|Wednesday, 16 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-12-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 12 December 2007 Issue No: 2771
 Commission praises Athens' implementation of nat'l reform programmesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
The European Commission on Tuesday gave Greece a mostly positive "report card" for its implementation of the Lisbon Strategy as well as for its National Reform Programs.
According to a Commission press release here, "In the light of the 2007 Greek Implementation Report and the Commission's assessment of progress made in implementing key structural reforms and based on the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs, the following conclusions are appropriate.
"Greece has made steady progress in implementing its National Reform Programme over the period 2005-2007. Greece has shown some progress in fulfilling the commitments agreed by the 2006 Spring European Council in the four priority action areas.
"The Implementation Report shows there has been some policy response to the recommendations adopted by the Council. There has been some response on the additional areas identified in the Council conclusions as requiring attention. The Implementation Report does not however specifically address the recommendations issued to the euro area countries.
"Amongst the strengths shown by the 2007 Greek Implementation Report are: good progress made to consolidate public finances, promoting female employment, implementing internal market legislation, and improving the business environment. There are promising signs of progress to fix a timetable to implement pension reforms designed to improve long-term fiscal sustainability.
"Policy areas in the Greek National Reform Programme where challenges need to be tackled with the highest priority are: long-term fiscal sustainability, implementation of the public administration reform agenda, the consolidation of active labour market policies, tackling high youth unemployment, tackling undeclared work and acceleration of education and life-long learning reforms. Against this background it is recommended that Greece:
pursue fiscal consolidation and debt reduction, and proceeds rapidly with the implementation of the pension reform, with a view to improving long-term fiscal sustainability; '
implement the reform of its public administration, by building up effective regulatory, control and enforcement capacities, by modernising its human resources policy; and through effective use of the Structural Funds;
within an integrated 'flexicurity' approach, modernise employment protection including legislation, reduce the tax burden on labour, strengthen active labour market policies and transform undeclared work into formal employment;
accelerate the implementation of reforms on education and lifelong learning, in order to improve quality and responsiveness to labour market needs, increase participation, and allow for a smooth transition into employment, particularly for the young.
"In addition, it will be important for Greece over the period of the National Reform Programme to focus on the following challenges: contain inflationary pressures and the current account deficit; accelerate efforts to set up a research and innovation strategy and increase investment in R&D; improve further the transposition of internal market legislation; speed up progress towards meeting the SME policy targets set by the 2006 Spring European Council; strengthen competition in the area of professional services; protect the environment by prioritising effective solid and water waste management and curb greenhouse gas emissions; encourage further female participation in employment; reduce early school leaving and put in place a coherent active ageing strategy."
 IMF delegation sees Greek economy continuing to thriveAn International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation has predicted that the Greek economy will continue to thrive with growth fuelled by domestic demand, the Greek finance ministry on Tuesday.
IMF experts also noted Greece's high growth rates in recent years and a marked reduction in the gap between domestic per capita real incomes and those in the EU.
They said the higher growth rates were supported by a steady improvement in employment rates, a sharp rise in real wages, low interest rates and rapid credit expansion while the limiting factor was the external sector. They forecast continued strong growth for the Greek economy for some time to come.
According to the IMF, investment prospects are good due to more rapid absorption of EU funds and investments that take advantage of the motives of excessive demand from housing and the expected completion of a large number of infrastructure projects.
The initial conclusions of the IMF delegation, however, also point to economic imbalances that may create medium and long-term risks for growth and employment prospects. Among them are listed the steady decline in competitiveness as reflected in the rising current accounts deficit, inflexible labor and product markets and high levels of public debt.
It advises the government to stick to efforts for reform, especially efforts to gradually improve the country's fiscal position. On a more short-term basis, the IMF delegation said that the budgetary targets for state revenues in 2008 were ambitious and that major efforts were needed to achieve these.
It said that further measures to boost revenues and control primary spending would be needed in order to achieve a balanced budget by the year 2010.
The delegation's report described the Greek banking system as robust, with adequate capitalization and high profitability but called for close monitoring of certain aspects, such as the rapid credit expansion.
 PM Karamanlis on official visit to Russia next week at President Putin's invitationPrime minister Costas Karamanlis will pay an official visit to Russia next week, at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the government spokesman announced on Tuesday.
The spokesman, Theodoros Roussopoulos, announced that, at Putin's invitation, Karamanlis will pay a three-day visit to Russia beginning on Monday, December 17.
Roussopoulos said that a wide range of bilateral issues will be discussed during Karamanlis' planned meetings in Moscow, with special focus on the energy sector, as well as international issues of mutual interest.
Asked whether the dates for Karamanlis' outstanding visit to Turkey have been finalised, as suggested in press articles, Roussopoulos said that he has nothing new to say.
 PM Karamanlis in Lisbon, Brussels this weekPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis departs on Wednesday for Lisbon, where he will participate in the EU's Reform Treaty signing ceremony which will take place in the Portuguese capital.
On Thursday afternoon, Karamanlis will travel to Brussels for the European Union's Summit on Thursday and Friday.
 Gov't says EU Reform Treaty takes Union, Greece forwardThe European Union Reform Treaty will help the 27-nation Union and Greece, individually, advance, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis told Parliament on Tuesday.
"The Reform Treaty takes the EU but also our country, forward. Consultations have been difficult and laborious, but we have waged the battle so as to guarantee issues of particular Greek interest, such as the clause on mutual assistance, reinforcement of external frontiers and special policies supporting our country's interests," Valinakis told Parliament's Foreign and European standing committees joint meeting, which debated the signing of the EU's Reform Treaty by the Union's leaders in Lisbon on Thursday.
