNI: "Papandreou, PASOK, with their backs against the wall, following the avalanche of revelations on the 'green' officials".
 British envoy for Cyprus pledges to work for a settlementLONDON (CNA/ANA-MPA)
British Special Representative for Cyprus, Labour Member of Parliament, Joan Ryan has said that although her appointment does not represent a new initiative on behalf of the United Kingdom ''it does represent our commitment to work with all Cypriots, particularly Cypriots in the United Kingdom to help find a comprehensive, a just and a lasting settlement for Cyprus.''
''I am very honoured to be appointed Special Representative to Cyprus by the Prime Minister working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Prime Minister,'' Ryan said, adding that the longer the situation goes on the more intractable and the harder this becomes.
Ryan stressed that ''all feel that we have to now redouble our effort to find this solution. It is not for me to tell people, to Cypriots, what to think, what to do and what is the solution. ‘hat is not my role. I am a channel of communication to the CFO, to the Prime Minister. We have the Prime Minister's ear and I think that can only be a good thing for Cyprus.''
She said Britain has for many years tried to fulfill its responsibility as a guarantor power.
''I think this is a further restatement of our commitment to do just that. I intent to listen, to work hard with all Cypriots, to be a friend to Cyprus, to which I have been for quite some years now,'' she added.
She said she has a long standing interest in Cyprus and expressed hope that ''together, using this role and your good offices we can push further this agenda working on the basis of that 8th of July 2006 Agreement.''
''I think that is the basis on which we wish to work and wish to take that forward. I am sure that Cypriot diaspora wants to put its full weight and support behind that and get these talks under way. That's really my role and is my commitment to work impartially with all Cypriots to find that comprehensive, lasting and just settlement that we all want,'' Ryan noted.
She congratulated Peter Droushiotis on his election as President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the United Kingdom and thanked former President Harry Sophoclides for his services and the support she had from him, expressing hope that she will continue to have the same support.
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