|Thursday, 17 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-09-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 21 September 2007 Issue No: 2703
 PM Karamanlis confers with FinMin, immediate priorities set outPrime minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday morning met with national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, followed by meetings with deputy ministers Antonis Bezas and Nikos Legas.
Alogoskoufis told reporters after his meeting with the premier that the newly re-elected government's immediate priority was the drafting of the 2008 budget's preliminary draft, on which he said substantial preparation has already been made.
The goal, he said, was continuation of the successfal fiscal adjustment of the past three-and-a-half years (during the New Democracy government's first term in office) so as to achieve a balancing of the budgets by 2010, noting that this was an obligation that all the euro-zone members have.
The second target, Alogoskoufis continued, was the utilisation of the EU's Community Support Framework (CSF), on which substantial progress has also been made, adding that the progress would continue under the new deputy minister Yannis Papathanasiou.
He said another immediate target was to pass the bill that has already been tabled in parliament on utilisation of the 4th CSF, based on the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) covering the period 2007-2013.
"It is a big developmental opportunity for the country, up to 2013, for the development of the broadband and digital services infrastructures, but also for the training of the relevant personnel, which is a condition for development in the coming years," Alogoskoufis said.
The minister further stressed that the first bill that will be re-tabled in parliament will be the draft law on combatting tax evasion, adding as well that the government's announcement on abolitin of the inheritance tax and all taxes on the 'first home' will also be immediately materialised.
Replying to questions, Alogoskoufis said that the measures announced concerning the three-children families and the military officers' salary scale will be immediately materialised as of January 1, 2008.
 PM confers with newly appointed merchant marine and island policy ministry leadershipPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday met with Merchant Marine and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis, followed by a meeting with deputy minister Panagiotis Kammenos.
Voulgarakis stressed that the objective of the merger of the ministries of merchant marine and island policy into one ministry is to reduce the overlapping of jurisdiction and shared responsibilities, which frequently caused dead ends and problems in island and destination-related policies.
In the extensive discussion covering the entire agenda of the new ministry, certain priorities were set out by the premier, who gave orders for the speedy implementation of repeatedly mentioned objectives.
On the projects planned for Piraeus, Drapetsona and the wider region, Voulgarakis commented that former Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefalogiannis has accomplished excellent work. He also praised the work done by former Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis.
Voulgarakis and Kammenos will depart for Mytilene, on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, to formally take up their ministerial posts.
 PM's meeting with new transport ministerPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Thursday with new Transport and Communications minister Costis Hadzidakis, who said afterwards that it was a first discussion on ministry matters, adding that "we will proceed with sensitivity, dialogue but also specific timetables, so as to produce specific results".
Asked whether the ailing national carrier Olympic Airlines (OA) would be closed down, Hatzidakis said that "we will clarify everything in the government's policy statement in parliament".
"Our intention is to do the best possible, on the basis of all that has already been said by the prime minister during the pre-electoral period," the minister added.
To another question regarding the tram, Hatzidakis stressed that very substantial and important work had been carried out during the newly-reelected government's first term. "We will not delay, but before reaching specific decisions, I want to be sure that I am 80 percent, if not 100 percent, knowledgeable on the issue".
 PM to have series of meetings with ministers on FridayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will have successive meetings with the leadership of the education, environment and justice ministries on Friday, after which he will have a private meeting with ruling New Democracy's candidate for the post of Parliament President, Dimitris Sioufas.
Scheduled to meet the premier starting on Friday morning are Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and education ministry deputy ministers Spiros Taliadouros and Andreas Lykourentzos, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias with deputy ministers Stavros Kaloyannis and Themistoklis Xanthopoulos and Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis.
 Hand-over of Macedonia-Thrace ministryThe hand-over ceremony at the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace took place Thursday morning in Thessaloniki, withoutgoing minister George Kalantzis handing over the helm to newly-sworn-in minister Margaritis Tzimas, whom he described as "worthy and capable".
Kalantzis noted that during his 19 months at the ministry, he had tried to "change the way in which the citizens see the minister and the management of their problems", noting his conviction that he had not been unfair with anyone and, "if I have, I ask forgiveness, from the bottom of my heart".
The outgoing minister said that his work "will be judged by the citizens" with the passage of time, saying that both time and the citizens are "fair and just judges", and also thanked prime minister Costas Karamanlis with having entrusted him with the post.
The new minister, Tzimas, in turn, called Kalantzis "a friend and brother" and an "exceptional political cadre", pleding that "our policy here at the ministry will continue to be transparent".