"The final text is a product of a positive compromise. in the framework of which the institutional and substantial reforms and innovations of the Constitutional Treaty are mostly preserved so as to satisfy the positions of the great majority of the EU member-states," Valinakis added.
Ruling New Democracy (ND) deputies voted for endorsement of the Reform Treaty, while main opposition PASOK deputies voted in favour, with some reservations. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Radical Left Coalition (Syriza) and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) voted against, demanding, at the same time, the holding of a referendum.
The deputy foreign minister said the government "moved according to a plan and with a vision" during the EU's consultations "for a stronger Europe."
Regarding the clause on mutual assistance, Valinakis underlined that "for a country who finds itself in the most sensitive region of the Union ... it (the clause) acquires a particular military, political and diplomatic weight, especially and in the framework of a possible permanent structured cooperation between member-states."
Responding to opposition criticism on national issues, Valinakis said:
"We have a vision and a plan in our foreign policy. We know where we want to go. We are a country that believes in a strong EU. But this does not mean that when serious problem arises, like that of Skopje, our country will not express its disagreement, even if we know that we will be isolated."
PASOK deputy Panos Beglitis said the government should not hurry to sign the Treaty because "difficult days" are ahead in foreign policy issues.
 FM Bakoyannis briefs Parliament on national issuesForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday briefed Parliament's foreign and European affairs committees on national issues.
"There is no good or easy solution for Kosovo and no one has proposed it to date. There must be a period of reflection, so that Belgrade and Pristina evaluate the new facts. However, we must not, with hurried decisions, strengthen extreme voices. In every case, it must be made clear that the case of Kosovo is legally unique and must not create a precedent which will have repercussions in the respect of the borders," Bakoyannis said.
She stressed that the problem of Kosovo is composite and particularly difficult, noting that Greece is following a careful policy and adding that there must be a European prospect for Serbia, so that by the end of 2008 to assume the status of candidate for accession country.
The foreign minister clarified that the position of the Greek government is "Greece keeps its troops within the framework of NATO and if there is a European force legalized, we must also participate in this."
On the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bakoyannis expressed the view that the problem with the name must be solved now that Greece has a greater negotiating strength.
"This is the period for the issue of the name of FYROM to close. Now that there is a specific motive. If we leave it for life to solve it, it will be at our expense," she said.
Commenting on Greek-Turkish relations, the foreign minister stressed that "the policy we are following is a one way path. I cannot predict or prejudge when there will be a response by the Turkish side. We will continue this effort and we are awaiting a positive response also on the part of Turkey. I have also said this to Turkish Foreign Minister (Ali) Mr. Babacan, We are in favour of tango but it takes two. The dictum is valid for us that we never negotiate by fear, but we are not afraid to negotiate. Greece comes with substantial positions. Small but important steps were made, I wish that we proceed, to make them greater and more substantial."
 Inner Cabinet discusses health sector issues, legislationThe Inner Cabinet, chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, met on Tuesday to discuss health issues, with the participation of health and social solidarity minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.
After the meeting, Avramopoulos said that all the open issues were "ripe", and that the ministry was moving ahead, at a rapid pace, with deep-rooted changes.
He said the Inner Cabinet discussed primary healthcare, given the completion of the relevant bill, which would be tabled following agreement on the final details with the responsible ministries.
Avramopoulos said that several more draft laws were also in the workings, including a bill on advanced health care in schools in cooperation with the education ministry, and a bill regulating the sale of tobacco products to minors under 18.
Further, a more comprehensive, new policy on medications was also being advanced, so as to achieve the desired result, which was general streamlining of the sector with reduction of expenditures and their rationalization, Avramopoulos said.
The minister said that the Health sector was entering a new stage of modernization of infrastructures and legislation, with the purpose of putting the "disorderly landscape in order" so as to lead to scale economies and speedy results.
 Gov't denies concern over pensions reform backlashGovernment spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday denied that the government was concerned about a possible backlash over planned social security reforms, as reflected by its current low ratings in opinion polls.
"Opinion polls are useful working tools that reflect public opinion at the time they are taken. This is the value that the government attributes to them," Roussopoulos said, stressing that the government was pressing ahead with its program.
He also denied that the government was discounting the opinions of those who would take part in a scheduled general strike and protest on Wednesday in advance, noting that the demonstrations would take place in the framework of democracy and that the protestors would be free to make their opinions known.
"Opposing views in a democracy are respected by all and certainly by us," Roussopoulos added.
 Papandreou addresses employees at Elefsina ShipyardsMain opposition PASOK party President George Papandreou on Tuesday lashed out at the government's social security policy and expressed support for the right of workers and pensioners to a dignified future. He was addressing employees at the Elefsina Shipyards, Athens.
Papandreou accused the ruling New Democracy government of lacking a development plan for the country, stressing that enterprises such as the Elefsina Shipyards are being downgraded and eventually sold off, as in the case of public utilities like the Public Power Corporation and OTE telecom.
He accused the government of adopting tax exemptions favoring the rich and spoke of impunity resulting from the favorable settlements reached with major enterprises and the uncontrolled operation of the market. He also referred to the huge inequalities created, skyrocketing inflation, high taxation and the likely VAT increase.
On the social security issue, he stated that the system is underfinanced by the New Democracy government, creating a huge deficit expected to reach 10 billion euros in 2008, while tax evasion has jumped to 25 percent from 16 percent in 2004.
He accused the government of tearing down the state social security system and cutting back established rights while stressing that the Social Insurance Institute (IKA) had a surplus of 1.3 billion euros in 2004 as opposed to its current deficit of 1.5 billion euros.
Papandreou also said that according to a report prepared at the government's request, the social security system in Greece can be viable until 2030 under the precondition of correct management and consistent government policy.
