|Saturday, 15 August 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-09-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 5 September 2007 Issue No: 2689
 PM: Greek people are actively proving their humanitarianismPrime minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday chaired a meeting focussing on appraising and reviewing implementation of the government's measures aimed at abolishing bureaucracy in the provision of aid to the people who suffered losses in the recent wildfires.
No statements were made after the meeting, which was attended by national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, employment minister Vassilis Magginas, agricultural development minister Evangelos Bassiakos, caretaker interior minister Spyros Flogaitis, and former interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
Earlier, Karamanlis visited the Service Centre for the Fire-Stricken set up at the General State Accounting Office, where a four-digit telephone line (1555) is in operation round-the-clock.
The premier was briefed there by Alogoskoufis, deputy finance minister Petros Doukas, and the Centre's director Panayotis Drosos.
The Centre has so far received 170,000 phone calls, while the number of citizens calling to seek information on the government's measures for the fire-stricken and how they can help has increased in recent days.
Immediately afterwards, Karamanlis went to the Hellenic Red Cross' central warehouse, where material aid for the fire-stricken is being collected. The premier said after the visit that the patriotism manifested by the Greeks during the days of the fire crisis "strengthens our sense of optimism for the future", adding that the Greeks were actively proving their humanitarianism, and thanked everyone contributing to this common effort.
He said that contribution was a necessary condition for a cohesive society, adding that both his visits aimed at stressing the positive messages arising from the difficult situation the country was going through. "In these difficult days, we have witnessed an unprecedented wave of solidarity and humanitarianism," Karamanlis said.
 A friendlier state for the citizen the aim, Minister of State saysMinister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Tuesday that the government is capitalising on the experience obtained during the days of crisis to incorporate it in daily life, with the aim of achieving a state that will be friendlier towards the citizen.
The minister further said that what the weaknesses were is something that is being examined and to what degree were they observed, to enable procedures to be simplified and for the citizen to be served speedily.
The axes will be the submission of a formal declaration and more so in the citizen's transactions with the state, the further decrease in signatures and documents within the administration and the recording of the experience obtained from the operation of the line 1555.
Roussopoulos also said that line 1564 is already operating as a telephone centre for serving citizens, through the interior ministry on issues concerning the citizen and public services.
The minister went on to say that aerial photos of farmland are being taken since February this year, and at the same time identification with their owners, that will be completed by 2008, to enable farmers to have immediate service.
Moreover, he revealed that the accounts of 26,077 farmers and stockbreeders have been credited with 37 million euros, while 48,925 Greek citizens have already been compensated with the amount of 185 million euros.
The 1555 line has received 172,074 calls, of which 49,901 from citizens requesting information on measures being implemented and 122,173 concerning offers from citizens and from businesses.
Lastly, he thanked Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos for his contribution to the wildfire-stricken and to the regions affected and welcomed the European Parliament's resolution on "natural disasters."
 Euro-Parliament approves resolution on natural disasters, fires in GreecePARIS (ANA-MPA - O. Tsipira)
A resolution dealing with natural disasters that emphasised the recent fires in Greece was approved by an overwhelming majority of MEPs on Tuesday. The resolution had been proposed by the four largest political groups in the Euro-Parliament and included a direct reference to the present Greek government's attempt to revise article 24 of the Greek Constitution so as to reduce protection for forests.
This reference was made in an amendment proposed by the Greens - passed by 342 votes for, 274 against and 20 abstentions - which stated that the "European Parliament condemns the practice of legalising illegal structures in protected areas and in areas where building is generally not allowed and asks for the immediate cessation of every effort to reduce protection of forests through revisions of the Greek Constitution (article 24)."
The resolution also referred to Ancient Olympia, calling attention to the danger to which the birthplace of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Museum had been exposed. MEPs asked that funds be made available for restoration in cases where sites of European cultural heritage suffer damage from the continuing forest fires.
The text of the resolution made a brief assessment of the destruction wrought by the fires in Greece and noted that "the extent and consequences of such phenomena often exceed the regional and national scale and urgently require effective European commitment".
MEPs asked the European Commission to activate the current EU Solidarity Fund and other community mechanisms, such as the structural funds, in order to relieve the plight of the victims and provide for their needs.
They also underline the need to fast track procedures for accessing EU funding for the recovery of cultivated land, noting their "insistent" demand that the European Council arrive at a decision without delay regarding the new regulations for the EU Solidarity Fund, bearing in mind that the European Parliament approved its position in May 2006.
The deputies additionally backed a call for a European rapid reaction force for dealing with emergencies, as proposed in the report by former European Commission Michel Barnier.
In a section on prevention and coordination in the case of natural disasters by member-states, MEPs urged the Commission to ask member-state governments to present their operations programmes for dealing with natural disasters and their experience in implementing these programmes, exchange of experiences in prevention and readiness measures, and to explore the possibility of cooperation with the EU's neighbours in fighting major forest fires in order to prepare for the fire season in 2008.
The text calls for strengthening prevention and civil protection mechanisms against natural disasters and instructs the European Commission to monitor the direct assistance given to member-states after natural disasters and ask for the return of funds not used for the purposes they had been provided for.
