|Saturday, 19 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-11-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 1 November 2007 Issue No: 2737
 Western Balkans need policies of dialogue, Bakoyannis stressesForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday underlined the need for "policies of dialogue, the search for mutually acceptable solutions and good neighbor relations" in the west Balkans, stressing that the region was once again faced with "serious issues for its present and future".
She was speaking in Athens just one day before the start of a new round of UN-mediated talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in New York, in order to arrive at a solution in their dispute over FYROM's use of the name 'Macedonia'.
Greece objects to the name 'Macedonia' for FYROM on historical grounds and because it is also the name of a northern Greek province on the border of landlocked FYROM, saying that this could give rise to future irredentist claims against Greece.
The Greek foreign minister made the comments while inaugurating the "Ambassadors' Forum" - a new ministry initiative providing a forum to discuss current affairs - with Portuguese Ambassador Carlos Neves Ferreira as first speaker.
She emphasized the need for constructive effort to find areas of consensus and common views while noting that Greece, as one of the oldest members of the European Union and NATO, was aware of the importance of working constructively to this end. "Only in this way can there exist and be forged solidarity between partners and allies," she said.
"It is our deepest conviction that insistence on sterile and futile obstinacy prolongs harmful outstanding issues and becomes the source of serious problems," Bakoyannis added.
In his address to the forum, Portugal's ambassador referred to his country's policy in the Mediterranean and Africa and the relations of the two areas with Europe in general. He said that the Lisbon Declaration of December will be a landmark in relations between the two sides of the Mediterranean, north and south, but refused to comment on an initiative by French President Nicholas Sarkozy for the creation of a Mediterranean union on the grounds that the details of this were not yet known.
He also called for better coordination between the various initiatives and forums existing between the Mediterranean north and south, such as the Barcelona Process or Mediterranean dialogue on security within NATO, in order to better deal with joint challenges to security, peace, development, illegal immigration and energy cooperation.
FM in Britain next week
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will depart for London on Monday for talks with her British counterpart David Milibad on a wide range of issues.
On Monday, Bakoyannis will also give a speech at the London School of Economics, followed on Tuesday by an address at St. Anthony's College.
The Greek foreign minister will also meet with the organising committee for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
 PM confers with justice minister, meets with Patriarch of AlexandriaPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Wednesday with justice minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, who briefed the premier on the conditions in the country's correctional facilities and announced that six new prisons would be in operation in 2008.
The minister told reporters after the meeting that the new facilities would facilitate the living conditions of the inmates, adding that "it is a policy that strongly underlines social sensitivity, and a social issue which is heading towards solution by the present government".
Hatzigakis also announced that the women's jails at the Korydallos penitentiary would be relocated to Elaiona, near Thebes, and the land on which the women's prison at Korydallos currently occupied, would be turned over to the municipality of Korydallos, for better upgrading of the area.
Regarding the men's jails at the Korydallos penitentiary, Hatzigakis said they would also be relocated at a later date, noting that "these issues proceed one-by-one".
He said that all the prison-related problems "cannot be solved within a month and a half", but added that "a gigantic reform program concerning the correctional system is already underway".
The second item he discussed with the prime minister concerns the various legal Codes, Hatzigakis said, noting that the eight main Codes will be ready by end 2008, so as to reform the country's legal framework.
The third issue discussed concerned a justice ministry bill on speeding up administrative trials, which would also contain other provisions aimed at the better operation of the justice system.
Earlier, the prime minister met with visiting Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria. No statements were made after the meeting.
 Gov't on the prime minister's agendaPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will speak on Thursday in an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament and give a summary of the environment protection projects completed by the government, as well as a preview of future plans, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.
On the likelihood of a separate environment ministry, Roussopoulos cited Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias' statements during the presentation of the government's policy statements.
In response to a relative question, Roussopoulos declined to confirm that the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey will meet on Nov. 18.
 DM briefs parliamentary committeeDefense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Wednesday met with Parliament's standing defense and foreign affairs committee, citing his ministry's readiness to provide a full briefing on issues relating to the country's defense policy.
Meimarakis told the committee's members that the government would table a bill on military officers' wage scales next week.
The ministry's omnibus bill touching on a series of matters of financial nature will be tabled in early 2008, the minister added.
Underlining the need for a "broader dialogue" on issues relating to the country's armed forces, Meimarakis said national defense matters "must meet with the broadest possible understanding, without this meaning a restriction of opposition parties' role in the exercising of control on the government."
The committee's chairman, Miltiades Varvitsiotis, assured the minister that the committee would "continue being the field of a fertile dialogue."
Addressing the press after the meeting, Meimarakis said the country's armed forces "retain enough personnel and weaponry to face all future challenges."
Speaking on behalf of the main opposition PASOK party, Theodoros Pangalos said the minister's briefing was "complete".
He also excluded the possibility of resorting to elections regarding the pending name issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Liana Kanelli termed the briefing "excellent and comprehensive".