On the social security fund mergers, Papandreou stated that PASOK supports such moves after a dialogue with the parties involved, while it opposes the transfer of deficits from problematic funds to viable ones through mergers. He also backed the establishment of a national solidarity capital to guarantee payment of future pensions.
 Papandreou visits the IKA offices in Peristeri, AthensMain opposition PASOK Party President George Papandreou visited the Social Insurance Institute (IKA) branch in Peristeri, Athens on Tuesday morning.
"IKA --the largest social security organization in Greece-- is not a garbage dump either for the deficits of other social security funds or the favorable settlements reached with major enterprises", stated Papandreou, stressing that it "is not the social security fund that will fill the black holes of the ruling New Democracy budget".
The PASOK leader stated that his party is backing the struggle of workers and pensioners and has submitted concrete proposals for the solution of the social security problem as opposed to New Democracy that does nothing to solve it and makes the situation even worse.
Referring to the IKA branch in Peristeri, Papandreou stressed that it needs more staff to serve people better, stressing that the personnel shortage is the result of the New Democracy policy.
 PASOK leader Papandreou addresses party's Political Planning BodyMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday evening addressed a session of the party's Political Planning Body.
"Many big economic games are being played during this period in the country," Papandreou said in reference to the telecommunications, energy, the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF), town planning and the use of land.
PASOK will submit in Parliament on Thursday an amendment concerning the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE). The session assessed that the government will not accept it "and will show that it is not interested neither for the public interest nor for the state character of OTE."
Papandreou also said that "the government's target is not the solution of the problems of the Greek people, but the deregulation and dissolution of the social state and the social gains." He also said that "the only real reform force in Greece is PASOK."
The session also dealt with opinion polls which showed "great displeasure towards the government's policy but also in the manner of operation of the political system."
Regarding PASOK's proposal on the electoral law, the session ascertained that there is complete readiness for the party's specialized proposal to be published, but this was chosen for tactical reasons, to be made public in a promising time so as not to allow the government the possibility of avoiding the social dialogue from the very important issues which is the social security system and the high cost of living.
The Political Planning Body will again convene on Friday morning to examine issues related to the party's congress and the current political developments.
 Synaspismos against election law draft billThe Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) on Thursday criticized the government for its draft bill amending the electoral law, saying that "it restores the two-party system framework by increasing the first party's bonus in parliamentary seats from 40 to 50."
In an announcement issued after a meeting of the party's political secretariat, which discussed the issue, Synaspismos noted that such an amendment "distorts, even further, the representation, in Parliament, of the country's socio-political balance of power, by weakening the idea of popular sovereignty ..."
 Greek MPs meet with Burns in WashingtonWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/I.Nanos)
A Greek Parliamentary delegation, which participates in the sessions of the Inter-Atlantic Parliamentary Forum being held in the American capital, met on Tuesday with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns at the State Department.
Participating in the Greek six-member delegation are MPs Fani Palli-Petralia, George Kalantzis, Symeon Kedikoglou, Ioannis Bougas, Vassilios Economou and Savvas Tsitouridis.
On Wednesday, the Greek deputies will meet with Kurt Volker, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for NATO affairs, while Palli-Petralia will meet on Thursday with Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and Congressman Albio Sires, responsible for environment issues and member of the Hellenic Caucus.
 Greece's ambassador to the UN at Geneva on the Universal Declaration of Human RightsGreece's adherence to the protection of human rights and its firm viewpoint that they should be respected by everybody and under all circumstances was stressed by Greece's Permanent Representative at the UN Headquarters in Geneva ambassador Frangiiscos Verros, addressing a UN Human Rights Council special session on the 60th anniversary of the launch of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Ambassador Verros underlined that the Universal Declaration constitutes a milestone in the history of Human Rights establishing a balance between the civil-political and economic rights. The declaration was not simply a reflection of the then need for equilibrium between East and West. It established a balance between two distinct philosophical and historical approaches, the Greco-Roman that defends freedom and ownership rights and the Christian and Eastern approach that has as a priority the solidarity among people and states and helping the weak, the Greek ambassador concluded.
 Interior Minister Pavlopoulos addresses event on human rightsThe Interior Ministry on Tuesday evening held an event on the theme "The respect of the value and the rights of the individual in Greece and Europe."
The event was held on the occasion of the start of the UN anniversary year for the 60 years since the Universal Proclamation of the Rights of the Individual and the signing of the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
Speaking at the event, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos spoke about the constitutional safeguarding of the human rights in the Greek Constitution, which, as he stressed, exceeds what is prescribed by the international community.
"Greece has behind it a long tradition which is linked with its democracy and culture. With the adoption and the implementation of the Consitution of 1975, our country has one of the most perfect legal orders with regard human rights, which was completed with the constitutional revision of 2001."
On his part, ANA-MPA Director General George Tambakopoulos spoke about the role of the mass media in the protection or violation of human rights.
 Event in Paris on Greece's role in SE EuropePARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Greece's strategic and geo-economic role in southeast Europe was highlighted in Paris on Tuesday at a special event organized by Greek Ambassador Dimitrios Paraskevopoulos in cooperation with the economic and commercial affairs adviser Panagiotis Zaragas.
Present at the event, which was held at the ambassadorial residence, were prominent personalities of the economic and business world, who actively contribute to the growth of Greek-French economic bilateral relations, as well as many representatives of travel agencies.
In his address, Ambassador Paraskevopoulos underlined "the great investement cooperation these past few years between the two countries," as well as the increase of bilateral trade which exceeds three billion euros annually.
 Public-private partnerships a cornerstone for reform efforts, finmin saysJoint ventures between the public and private sectors, also known as Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), were a cornerstone of the Greek government's reforms programme, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday at an Economist Conference dealing with PPPs and their application in SE Europe and the eastern Mediterranean.