Finally, MEPs proposed sending a European Parliament delegation to the countries worst hit by the recent natural disasters in order to express the Parliament's solidarity with the local populations and to witness the extent of the destruction in terms of lives, property, social networks, the environment, the economy and reach conclusions on improving prevention and response in similar situations in the future.
 Portuguese President on wildfires in GreeceSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, whose country is currently exercising the European Union presidency, expressed the feelings of solidarity of the Portuguese people towards Greece during a press conference here on Tuesday.
"In Portugal we watched the destruction that struck Greece a few days ago," he said.
Silva added that "Portugal, among other countries, was called on to activate itself, which it did. From what I know, the EU also showed its solidarity towards Greece in an active way," and pointed out that the fact that there were many deaths is very sad.
"Europe must show solidarity when a country is struck by a disaster, as was the case in Greece this summer," he said and stressed that he has no doubt that the European Commission and all of the EU's institutional bodies will do all that is possible to help Greece.
Also speaking during the joint press conference, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering said that "what Greece experienced was an unspeakable tragedy and we must show solidarity."
 Initiative by Parliament President on combating of wildfires in the MediterraneanParliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda, in her capacity as president of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, on Tuesday took the initiative to mobilize the Assembly's members on the matter of the recent wildfires, which did not only affect Greece but also other Mediterranean countries.
According to a Parliament press release, Benaki-Psarouda, having secured the agreed opinion of the other three members of the Assembly's presidium (that is, of the presidents of the European Parliament, of Egypt and Tunisia), assigned to the Assembly's relevant Culture Committee to convene immediately and to examine the unprecedented phenomenon of the wildfires in the Mediterranean and to propose specific measures for the prevention and confrontation of their consequences.
 PASOK spokesman on protection of forestsMain opposition PASOK spokesman Yiannis Raggousis on Tuesday invited Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis "to declare that he will not insist on revising Article 24 of the Constitution relating to the protection of forests."
Raggousis said that the European Parliament had, earlier in the day, voted a resolution demanding "that any effort to revise Article 24 of the Constitution should stop, in order to fully protect forest lands in Greece."
Raggousis claimed that the EP's resolution "has not been voted for by deputies of the European People's Party (EPP), a member of which is (ruling) New Democracy (ND) party."
Referring to a report by Morgan Stanley published August 30, saying that OTE's share price will rise by 25 percent if the current government was re-elected, while it could fall by 15 percent if it lost the elections, Raggousis said that it was "an unprecedented effort to influence and guide the Greek people's vote."
The main opposition party spokesman accused Morgan Stanley of "acting as a crutch to the government, actually at a moment when the government has lost all initiative in political developments," adding that the international company's assessments "have nothing to do with the science of economics."
Responding to a relevant question, Raggousis said that his party would insist on having also a televised debate between PASOK leader George Papandreou and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
 Papandreou gives interview to MEGA television channelMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou gave his first election interview to the MEGA television channel on Tuesday night, stressing that "we are not only better, I want to prove that we are also radically different," while noting that he wants a strong majority and will form a government of experienced people after the elections.
Papandreou said that the "risk contained in the elections is great" and underlined that his main concern is to help the country and for this reason he is calling on the citizens to trust him in order to implement policies that are radically different from those of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party.
At the same time, he sharply criticised Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, saying that "it has been proved that he is inadequate for this country" and that "he is not suitable for the post he holds."
Papandreou further said that he initially wanted to give opportunities to the Karamanlis government, taking criticism from his own party, but the "government not only rejected the offer but did not even build on what PASOK had left."
However, the main opposition party leader expressed confidence that the people will think of the future of the country in front of the ballot boxes and will go to the polls with the logic that says that there must be a change.
As regards the issue of wildfires, Papandreou said that PASOK has presented an integrated proposal, while referring to the 3,000 euros being given, he termed them "fares to enable the wildfire-stricken to emigrate to another region of the country."
On the question of funding for this plan, Papandreou said that, first of all, "the people would not say no if we requested a sacrifice from them" and further said that the money can be found in what the government is losing from the Third Community Support Framework, which he estimated as being 2.5 billion euros, "from about 2 billion euros that we have to give back due to the increase in GDP, and which the PASOK government will claim, and from extraordinary funding from the European Union's Solidarity Fund which is about 5 billion euros."
Assessing the results of opinion polls in which Karamanlis is ahead, the PASOK leader spoke of "a government that is functioning like a television station with comedies and tragedies" and stressed that "politics is not a beauty contest."
Commenting on the government that he will be forming if he wins the elections, Papandreou said that it will combine experience with innovation, while adding that he will be announcing its structure before the elections.
Focusing on a possible defeat for PASOK, he said that his problem is not himself but the future of the country and this is also the "bar" set by PASOK. However, he pointed out that it is inconceivable for him that "the people will reward ND after all that has taken place."
Papandreou called for a strong majority and did not rule out the possibility of cooperation with forces of the "traditional Left." At the same time, he rejected the possibility of cooperation between PASOK and ND, in accordance with the "German model," stressing that "Greece with New Democracy has nothing to do with the seriousness of the Christian Democrat party of Germany. If we spoke of a serious party..."