 Constitutional revision must be concluded by this summer, Roussopoulos saysReplying to questions about the planned revision of the Greek Constitution, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday clarified that the procedure set under the Constitution required that these changes be completed during the first session of Parliament, meaning by June or July at the latest.
 Pavlopoulos, Papandreou exchange charges over ASEP, claims over migrants' mistreatmentInterior Minister Propokis Pavlopoulos and main opposition leader George Papandreou exchanged charges and counter-charges in Parliament on Wednesday over two issues, namely, changes the government is pushing for the watchdog agency overseeing public hirings and allegations of illegal immigrants' mistreatment by the coast guard.
Papandreou charged that envisioned changes in the composition of interview boards at the Supreme Personnel Selection Council (ASEP) will merely allow ruling party cadres to infiltrate the boards in order to hire individuals backed by the New Democracy (ND) party.
In response, Minister Pavlopoulos flatly rejected the accusation, first noting that PASOK's first years of government in the 1980s witnessed the exclusive and mass entrance of PASOK supporters into the public sector. He added that participation of non-ASEP officials on interview boards was, in fact, a request by the agency itself.
Regarding the high-profile claims of mistreatment of anonymous illegal immigrants - made by a German NGO this week - Papandreou referred to the "torture of immigrants, which insults the Greek people's democratic conscience".
The former foreign minister also said he expects "the assigning of both administrative and political blame (for the alleged mistreatment) in the coming days".
On his part, Pavlopoulos countered that the previous PASOK government (2000-2004) failed to take any measures to deal with the illegal immigration problem, whereas Papandreou, in his capacity as foreign minister, did nothing to improve various migrant detention centres.
Moreover, Pavlopoulos, whose portfolio now includes the law enforcement sector, sharply criticised Papandreou for "blindly adopting" foreign accusations against the country, "which are probably baseless".
 Government says 'pretexts' used for school take oversSeveral of the reasons given for the current take overs of several state high schools "exceeded the bounds of reason" and appeared to be just pretexts, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters on Wednesday, while declining comment on the take-overs in general. The spokesman stressed, meanwhile, that the government was determined to make up for the lost teaching hours.
"There must be respect by all for those students, who are the majority, that want to be taught their lessons. Respect for the democratic right of those who wish to study," Roussopoulos underlined.
He cited an instance heard during a Wednesday morning radio show, where a parent reported that his child's school was new and did not have problems with shortages of books or teachers but that those who took over the school were protesting against the Kapodistrias 2 law for municipality mergers and proposed changes to article 16 of the Constitution.
"I mention this as an indication. In a school without problems, some people are creating problems by disagreeing with Kapodistrias 2 or with article 16. These are pretexts," he added. The spokesman emphasised that, under normal circumstances, the Kapodistrias law was not an issue likely to interest high school students.
Roussopoulos clarified that the teaching hours lost would be covered by those normally set aside for school trips and, if the lost class hours were too many, additional measures would be taken.
Regarding the schools that do have shortages of teachers and books, the spokesman claimed that these were now minimal with respect to teachers and were 99 percent solved as regards books.
"Nobody said that there are ideal conditions everywhere. The effort is constant and continuing but there must be respect for the democratic right of students that want to follow their classes," he stressed.
He refused to be drawn, however, on whether the take overs might have been incited by left-wing political parties like the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), given their positions on education reform.
Commenting on the government's instructions on how the take-overs should be dealt with, he said these were not new or special.
"We must all respect everyone's right to knowledge. Every democratically aware citizen adopts this view. Some people cut chains and padlocks. They place new ones and then take over an area. In other words, the few impose their view on the many. Is this democracy?" Roussopoulos said.
He called on teachers and students to help so that the schools that had been shut down could re-open through dialogue. "They are neither many nor few," he added.
 Roussopoulos on FYROM and LAOS leader remarksGovernment spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday said that a new round of dialogue aimed at reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the FYROM name issue will be launched on Thursday under the UN auspices. He stressed that this would be the most crucial round of dialogue to date and added that Greece and the Greek people were prepared and determined to do everything possible for a good outcome.
Asked to comment on statements regarding FYROM by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, Roussopoulos said that the Greek people demand that national interest be placed above all. He underlined that the government was entering the UN-mediated negotiations with clear-cut positions that respected history while being realistic and he accused the LAOS leader of petty partisan goals that were destined to fail.
 Justice Minister: priority to prison system reforms, better courthousesIn a press conference on Wednesday, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said the ministry's priorities were to improve the prison system and the state of court buildings.
He announced that three new prisons will have been completed by the end of January 2008 and another three within the next year, while procedures were underway to hire the additional prison staff necessary.
In addition, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had called for the completion of eight codes now being prepared by legal committees, the minister reported.
Also on the cards was a draft bill for accelerating the delivery of justice and allowing judges to opt for early retirement.