The finance minister described PPPs as an "essential tool for achieving higher growth, increasing the number of jobs, reducing the public sector's participation in the economy, increasing the private sector's stake in constructing infrastructure and improving the daily life of citizens".
He stressed that reforms via PPPs would play a major role in the development of the Greek economy and society in the coming years.
Alogoskoufis said that 24 projects using the PPP method - worth 3.1 billion euros in total - had now been approved since 2006 and that tenders had already been carried out for three of these, while more tenders were due to be announced in the next 10 days for infrastructure projects for the Peloponnese University with a total budget of 100 million euros.
He also noted that Greece could act as a focal point for promoting the use of PPPs in the surrounding regions, pointing out that several interested countries had already sent executives to Greece to be trained, such as Egypt.
 Minister highlights role of public-private partnerships at Economist ConferenceThe pivotal role that can be played by public-private joint ventures or partnerships, also known as PPPs, was highlighted by Development Minister Christos Folias on Tuesday in his address to the 2nd International Economist Conference.
"Public-private partnerships are and have been a major reform in terms of building infrastructure and providing public-sector services. A reform that will play a crucial role in the development of the Greek economy and society in the coming years," Folias said.
The conference is entitled "Public-Private Partnerships in Greece: a Compass for Business Prosperity in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean".
Folias said that PPPs offered the public sector the opportunity to use the most up-to-date means to provide services to the public, enriching the existing framework and substantially improving the daily life of citizens.
Among their benefits he listed better and faster services, better risk distribution, the completion of projects on time and without budget overruns and optimal use of human and financial resources.
"Joint ventures are a developmental tool in conditions of transparency and health competition. With the implementation of the new law for PPPs, the Greek government has begun a programme of pilot projects throughout the country that will lead to the completion of works in various sectors, including education, housing of public services, justice and health," he said.
 Tourism minister unveils 2008 Greek tourism campaignTourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos unveiled Greece's tourist campaign abroad for the year 2008, during an event held at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) on Tuesday evening.
"Greece's projection is not only a privilege, is also our obligation," Spiliotopoulos said in an address, and referred to "the beginning of a new era" in which Greek tourism "adopts a new image, new aesthetics and a renewed international identity."
With the central slogan being "Greece: The true experience", Greece "for the first time capitalises technically on a unified strategic platform made in such a way as to be able to host and support the communications policy for the entire country, on every sector, every service and every product," the minister added.
In this framework, he said, the possibility will be offered to every tourism business, in all prefectures or municipalities of the country to use the digital platform through the address www.visitgreece.gr and show to the world in a fast and cheap way their own services and products.
The minister announced that the budget regarding digital projection of the country is being tripled this year.
Greece will also be present in big international networks like CNN and BBC World.
 Tripoli proposes Greece-Libya natgas pipeline during Dev't minister's visitTRIPOLI (ANA-MPA/A. Lidorikis)
The Libyan government on Tuesday proposed to Greece the prospect of constructing a natural gas pipeline linking Libya with Crete, in an invitation to examine the prospect addressed to development minister Christos Folias, which will be conveyed by deputy foreign minister Petros Doukas, who is on an official visit to Libya.
Doukas, who arrived in Tripoli on Monday, had a series of meetings on Tuesay with Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman and former General Secretary of the People's Committee (prime minister) Shokri Ghanem, Secretary of the General People's Committee (minister) for finance Muhammad Ali al-Huwayz, and ΤέλοςφόρμαςΑρχήφόρμαςGeneral Post and Telecommunication Company (GPTC) chairman Mohammad el-Qaddafi, for discussions on Greek business activities in Libya and the opportunities presented.
Addressing Greek entrepreneurs in Libya during an event on Monday night, Doukas conveyed the message that Greek businessmen have no reason to leave a market with so many and large opportunities, such as Libya, for business expansion only to the neighbouring countries in the Mediterranean, where there was already dynamic Greek business activity.
Doukas said there were immense opportunities in Libya for expansion of business activities by Greek entrepreneurs, and made specific reference to the sectors of infrastructure projects, energy, water resources management, transports, tourism, foods, defence (modernisation of defence systems), among others.
He said the initiative belonged to the businessmen themselves, adding that they had the support of the Greek state via the Hellenic Exports Promotion Organisation (HEPO), the Hellenic Centre for Investment (ELKE), and the economic and commercial attaches.
 OTEGlobe launches new broadband network in BalkansThe telecoms firm OTEGlobe on Tuesday announced the launch of operations for its new TransBalkan broadband network stretching from Greece to Frankfurt via the Balkans and central Europe.
The company said the specific network represents the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) group's new international infrastructure, which is designed to meet the broadband needs of southeastern Europe and beyond.
The TransBalkan Network represents an investment of 50 million euros over three years and is capable of transmission speeds ranging from 34 Mbps up to 10 Gbps, with the possibility of later expanding this to 160 Gbps.
The new network is the second high-speed network operated by OTEGlobe, which also has a network that extends from Greece to western Europe via Italy. The two different network routes guarantee uninterrupted operation of both, since they can operate both autonomously but are also complementary. This means that if one network malfunctions, the connection will be picked up by the other.
Through the combined networks, OTEGlobe now has the most complete network infrastructure in SE Europe, making Greece a network bridge linking the Middle East and Europe via the Balkans. The company also announced plans for a third broadband network due to be completed in 2008.
Tuesday's press conference was also addressed by OTE's CEO Panagis Vourloumis, who stressed the importance of OTEGlobe's activities for the OTE group.
 Minister addresses Telecom Services and Consumer Protection eventNew technologies, particularly in the telecoms sector, are one of the branches of the Greek economy presenting the greatest mobility and which could enhance the country's competitiveness, while at the same time creating new jobs, transport and communications minister Costis Hatzidakis said on Tuesday, addressing an event organised by the National Committee on Telecoms and Post Offices (EETT) titled "Telecom Services Products and Consumer Protection".