"My aspiration is that our efficiency, consistency and honesty will bring the citizens even closer to the authority," he said, adding that he will take full advantage of the ministry's authorities "without exclusions, and in cooperation with everyone".
Tzimas pledged to work for the development of the Macedonia-Thrace periphery and towards solving the major problems and outstanding issues, and thanked the prime minister for his confidence, adding that he will work hard for the implementation of Karamanlis' pre-electoral commitments for the region.
 PASOK leader to be elected on Nov. 11The main opposition PASOK party's leader for the next four years will be elected on November 11, according to an announcement made by party spokesman Yiannis Raggousis at the end of a PASOK's Political Council meeting on Thursday.
"All the members of the Political Council committed themselves unanimously to enable PASOK to turn, all of them making the impossible possible, this difficult time into a great opportunity of reconstruction and revival for the party," the spokesman said.
Raggousis stressed that the Political Council "confirmed at the same time that the party's top priority is to exercise responsibly and systematically the role that it has assumed with the mandate of the Greek people, both inside and outside the Greek Parliament, to defend the interests of the country, the interests of the Greek people."
Referring to the procedures agreed on, the spokesman said that "following the address made by the party's secretary, Mr. (Nikos) Athanasakis, and with the agreement of the members, it was agreed in principle that the Political Council will convene once again with the purpose of discussing the proposal to be prepared by members of the body, a proposal concerning the causes of the party's recent election performance in the latest national elections."
He added that "secondly, the party's National Council will convene on October 6 and 7 which, in turn, will convene the National Conference, that will take place on November 3 and 4, for November 11 to come when we shall have the heightening of this sustained and united course of the party with the election of the president of the party for the next four years."
Lastly, Raggousis said that "immediately, after the period following November 11, the regular congress of the party will be programmed and organised, as this is anticipated by the charter, that has already been ratified."
 Party members and friends to elect PASOK presidentMain opposition PASOK political council decided on Thursday evening that the body that will elect PASOK's president will be composed of members and friends of the party who will be able to register until the day that the president will be elected.
A proposal by a committee created on Thursday by the body's non-Parliamentary members will be presented at the next Political Council meeting. The members are Paris Koukoulopoulos, Marilena Kopa, Fofi Yennimata, George Panayiotakopoulos and Christos Polyzogopoulos.
PASOK leader George Papandreou said in his address at the party's Political Council that a serious and an in-depth assessment of the election result is necessary, and must be a political one and not one that will be technical and statistical.
Papandreou said that a new struggle is "essential to release the political system from political patronages and personal ulterior motives," adding that on this basis PASOK can find wider convergences with the forces of the wider left.
The PASOK leader called for the intraparty discussion to be carried out in a way that will avert the implementation of the policy of the New Democracy party which, as he said, will certainly continue the same antipopular policy. He added that party affairs must not prevent it from solidarity with the people.
 PASOK political council members' comment on fluid situation in partyComments by several members of main opposition PASOK's political council focused on the need for meaningful political discussion in tandem with safeguarding party unity.
Upon his arrival at PASOK's headquarters to attend the meeting, party general director Rovertos Spyropoulos told reporters to wait for the council' decisions, while top cadre George Panayiotakopoulos stressed that there is no need for journalists, publishers or TV channel owners to "worry" because the party will find the right path -- an acidic reference to ongoing speculation that certain media outlets are attempting to influence PASOK's leadership race.
Deputy Filippos Petsalnikos also backed a substantive political dialogue, while attributing less importance to timetables.
"All procedures will take place based on the founding charter and party procedures," said Panos Beglitis, while on her part, deputy and former party secretary Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou stressed that a meaningful political process has to be guaranteed.
"The political council's decision will put everything in its place, cadre Nikos Bistis said," underlining the need for a flexible and quickly implemented solution.
PASOK will be always here united and strong, said deputy Sylvana Rapti, while former minister Petros Efthimiou said the party will move forward in a firm and politically mature manner. Former EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis said PASOK unity will be guaranteed by its President George Papandreou and the people.
"Party unity is a given, as always, and definitely not at any risk," according to Thanasis Tsouras, while Kozani Mayor Paris Koukoulopoulos expressed a view that PASOK has to transform itself into a contemporary European left movement.
Finally, Stefanos Tzoumakas sharply lashed out at the media, blaming them for the situation created in the party.
 Minor incident outside PASOK headquarters targets VenizelosAn incident outside main opposition PASOK's headquarters in downtown Athens momentarily increased the political thermometer in the nascent contest for the party's helm, when an onlooker threw a cup of coffee on the back of leadership candidate Evangelos Venizelos as he was entering the building.