Hatzigakis announced plans to make the prison health and hygiene system part of the National Health System, a move approved by the prime minister and that was now being discussed with Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.
 Supreme Court allows police to video offenders at demonstrationsIn an opinion released on Wednesday, Supreme Court Prosecutor George Sanidas has given police permission to photograph and record demonstrations on video using their own cameras in order to identify individuals responsible for violence or other offences at outdoor rallies and marches.
Sanidas said the cameras should begin recording at the start of demonstrations and that the video cassettes and photographs taken by the Greek Police can then be used to assist police investigations or as evidence in court against individuals arrested during protests and marches.
Police will not be allowed to seize footage of offences committed at demonstrations that are recorded by media crews, photojournalists or even private individuals, however, but can only invite the owners to voluntarily hand this over for police use.
 Justice minister: "Society must weigh personal data against society's interests"Asked to comment on the decision during a press conference on Wednesday, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said it was his personal view that "society must at some point weigh and measure personal data against the needs of society".
"What we call society, society's interests, social sensitivity is a very great boon that we must not always sacrifice on the altar of individuality. There must be a trade-off generally, both of the personal data that concerns the individual, since the individual also has value and is a great good, but also of society as a whole that has its own values, its own priorities that concern the greater social good that we cannot overlook.
 George Papandreou calls for great, clear, victorious mandate on November 11George Papandreou, PASOK party leader and candidate in party leadership elections taking place on November 11, addressed supporters at the Ivanofio indoor stadium in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Wednesday night, calling for a great, clear and victorious mandate on November 11.
Papandreou used many times the words reversal and change for PASOK on the day after the election process and added that "the new PASOK will belong to the people, it will be free and autonomous from every centre lying outside institutions and will be dedicated to expressing the people authentically and genuinely."
He further said that PASOK will have a clear and explicit identity and positions, it will clash with big interests and will be clashing continuously with conservatism and its bad self.
Papandreou added that the PASOK on the day after the elections will be a party of principles and values and not one of masters and lords and pointed out that his victory in the elections will not come as the personal achievement of a leader but as the result of the collective effort and achievement of an omnipresent and participating people.
He also stressed that PASOK will follow an opposition tactic that "will not highlight the models of its rivals as its own models, it will not be envious of the leaders of the right and it will not propose their copying."
"We do not want to copy the right," he underlined.
Papandreou referred once again to the role played by the mass media, stressing that "PASOK demands from them, as well as from businessmen to respect its autonomy."
Referring to the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Papandreou placed "all the responsibility for the problem the , as it is presented today, on the government and on the prime minister personally," stressing that the provocative intransigence of Skopje "is the predetermined consequence of the handlings of the Karamanlis government."
Lastly, addressing the prime minister personally, Papandreou said "you permitted this intransigence by Skopje, Mr. Karamanlis."
 PASOK's Venizelos addresses supporters in XanthiPASOK party leadership candidate Evangelos Venizelos in the intraparty elections due to take place on November 11, addressed supporters in Xanthi, northern Greece, on Wednesday making repeated reference to PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou and to the principles he provided for PASOK.
Venizelos repeated his proposal for a joint appearance and interview of all three leadership candidates, incumbent leader George Papandreou, Costas Skandalidis and himself, at the party's head office, pointing out that it will be a message of unity and an open invitation to all of the party's members and friends to participate in the paramount democratic process.
Referring to the party's unity after the election process, Venizelos said that "the people are the guarantor of unity and if additional guarantors are required then they will be us three candidates."
Venizelos also criticised the government, saying that the viability of Costas Karamanlis's government "depends on two disgruntled deputies and that he will be proclaiming elections soon with a new electoral law."
 Skandalidis in SerresMain opposition PASOK leadership contender Costas Skandalidis continued his tour of the country ahead of the party's election on Nov. 11, appearing in the northeast city of Serres on Wednesday, where he met with local party cadres.
"PASOK must not come out of this procedure wounded," he said, while also precluding the possibility of PASOK splitting.
 KKE expresses solidarity for Hungarian Communist PartyFifty-two communist and labour parties have issued a joint declaration expressing their solidarity for the Hungarian Communist Party because, according to the declaration, "it is being faced with an anti-communist attack that is taking on the form of overt state intervention in its internal affairs and in the prosecution of its leadership."
An announcement issued by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) mentions that the "entire presidium of the Hungarian Communist Labor Party has been indicted to stand trial and is facing a prison term of up to two years, adding that the adjourned hearing for the case will be taking place on November 6, precisely on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the great October socialist revolution."
"The cause of this new attack that is developing, with the support of the official state," the announcement said, "was the fact that the Hungarian Communist Labour Party protested publicly over an arbitrary court decision that annulled decisions taken by the party during its latest congress and concerned its refusal to submit to the options of the ruling socialdemocrat party of Hungary."