The new technologies could contribute decisively in permanently eliminating the exclusion of sensitive and geographically isolated groups of the population, he said.
Hatzidakis also expressed satisfaction over Greece's progress in the sector of new technologies, stressing that broadband penetration jumped by 85 percent in 2007 against the preceding year, attributing the immense increase to the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), alternative providers and entrepreneurs, but also to the EETT which, he said, with its interventions contributed to the proper function of competition on the market.
The main goal, he continued, was quality in telecommunications and protection of the consumer, adding that the EETT's contribution in that direction was decisive.
Addressing the event earlier, EETT president, Prof. Nikitas Alexandridis, stressed that although broadband penetration was increasing, the level of technical support and customer service by the telecoms services providers was nevertheless unacceptable,
Alexandridis said that the number of complaints by users was rising, and spoke of "childhood diseases" of a new market that was rapidly growing in Greece, calling for a dialogue among all the agencies involved.
The EETT president further presented a series of proposals, including the establishment of a working group to delineate the authorities among the public sector agencies involved, the drafting of a comparative quality indicators by EETT, the introduction of a Code of Ethics and Deportment for providers, the establishment of an Arbitration Committee, and the launching of an informational campaign in 2008 on the Rights of the Consumers.
 BoG head Garganas on effect of latest int'l developments in local marketsBank of Greece Gov. Nikos Garganas on Tuesday reviewed economic developments, particularly the recent financial turmoil on international markets and its indirect and limited repercussions in the domestic economy.
Speaking during an event hosted for the Hellenic Bank Association's (HBA) board members, he stressed that the effects of recent turbulence in international credit markets was limited in Greece, mainly because local banks are focused on the domestic market and on expanding their activities to neighboring countries with high growth rates.
"A slight drop in profits and valuation losses reflects the overall decline in structured products' prices," he said.
 Northern Greek industries union signs agreement in MoscowThe Federation of Industries in Northern Greece (FING) on Tuesday signed a cooperation memorandum with the Moscow Chamber of Industry and Commerce's service for the promotion of exports and investment.
The two sides promised to make every effort to develop business partnerships between the two countries and to boost business ties between their members.
A business delegation comprised of firms from the food, clothing, construction materials and chemicals sectors, organised by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board with support from FING, has been in Moscow since Monday.
 Thessaloniki mayor announces construction of two new marinasThessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos on Tuesday announced that the a project for the construction of two new marinas for leisure craft and yachts in Thessaloniki will get underway during 2008. The two marinas will be built at the port's first dock and the city's Concert Hall.
A study on the project is due to be completed by mid-2008 and will be followed by a tender to select a construction contractor.
 Helleniic Petroleum interested in buying out share of NISHellenic Petroleum (ELPE) announced on Tuesday that in a joint venture with the Austrian oil and natural gas company OMV, is interested in buying out a share of the Serbian monopoly Nafta Industrija Srbije (NIS).
ELPE Group director general responsible for the group's international activities, Mihalis Myrianthis, stated that "ELPE is ready to jointly act in the tender with OMV, with the purpose of buying out share of the Serbian state oil monopoly NIS and awaits the initiatives for the tender by the Serbian government.
 EL.PE refinery group announces new CEOHellenic Petroleum (EL.PE), Greece's biggest refinery and petro-chemical group, on Tuesday announced the resignation of chief executive Panos Kavoulakos and his replacement by board member Ioannis Kostopoulos, who represented the Greek state on the group's 13-member board.
Kostopoulos' appointment follows a joint decision by the economy and development ministries.
Kostopoulos was previously the CEO of the Petrola refinery group between 2001 and 2003.
 New FING website improves business dialogueThe Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (FING) contributes to the improved dialogue between entrepreneurs and consumers in northern Greece with the operation of the new website http://www.business-dialogue.gr titled "Your opinion is valued".
The aim is to collect different opinions and conduct opinion polls.
 Greek industrial import price index up 6.4 pct in October, yr/yrGreece's industrial import price composite index rose 6.4 pct in October, compared with the same month last year, after increases of 1.2 pct and 7.9 pct in the corresponding months in 2006 and 2005, respectively.
The October increase mainly reflects a 2.9 pct increase in the price of imports from Eurozone countries and an 11.6 pct increase in the price of imports from outside the Eurozone.
Increases by sector included a 21.3 pct jump in oil and natural gas extraction, an 11.3 pct increase in the production of octane products by oil refineries and nuclear fuels and a 7.6 pct increase in base metal production prices.
The industrial import price index rose 1.5 pct in October from September, after declines of 0.2 pct and a rise of 0.7 pct in September 2006 and 2005, respectively.
 Greek stocks again move upwards on Tues.Greek stocks continued moving upwards this week, with Tuesday's session at the Athens Stock Exchange mirroring Monday's session. The composite index increased by 0.41 percent to end at 5,175.38 points, with turnover a moderate 480.6 million euros, of which 132.2 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors ended higher, with Oil & Gas (5.47 pct), Utilities (2.19 pct) and Travel-Recreation (1.43 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Telecoms (1.96 pct), and Raw Materials (1.22 pct) recording the biggest loses.
The Big Cap index gained 0.20 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.18 pct higher and the Small Cap index increased by 0.30 pct.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 135 to 115 with another 45 issues unchanged.