A brief commotion followed, all caught live by a half dozen television stations broadcasting from the site.
The man, who was later identified, appeared in the late '50s to early '60s and used a walking stick. He was later taken away in a police vehicle.
An indignant Venizelos immediately referred to an "effort by some to return to bullying and the Dark Ages, while we must safeguard the morals of the democratic bloc (i.e. PASOK) and our political culture".
He also referred to "directed actions".
Afterwards, PASOK spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis exited the building and issued a statement sharply condemning the incident, saying it is not only directed against Mr. Venizelos, but against all of PASOK. The party also stressed that the man involved in the incident is neither a member or a registered supporter of PASOK.
 Lawsuit filed against man responsible for incident targeting VenizelosMain opposition PASOK general director Rovertos Spyropoulos has filed a lawsuit against the man who threw a plastic cup of coffee at top PASOK deputy Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday outside the party's headquarters.
The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the political party no less, charges that the assault was intended to "downgrade and defame" the party's presidency and political council, a member of which is Venizelos, with the obvious purpose to damage PASOK's reputation.
PASOK leader George Papandreou also referred to the incident during the political council meeting on Thursday afternoon, sharply condemning it.
Earlier in the day, the man had tossed the plastic cup on the back of Venizelos as he was entering the party's building to attend the council meeting, an incident caught live by a half dozen television stations broadcasting from the site.
The suspect -- identified as one Dimitrios Rellos, an Athens resident -- has reportedly been arrested in the past for targetting other political figures in a similar fashion, including former president Kostis Stephanopoulos.
 Venizelos comments on new governmentMain opposition PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos, who has set himself up as a contender for the party's leadership since its defeat in last Sunday's elections, on Thursday said the re-elected New Democracy government would not find it so easy to shake an image of wear and tear it had acquired during its last term.
"[Prime Minister Costas] Karamanlis is deluding himself if he thinks that a forced, shallow and temporary dressing up of the government's image can show society that it is changing political beliefs and practices," Venizelos said just before entering PASOK's Political Council.
"Neither the ideologies nor the thinking has changed and, as a result, we are faced with the old tired government, even if we see new faces in some ministerial positions," he added.
 SYRIZA party makes assessment of election resultsThe Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party's Political Secretariat announced on Thursday its commitment towards its voters that "it will stand by the struggles that are coming, it will continue to struggle with them for the daily overturning of the neo-liberal political and social plan, for the defeat of the bourgeoisie power parties, the rejection of the two-party neo-liberal governance of (ruling) New Democracy and (main opposition) PASOK, for the unity of the labour movement and the development of the social movements and the protection and widening of the Public Sector of popular rights and needs, of political and democratic freedoms."
The Political Secretariat assessed that "ND sustained a decrease in its strength in votes and in percentages and paid, to a certain degree, the cost of its neo-liberal policy."
Despite all this, it added, "it has, unfortunately, a Parliamentary majority even a thin one" and predicts that "the policy that it will follow will be even tougher towards the world of labour and youth."
Referring to the Orthodox Popular Rally (LAOS) party, SYRIZA said that "we must not allow the entry into Parliament of the far-right, populist and xenophobic LAOS to pollute the social and political life of the country with its reactionary, chauvinistic and racist ideas."
Focusing on the outcome of the elections with regard to the PASOK party, the Political Secretariat underlines that this party "sustained a heavy defeat, precisely because it did not succeed to differentiate itself from the strategy of the government. It paid for its identification with privatisations, austerity in Greece and the European Union, the abolition of the public university (the subjection of research to private economic criteria), the dissolution of labour relations and of social security."
On the question of the image of the Left after the elections, the Political Secretariat noted that "today there are increased possibilities of expression," however, it stressed that "this possibility must not be led to disdain in the name of intraleftist competition which, as a matter of fact, strengthens the social opponent, capital."
SYRIZA expressed regret because "unfortunately, the leadership of KKE (the Communist Party of Greece) is igniting such a civil conflict and is undermining efforts for the cooperation of the entire Left in movements, society, as well as in politics."
 Bakoyannis departing for New York on FridayForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is scheduled to depart for New York on Friday to take part in the UN-organised high-level event on climate change.
On the sidelines of this event, Bakoyannis will have a number of bilateral contacts that will focus on promoting Greece's positions regarding the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kosovo, relations with Turkey and the Cyprus issue.
She will begin her contacts in New York by meeting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, for talks on all the above issues and any that may be raised by the UN chief.
Developments surrounding the issue of FYROM's name will dominate her talks with UN mediator for the FYROM issue Matthew Nimetz on Sunday afternoon, while earlier the same day she is scheduled to meet the Kosovo Troika's European mediator Wolfgang Ischinger.
Also on her agenda later on Sunday afternoon is a first meeting with her newly-elected Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan following elections in Greece and Turkey, during which they are expected to discuss bilateral relations and Turkey's European prospects, and a meeting with Jordan's Foreign Minister Abdel-Elah Mohammad Al-Khatib.
On Monday, Bakoyannis is to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then her counterparts from Albania and Saudi Arabia, Lulzim Basha and Saud al-Faysal bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud, respectively.
On Monday afternoon she is to meet US Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and then Serb President Boris Tadic.
Bakoyannis's address during the event on climate change is to be delivered on Monday afternoon at 17:00 and will highlight the need for more action to protect the environment, greater sensitivity toward the more vulnerable populations of the planet, a combination of protection and development and changing attitudes leading to over-consumption.
The event is entitled "The Future in our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change" and about 70 UN member-states will be represented by heads of state and government. It is an informal forum that, according to a UN announcement, is aimed at "securing political commitment and building momentum" before the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in December.
Bakoyannis returns to Athens on Tuesday and Greece will be represented at the General Assembly's discussion on September 28 by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.
 FM Bakoyannis meets with visiting Serb finance minister DinkicGreek-Serbian financial relations, developments in the Kosovo issue and Serbia's European prospect were at the focus of talks on Thursday between Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and visiting Serb finance minister Mladjan Dinkic.
The meeting was also attended by new deputy foreign minister Petros Doukas, whose portfolio includes the advancement of the 550 million euro Hellenic Plan for the Reconstruction of the Balkans (HiPERB), of which 100 million euro are earmarked for financing of the European Corridor 10, which is budgeted at 150 million euro.
Greece is the top investor in Serbia, with 1.8 billion euro in directly invested capital in the Balkan neighbour.
The discussion between the two ministers focused on developments regarding the future status of Kosovo, on which Dinkic outlined Serbia's positions in light of the upcoming direct talks between Pristina and Belgrade in New York on September 28, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
 Greece displeased with Canadian decision on FYROM nameGreece on Thursday expressed displeasure over a decision by Canada to recognise FYROM with the name "Macedonia" in their bilateral relations, and foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis was expected later in the day to contact her Canadian counterpart to express the government's displeasure.
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, in a statement, said that the government of Canada "has decised to use, in its bilateral relations, the so-called constitutional name of that country, while it will continue to use the name 'FYROM' at all the international organisations, as set out by the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council".
"This decision does not satisfy us," Koumoutsakos said, adding that Bakoyannis would be contacting her Canadian counterpart within the day "to express the displeasure of the Greek government and reaffirm the firmness and determination of the Greek policy on the name issue".
"It is certain that this decision also displeases the hundreds of thousands of Canadian citizens of Greek origin," Koumoutsakos said.
 PASOK leader condemns Canada's decision on FYROMMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou referring Thursday on Canada's decision to recognise the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with the name "Macedonia" in their bilateral relations, said that the government "again proved to be completely unable to foresee, anticipate, plan and avert, so that we become again witnesses of a new surprise development."
"A few days after general elections in Greece, another country, with particular importance and a NATO ally, that is Canada, has recognised FYROM with the so-called constitutional name of this country," Papandreou said.
"This unilateral action is unacceptable, even more so when there is an ongoing process within the United Nations framework, for the finding of a solution through dialogue between the two countries on the name issue," the main opposition leader added.
Accusing the government of rendering Greece's "negotiating departing point more unfavourable," Papandreou said that the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' government "is exclusively responsible."
Reiterating his party's position on the issue, Papandreou said that FYROM "must respect all its committments towards the international community, the European Union, towards Greece. We will not accept that Skopje do not abide by their obligations for a mutually acceptable name for any international use."
Greece rejects the use by FYROM, its northern Balkan neighbour, of the use of the name "Macedonia" charging that it conceals irredentist designs against its northern province Macedonia.
 Greek community in Canada reacts on FYROM name issueMONTREAL (ANA-MPA/I. Frangouli)
The Greek community in Canada reacted negatively to the decision taken by the conservative government, under Prime Minister Steven Harper, to recognise the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as "Republic of Macedonia" in the country's bilateral relations.