 Ecumenical Patriarch holds talks with new Turkish government ministersISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos held two-day political contacts with five ministers of Turkey's new political leadership in Ankara, focusing on the promotion and solution of issues preoccupying the Patriarchate and the Greek community in Istanbul, Imbros and Tenedos.
The Ecumenical Patriarch called for the contribution of the five ministers for the remedying of injustice that had taken place in the past against the Greek community.
The Patriarch met with ministers of state, justice, interior, foreign affairs and education.
The issue of the reopening of the Halki School of Theology was also raised during the talks, for which the Patriarch pointed out that there should be a political will and goodwill for its solution, as well as for the other problems concerning the Greek community.
The ministers lstated the desire for solutions to be found to the issues raised during the talks.
 SAE President Tamvakis visits BostonNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Stefanos Tamvakis met with Greek American community representatives in Boston and discussed education and cultural issues as well as the organization's role in the effort to promote Greek national issues.
"Our priorities in the reconstruction of SAE effort are to ensure the preservation of Greek education and heritage and the more active participation of the younger generation", stressed SAE President Tamvakis. He also stated that it is time to join forces and offer hope and perspective to young expatriates inspiring them to preserve their Greek identity.
The SAE President also met with Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, Federation of Hellenic American Societies of New England President Elizabeth Papaslis and board members. Tamvakis visited the Greek General Consulate and conferred with consul general Konstantinos Orphanidis who hosted a reception in his honor.
He visited the first all-day school of the Greek American community in the state of Massachusetts, the Hellenic American Academy in Lowell, the local community and evening school in Watertown, Boston, the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and the Hellenic College in Brookline, while he also visited the grave of Archbishop Iakovos and was given a guided tour of the Maliotis Cultural Center.
During his visit to Boston, he gave interviews to local Greek American mass media.
Tamvakis departs for Washington on Wednesday where he will have a number of contacts.
 Development minister presents business program for 2007-2013Greek Development Minister Christos Folias on Wednesday announced the official approval of a business programe called "Competitiveness and Enterpreunship 2007-2013" after a decision of EU Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner.
The program is included in the top priority programs of the National Reference Strategic Framework plan (2007-2013), aiming to improve competitiveness and export activity of Greek enterprises and the country's productive system, emphasizing on innovation.
The development goal of the program focuses on three strategic goals: a) speeding up the transition to a knowledge economy, b) developing a healthy, sustainable and export-oriented business activity and c) strengthening the attractiveness of Greece as a country of business activity with respect for the environment and sustainability.
The programe will be financed with 1.721 billion euros from the state budget and another 1.291 billion euros from EU funds, with another 1.411 billion euros coming from private funds.
 FinMin George Alogoskoufis on GDP revisionFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis clashed with main opposition PASOK party deputies on Wednesday over an announcement by the European Commission according to which the percentage of GDP revision is set at 9.6 percent and not 25 percent as had been proposed by Greece.
Alogoskoufis gave a briefing on the results of the recent Eurogroup and Ecofin during a joint meeting of the Parliamentary Economic and European Affairs Committees and, replying to criticism by main oppposition party deputies who spoke of the "degradation of our country," the finance minister said that "the government does not have the possibility of influencing the National Statistical Service."
He pointed out that the revision of GDP is a collective European process and when a member-state proposes, through its National Statistical Service, a bigger revision percentage then consultations take place and this was also the case with Greece.
Called on to comment on the announcement by Eurostat, Alogoskoufis said that he had nothing to add, while stating that "it is not the politicians' job to comment."
 Athens, Cairo Chambers of Commerce sign cooperation agreementCAIRO (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)
The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Cairo Chamber of Commerce signed a cooperation agreement here on Wednesday which promotes the development of trade relations between Greece and Egypt.
The representatives of both sides stressed during the signing ceremony the importance of strengthening trade relations between the two countries over the past years.
The volume of trade between Greece and Egypt amounts to 500 million dollars.
 Agriculture minister holds talks with British ambassadorAgricultural Development and Food Minister Alexandros Kontos on Wednesday held talks with British Ambassador to Athens Simon Gass, focusing on farm policy being implemented in the two countries.
The meeting was also attended by Agricultural Policy and International Relations Secretary General Christos Avgoulas.
According to an announcement by the agriculture ministry, issues discussed concerned the implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy and prospects appearing after 2013, as well as proposals on the Health Check that will be tabled and will preoccupy the European Union's Council of Farm Ministers in 2008.
Also discussed were continuing negotiations in the framework of the World Trade Organization and positions being shaped by the two countries.
In parallel, according to the announcement, progress achieved in relations between the two countries in the farm sector was jointly ascertained.
 Deputy agriculture minister visits EgioDeputy Agricultural Development Minister Costas Kiltidis visited the city of Egio on Wednesday, in the framework of his tours of wildfire-stricken regions in the Peloponnese.
He announced during a meeting at the city's town hall that about four million euros will be given to prefectures affected by the wildfires for the purchase of food for livestock.