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices ended with small primiums in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover easing to 144.832 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.10 percent and the December contract on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.34 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 8,001 contracts worth 109.630 million euros, with 31,662 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 270 contracts worth 8.563 million euros with 909 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,340 contracts worth 17.656 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Investment Group (4,858 contracts) followed by Intracom (1,915), Alpha Bank (1,205), Post Office Bank (555), EXAE (505), ATEbank (497), Marfin Popular Bank (476) and Eurobank (446).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.13 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.129 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.001 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 506 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds remained at 0.34 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.54 pct and the German Bund 4.22 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved mostly upwards. National Bank's overnight rate was 4.075 pct from 3.87 pct on Friday, the two-day rate increased to 4.07 from 4.02 pct, the one-month rate stood at 4.95 from 4.92 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.89 pct from 4.85 pct.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +5.47%
Personal & Household: +0.38%
Raw Materials: -1.22%
Travel & Leisure: +1.43%
Food & Beverages: +0.62%
Financial Services: +1.40%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Minoan Lines, National Bank, DEH and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.66
Public Power Corp (PPC): 36.76
HBC Coca Cola: 28.64
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.72
National Bank of Greece: 46.46
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 23.66
Titan Cement Company: 31.82
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.478
Pound sterling 0.721
Danish kroner 7.520
Swedish kroner 9.480
Japanese yen 165.55
Swiss franc 1.678
Norwegian kroner 8.061
Cyprus pound 0.589
Canadian dollar 1.493
Australian dollar 1.670
 24-hour nationwide general strike on WednesdayAll of the ANA-MPA's news services will be off-line between 6 a.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday due to participation of journalists' unions in a 24-hour nationwide strike declared for Wednesday.
The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) will participate in the nationwide general strike in protest over the country's social security system.
Taking part in the strike are journalists from all the unions, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, civil servants, personnel at the public utilities and banks. schools and universities will also be closed.
Regarding transport, OASA announced that within the framework of the strike, the blue buses and trolleys will not operate for 24 hours. The OSE trains will also not operate.
The railway stations and the Athens Metro will hold work stoppages from the start of the shift until 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to the end of the shift.
Trams will hold a work stoppage from the start of the shift until 09:30 a.m. and from 4 p.m. until the end of the shift.
Personnel at the Express bus routes serving Athens' "Eleftherios Venizelos" Airport will participate in the strike from 04:25 a.m. (morning of December 12) until midnight (night of December 12).
Due to the strike declared by airport tower control personnel, there will be no flights. There will be no flights to and from Greece.
GSEE in an announcement calls on the working people "to participate en mass and decisively" in the strike, in protest over the 2008 state budget, the changes in the country's social security system and the privatizations.
In Athens, the GSEE and ADEDY rally will take place at the Pedion tou Areos, central Athens, at 11 a.m.
 Event on the 100th anniversary of Constantine Karamanlis' birthLONDON (ANA-MPA/L. Tsirigotakis)
A special event was held Monday night at the Hellenic Centre in London marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Greek statesman Constantinos Karamanlis. Prominent speakers, from Greece and other countries, focused on two aspects of his work namely, "Karamanlis and Europe" and "Karamanlis and Culture".
Keynote speaker was Greece's ambassador to London, Vasilis Pispinis, who referred to his experience at the side of the late statesman as the chief of his diplomatic office during Karamanlis' second term in the Hellenic Presidency.
Constantinos G. Karamanlis Foundation General Director Professor Constantine Svolopoulos referred to Karamanlis' political philosophy, stressing that he studied history and learned from the mistakes and successes of major politicians in history.
Sir Michael Llewellyn-Smith, historian and former ambassador of Britain to Greece, and Professor Kevin Featherstone, the "Eleftherios Venizelos" Chair of Contemporary Greek Studies, and director of the LSE Hellenic Observatory, referred to the political personality of Constantine Karamanlis, who was the founder of the ruling New Democracy party in Greece and also served as prime minister.
Professor Spyros Economides, International Relations and European Politics, LSE, referred to the dimensions of the foreign policy followed by Constantine Karamanlis.
Among the speakers were Professor Babiniotis and the late statesman's brother Achilleas Karamanlis.
 Fulbright Foundation unveils 'Great Ideas' series of lectures to commemorate 60th anniversaryThe Fulbright Foundation in Greece on Tuesday unveiled its ambitious "Great Ideas" series of lectures to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the well-known educational institution's founding in 1948, with three internationally distinguished personalities scheduled to lecture in Greece over the next six months.
Inaugurating the series on Monday, and in Thessaloniki no less, will be noted academic Ruth Faden, the executive director of Johns Hopkins' Berman Institute of Bioethics, with Manhatten-based Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) director Glenn Lowry to follow in March 2008 and Yale University president Richard Levin in May 2008.
Fulbright Greece executive director Artemis Zenetou -- herself a Fulbright scholar -- presented the programme and reiterated the Foundation's significant role in educational and cultural exchanges, especially between the east Mediterranean nation and the United States since 1948.
Zenetou, speaking at the US ambassador's residence in Athens and with new US ambassador to Greece, Daniel Speckhard, and his wife, Anne, by her side, reminded that Greece's Fulbright programme is the oldest in Europe and the second oldest in the world.
She also noted that the three confirmed speakers will address both the general public and give specialised lectures to academics, researchers and students.
In brief comments, the US envoy said his experience has showed that cultural exchanges, particularly amid the current trend of globalisation, are a two-way street.
The series is organised with the support of the US embassy in Athens and the US consulate in Thessaloniki, while the Stavros Niarchos Foundation is a major sponsor of the initiative.
 Papoulias receives Action Aid's MitsotakisGreek President Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received Action Aid representative for Greece Alexandra Mitsotakis at the presidential mansion on the occasion of the December 11 World Day for the Child as well as the previous day's World Day for Human Rights.
Mitsotakis briefed the president over her recent visit to Kenya, adding that the children's needs in the country are great, although there is substantial hope for their survival.
On behalf of the organisation, Mitsotakis said access to fresh water is a fundamental right and not an issue of charity.