In its international transactions, Canada is continuing to use the temporary name of FYROM, as has been decided by the UN, foreign ministry circles confirmed.
Greek Canadian Congress President Dimitris Manolakos said about the development that "being the Greek expatriate community, we are absolutely outraged over the decision by the Canadian government to recognise Skopje as 'Macedonia', even in the country's bilateral contacts."
Manolakos added that "recently, in a letter by us to the Canadian prime minister, with which we underlined that Canada must continue to follow the policy of the UN on the name of FYROM, we received an appeasing reply. Nothing forebode this political storm that offends the Greek community and creates reasonable questions on the foreign policy of Ottawa."
 Egypt's Mubarak congratulates Karamanlis on re-electionEgyptian President Hosni Mubarak has sent a letter of congratulations to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the re-election of ruling New Democracy party in the Sept. 16 elections in Greece.
Meanwhile, post-election developments in Greece are being extensively covered by major dailies in Egypt, with references to changes in the composition of the Greek Parliament, the parliamentary representation of LA.OS (the Popular Orthodox Rally party) and leadership problems faced by main opposition PASOK.
 Ukrainian President Yushchenko on private visit to GreeceVisiting Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was received here on Thursday by Greek President Karolos Papoulias at the presidential mansion. Yushchenko is on private visit to Greece, and will also travel to the semi-autonomous Mount Athos monastic community.
 Civil Protection General Secretary Panagiotis Fourlas resignsCivil Protection General Secretary Panagiotis Fourlas tendered his resignation to the interior ministry on Thursday.
His resignation was accepted after he rejected a request to remain in his post, citing personal reasons.
 Election result opportunity for new economic policy, IOBE report"The election of a new government is an opportunity for a new economic policy, which will leave behind past stereotypes and will implement the society will for reforms," the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.
In its report on the Greek economy, IOBE said the government's economic policy must obtain determination, continuity, consistency and managerial adequacy to become more effective and to promote reforms. It also noted that the election result facilitated efforts to reach social and political consensus over critical issues such as the reforming the pension system, transforming the state and the education system.
The institute said that fiscal consolidation must continue more rapidly and to be based on a long-term fiscal consolidation program, to include -among others- an increase in revenues through an expanding tax base, combatting tax-evasoin and inclusion of informal economic activities. Preconditions to achieve this goal is reforming, simplifying of tax legislation, changes in tax administration and abolishing all tax amnesties offered by the state.
IOBE said a demand to reform the pension system is mature and that a dialogue on the issue must be complete, effective and quick. "The dialogue, however, should not exclude the taking of immediate measures based on current legislation and don't need changes of system parametres".
The institute said that based on first half figures, the Greek economy is expected to grow by more than 4.0 percent this year, the inflation rate is expected to fall below 3.0 percent, employment to grow by an average annual rate of 1.6 pct in the period 2007-2009 and the unemployment rate to fall below 9.0 percent.
 PM holds meeting with employment ministry leadershipPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday received Employment Minister Vassilis Magginas and newly appointed Deputy Minister Sofia Kalantzakou for talks that focused on the government's plans to initiate dialogue on reforming the pension system.
After the meeting, Magginas said that the government would invite all the political parties and social partners to take part in talks designed to reach the maximum possible agreement on "decisions that serve the true interests of the insured and pensioners".
Asked what the dialogue would discuss, given the prime minister's promise not to increase the age of retirement or social insurance contributions, Magginas said the main focus would be how to deal with "excesses, distortions and injustices that exist in the social insurance system".
"We all know about them and all agree on the need to tackle them," he added.
The government's next priority would be to further decrease unemployment and to increase employment as much as possible, the minister said.
 New development ministry leadership has first meeting with PMPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday had his first meeting with the new leadership of the development. He first met new Development Minister Christos Folias and then with deputy ministers George Vlachos and Stavros Kalafatis.
In statements afterwards, Folias said the meeting had focused on the strategy the ministry would adopt in coming days in order to fulfill New Democracy's programme. Among the priority areas listed by the new minister were development, followed by action to combat high prices.
He said these were matters that were "outstanding and currently underway" in order to help both regional development but also overall development in the country.
 Support for fire-ravaged areas a priority, agriculture minister stressesSupport for fire-stricken regions is an immediate priority for the government and measures for a rapid and substantial recovery of the agricultural sector in these regions have already been set in motion, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Alexandros Kontos said on Thursday.
Kontos made the statement during a meeting held at the agriculture ministry between experts and ministry officials to discuss the recovery plan for fire-ravaged areas.