On the question of corrosion and flood protection projects in the region, Kiltidis said that "everything that had to be done has been done and, indeed, in a short period of time."
The deputy minister also said that the agricultural development ministry is closely watching the issue of forest protection and is placing emphasis on credits for forestry services, announcing new credit amounting to 100,000 euros for the Egio forestry service.
 Deputy development minister on SMEsDeputy Development Minister Stavros Kalafatis addressed the pre-conference session held in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Wednesday night, in light of the 1st Panhellenic Conference of the National Greek Trade Confederation (ESEE), underlining the intention of the ministry's leadership to lift obstacles concerning the transfer of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).
He said that the relevant study prepared during the ministerial tenure of Dimitris Sioufas, which has been submitted to the National Council of SMEs, is ready for processing.
Kalafatis also referred to the new "Competitiveness-Entrepreneurship" Business Program that was ratified by the European Union on Wednesday and covers the 2007-2013 period, stressing that the total amount of funds it mobilizes reaches 3.132 billion euros.
 Greek industrial federation criticises country's low competitiveness recordThe Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) on Wednesday urged for a stricter and more effective implementation of the National Reforms Programme, drafted two years ago with the approval by all social agencies.
Commenting on an International Competitiveness Report 2007-2008, published by the World Economic Forum, and showing Greece's decline to the 65th position on the global list, Greece's largest employers union said that despite high growth rates and an improvement in both the fiscal condition and the business environment, "the country's competitiveness in the global list remained worryingly low. We are in the 25th place among the EU-27 member states, with only Romania and Bulgaria lagging behind".
"Our weakness as an economy, as a state, as a society, to respond to modern standards is already evident from our soaring deficit in the balance of payments," SEB said in a statement, adding that all international reports send a warning.
"Our competitiveness stalemate condemns us to a national future of low performance and social imbalance. Greece deserves and can do more".
 New tourism development ministry officials appointedTourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Wednesday appealed for the support of all parties involved in the endeavor to upgrade quality in tourism services, stressing that the goal set is to reduce the existing discrepancy between the large number of tourist arrivals and the comparatively low revenues in the sector of tourism seen annually.
Spiliotopoulos made the comments in a ceremony held to welcome on board newly appointed senior ministry officials.
Spyros Efstathopoulos, a lawyer and former special secretary on competitiveness at the development ministry, was appointed new Tourism Development Ministry General Secretary.
Athanasios Economou, former Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) general secretary, was appointed president of the organization, while lawyer Iraklis Valvis took over as EOT General Secretary.
 Tourism Development Enterprise announces new boardEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Wednesday signed a joint ministerial decision appointing Petros Alivizatos, a former deputy, as chairman of the board of the Tourism Development Enterprise (ETA), as well as Haralambos Kokkosis, a professor of town-planning, as chief executive of the state-run company.
 Folias attends Asia-Europe forum in BeijingGreek Development Minister Christos Folias addressed an international inter-ministerial meeting in Beijing this week organized by the Asia-Europe Forum and focusing on the small and medium-sized enterprises.
The meeting took place in China's national assembly in Beijing.
In response to a press question, the Greek minister said that while China may be considered a threat by some market forces, it is considered more of an opportunity than a threat by Greek SMEs.
 Greek unemployment at 8.4 percent, EurostatBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Euro zone unemployment stood at 7.3 percent in September 2007, compared to
7.4 percent in August, as opposed to 8.1 percent in September 2006. EU27 unemployment was 7.0 percent in September 2007, compared with 7.1 percent in August and 8.0 percent in September 2006, according to an announcement by Eurostat on Wednesday.
In September 2007, the lowest rates were registered in the Netherlands (3.1 percent) and Denmark (3.3 percent in August 2007), and the highest in Slovakia (11.1 percent) and Poland (8.8 percent).
Twenty-three Member States recorded a fall in their unemployment rate over a year and three an increase, while the unemployment rate was stable in Luxembourg. The largest relative falls were observed in Poland (12.9 percent to 8.8 percent) and Lithuania (6.0 percent to 4.1 percent). The highest relative increases were registered in Ireland (4.1 percent to 4.8 percent) and Portugal (7.6 percent to 8.3 percent).
The unemployment rate for males fell from 7.2 percent to 6.6 percent between September 2006 and September 2007 in the euro area and from 7.4 percent to 6.5 percent in the EU27. The female unemployment rate declined from 9.2 percent to 8.3 percent in the euro area and from 8.7 percent to 7.7 percent in the EU27.
In September 2007, the unemployment rate for under-25s was 14.9 percent in the euro area and 15.1 percent in the EU27.
In September 2006 it was 15.9 percent and 16.9 percent respectively. The lowest rates for under-25s were observed in the Netherlands (5.6 percent), Denmark (6.5 percent in August 2007) and Austria (8.0 percent), and the highest in Greece (22.9 percent in the second quarter 2007), France (21.6 percent), Romania (19.6 percent) and Poland (19.2 percent).