 1st phase of PASOK's electoral campaign presentedThe first phase of the electoral campaign of the main opposition PASOK party began on Tuesday and was presented by Costas Laliotis.
The campaign will develop into four phases and will has as its main slogan "Enough is enough".
Laliotis stressed that "PASOK is proceeding with faith in victory in a critical electoral confrontation" and termed the elections, slated for September 16, as "elections of truth."
Laliotis gave particular emphasis to PASOK's program, which will circulate as a supplement in the Sunday editions of the major newspapers, and noted that "it will reach one-and-a-half million Greek homes."
The head of PASOK' electoral camapaign challenged Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the ruling New Democracy (ND) party "to give their own program," adding that "the ND has no program, has no positions and proposals."
He described Karamanlis and the ND ministers as "incompetent."
 Papariga urges young people to cast 'political and class vote'Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Tuesday urged the younger generation of voters to cast a "political and class" vote in the upcoming general elections of September 16.
Speaking at a meeting of students at Athens' Panteion University, Papariga accused the two large parties of "hypocritically flattering the younger generation" while making a systematic effort to roll back youth rights and answering youth demands with state repression.
She referred at length to the state of education and the policies for this sector followed in recent years, culminating with the effort to revise the Constitution and change article 16 so as to allow the foundation of privately run universities in the country.
KKE's leader stressed that the opponents of the student movement were not the individual ministers of the education and public order ministries but the entire New Democracy government and the policies followed by main opposition PASOK.
Papariga also underlined that KKE was not anti-ND or anti-PASOK but opposed to parties that served capital and stressed that the two main parties must both suffer a defeat in the elections because their policies were essentially the same.
 KKE leader addresses election rally in Neos KosmosCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga told an election rally of supporters in the Athens district of Neos Kosmos on Tuesday evening that her party was addressing itself to voters "who are not expecting anything and hope for nothing" from the two mainstream parties, ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).
The Communist leader told her audience that "an anti-popular government and an anti-popular main opposition will emerge from the September 16 general elections whatever party wins." Papariga charged that if ruling ND party wins the elections "it will invoke a national crisis in order to take even more anti-popular measures," adding that ND was "preparing to deliver (fire-ravaged) western Greece to capital."
In case that PASOK wins the elections, Papariga continued, "then, once in government, it will pursue the anti-popular policies of the ND government...Let ND and PASOK present us with a single measure which went against capitalism's interests."
 Harsh criticism of two main parties from AlavanosThe head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Alekos Alavanos was sharply critical of both ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK on Tuesday, saying their pre-electoral confrontation was "without substance".
According to Alavanos, this was focused on secondary issues and did not address issues concerning farmers, young people, the unemployed and education. He was speaking during a press conference at the offices of the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities of Trikala.
He asked the political parties to focus the pre-election debate on fundamental problems like the generalized concern for the environment, the repercussions of the past summer's destructive fires and avoiding the degradation of farming land through a national agricultural policy and strategy and, finally, measures to reform the national health system, which he described as the "great sick man".
Asked about the possibility of cooperating with another party in the case of a hung Parliament, Alavanos said that this would require having common programme positions.
 Papathemelis presents party positions in a press conferenceThe establishment of an Organization for the Reconstruction of Fire Ravaged Regions that will be staffed by public sector officials and operate based on EU procedures encompassing jurisdictions of government ministries, public sector and local government organizations was suggested by Democratic Revival Party President Stelios Papathemelis on Tuesday.
In a press conference from Zappion Building in Athens broadcast by all radio and television media, Papathemelis referred to the major "next day" issue following the devastating fires in the Peloponnese and Evia, the rehabilitation of fire victims, the flood risk and measures that need to be taken to protect the country from the likelihood of new hazards.
He also referred to international and foreign affairs, as well as to issues concerning education, policing, public administration and justice.
In a meeting he had with journalists, Papathemelis announced that another 17 former LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) party officials have joined his party.
 NRC issues software for measuring party coverage by mediaThe National Radio and Television Council (NRC) IT department has issued a special software programme to all radio and television stations broadcasting nationwide, as well as those broadcasting in the prefecture of Attica, to assist in accurately measuring coverage of the political parties and political polyphony in the run up to the Parliamentary elections of September 16.
The software will allow radio and TV networks to provide the NRC with homogenous information that is directly usable for statistical purposes. The information required includes the name of the programme, date, time and duration, the type of programme and the politicians that took part in it. The software also makes it possible to measure the ratings of a specific show and to record the names of the producers, presenters and political analysts.
Copies of the software were first sent out at the weekend.
 Alpha Bank, Fourlis initiatives in support of fire-strickenThe Alpha Bank Group and the Fourlis Group on Tuesday announced initiatives in support of the people who suffered losses in the recent wildfires.
Alpha Bank announced donations totalling 30,000,000 euro in financial aid to assist the task of addressing the emergencies which have resulted from the recent fires in Greece and as a contribution towards strengthening the Fire Department.
This amount will be allocated as follows:
1. Euro 5,000,000 will be deposited into the Ministry of Economy and Finance's special account of the Fund in Aid of the Fire-stricken.