Among the decisions announced afterwards was the creation of a special committee to draft a study on the recovery of farming concerns in fire-stricken areas, due to be delivered in one month, that will include a budget for the proposed actions and be in charge of their implementation.
In addition, the ministry decided to support agricultural processing businesses like oil presses and cheese makers, cooperate with the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME) for the construction of supplementary infrastructure like rainwater reservoirs and anti-erosion works, hold a briefing seminar for farmers on Tuesday in Tripolis regarding the renewal of vegetative and animal stock and begin the process for declaring the expanses burnt areas destined for reforestation, so as to ensure that there was no illegal development of forests or agricultural lands declared reforestable.
 Reding receives Greek telecom regulator Alexandridis in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding on Thursday received Prof. Nikitas Alexandridis, the president of Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission (EETT) and Greece's chief telecom regulator.
According to reports, the two discussed the state of telecoms regulation in Greece and the competitive situation on the Greek broadband market and exchanged views on the forthcoming reform of the EU telecoms rules.
"I had a very constructive meeting with Professor Alexandridis today. I strongly support the valuable, independent work he is doing in Greece to ensure more competition on the market. We are both in full agreement that the independence of national telecom regulators must be fully respected, and that national telecom regulators must be well equipped to ensure the objectives of the EU telecom rules: effective competition on crucial markets, such as broadband access and tangible consumer benefits. This is why I am currently working on legislative proposals to strengthen further the independence of national telecom regulators and to achieve a more effective, more consistent application of EU telecom rules throughout the 27 Member States," Reding said.
On his part, Alexandridis noted that "I appreciate the very useful dialogue with Commissioner Reding and the encouragement received from her today for the work of the Greek regulator. In the telecom sector, we agree as regards the final objectives and the instruments needed to achieve them. I congratulate the Commission for the proposals made yesterday to bring more competition to the energy markets, especially by introducing structural separation and a European Energy Authority. I encourage Commissioner Reding to be at least as ambitious in the forthcoming reform of the EU telecom rules."
 Greek Shipowners Union examines developments in Greek, international shippingThe boards of the Union of Greek Shipowners and of the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee in London examined, during a joint meeting on September 17, developments in Greek and international shipping, as well as problems facing the national, European Union and international sea transport industry, during their second meeting this year.
Speaking during the beginning of the meeting, Presidents Nikos Efthymiou and Epaminondas Empirikos expressed the grief of the shipowning family, as well as its solidarity for those struck by the recent disastrous wildfires in the country and thanked their colleagues for generous contributions made by them for the relief of the wildfire-stricken and urged further vigilance and active support for this national effort.
 36th regular ICAO general assembly beginsMONTREAL (ANA-MPA/I. Frangouli)
The 36th regular general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), that is headquartered in Montreal, began on Wednesday.
The session is being attended by delegations from 190 countries. Participating on behalf of Greece are the country's permanent representative at ICAO, Ambassador Haralambos Manesis and members of Civil Aviation headed by its governor Yiannis Andrianopoulos.
Issues to be examined during the session include the development of a policy that will lead to a decrease in atmospheric pollution caused by air transporters.
 Sarandis Group finalises partnership deal eying Turkish marketSarandis group on Thursday announced an agreement with Turkey's Evyap for the distribution of its products in the Turkish market.
Evyap was founded in 1927 and offers a nationwide coverage of the market with an extensive network of warehouses, distributions system and logistics around the country. It employs 300 people and its customer base totals 100,000.
The five-year contract will offer Sarandis access to the Turkish market.
Sarandis Group has already signed a similar agreement with Conril, in Ukraine.
 Folli Follie opens first outlet in MoscowFolli Follie on Thursday announced the opening of its first shop in Moscow in cooperation with Bosco di Cilegi, a leader in luxury brands distribution in the Russian market. The Folli Follie shop is located on the second floor of the massive GUM shopping mall off Moscow's Red Square.
"We are very happy that a new country, the 25th, has become a member of our global network. Due to its strategic geopolitical position and the exceptional condition of market growth in Russia, Folli Follie's presence in the country is landmark for us. I am certain our new shop in Moscow will become a benchmark and that more will follow in the wider region," Georgis Koutsolioutsos, Folli Follie's vice-chairman, said in a statement.
Folli Follie operates in 25 countries with more than 340 shops around the world.
 Euro-Court rules against Greece in used cars taxBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
The European Court on Thursday ruled that the manner in which the Greek state levies value taxes on imported used cars is not compatible with Community Law, as in some instances significant divergences have been recorded for similar makes and models, with vehicles circulated in Greece taxed less than imported units.
 New buildings cost index up 5.9 pct in August, yr/yrGreece's new house building materials' composite price index rose by 5.9 percent in August, compared with the same month last year, after increases of 5.8 pct and 3.6 pct in August 2006 and 2005, respectively, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The index was unchanged in August from July, after increases of 0.5 pct and 0.5 pct in the same months in 2006 and 2005, respectively. The statistics service said the average index in the 12-month period from September 2006 to August 2007 was up 6.7 pct, compared with the previous 12-month period, after increases of 4.4 pct and 4.0 pct in 2006 and 2005, respectively.
 FTSE Group says ASE remains on watch listFTSE Group, an international index provider, on Thursday said that the Athens Stock Exchange could face the risk of being demoted from a developed into an advanced emerging market, noting that the Greek market would remain on its watch list and that a possible downgrading would be valid from 2009. FTSE has set up a working party with the Athens Exchange and Greek Capital Markets Commission to look for solutions to the contentious issues.
FTSE said the reason behind its decision was the fact that ASE was putting certain limitations to foreign investors' activities, although it noted that progress has been made. However, it stressed that the Greek market continued lagging behind criteria to be included among developed markets. The limitations included restrictions on short selling and stock lending, allowing off-exchange transactions, making omnibus custody account facilities available to international investors, and delivery free of payment allowed for transferring securities between accounts.
Spyros Kapralos, ASE chairman, commenting on the FTSE Group's announcement said: "I believe that the introduction of MiFid directive, due to be implemented from November 1st, 2007, will eclipse any particularities in the Greek market compared with other developed markets abroad. There are some pending issues, but I am certain that the Greek market would not be demoted, as we rapidly move towards its restructuring. This fact is also reflected in the increasing inflow of foreign capital to ASE, currently above 52 percent of total capitalization of the Greek market."
 Greek stocks end three-day rally on Thurs.Greek stocks eased slightly on Thursday, after a three-day rally in the Athens Stock Exchange, following a decline in international markets. The composite index fell 0.13 percent to end at 4,972.34 points with turnover at 339.08 million euros.
Sector indices ended mixed, with the Insurance (2.14 pct), Industrial Products (1.68 pct) and Raw Materials (1.62 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Food-Beverage (3.24 pct), Commerce (0.97 pct) and Travel (0.85 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index eased 0.14 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.46 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.30 percent. Desmos (9.09 pct), Multirama (7.14 pct) and Betanet (7.06 pct) were top gainers, while Ideal (10.0 pct), Tria Alpha (9.82 pct) and Allatini Ceramics (9.23 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 131 to 113 with another 57 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.50%
Personal & Household: +0.28%
Raw Materials: +1.62%
Travel & Leisure: -0.85%
Food & Beverages: -3.24%
Financial Services: +0.04%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Cosmote, Alpha Bank and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 24.54
HBC Coca Cola: 36.36
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.80
Emporiki Bank: 20.64
National Bank of Greece: 44.34
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 25.00
Titan Cement Company: 35.30
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.78 billion euros on Thursday, of which 735 million were buy order and the remaining 1.045 billion were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.025 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds remained unchanged at 0.34 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.62 percent and the German Bund 4.28 percent.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.10 percent from 3.60 pct on Wednesday, the two-day rate was 4.20 percent, the one-month rate 4.45 percent and the 12-month rate eased to 4.70 pct from 4.72 percent.
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices maintained their premiums in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover a strong 210.478 million euros. The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.10 percent while the August contract on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.63 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 13,427 contracts worth 177.157 million euros, with 38,318 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 497 contracts worth 15.970 million euros, with 1,509 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 49,670 contracts worth 77.325 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Intracom's contracts (10,367), followed by Marfin Investment Group (1,344), PPC (5,923), OPAP (1,382), Piraeus Bank (1,423), National Bank (2,660), Alpha Bank (3,240), Marfin Popular Bank (2,374), GEK (1,246) and Motor Oil (1,268).
 Foreign Exchange Rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.414
Pound sterling 0.704
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.287
Japanese yen 162.72
Swiss franc 1.659
Norwegian kroner 7.843
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.414
Australian dollar 1.637
 2 coast guard officers nabbed in migrant trafficking sting operationTwo senior coast guard officers were arrested in northern Greece on charges of taking bribes to facilitate the sea transport of illegal migrants through their area of jurisdiction.
The two officers, including a lieutenant commander in charge of a port authority station and a junior officer, were arrested during a string operation when they were handed marked banknotes by officers of the merchant marine ministry's internal affairs department.
The two men, who later denied any participation in the illegal migrant transport ring, will be led before a navy prosecutor in Thessaloniki on Thursday.
 Deputy interior minister visits fire-ravaged Nea Styra on EviaDeputy Interior Minister Athanassios Nakos on Thursday visited the fire-ravaged region of Nea Styra on the island of Evia in order to check the progress of work to restore the area after the recent fires.
He was accompanied by the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry general secretary Evangelos Baltas and held meetings with local authority officials in the region and local MPs.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe immediate priorities of the newly-reelected New Democracy (ND) government of prime minister Costas Karamanlis, as set out by the premier during Wednesday's first meeting of the new Cabinet immediately after it was sworn in, and the decisions anticipated at the main opposition PASOK party's Political Council meeting on Thursday, were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "And now, work - The new ministers were sworn in and took up office yesterday (Wednesday)".
APOGEVMATINI: "Karamanlis' order: We get to work immediately - There is no time to lose".
AVGHI: "Cutbacks and sell-offs for the new budget - Karamanlis order at the expense of the social state and public property".
AVRIANI: "PASOK without leader in parliament - For 3-4 months until they decide to elect a new party leader - Karamanlis will be playing without an opponent, and Alavanos (SYRIZA leader) acquires role of opposition leader".
CHORA: "Papandreou will accuse (publishing and contracting) groups and Simitis (former PASOK leader and former prime miniser) of undermining - Strong stench, with smell of 'arch-priest' of collusion".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "He proved that self-sufficiency (in government) is not given by the number (of seats in parliament) - The prime minister the ruler of the game".
ELEFTHEROS: "TV seriously harmful to the...ministers - Karamanlis order to the ministers, aimed at protecting them from the tv 'thrasher' ".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The rift deepens - George refused to see Venizelos (high level PASOK cadre and contestor of the PASOK leadership) - Today, the battle in the Political Council on the dates and procedure (for election of a new party leader) - Laliotis vs Simitis on unity".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "At arms - They're bargaining over the timing of the congress - PASOK: Effort to lower the tones and find a compromise solution".
ESTIA: "The times demand faster paces - Greece behind with respect to global progress".
ETHNOS: "They were sworn in, with their eyes turned to PASOK - Maximos (Mansion, the government headquarters) filling in the green introversion with...draft laws".
KATHIMERINI: "First round of the Papandreou-Venizelos showdown today at the Political Council".
LOGOS: "Strict recommendations by Karamanlis to the minisers - Acceleration of the government work asked by the prime minister".
NIKI: "PASOK eating away at itself - Mutual back-stabbing instead of serious discussion on the change of leadership".
RIZOSPASTIS: "KKE initiatives on the problems of the fire-stricken - Tour of the fire-ravaged areas in Ileia prefecture".
TA NEA: "The election date (for party leader) a unity test at today's Political Council".
TO VIMA: "Social insurance system, taxation system the government's immediate priorities - There is no time to lose, Karamanlis said yesterday".
VRADYNI: "Clear-cut orders - Work and no words asked by the prime minister of his ministers and deputy ministers".
 UN and EU should condemn Gul illegal visit to occupied areas, says Acting PresidentLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Acting President of the Republic and President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias condemned the illegal visit to the Turkish occupied north of Turkey's President Abdullah Gul, stressing that both the UN and the EU should react, especially now that efforts are underway for a new meeting between President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Christofias said the government of Cyprus, the House of Representatives and the people "condemn with all their strength, the new provocative action by the occupation force, the visit of the new President of Turkey to occupied Cyprus".
Speaking in Larnaca district on Wednesday night, Christofias said that the illegal visit "is an additional violation of the international law, an additional provocative violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus".
He called on the UN and the EU to react now that efforts are underway for the two leaders to meet again and set in motion the July 8 Agreement.
Christofias said that at a time when the UN are trying to promote (the process) and the five permanent members of the Security Council support the UN effort unreservedly, that is the July 8 Agreement, to create the preconditions to prepare the ground for a productive dialogue, "Mr. Gul has basically arrived to give us the message that to become President of Turkey, he has merged with the military establishment".
This military establishment, Christofias added, wants to keep Cyprus a prisoner of Turkey, adding that if this is what Mr. Gul and Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan want, then "things are much worse".
The Acting President said Turkey must make second thoughts if it wants to become a real democratic state that aspires to join the EU.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
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