Eurostat estimates that 16.7 million men and women in the EU27, of which 11.2 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in September 2007. In September 2006, 18.8 million men and women in the EU27, of which 12.2 million were in the euro area, were unemployed.
For the entire Eurostat report see http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/PGP_PRD_CAT_PREREL/PGE_CAT_PREREL_YEAR_2007/PGE_CAT_PREREL_YEAR_2007_MONTH_10/3-31102007-EN-CP.PDF
 Dubai Financial Group raises stakes in MPB and MIGDubai Financial Group, the financial holdings arm of Dubai Group, on Wednesday announced its intention to raise its equity stake in Marfin Popular Bank up to 30 percent and its equity stake in Marfin Investment Group up to 20 percent "in due time".
Dubai Financial Group on Wednesday purchased 19,832,865 shares of Marfin Popular Bank at a price of 12 euros per share from Andreas Vgenopoulos -the founder of the group, raising its stake to 19.9 percent from 17.4 pct. DFG also issued a derivatives contract with a market player over 8,231,982 shares of MPB.
Dubai Financial Group will apply with the central bank of Cyprus for approval of a plan to raise its equity stake in MPB. DFG will also agree with MPB to purchase a 6.45 percent equity stake in Marfin Investment Group at a price of 7.0 euros per share in an effort to raise its equity stake in MIG to 16 percent from 9.6 pct currently.
Under the plan, Andreas Vgenopoulos will cooperate with Dubai Financial Group as chairman of Dubai Financial Group SouthEastern Europe for a period of five years, while he will also receive DFG's support as chief executive of MPB and MIG for a period of five years.
 Marfin Group eyes ' mergers, acquisitions' in SE Europe marketMarfin Group aims to become one of the largest European business groups with a capitalisation of more than 140 billion euros in the next five years, Andreas Vgenopoulos, the founder of the Group, said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after Dubai Financial Group announced its intention to raise its equity stake in Marfin Popular Bank and Marfin Investment Group, Vgenopoulos said Marfin Investment Group has completed its major moves in Greece and its next goal was to strengthen its portfolio through mergers and acquisitions in the wider Southeast European region.
"MIG is a business group and not a fund, and does not plan to sell its assets in order to take profits, but has a strategic plan to strengthen companies in the group," the Greek banker said. He added that MIG was a Greek "success story" that will continue to be based in Greece.
Commenting on MIG's intentions vis-a-vis the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (it currently holds around 15 percent), Vgenopoulos said "we are not going to open our cards. It is an open case," although he stressed that relations between MIG and OTE were impeccable.
"We have full confidence in the management of the organisation," Vgenopoulos said, adding that MIG did not question the government's leading role in OTE.
Vgenopoulos also said that MIG, after completion of a share capital increase plan, has 6.9 billion euros to invest. He left open the door to more acquisitions in the Greek banking market.
 Pensioners present demands to employment minister after demonstrationPensioners staged a protest demonstration on Wednesday in central Kotzia Square in Athens, after which they marched to the Employment Ministry on Stadiou street, where a delegation met with minister Vassilis Magginas and presented him with their demands.
Magginas said afterwards that he listened to the demands with attention, and would convey them, together with a resolution on the demands submitted by the pensioners, to prime minister Costas Karamanlis.
He said the government was displaying social sensitivity to the significant problems faced by pensioners, adding that the standard of living of the low-pension earners would be improved through the reform of the social insurance system, noting that this was not tangible at the present time given that the reform process was in the process of development.
IKA (state-run Social Insurance Foundation) pensioners' president Diamantis Mavrodoglou said that the pensioners had left the meeting "with empty hands", since they received no specific promise on their demands. He added that the pensioners do not believe that the reform of the social insurance system will solve their problems, adding that their struggle will continue.
The pensioners are demanding a minimum pension of 1,120 euros, a 600-euro heating oil subsidy, abolition of VAT on staple goods, and free healthcare and medicines.
 Eurobank EFG expands activities in CyprusEurobank EFG will set up a subsidiary bank in Cyprus, Nikolaos Karamouzis, the bank's deputy chief executive said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, on the occasion of the launch of Eurobank's branch in Nicosia, Karamouzis said Eurobank EFG has already applied with the central bank of Cyprus for an operation license and expressed his confidence that an approval was imminent. The Greek banker also announced that Eurobank will open more branches in other cities in Cyprus over the next four to five months.
Eurobank will focus on banking services to large and medium-sized enterprises, offering international activities banking services, private banking services, institutional portfolio management and investment banking services.
The expansion of activities in Cyprus is "a move of high significance, part of a strategy plan to expand activities beyond the Greek borders," Karamouzis said.
Eurobank EFG's chief executive Nikolaos Nanopoulos underlined that the group's presence in Cyprus was evidence of its confidence towards the Cypriot economy, while he noted that Eurobank was not discussing plans to acquire or merger with Cypriot banks.
 Alpha Bank to issue first Greek ETFThe Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday said it had selected Alpha Bank Group as the issuer of the first Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), based on the FTSE/ASE 20 index of blue chip stocks, to be traded on the Greek capital market.
The new product will be offered in January 2008 with an initial asset value of 140 million euros.
An ASE statement said Alpha Bank was selected among seven candidates, based on the initial size of the ETF's asset and expected growth, the planning and promotion cost of the product, the management and treasury commission, the distribution network to institutional and private investors, the listing time and the issuer's interest in developing other ETF's on more market indices.
Spyros Kapralos, chairman of the Athens Stock Exchange, and Imogen Dillon Hatcher, chief executive in FTSE Europe, Middle East and Africa, noted:
"We are particularly satisfied to participate in the offering of the first ETF in the Greek market and were are certain that this will be the beginning of a series of ETFs based on market indices, regional indices, sector and theme indices to be listed in the Greek market".
ETFs have proven to be very successful products in international markets.
 OTE mulls amendments to its statuteHellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) board will seek shareholders' approval for a plan to amend the group's statute in order to allow the board to issue preferential shares, re-word of regulations over the powers of the board and harmonise OTE's statute regarding the functions of its board to a new regulatory framework.
The board will also seek approval for a plan aimed to simplify procedures in calling general shareholders' meetings.
 Greek stocks move 0.44 percent upGreek stocks continued moving higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, pushing the composite index to new seven-and-a-half-year highs. The index rose 0.44 percent to end at 5,334.50 points, with turnover a strong 619.99 million euros.
Most sectors moved up, with the Personal/Home Products (1.71 pct), Healthcare (1.12 pct) and Banks (0.90 percent) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Food/Beverage (1.67 pct), Commerce (1.64 pct) and Constructions (0.81 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.37 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.99 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 0.16 percent higher. Boutaris (10.0 pct), Karamolegos (5.60 pct) and Viosol (5.41 pct) were top gainers, while ANEK (9.82 pct), Elbisco (9.28 pct) and Ippotour (6.76 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 135 to 95 with another 73 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.61%
Personal & Household: +1.71%
Raw Materials: +0.48%
Travel & Leisure: -0.28%
Food & Beverages: -1.67%
Financial Services: +0.65%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Marfin Popular Bank, Marfin Investment Group, National Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 25.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 27.98
HBC Coca Cola: 42.84
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.76
Emporiki Bank: 21.00
National Bank of Greece: 47.98
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.86
Titan Cement Company: 33.66
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended Wednesday's session in the Athens Derivatives Exchange with a discount, while turnover rose to 112.585 million euros. The December contract on the Big Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.87 percent and the November contract on the Mid Cap index at a discount of 0.29 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 5,583 contracts, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 484 contracts. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,655 contracts with investment interest focusing on Marfin Investment Group's contracts (6,055), followed by Marfin Popular Bank (2,105), PPC (2,131), National Bank (497), Alpha Bank (1,268), Intracom (444), Motor Oil (408), ATEbank (174).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.9 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 958 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 942 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 850 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds were 0.27 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.55 pct and the German Bund 4.28 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.15 pct from 4.05 pct on Tuesday, the two-day rate eased to 4.10 pct from 4.15 pct, the one-month rate fell to 4.17 pct from 4.18 pct and the 12-month rate eased to 4.62 pct from 4.65 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.456
Pound sterling 0.702
Danish kroner 7.514
Swedish kroner 9.292
Japanese yen 167.82
Swiss franc 1.689
Norwegian kroner 7.853
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.387
Australian dollar 1.578
 Giorgio de Chirico exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center in NYNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
The Onassis Cultural Center in New York presents "Giorgio de Chirico and Greece: Voyage through Memory", an exhibition of works by major European artist Giorgio de Chirico. Organized by the Giorgio and Isa de Chirico Foundation in Rome and the Athinais Cultural Centre in Athens, this presentation of 35 of the artist's metaphysical paintings and sculptures will be on view from October 31, 2007 - January 6, 2008.
Among the paintings presented in the exhibition are "View of Athens", "The Painter", "The Hand of Zeus and the Nine Muses". The exhibition is curated by art critic and theorist Takis Mavrotas and was originally presented at the Athinais Cultural Centre in Athens, Greece.
"Alexander S. Onassis" Public Benefit Foundation President Antonis Papadimitriou stressed that the painter bridges antiquity with modern times, highlighting the Greek culture's timeless effect.
Throughout his life de Chirico maintained a personal and academic interest in Hellenic culture. Born in Volos, Greece in 1888 to Italian parents, he went on to study at the Athens Polytechnic and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. His debut in the art world took place in Paris in 1912. Most commonly known for having inspired Surrealism, de Chirico's work also adopted Neo-Baroque influences. His bond with ancient Greece harmonized with his appreciation of classical Italian art. The extremely innovate imagery of the 35 paintings and sculptures featured evoke the artist's memories and reveal his poetic vision, demonstrating the inspiration he found in both cultures as well as his role in defining a different, modern reality.
De Chirico was profoundly influenced by Greek mythology, of which he portrayed the Argonauts, Titans, Centaurs and Olympian Gods. An excerpt from the artist's memoirs expresses his affinity to this land, "all of those spectacles of exceptional beauty that I saw in Greece as a boy, and that are the most beautiful I have ever seen to this day, affected me so deeply, they were so powerfully impressed in my soul and in my thoughts"
 Anatolia College Alumni Choir celebrates 10th anniversaryThe Alumni Choir of Anatolia College in Thessaloniki celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special concert event on Thursday evening at the Thessaloniki Aristotle University's Ceremony Hall.
Under the direction of conductor Mary Konstantinidou, baritone Stergios Parisis and the 50-member Anatolia College choir, accompanied by Theano Fygiori on the piano, will perform works by Verdi, Donizzeti, Bizet, Hadjidakis, Theodorakis and Markopoulos.
The choir participates in artistic events organized in the city and in choir festivals in Greece and abroad.
 Road accident statisticsThe number of road accidents throughout Greece dropped by 17.4 percent in August 2007, compared with the corresponding month in 2006, according to figures released on Wednesday by the National Statistics Service (ESYE).
According to the statistics, 145 people lost their lives, 176 suffered serious injury and another 1,406 were lightly injured in a total of 1,227 road accidents throughout the country in August.
ESYE said that, in comparison with the corresponding figures for August 2006, the number of road accident-related deaths dropped 12.1 percent, while there was a 25.4 percent decline in serious injuries and a 20.6 percent decline in light injuries.
 Elderly pensioner dies in fire set to clear fieldThe Megalopolis fire brigade on Wednesday announced that it was launching an inquiry into the death of a 77-year-old pensioner, who was found dead of burns and smoke inhalation near the village of Doxa near Tripolis, where an unreported fire had broken out in agricultural land on Tuesday afternoon.
The man had earlier set fire to a field to clear it of stubble and dry grass and is believed to have suffered the burns in efforts to prevent the fire spreading to neighbouring farms when it blazed out of control.
The body has been transferred to Patras so that an autopsy can be carried out to determine the exact cause of death.
 Drug arrests in southern GreeceA woman was arrested on the Athens-Patras national motorway, southern Greece, on Wednesday after police found in her car a total of 4.4 grams of heroin and 7 sedative pills.
In a separate incident on the same motorway, two men were arrested when police conducting a car search found in their possession 40 grams of cocaine they intended to sell.
The drugs found were seized while all drug arrests mentioned involved Greek nationals.
 Weak earthquake near NafpaktosA weak earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale jolted the wider area of Nafpaktos on Wednesday morning, and was also felt in Patras and in many parts of Achaia and Aetoloakarnania prefectures.
The trembler was recorded at 10:48 a.m., at a distance of 180 kilometres west-northwest of Athens.
 Body of missing Swiss cave diver recoveredThe body of a missing 67-year-old Swiss cave diver was discovered by authorities on Wednesday near the coastal town of Astros Kynourias, in the Peloponnese.
The body was recovered by divers.
The victim had arrived in the region with another two compatriots to explore the underwater cave. No name was given.
 US Embassy: Changes in non-immigrant visa feeDue to fluctuations in the exchange rate, the 100 USD non-immigrant visa application fee will be charged at 74 euros, effective November 1, 2007, a US embassy press release announced on Wednesday.
The Embassy requests that applicants continue to make payments at any Piraeus Bank branch and to bring the original receipt to their appointment as proof of payment. The fee is non-refundable, the press release said.
The current fee for non-immigrant visa applications is 80 euros.
 PM meets head of Mediterranean Games bidding committeePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday received the head of the Greek committee that had organized Greece's successful bid to host the 2013 Mediterranean Games, Isidoros Kouvelos.
Afterwards, Kouvelos said he had "officially conveyed the message of victory to the prime minister" and thanked him for the government's whole-hearted support in the bid for the Mediterranean Games, which was won by the central Greek cities of Volos and Larissa.
"Without this support we would not have succeeded in arriving at this victory, which is very important for utilizing the legacy of the Olympic Games but also for the development and improvement of central Greece," Kouvelos said.
He ended his statements by noting that Greece had pledged to upgrade the Mediterranean Games and that "we will all work toward this target".
 ANA-MPA sports publications honoredThe Athens News Agency-Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA) on Wednesday was honored by the National Association of Sports Reporters (PSAT) for its annual publication "2007 Sports Review". It is the second time that the ANA-MPA was honored for the specific publication.
ANA-MPA sports department head Dimitris Efstathiou, who supervised the publication, received the award, while veteran ANA-MPA sportswriter George Stefanis was honored for his "Greek and International Volleyball 2007 Almanac".
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