2. Euro 15,000,000 worth of vehicles and equipment will be donated to the Fire Department. In particular, and in consultation with the Fire Department, Alpha Bank will offer:
- Three rescue - fire-fighting crawlers, with a carrying capacity of ten people and 15,000 litres of water,
- Twenty all-terrain (4x4) coordination - personnel transport vehicles,
- Personal safety gear and hand-held fire-fighting equipment, for use by firemen.
3. Euro 5,000,000 will be offered for the restoration of damages to the archaeological site and landscape of Ancient Olympia.
4. Euro 2,000,000 will be offered for the purchase of olive trees, to be distributed in the stricken areas according to the suggestions of the competent coordination body.
5. Euro 2,500,000 will be used to finance a total of 50 scholarships to be granted to students of technological education institutes and universities from families who have their permanent residence in the areas declared fire-stricken by the State, and in accordance with the requirements to be laid down by the Bank.
The Bank has also decided:
To open a special account, into which the Personnel of the Group will deposit their donations. The Bank will triple the amount collected and will distribute it to the firestricken.
To coordinate the volunteer groups from the Personnel of the Group for participating in activities regarding reforestation, rehabilitation of the stricken areas and distribution of aid to the fire-stricken.
The Fourlis Group announced that it was donating full furnishings for 200 homes, comprising home appliances and furniture, to the fire-stricken.
The Group has set up an ad-hoc team of officials which, since last week, has been collaborating with local authorities in the prefectures in the fire-devastated Peloponese region in recording the needs existing in items of immediate need that are produced by the Group.
The above donation will be transported and installed in the homes needing the items, in cooperation with the local authorities.
 Cyprus' PASYDY donates 340,000 euros for fire recoveryNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)
The Pancyprian Union of Public Servants (PASYDY) announced on Tuesday the donation of 200,000 Cyprus pounds (340,000 euros) for the recovery of fire-stricken regions of Greece and the relief of people affected by the recent wildfires.
According to an announcement, the union has also decided to proceed with a money collection among its members by retaining 2 per cent from their salaries for the month of October.
The PASYDY estimates that the total sum from the donation and the money collection will reach 500,000 Cyprus pounds (850,000 euros) which will be offered, in coordination with relevant Greek and Cypriot agencies, for the construction of projects in the affected regions in Greece.
 Interest-free loans to fire victims from state housing organisation (OEK)The Worker Housing Organisation (OEK) on Tuesday announced that people whose homes were either lost or severely damage in the recent devastating fires in Greece will qualify for interest-free loans from the organisation in order to buy or rebuild new ones.
For homes that were destroyed or condemned, claimants will qualify for a loan of 100,000 euros and an additional 2,000 euros for each dependent child or disabled family member to buy a new home, payable over 25 years with an eight-month period of grace.
Those building a new house will receive 1,450 euros per square metre, payable over 25 years and with a one-year period of grace before payments commence.
For homes judged temporarily uninhabitable and in need of repair, claimants will received up to 25,000, again increased by 2,000 euros for each dependent child, payable over 18 years and with a one-year period of grace.
OEK will also write off all outstanding debts owed to it by fire victims that lost their homes for previous housing or house-repair loans after the day of the fire and will suspend payments for two years for those whose homes suffered damage.
 Aegean Airlines donates one million euros for fire recoveryAegean Airlines on Tuesday announced a decision to give one million euros to fund projects for the recovery of fire-stricken areas of Greece, depositing the sum in two equal installments in the Special Fund for Meeting Emergency Needs.
In addition, in two weeks time the airline will be in a position to let customers buying tickets over the Internet choose an option that will offer two euros to the fund for each ticket. The offer will be available for six months.
In the medium-term, Aegean will work with specialist organisations in order to examine the possibilities for volunteer work and contribution of time by its staff in order to offer specific assistance to fire victims and for the general restoration of the environment.
 Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group donates 200,000 euros for fire recoveryThe Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group on Tuesday announced its decision to donate 200,000 euros to the Special Fund for Meeting Emergency Needs for the recovery of fire-stricken areas of Greece.
A delegation of the Group, comprising Hyoung Keun Lee, President of Kia Motors Europe and Young Keun Oh, President of Hyundai Motors Europe, met on Tuesday with National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Petros Molyviatis, the Special Fund's President, to whom they announced their decision. Also present at the meeting was Korean Ambassador to Greece Young Han Bae.
Alogoskoufis thanked the Korean Group for its donation which, as he said, was "a proof in practice of the solidarity shown to people affected by the fires and to Greece."
 Attica SA Holdings donates 150,000 euros for fire recoveryThe Board of Attica SA Holdings announced on Tuesday that it deposited, on behalf of Superfast Ferries and Blue Star Ferries companies, the sum of 150,000 euros in the Special Fund for Meeting Emergency Needs for the recovery of fire-stricken areas of Greece.
 Contractor undertakes to protect Evrotas from floodingThe contractor Moreas, which is currently constructing the Corinth-Tripolis-Kalamata and the Lefktro-Sparti motorways, has undertaken to clear the bed and reinforce the banks of the Evrotas River so that it will be more resilient to flooding in the event of heavy rain, following the hugely destructive fires that swept the forests draining the river in August.
The offer was announced in a written statement issued by Lakonia Prefect Costas Fourkas.
Work on clearing the river will begin over the next few days and the company will provide a great part of its equipment for this purpose, while the work is expected to finish within two months at the latest.
 Trade unions unveil report on Greek economyGSEE and ADEDY, Greece's two largest trade unions, on Tuesday unveiled a report on the Greek economy, spurring controversy among union members who disagreed over the contents of the report.
Professor Savvas Robolis, president of the Labour Institute of GSEE-ADEDY, presenting the report said the figures included revealed the issues of a new model of imbalance distribution of income and the unilateral burdening of salary workers as the most serious structural problems of the Greek economy and society.
Robolis underlined that the country's public debt totaled 245 billion euros, one in three workers in the private sector enjoyed monthly wages ranging from 501 to 1,000 euros, while 50 percent of workers in the wider public sector enjoyed a net monthly salary of between 1,000 and 1,500 euros. The report also revealed that tax burden on labour accounted for 38 percent of the country's GDP in 2005, up from 34.1 pct in 1995, while earnings (as a percentage of gross added value) totaled 56.1 pct, the highest rate in the Eurozone (average rate 37.9 pct). The report also said that an increase in employment in 2006 accounted mainly higher employment in flexible forms of labour (20 pct part-time and 50 percent temporary employment).
Giannis Panagopoulos, president of GSEE said the union's financial demands will focus on raising real wages, higher and longer unemployment benefits, changes in the tax system on labour and approving a heating subsidy to lower incomes. He underlined that GSEE will seek specific answers from all political parties over their plans on the country's pension system, before the elections.
Spyros Papaspyros, present of ADEDY, urged that the social agenda should be the centre of political debate ahead of the elections.
GSEE union members, supporting the New Democracy governing party, strongly reacted to the findings of the results, saying they had no information at all over the process of the report.
 Local authorities call for peaceful rallies and marches at TIFMayor of Thessaloniki Vassilis Papageorgopoulos on Tuesday issued an appeal to political parties and trade unionist movements to defend the peaceful nature of their rallies and marches scheduled to take place in the city on the occasion of the 72nd Thessaloniki International Fair, TIF.
Mayor Papageorgopoulos and Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis invited the people of Thessaloniki to visit the TIF pavilions at least once and called on them to avoid taking their cars to the city centre over the next ten days, using public transport instead to minimize traffic problems.
Meanwhile, Thessaloniki Water Supply and Sewerage Co.S.A., EYATH, employees announced in a press conference that they will hold a hunger strike protest on September 7 demanding the normalization of working conditions in the company while calling for the lifting of disciplinary penalties imposed on trade union leaders.
A free bus transportation programme will be in effect during the two weekends of the trade fair on September 8-9 and 15-16 and on September 11 and 13 in an initiative undertaken by exhibition organizer HELEXPO SA and "Zorpidis" travel agency. People from the regions of Macedonia, Thrace and Thessaly wishing to visit the Thessaloniki international trade fair will be eligible.
Among the prizes that will be won by 72nd TIF visitors will be a Porsche Cayman and trips to Dubai.
 Australia-Greece social security agreement gets green lightMelbourne (ANA-MPA / S. Hatzimanolis)
The Australian Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has recently approved in principle the mutual agreement on social security reached between Australia and Greece signed in May during Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' visit to Australia.
The committee mentions that it supports the social security agreement signed by Australia and Greece on May 23, 2007 and moves in favor of the activation of procedures toward its implementation.
According to the committee, the negotiations between the governments of Australia and Greece leading to the signing of the agreement have already lasted long enough and therefore, it rules in favor of the agreement to facilitate further procedures leading to its materialization as soon as possible. A complete report will be submitted by the committee by the end of September.
Representatives of the Greek-Australian community commented that the positive assessment by the Australian parliamentary committee will give a new boost to procedures and expressed the wish that the agreement will be put into effect before the end of 2008, instead of 2009 according to the Australian government.
The agreement will benefit over 50,000 Greek-Australians in both countries by simplifying pension transfer procedures. The agreement covers Australian and Greek Age Pensions. Once the agreement starts, people eligible for Age Pension will be able to claim it in either country.
Australia and Greece will contribute fairly to the support of people who have spent part of their working lives in both countries. Greek-Australians living in either country will be able to add periods of residence in Australia to insurance periods in Greece in order to qualify for pensions from either or both countries.
The agreement also includes provisions covering Australia's Superannuation Guarantee scheme. These provisions will eliminate the need for compulsory contributions into both countries' systems in respect of the same work when employees are sent to work temporarily in the other country.
The agreement will come into force after administrative arrangements necessary for its implementation of are finalized.
 Greek economy grew by 4.1 pct in Q2, EurostatThe Greek economy grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2007, compared with the same period last year, Eurostat said on Tuesday. The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said Latvia (11.3 pct), Lithuania (7.7 pct) and Estonia (7.3 pct) recorded the highest GDP percentage increases in the April-June period, while France (1.3 pct) and Denmark (0.6 pct) the lowest growth rates.
Eurostat said GDP grew by 2.8 percent in the EU and by 2.5 percent in the Eurozone.
Greek GDP fell 0.9 pct in the second quarter, compared with the first quarter. GDP grew 0.5 pct in the EU and 0.3 pct in the Eurozone over the same period.
 Thessaloniki High Voltage Centre operating at full powerThe Thessaloniki High Voltage Centre is now operating at full power after the Public Power Corporation (PPC) replaced an auto transformer destroyed during the June 28 fire, the PPC announced on Tuesday. Following the replacement, all power needs in northern Greece are being met while, at the same time, the necessary reserves are in place.
The new transformer went into operation on Sunday after being tested last Friday.
 MIG says not in talks to buy Turkish shipping companyMarfin Investment Group on Tuesday declined it was in talks to acquire UN Ro-RO Isletmeleri AS -a Turkish shipping company- either in cooperation with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR), or in any other way.
In an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange, Marfin Investment Group also said it completed the purchase of a 50 percent equity stake in Attica Real Estate through a share capita lincrease of the latter company. Marfin said Attica will become its vehicle in the management and development of real estate assets.
 Vourloumis dismisses rumours over OTE's share price performance after the electionsHellenic Telecommunications Organisation's chairman and chief executive, Panagis Vourloumis, on Tuesday said recent talk over the performance of OTE's share price following the results of the September 16 general elections in the country were "irresponsible rubbish".
Speaking in Thessaloniki, Vourloumis said these scenarios were spread by irresponsible people adding that OTE "has nothing to do with all this". He noted that the Organisation's management was "laughing" with these rumours, although he admitted that the results of the general elections could affect OTE but that he could not make any predictions over such an impact.
Morgan Stanley, in a report published August 30, said OTE's share price will rise by 25 percent if the current government was re-elected, while it could fall by 15 percent if it lost the elections.
 Increase in tourist arrivals to RhodesTourist arrivals to the Dodecanese island of Rhodes increased by about five per cent in August compared to the corresponding month last year, according to figures released by Rhodes airport authorities and announced by the Greek Tourism Organization.
A total of 306,554 passengers arrived at Rhodes airport with foreign flights, while in August 2006, arrivals numbered 292,034 (a 4.90% increase).
Per nationality, Britons and Italians prevailed with 67,570 and 49,857 arrivals respectively, followed by Germans with 44,480.
 Nikea Olympic Centre to be provided for Piraeus UniversityA contract was signed on Tuesday, ceding the Nikea Olympic Centre to the University of Piraeus which, according to an announcement by the Olympic Real Estate SA company, will provide a final solution for the housing problem of one of the biggest higher education establishments in the country.
According to the contract, the delivery of the Nikea Olympic Centre to the University of Piraeus will take place by April 30, 2008.
In the meantime, the University will take all the necessary preparatory action for the facility's adjustment work. Funding for the transformation has already been secured by the education ministry.
 Coca-Cola 3E announces buyout of Aquavision companyCoca-Cola 3E announced on Tuesday the completion of the 100 percent buyout of the Aquavision company, a new production unit in Russia. The installations, that are located near Moscow, cover a total area of 35 hectares and include four production lines, storage space and offices.
The deal's net price is expected to reach 191.5 million euros and will be met with the payment of cash and with short-term loaning. Coca-Cola 3E expects that the buyout of Aquavision will boost profit-making in 2008.
According to an announcement, the new unit will provide a direct impetus for the production potential of Coca-Cola 3E, while creating the possibility for the future addition of more production lines.
 New Attica Bank branch in PalliniAttica Bank on Tuesday announced that a new branch, the bank's 67th, has opened to the public as of Monday in Pallini, Attika prefecture, outside Athens, providing a full range of banking services and products.
The new branch is located at 43 Marathonos Bouldevard.
 Greek stocks end 0.26 pct lower on TuesdayGreek stocks eased slightly for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as investors found few new reasons to buy into stocks. The composite index fell 0.26 percent to end at 4,891.86 points with turnover a strong 356.07 million euros.
Sector indices ended lower, with the Insurance (3.94 pct), Financial Services (2.13 pct) and Food/Beverage (1.89 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the Travel (1.53 pct), Healthcare (0.23 pct) and Personal/Home Products (0.11 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index eased 0.06 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.77 pct lower and the Small Cap index lost 0.98 percent.
Euroline Investment (10.0 pct), ANEK (9.62 pct) and Euroconsultants (6.35 pct) were top gainers, while Tria Alpha, Allatini Ceramics (7.20 pct) and Euroholdings (6.19 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 192 to 79 with another 35 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.04%
Personal & Household: +0.11%
Raw Materials: -1.24%
Travel & Leisure: +1.53%
Food & Beverages: -1.89%
Financial Services: -2.13%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Investment Group, OTE and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.52
Public Power Corp (PPC): 21.94
HBC Coca Cola: 35.08
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.34
Emporiki Bank: 20.60
National Bank of Greece: 44.26
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 25.50
Titan Cement Company: 35.06
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 91.719 million euros.
The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.89 percent while the August contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.16 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 5,225 contracts worth 67.676 million euros, with 45,687 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 431 contracts worth 13.480 million euros with 1,176 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,822 contracts worth 10.562 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Hellenic Petroleum's contracts (2,096), followed by Marfin Investment Group (228), OPAP (268), Piraeus Bank (255), National Bank (410), Alpha Bank (260), Intracom (1,005), GEK (332), Marfin Popular bank (589) and ATEbank (275).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.476 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 762 million were buy orders and the remaining 714 million euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) remained the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 380 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.34 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.56 pct and the German Bund 4.22 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates continued moving upwards. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.45 pct from 4.35 pct on Monday, the two-day rate rose to 4.40 pct from 4.25 pct, the one-month rate eased to 4.48 pct from 4.50 pct and the 12-month rate was 4.80 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.368
Pound sterling 0.680
Danish kroner 7.508
Swedish kroner 9.464
Japanese yen 158.09
Swiss franc 1.659
Norwegian kroner 7.992
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.441
Australian dollar 1.659
 Fire-fighters still on standby throughout PeloponneseStrong fire-fighting forces are still on standby in areas throughout the Peloponnese in order to guard against the rekindling of wildfires and put out blazes that are actively burning, the fire brigade said on Tuesday.
They included contingents at Parnonas, in the prefecture of Ileia, on Mount Taygetus and the prefecture of Messinia.
A new fire broke out in the afternoon at Nyfi in Lakonia but did not present a particular threat, according to fire fighters. Another fire in Podolaka on the island of Corfu that broke out on Monday night was under control but was being closely monitored by forces on the ground.
 French forest guards to be honoured for contribution to extinguishing wildfiresA special event to honour the French forest guards who contributed to the extinguishing of wildfires in the country will be taking place at the Elefsina military airport at 8:30 on Wednesday morning.
Honourary diplomas will be given to the French mission by the public order ministry's secretary general Kostis Elianos.
The two last french aircraft, the one helicopter from Norway and a helicopter from Sweden that had arrived in the country to contribute to the wildfire extinguishing effort, left on Tuesday.
Foreign backing remaining in the country are six Bezedel aircraft from Serbia, three Super Puma helicopters from Switzerland, three more Super Pumas from the Netherlands and three helicopters from Germany, two of which are out of action due to breakdowns, while the Russian Be 200 aircraft is still here.
Forest guards remaining are those from Serbia and Bulgaria, while the French mission stopped its operations on Tuesday and will depart on Wednesday, after the honourary diplomas are awarded.
 Protest rally held in central Athens over wildfiresA protest rally was held in central Athens on Tuesday evening followed by a march to Parliament regarding the enormous destruction caused by the recent wildfires which swept the country.
The rally was organized by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), the Greek Social Forum and contract firefighters.
The protesters shouted the slogan "stop those responsible who contributed in the wildfires crime". They called for responsibility to be attributed and for immediate measures to be taken for the aversion of the phenomenon.
The demonstrators condemned "policies which benefit interests and the 'land grabbers'."
 President: People today have forgotten the humanitarian idealsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received Thrace University professor George Pavlos and a delegation of youths from Balkan and Mediterranean countries, who are being hosted at the "Thrace Fund" International Academy of Culture and Communication in Ancient Avdera, in the framework of the 11th Summer School of Greek Language and Hellenic Culture.
"This effort you are making is the fraternisation of the peoples. You express a different world, the one we must create, not the one we have," Papoulias said, adding that "you are the pioneers in that world, the hope for this world, pace, love and fraternity because, today, the people have forgotten the humanitarian ideals".
Pavlis noted that the delegation included youths from Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland, Egypt, Modova, FYROM and Chile, as well as the Moslems of Thrace.
 Exhibition on history of Greek radio, TV, cinemaIn the context of the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) the Telloglio Foundation of Arts of the city's Aristorelio University, is hosting an exhibition on the history of Greek radio, television and cinema, with abundant material from photographic and audiovisual archives.
It must be noted that the city of Thesssaloniki, central Macedonia, created the first radio station in Greece, The Tsiggiridis Radio Station in 1928. It is also the city which housed the first television station of the Public Power Corporation, which transmitted from September 4-26, 1960, in the framework of the 25th TIF, but is also the city of the first private television station (Channel 3), which was set up in 1964.
 Man arrested on counterfeit banknotes possession chargesA 42-year-old man was arrested in the city of Veria, northern Greece, after police found in his possession roughly 2,000 euros in counterfeit banknotes.
Police seized ten 100-euro, twenty 50-euro, two 20-euro and one 10-euro banknotes.
 Arrests of cannabis plant growersPolice arrested two men, aged 67 and 35, accused of growing cannabis plants during two separate raids in the prefecture of Pella, northern Greece.
A 67-year-old was arrested after being accused of growing 10 cannabis plants in a rural area, while in a separate incident police arrested a 35-year-old accused of growing a total of 70 cannabis plants in his farm.
All cannabis plants were destroyed.
 Giannis Gaitis' painting exhibition in ChaniaA painting exhibition with 56 works by the famed late Greek artist Giannis Gaitis opens at the Municipal Gallery of Chania on the island of Crete on September 14. All paintings exhibited belong to private collections.
The exhibition covers the period from 1945, when the artist painted his first expressionist nude at the age of 22 before turning to cubism, until his death in 1984.
The exhibition will run until November 14.
 Scattered showers, windy on WednesdayOvercast and windy weather with westerly, northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday with wind velocity reaching 6-7 beaufort. Scattered showers and storms in the afternoon mainly in the north and west of mainland Greece, the islands of the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese.Temperatures will range between 17C and 32C. Partly cloudy with intermittent scattered showers in Athens, with westerly, northwesterly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 22 to 31C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 24C.
 President: Cyprus solution first and most urgent priorityNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here Tuesday that the solution of the Cyprus problem ''remains our first and most urgent priority.''
Receiving the credentials of George Liswaniso, the first High Commissioner of the Republic of Namibia to Cyprus, based in London, Papadopoulos said that ''despite economic prosperity and progress, Cyprus is still suffering from the tragic results of the Turkish military invasion of July 1974.''
''As a member of the Commonwealth, your country is well aware of all the aspects of this problem, the solution of which remains our first and most urgent priority,'' he stressed.
The President referred to a UN-brokered agreement, in July last year, with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and said that ''We believe that this process, which has the full support of the United Nations Security Council, can create the conditions necessary for the commencement of substantive negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary General for a solution of the Cyprus problem.''
''I look forward to meeting Mr. Talat tomorrow, on 5 September. Our purpose is to break through the deadlock and expeditiously move forward with the implementation of the 8 July process,'' he said.
Describing Namibia as ''an important country of the African continent,'' the President also stressed that Cyprus actively contributes to the European Union's Strategy for Africa and supports the efforts of the Portuguese Presidency which defined as one of her priorities the strengthening of the relations of the Union with Africa.
Presenting his credentials, Liswaniso expresed hope that ''with the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cyprus and Namibia the existing excellent relations between our two countries will be further deepened and strengthened particularly through the promotion of trade, investment and tourism as well as technical and scientific cooperation.''
 Top UN envoy in Cyprus 'always optimistic'NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Michael Moller, UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus, said on Tuesday he is always optimistic in the execution of his duties.
The top UN envoy in Cyprus was speaking only 24 hours before a meeting between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot Community Mehmet Ali Talat.
Moller had an hour long working meeting today with Papadopoulos, ahead of WednesdayÔs meeting at 1600 local time (1300 GMT), at Moller's official residence in the UN protected area, in the vicinity of the now defunct Nicosia airport.
Speaking after seeing Papadopoulos Tuesday, at the Presidential Palace, Moller said he had "a working meeting with the President."
Moller refrained from any further comment but when asked if he was optimistic about Wednesday's meeting, he replied: "I am always optimistic."
Papadopoulos and Talat will meet on Wednesday for the first time since July last year when, under UN auspices, they came to an agreement in an effort to resume negotiations leading to a solution that would reunite the island, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
The July 2006 agreement provides for discussions at technical committees and working groups to deal with day to day issues as well as substantive matters. So far, no such discussions have taken place, in spite of numerous meetings between the top aides of the leaders of the two communities.
 Britain expecting results from Papadopoulos-Talat meetingNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
British High Commissioner in Nicosia Peter Millet said on Tuesday that Britain is expecting the right results from Wednesday's meeting between President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Speaking after a meeting with Minister of the Interior Christos Patsalides, Millet said ''Britain and the permanent members of the Security Council support the July 8 procedure and we want this process to begin and we expect the right results from this meeting.''
Asked if further meetings should take place between the leaders of the two communities, Millet said that depended on their political will.
In July last year Papadopoulos and Talat agreed on a procedure to make headway towards substantive negotiations, through discussions at working groups and technical committee of daily concerns as well as issues of substance. Wednesday's meeting is set to press on with the implementation of what was agreed, under UN auspices, on 8th July, 2006.
Both Patsalides and Millet said they reaffirmed the excellent relations between Cyprus and the United Kingdom and expressed their intention to further strengthen their ties in various sectors falling within the interests of the Ministry of the Interior.
They furthermore reviewed their cooperation in issues of immigration and asylum and agreed to exchange expertise to enhance effectiveness in tackling illegal immigration, in cooperation with the British Bases in Cyprus.
Patsalides said illegal immigration through the British Bases was a serious issue, which concerned not only the Republic of Cyprus, but the European Union in general.
They also discussed ways to simplify procedures concerning the town planning system and they agreed that British experts would contribute with their technical knowledge in the context of the scientific committee, the results of which are expected soon.
Asked about the control on the movement of persons to and from the Turkish occupied areas through the British Bases, Millet said he was satisfied with results so far, noting however that there was always room for improvement.
Referring to the team of Cypriots sent to Greece for the rebuilding of Artemida village, which was devastated by recent fires in Greece,
Patsalides said the damage was being recorded and will be analysed in detail, in order to draft an action plan.
He said the aim was to rebuild the village the soonest possible so that the inhabitants could move into their new homes and continue their lives.
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