 Supreme Court prosecutor seeks 24-hour policing in central AthensSupreme Court prosecutor George Sanidas on Tuesday submitted a written request to the chief of the Greek Police Anastasios Dimoschakis, in which he asked for 24-hour police patrols in the triangle of central Athens streets known as the "historical centre".
According to Sanidas, the collection of streets between and around Koumoundourou Square, Theatrou Square, Menandrou, Geraniou and Evripidou streets had become hotspots for vice crimes like drug-dealing and narcotics use, illegal prostitution involving immigrants that were often the victims of human trafficking, the fencing and sale of stolen goods, and an illegal trade in fruits and vegetables plied by groups of gypsies.
The prosecutor strongly urged that patrols be manned by select officers who would carry out frequent inspections and searches and rigorously enforce the law, arresting suspects and ensuring that illegal immigrants were deported. He also stressed that police should immediately respond to and investigate complaints by local residents, "whose residence and business activity in the historic centre has been made impossible due to drug users, foreign women engaged in prostitution".
He advised that the police cooperate with the Athens municipal police force in its bid to clean up the neighborhood, sending a copy of his request to Dimoschakis to the Athens First-Instance Court Prosecutor and Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.
 Stem cell bank Greece's first biotech public-private partnershipA stem cell bank inaugurated at the National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF) on Tuesday represents the first public-private partnership in biotechnology applications in the country, the head of the NHRF Prof. Dimitrios Kyriakidis announced in a press conference.
The partnership involves the private biotech firm Biohellenika SA and the NHRF, which join forces to ensure the safe storage of stem cells and ways to encourage stem cell research and its application in clinical practice.
The joint venture provides options for family, mixed and public storage. In the first case, the stored stem cells are destined exclusively for use by the family, while in the second it is possible to make them available for use by others with the permission of parents, thus laying the foundations for the first mixed-use stem cell bank in Greece and southeastern Europe.
Parents will also be able to donate stem cells from a newborn to the public bank, irrespective of when and where a birth occurred, so opening the way for the development of regenerative medicine that might potentially benefit thousands of patients, including some suffering from diseases that are currently incurable.
During Tuesday's press conference, the head of the NHRF's Institute for Biological Research and Biotechnology Prof. Fragiskos Kolisis and Biohellenika CEO George Koliakos outlined how stem cells from umbilical cords could be used to cure blood and metabolic diseases and said that researchers were now conducting clinical trials to develop a cure for heart failure and neurodegenerative diseases.
 Greek books donated to Bulgarian schoolThe Association of Publishers of Northern Greece (SEKBE) donated a large number of books, mainly literature and history books, to the 12th High School-Lyceum in Sofia, Bulgaria, where a considerable number of curriculum courses are taught in Greek. The donation was made within the framework of the Association's participation in the International Book Fair in Sofia.
In the last Lyceum grade in the specific school, a total of 20 teaching hours a week are in Greek, while 100 of the 600 students attending opt to be taught most of their courses in Greek.
SEKBE President Babis Barbounakis stated that the association has adopted the specific school in Bulgaria and therefore book donations will continue.
 Arrest on counterfeit banknotes chargesA 37-year-old man was arrested in Chania, Crete accused of printing and trafficking counterfeit banknotes.
The man was arrested after using two forged 50-euro banknotes in a coffee shop. A search of his car revealed one 50-euro and two 20-euro banknotes, also counterfeit.
Police found in his house a PC system and a specialized printer for the production of forged banknotes.
An investigation is underway to determine if he had used more counterfeit banknotes in market transactions.
 Ferry collides with dock in Mykonos harbourThe passenger-car ferry "Super Ferry" collided with the dock in Mykonos harbour on Tuesday while casting off for the return journey to Piraeus with 88 passengers on board. A merchant marine ministry announcement said the impact caused minor damage to the vessel's steering system and it was forbidden to set sail.
The passengers were taken back to Piraeus on board another ship belonging to the shipping firm "Blue Star Ferries".
 Two killed in national highway pile-up near XylokastroTwo people were killed on Tuesday in a pile-up involving seven cars that occurred on the Athens-Patras national highway near Xylokastro at around noon.
The accident occurred when a private car ploughed into a taxi heading towards Corinth and the two cars came to a stop in the middle of the road, so that another five private cars coming up behind crashed into them.
The driver of the second car and his passenger were fatally injured and the road was closed for roughly an hour.
 Olympiakos beats Werder Bremen 3-0 in Champions League matchOlympiakos Piraeus beat Werder Bremen of Germany 3-0 (halftime 1-0) in a Champions League Group C soccer match played at the Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus on Tuesday evening.
Olymiakos' goals were scored by Ieroklis Stoltidis in the 12th minute and 74th and by Darko Kovacevic in the 70th.
Olympiakos came second behind Real Madrid of Spain in Group C and qualified for the next stage of the competition. The other team in Group C was Lazio of Italy.
 Scattered showers, storms on WednesdayScattered showers and storms with westerly, southwesterly winds are forecast in all parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 7-8 beaufort. Snowfall in the mountainous regions. Temperatures will range between 2C and 18C. Rain in Athens, with southwesterly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 07C to 16C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 04C to 11C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceWednesday's nationwide labour strike in protest of the government's planned social security reforms, an opinion poll conducted on behalf of a large television station indicating that ruling party New Democracy (ND) holds a 2.7 percent lead, and the future of the ailing national air carrier Olympic Airway (OA) dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Nothing, not even Wednesday's nationwide strike, will change the government's decision on social security reforms".
APOGEVMATINI: "84.1 per cent of the people demand immediate solution for social security issue - Nationwide poll shows ND 2.7 percent lead over main opposition party PASOK".
AVGHI: "Government head-on collision with society - Poll: 60 per cent of Greeks against ND's policy".
AVRIANI: "George Papandreou's (PASOK leader) parliamentary opposition is a 'tragedy', believes 81 per cent of people - Only 17.1 per cent support his choices, nationwide poll indicates".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Greece (and not the EU) will choose OA's new corporate scheme".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Wednesday's strike: First crash test for government - Social security reforms, OA a 'barometric low' for government".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "During Wednesday's strike everything will be closed, but surveillance cameras will be switched on - Areios Paghos (Supreme Court) president says cameras will help in combatting crime".
ESTIA: "New electoral law is debatable - May boomerang against New Democracy".
ETHNOS: "Development Minister Vassilis Magginas' children employed in public sector as the people rise up in protest".
KATHIMERINI: "Social security issue at turning point - Government unwavering - Nationwide strike on Wednesday".
LOGOS: "Olympic Airways' in a vise - European Commission demands immediate solution".
NIKI: "Government troubled by people's major reactions".
RIZOSPASTIS: "All united at Wednesday's strike - Rise up for your social security and working rights".
TA NEA: "Social security and OA damaging for ND - Polls send message to ruling party just 3 months after general elections."
TO VIMA: "Government consolidates its domination through new electoral law".
VRADYNI: "Government leads by 2.7 points says poll, which also, however, sounds warningbell over social security and OA issues".
 Cyprus President: a stronger EU would strengthen our positionLISBON (CNA/ANA-MPA)
European Union leaders, including Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, will sign the bloc's new reform treaty, the Lisbon Treaty, Thursday, 13 December, in the Portuguese capital, aiming to make the EU more democratic and stronger.
In an interview with CNA, to mark one of the most important developments in the recent EU history, President Papadopoulos said that a more unified and a stronger EU, with an enhanced capacity to act, would strengthen Cyprus' position, noting he was certain that after February's presidential elections in Cyprus, the ratification of the Treaty will be top priority for the House of Representatives.
"A strong EU, which has managed to tackle internal difficulties, can face external challenges more easily," he told CNA, adding that an enhanced EU political voice "will work in favor of Cyprus, which in turn will strengthen its presence in the international arena."
As regards the role of small states in the bloc's decision-making mechanisms, the president pointed out that "we cannot restrict our outlook to the narrow logic of seeing member states as units" and explained that member states work as part of a whole and inevitably must look for collaboration among their partners.
"Abolishing unanimity would reduce to some degree the role of states with a small number of votes," President Papadopoulos said, pointing out that as far as Cyprus is concerned this means a bigger effort to establish alliances with other states with common interests and goals.
He said that historically in the EU there are no traditional permanent alliances or groups of small or big states, on the contrary, alliances are formed depending on the interests of the countries and the issues under discussion.
"Once the new mechanisms are in place, decision-making by the EU will become easier and I believe this to be in the interest of all states," he said.
Asked if the non inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Reform Treaty could have an adverse on Cyprus, the president noted that "Cyprus had supported the inclusion of the Charter in the Treaty, nonetheless the absence of the Charter per se does not affect the legal outcome."
"The compromise approach which has been agreed to have the Charter ratified by the various EU institutions - and the reference to Article 6 of the Reform Treaty gives the Charter an equally binding character. Therefore, the final outcome does not deviate from our initial goals. Two out of the initial 15 member-states demanded and got 'derogation' of the provisions of the Charter. Cyprus, as well as the other new members cannot have any such derogations and in any case we do not wish to have any derogation," he said.
Commenting on the fact that the European Parliament has been granted a say in important issues, the president said that it is a fact that until now the role and the power of the EP have been very limited (even more limited than that of the Euro MPs). However, he added, now this role and the rights of the EP have been slightly strengthened with "co-decision" in a limited number of issues.
"The enhanced role of the EP, an institution comprising elected representatives of the European citizens, in the decision making process definitely enhances the democratic character of the procedures", the president says, adding that strengthening the democratic character of the EU means greater acceptance by the EU citizens.
Referring to the reasons Cyprus had supported an enhanced EP role, the president of the republic said that with the Lisbon Treaty the role of the national parliaments is also enhanced in decision making, something that brings citizens even closer to the EU.
"The citizen will comprehend more easily that the EU will not impose only obligations but will also allow participation in the decision-making process through elected representatives," President Papadopoulos told CNA, adding however that "the EP was not strengthened to the extent we had wanted this to happen".
Responding to questions, the President said the ratification of the Treaty by the Cyprus House of Representatives will become top priority for the House with the resumption of its meetings after February's presidential elections but could not refer to any set date for the ratification.
 Cyprus will not be isolated due to stance on KosovoNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said on Tuesday that the European Union acknowledges Nicosia's stance on the issue of Kosovo and there is no possibility of the Republic of Cyprus being isolated from its other EU partners.
Commenting on remarks that Cyprus would be isolated regarding the recognition of Kosovo, Palmas said ''Cyprus is expressing a position of principle, which it believes provides a guarantee in the event of similar situations arising in the future regarding the unilateral recognition of a state.''
''I would say that the stance and the approach we have adopted is acknowledged regarding the specific issue and there is no possibility of isolation,'' he added.
Asked what stance Greece would maintain, Palmas said he did not wish to comment on the policy of Athens.
He reiterated that the Republic of Cyprus ''disagrees as a matter of principle and due to international law and legality on the recognition of states in this manner.''
''Cyprus must maintain and will maintain a stance of principle, a position in agreement with UN decisions and international law regarding the specific issue,'' he concluded.
We wish to inform the readers of the English Daily News Bulletin that the bulletin will not be published on Thursday, December 13, in view of a 24-hour strike on Wednesday declared by the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) in protest over the country's social security system. The next edition of the bulletin will appear on Friday, December 14.
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS