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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-03-15

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Saturday, 15 March 2008 Issue No: 2844


  • [01] PM: FYROM name must have geographic qualifier
  • [02] PM on Lisbon strategy, climate change
  • [03] Greek PM hails presentation of Med Union proposal at EU Summit
  • [04] Greek PM comments on Kosovo, KFOR
  • [05] EU member-states share concern over sovereign wealth funds, Greek PM says
  • [06] PM on visa waiver talks
  • [07] Government on crisis in FYROM, name issue talks
  • [08] PM slams strike action 'at society's expense'
  • [09] Gov't again comments on social security reform
  • [10] Papandreou addresses women's sector event
  • [11] Venizelos warns against 'grand coalition' between ND, PASOK
  • [12] Meeting of European communist, labor parties: KKE leader blasts EU
  • [13] Alavanos warns against SYRIZA 'becoming victim of its success'
  • [14] Tsipras comments on scenarios regarding cooperation with PASOK
  • [15] Dinner in honour of Culture Minister Liapis in New York
  • [16] Mitsotakis addresses Alexandros Onassis Foundation event
  • [17] Global economy, markets to overcome turbulence in H2 2008, Arapoglou says
  • [18] Greek tourism campaign on E!Entertainment
  • [19] Olympic Airlines to lease two Boeing 737-400 aircraft
  • [20] SYN leader on state of Olympic Airlines
  • [21] World Consumer Day on Saturday
  • [22] Thessaloniki Port Organisation extends tender deadline to May 15
  • [23] Pegasus Publications buys weekly newspaper for 12.8 million euros
  • [24] Construction production index up 7.9 pct in Q4 2007
  • [25] Greek stocks end 0.82 pct higher
  • [26] Greek bond market closing report
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Athens municipality meeting on health risks stemming from the sanitation workers' strike
  • [29] Garbage collectors proceed to partial end of strike
  • [30] Section of wall in Medieval Town of Rhodes collapses in heavy rainfall
  • [31] MoMA director Glenn Lowry to visit Athens and Thessaloniki
  • [32] Captain of grounded tour boat to Piraeus prosecutor
  • [33] Work stoppage to affect museum, archaeological sites on Sun.
  • [34] Mostly fair on Saturday
  • [35] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [36] Barroso assures Christofias EU
  • [37] UN: Pascoe to visit region on assessment mission Politics

  • [01] PM: FYROM name must have geographic qualifier

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday again reiterated Greece's position regarding the "name issue" with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), saying that a composite name containing a geographic qualifier could put an end to a nagging problem that has had a negative impact on regional stability and cooperation.

    He was speaking during a press conference in Brussels following earlier meetings to discuss the FYROM name issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on the sidelines of the European Union Summit taking place in the Belgian capital.

    The Greek prime minister reiterated that Athens was participating constructively in the UN-sponsored process for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, pointing out that this was an issue concerning good neighbour relations.

    In calling for a composite name containing a geographic qualifier, Karamanlis said such a solution would be "clear and practical", while noting UN Security Council resolutions referring to the negative impact of perpetuating the problem.

    He also stressed that the issue affected FYROM's otherwise excellent bilateral relations with Greece, as well its ambitions to join EuroAtlantic structures.

    "No solution means no invitation, in other words no accession to NATO," he emphasised, while underlining that the Greek position was clear and unambiguous.

    Relations amongst allies and relations of mutual support could not be built on a basis of unresolved issues, the Greek premier added.

    "This is the position that it applies today; it will apply tomorrow and will continue to apply until a solution is achieved that is mutually accepted," he stressed.

    Questioned about the political crisis now unfolding in Greece's neighbour to the north, Karamanlis expressed hope that this would not be used as an excuse to perpetuate the problem.

    "We want to believe and we hope that political developments in the neighbouring country will not be used either as an excuse or as an alibi for perpetuating a 17-year deadlock through a false, compromise settlement. It is evident that such an approach cannot be accepted," the Greek premier said. He also noted that Greece had already "covered a great distance" in order to approach FYROM's positions and that it was now time for the other side to do the same.

    Replying to questions about a meeting held on Thursday between Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and FYROM's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, the prime minister stressed that there was no need to fear discussion when one has clear positions and that no problem was caused.

    "I judged it advisable for the foreign minister to attend the meeting. If such meetings serve the interests of the country, no further answer is needed," he said.

    For the same reason, he said he met with the leaders of Greece's partners and allies and had shaken hands with Gruevski the previous day, adding that he would have been more than willing to detail the Greek positions if his FYROM counterpart had chosen to raise the issue.

    [02] PM on Lisbon strategy, climate change

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - A. Panagopoulos)

    Greece's economy has already reaped significant benefits from the reforms adopted under the Lisbon Strategy, preserving a high growth rates while reducing the public deficit and unemployment, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday. He was referring to the decisions of the EU's spring summit, such as for the new cycle of Lisbon Strategy reforms in 2008-2010.

    Commenting on recently global economic downturn, meanwhile, Karamanlis said that this was a motive to speed up reforms and carry out national reform programmes:

    "The main factor for economic growth in the future will be knowledge and innovation and for this reason we are obliged to intensify our efforts, jointly with the private sector, to invest in research and in education," the Greek premier stressed.

    He also emphasized the great importance of enhancing the mobility of scientists and students within Europe.

    Karamanlis reported that the 27 EU member-states had reaffirmed the importance of the single market as the chief lever for boosting European competitiveness in a global environment, as well as the role of small and middle-sized businesses in the European economy, and had approved a series of measures designed to give these businesses access to funding and public organizations.

    On policy to combat climate change, the Greek premier stressed the need to promote renewable energy sources and cut down carbon emissions and said that achieving an international agreement on protecting the climate was of primary importance.

    He also noted that the EU should preserve its leading role, while taking on its share of the responsibility for reducing the repercussions from climate change.

    While stating that Greece was positively disposed to the reduction of greenhouse gases in principle, he also pointed out that this often required a "difficult balance" since adherence to environmental targets had to be combined with preserving the competitiveness of European businesses.

    On the issue of energy security and the report presented by EU High Representative for a Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Karamanlis expressed concern over the repercussions that constantly escalating climate change might have in terms of international security.

    The key to achieving energy security for Europe would be to ensure a diversity of both suppliers and supplies, as well as the supply routes for importing energy sources, he said.

    He noted that Greece's agreement to construct the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the natural gas pipeline linking Turkey, Greece and Italy and Greece's participation in the South Stream network for the transport of natural gas were all part of this framework of energy supply diversity.

    [03] Greek PM hails presentation of Med Union proposal at EU Summit

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    Greece has from the very beginning expressed its support for the French initiative regarding the creation of a Union for the Mediterranean, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told reporters at the end of the European Union spring summit here on Friday.

    The creation of such a Union "is dictated by our geographic position and the excellent relations we have with all countries of the Mediterranean," the premier added.

    "Greece has from early on aimed to embellish this proposal with its own ideas, in order to contribute to its formulation," he noted, adding that this prospect would reinforce the already existing structures of Euro Mediterranean cooperation, guarantee the active participation of all EU member-states and agencies, "aiming at the economic and social development, security and stability but also the economic cooperation in the region."

    "Within this framework, we welcome today's (Friday's) presentation at the Council of this proposal, whose main parameters reflect Greek positions," Karamanlis said.

    Responding to a relevant question, the Greek premier said the specific proposal should not be a substitute of current forms of cooperation, such as the Barcelona Process or the Union's neighborhood policy, but function in a complementary and auxiliary manner.

    "Exclusions should be avoided," Karamanlis underlined, "in order to guarantee the effective implication of the EU."

    He said that a policy for the Mediterranean would capitalize on Community funds, "therefore all EU member-states must participate in it."

    "We must also achieve in having a balanced development of this initiative both in the western and eastern Mediterranean," he underlined.

    Regarding a letter sent by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to 26 European Union leaders participating in the Summit but excluding Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, where the former requested a resumption of Cyprus talks on the basis of the Annan plan, Karamanlis noted that "the plan was brought before citizens' judgment and was rejected by the island republic's Greek Cypriot community by an overwhelming majority...

    "Therefore, as the Turkish prime minister himself said during our recent joint press conference in Ankara, the Annan plan is not being discussed, is not a basis" for talks.

    The Greek premier paid an official visit to Ankara last January.

    Karamanlis also reiterated that Turkey's EU course depended on specific criteria and prerequisites, "which were very clearly established in relevant EU decisions and commitments."

    On April 24 2004, 76 percent of the Greek Cypriot side rejected the UN's Annan plan for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, while the 65 percent of the Turkish Cypriot community voted in favor.

    [04] Greek PM comments on Kosovo, KFOR

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)

    Greece wants to secure the presence of the NATO force KFOR and of the European civilian force in the region of Kosovo, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in Brussels on Friday, in response to questions.

    Noting that Greece's position on the issue of Kosovo had been known for a long time, he added that Athens desires to push the European prospects for the entire region of southeastern Europe, especially Serbia.

    Greece had no reason to rush into recognising Kosovo's independence, he added, saying that Athens would take into account all the parameters, and make its decision with Greece's national interests as its chief guideline.

    [05] EU member-states share concern over sovereign wealth funds, Greek PM says


    The European Council, in its conclusions, acknowledged the significant role played by sovereign wealth funds in supplying the world economy with capital and liquidity, although it underlined its concern -shared by everyone- over the limited transparency of certain investment funds over their investment strategy and goals, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday.

    Speaking to reporters, in Brussels, the Greek PM said the Greek government and the European Commission have reached an understanding over improvements in a new legislation, recently adopted by the government, putting a 20 pct ceiling in equity participations of foreign funds to Greek state enterprises, such as Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation. The legislation, however, will remain unchanged in its substance and its main goal would be the same, Karamanlis noted.

    The Greek premier said the need to better regulate sovereign wealth funds was a concern for all of Europe and noted that the matter would be dealt with on a community base, but with national legislative initiatives as well. "Our aim is to maintain the attractiveness of European economy, as an investment destination, and to ensure services in sectors of public interest and strategy. Greece's position is that credibility, transparency and experience are objective criteria needed to be examined," Karamanlis said.

    [06] PM on visa waiver talks

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday stressed that Greece is the only EU member-state that fulfills both the previous and the recently amended US federal laws concerning the visa-waiver programme, speaking at a press conference in Brussels after the conclusion of the spring EU summit.

    He also reminded that Athens has engaged in bilateral talks with Washington for roughly a year to gain admission into the waiver programme.

    [07] Government on crisis in FYROM, name issue talks

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday indicated that Greece was willing to continue negotiations with neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to resolve the name issue, within the framework of the United Nations, in spite of the recent political crisis that has broken out in that country.

    At the same time, he stressed that he could not comment on the domestic affairs of another state, but only speak for the Greek side. The spokesman had been asked if the process underway at the UN would freeze in light of the recent developments in Skopje.

    "Greece has come [to the talks] with a positive approach, with an interest in finding a mutually accepted solution to the name issue at this time. This process is being carried out in the framework of the mandate that the negotiator has from the UN and Greece will take part in any initiatives that the negotiator undertakes in this framework," he said.

    Asked whether this would happen if there was only a caretaker government on the other side, Antonaros said that the other side, FYROM, had the right to appoint those that would represent it.

    According to the ANA-MPA correspondent in Skopje, meanwhile, a series of high-level meetings were taking place on Friday to deal with the political crisis and the issue of the name dispute with Greece.

    FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was in meetings with the country's foreign minister Antonio Milososki and its negotiator at the name talks Nikola Dimitrov in order to brief them on his meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis the previous day, on the sidelines of the European Peoples' Party (EPP) meeting in Brussels.

    Later on Friday, Gruevski will be meeting the leaders of the political parties in the Slav right and centre-right coalition that had collaborated in the last Parliamentary elections in July 2006, which was led by Gruevski VMRO-DPMNE party. Immediately afterward he will meet the country's president Branko Crvenkovski and on Friday evening there will be a council of FYROM's political party leaders and a later meeting the VMRO-DPMNE executive committee.

    The crisis was triggered when the ethnic Albanian party DPA led by Thaci Meduh pulled out of the coalition government led by Gruevski earlier this week, leaving the ruling party without a majority in the country's 120-seat Parliament.

    [08] PM slams strike action 'at society's expense'

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - A. Panagopoulos)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was critical of strike action carried out "at society's expense" during statements made in Brussels on Friday concerning the Greek government's planned reforms of the country's pension system. He also signaled that he did not intend to back down under the pressure of widespread strike action at home.

    "Everyone is judged and assessed on the basis of their choices, even more so on major issues such as social insurance reform that concern the future of the country, young people and Greek society," Karamanlis replied when asked whether the government intended to make concessions or force strikers to return to work.

    "One thing is certain. No one has a right to abuse his professional position and the position entrusted to him by society to serve its needs, at the expense of society as a whole. This is self-evident and obvious," he stressed.

    [09] Gov't again comments on social security reform

    "The social security reform draft law is open to improvements until it is approved in Parliament and the government will take under serious consideration any constructive proposals," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reiterated on Friday during his regular press briefing.

    He reminded that the draft law is extensive, detailed and thorough, as it is the product of "a lengthy public debate that lasted several months, during which all parties involved had the opportunity to present their views."

    Antonaros said the government is doing everything necessary to safeguard social cohesion, while stressing that this is one of the basic aims of the reform, namely, to ensure decent pensions for retirees in generations to come.

    [10] Papandreou addresses women's sector event

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed an event organised by the party's women's sector on Friday, in the framework of PASOK's 4-day 8th congress, stressing that he believes in women's potential.

    "I believe in women's potential and I know that conservatism, wherever it may be, wants to create phobic syndromes. It very often uses the woman who feels greater insecurity and has less education, not only in our country but worldwide," he said.

    Papandreou also referred to his experiences regarding the treatment of women in various countries that he visited when he was foreign minister and noted that "women's liberation is liberation for society itself."

    The PASOK leader also criticised the ruling New Democracy party over the pensioning issue, saying that "it poses women with the dilemma of whether they must work or stay at home."

    Papandreou further referred to organising changes brought about by PASOK and which anticipate a quota for the participation of women in the party's bodies, as well as in PASOK's policy positions that "support the family and women."

    [11] Venizelos warns against 'grand coalition' between ND, PASOK

    High-profile main opposition PASOK deputy Evangelos Venizelos on Friday warned party delegates against any idea of a "grand coalition" between ruling New Democracy (ND) and PASOK, speaking at the party's 8th congress in Athens.

    Venizelos, a top deputy in past PASOK governments and a leadership contender during the party's leadership election last November, said such a proposal was being promoted by "certain individuals in the country's political and media" establishments.

    In qualifying his criticism of the government, and especially vis--vis recently tabled social security reforms to rescue the country's ailing pension system, Venizelos, an attorney and law professor, referred to "class-based ruthlessness" and "social conservatism".

    Turning to PASOK and the party's recent poor showings in a handful of opinion polls, the Thessaloniki-area MP said "the movement (i.e. PASOK) is amid the most difficult period in its history, appearing as part of the problem and not as part of the solution"

    "There are progressive segments of the population who regard it (PASOK) as a part of the past and not of the future, and who doubt that it (PASOK) has something better to give than ND," he said.

    Among others, he also stressed that society's message to PASOK was given with the election defeat of Sept. 16, a "message" he said, however, was lost in the subsequent leadership election for the party's helm - where he was handily defeated by incumbent George Papandreou.

    [12] Meeting of European communist, labor parties: KKE leader blasts EU

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga launched a scathing attack on the European Union, during an address to a meeting of 23 European communist and labor parties on Friday at the KKE headquarters in Perissos.

    Papariga cited opinion polls conducted in European countries to stress that the polls recorded the difficulty in promoting the EU Reform Treaty among the peoples, adding that the disagreements inside the EU were becoming more complex, the difficulties faced by the Treaty were growing, while discussions on the Treaty's prospects were intensifying.

    She said that the communist and labor parties of Europe had proven that they are capable of organizing mass European-wide initiatives, stressing that being built upon that experience were the foundations for a more specific discussion on the prospect of a structured cooperation among those parties, in view of the 2009 Europarliament elections.

    Papariga said that the renaming of the Treaty from "Constitutional" to "Reform" aimed at circumventing the obligation of holding referenda, and the Treaty's rejection by the peoples, in a provocative disdain of the peoples will, while it also revealed the hypocrisy of the EU declarations regarding respect of "democracy and the will of the European citizens".

    She further charged that the Reform Treaty was inalienably linked with the Lisbon Strategy, with the demolition of the acquired social, social security and pension rights of the working class, and with full deregulation of the services market in the harsh capitalistic competition.

    [13] Alavanos warns against SYRIZA 'becoming victim of its success'

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos addressed a nationwide party conference at an indoor stadium on Friday night, stressing that "we are in a phase of a rapid and great upsurge of the Radical Left Coalition regarding the confidence of citizens and this is positive."

    However, Alavanos warned of the risk "of us becoming victims of our success," adding that "society is posing challenges and dilemmas for us that we had not expected or that we had expected much later."

    He further said that SYRIZA can now speak of the aim of a radical government focusing on the Left, and stressed that the citizens "have deeply appreciated our opposition stance, although we can improve it even further. Our substantive opposition to the policy of the Right. Our unifying mood. Our party dimension. Our appeal to the young generation. Our effectiveness."

    Describing the strategic targets of SYRIZA, Alavanos said that "we can speak of an alternative radical programme that will provide answers for the immediate problems of the people - high prices, poverty, unemployment, the redistribution of wealth, education and a social state - and that will be open on the one hand for the course towards a socialism with democracy and freedom and on the other for cooperation with the European and international forces of social transformation."

    Referring, lastly, to a policy of alliances, Alavanos stressed the need for the unity of the Left and noted that "at the same time, general cooperation at leadership level with the PASOK party is impossible. Policy positions on the public University, the constitutional treaty of the European Union, uninsured labor, privatizations and the stance towards the United States place us on different sides."

    [14] Tsipras comments on scenarios regarding cooperation with PASOK

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras, in comments on swirling press speculation over potential cooperation between his party and main opposition PASOK, merely noted that the latter cannot proclaim its desire for the "widest possible consensus of leftist parties" while at the same time aiming for an autonomous political majority.

    The youthful leftist leader said this was an oxymoron.

    His comments came in response to an address by PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday.

    [15] Dinner in honour of Culture Minister Liapis in New York

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    The Alexandros Onassis Foundation and the Greek embassy in Washington, on the occasion of the presentation of the exhibition titled "From the land of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete 3000-1100 B.C.", hosted a dinner in honor of Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis at a restaurant in Manhattan, during which a presentation was made of the effort taking place in the United States to support and promote the New Acropolis Museum, as well as of the request for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

    The Greek ambassador in the U.S. capital, Alexandros Mallias, referred to the "Friends of the New Acropolis Museum" organization, an "important initiative", as is the case with other famous museums in the world as well.

    On his part, Liapis referred to certain aspects of the culture ministry's main activities, with emphasis being placed on "the struggle for the protection of our cultural heritage."

    Participating in the dinner were, among others, Greece's permanent representative at the UN, ambassador Ioannis Mourikis, general consul Agne Balta, academics and members of the Greek American community.

    [16] Mitsotakis addresses Alexandros Onassis Foundation event

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Former prime minister and New Democracy (ND) party Honorary President Constantine Mitsotakis, addressing an event organised on Friday morning (Greek time) by the Pancretian Union of America, the Cretan "Omonia" and "Minos" societies, with the cooperation of the Alexandros Onassis Foundation at the foundations premises on the occasion of the presentation of the exhibition on the Minoan civilization, referred to the Greek community in the United States and its progress.

    "The first thing that I feel my duty to do myself as well, and I think that I am expressing all of you, is to thank the Alexandros Onassis Foundation for the initiative it took. The exhibition that we inaugurated promotes the whole of Greece, but it particularly promotes our special homeland, Crete," he said, among other things.

    Mitsotakis also referred to the role of the Greek community, saying that "Greece counts a great deal on its expatriate children. You are a precious part of Hellenism."

    Financial News

    [17] Global economy, markets to overcome turbulence in H2 2008, Arapoglou says

    National Bank of Greece has set very high standards for the development of its subsidiary bank in Cyprus, the bank's chairman and chief executive, Takis Arapoglou said on Friday.

    Speaking to reporters, during a news conference at the end of a two-day visit to Cyprus, Arapoglou said National Bank will focus on corporate banking, funding of large-scale projects and bank assurance services in the Cypriot market. He also said that the bank's expansion in Russia will be made through Cyprus, because of the very good trade and economic relations between Cyprus and Russia. The Greek banker said National Bank's growth in Turkey was progressing very smoothly.

    Commenting on the international credit crisis, Arapoglou said current uncertainties in global economy and stock markets would be overcome in the second half of 2008, adding that the US economy was facing serious problems that could lead to a recession. Arapoglou said both the global economy and stock markets would regain their stability by the end of 2008. He based his forecast on the determination showing large central banks to boost liquidity in credit markets.

    The Greek banker said banks in Greece and Cyprus have high capital adequacy and liquidity and were not facing particular problems because of the credit crisis.

    [18] Greek tourism campaign on E!Entertainment

    Greece's Tourism Development Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) signed a cooperation agreement with the E!Entertainment international network serving the sector of entertainment on a 24-hour basis.

    The one-year agreement provides for the promotion of Greece's new tourism advertising campaign at a European level both on television and the internet, while guaranteeing the GNTO presence in "red carpet" high-level events such as, the film festivals of Cannes and Rome. Moreover, the GNTO will be the main sponsor of the UK, France, Italy and Germany E!Entertainment websites.

    [19] Olympic Airlines to lease two Boeing 737-400 aircraft

    Olympic Airlines on Friday said its board approved a dry lease contract of two Boeing 737-400 aircraft from Sundowner Alexandria, a company based in Rockford, Illinois (USA), to replace two aircraft included in a wet lease contract that was terminated.

    The Greek national carrier will lease the two aircraft for a period of 24 months, for a monthly lease of 209,000 US dollars each. The first aircraft will be delivered in May 1st and the second by June 15.

    OA's board also approved a four-year extension of a dry lease contract for a Boeign 737-400 aircraft. Olympic Airlines also approved the hiring of 49 seasonal cabin personnel.

    [20] SYN leader on state of Olympic Airlines

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader Alexis Tsipras on Friday described the current state of Olympic Airlines (OA) as a "pre-meditated crime" during a meeting with the board of the Federation of Civil Aviation Service Associations and of the Union of Flight Attendants.

    "Today what is underway is a pre-meditated crime. A pre-meditated crime on the part of the government to shrink Olympic Airlines, the state carrier," he said.

    According to SYN's leader, he had accused the government about a month ago of deliberately reducing destinations and OA flights in order to give these routes to foreign companies, noting that this had been categorically denied at the time by OA's management, which had stressed that no aircraft were available for lease.

    SYN could now make public a document showing that Airbus had offered to lease several aircraft to OA since November 2007.

    "Of course, OA, in direct consultation with the government, never revealed this possibility. Their aim was to devalue OA," he added, saying that the government's goals was to use the Easter holidays and summer season to turn the public against OA by cancelling flights, and eventually to turn OA into a limited capacity airline, at the expense of flight safety and national air transport strategy.

    Finally, he pledged that SYN would stand by the airline's workforce in their struggle to preserve the state airline.

    [21] World Consumer Day on Saturday

    Development Minister Christos Folias in a message on Friday referred to World Consumer Day on Saturday, noting that a major priority of the Greek state, the Development Ministry and the General Consumer Secretariat is the briefing of consumers and their protection.

    Similar messages were made by Deputy Development Minister George Vlachos, Consumer Secretary General Yiannis Iconomou and Trade Secretary General Dimitris Skiadas.

    This priority is implemented through action, institutional initiatives, inspections and sanctions, briefing events but also the line of communication with the citizens-consumers, according to messages.

    The officials further said that "the better protection for the consumer means greater economic growth," noting that "the creation of a consumer consciousness is the positive answer which the consumers can give to the challenges and difficulties of the era."

    [22] Thessaloniki Port Organisation extends tender deadline to May 15

    Thessaloniki Port Organisation on Friday announced it was extending a deadling for submitting bids in a tender to privatize the port's cargo facilities to May 15.

    The deadlines, originally ending next Tuesday, have already met six companies: Cosco Pacific (China), Dubai Port World (Dubai), APM Terminal (Denmark), Hutchison (UK), ACTSI (Philippines) and PSA (Singapore).

    [23] Pegasus Publications buys weekly newspaper for 12.8 million euros

    Pegasus Publications on Friday announced the signing of an agreement to buy 70 percent of shares in "Anaptyxiaki SA", owner of the weekly newspaper "To Proto Thema", at a price of 12.8 million euros.

    Pegasus said Anaptyxiaki's equity capital totaled 60,000 euros, or 600 nominal shares worth 100 euros each. The agreement was signed with the three main shareholders of the company.

    [24] Construction production index up 7.9 pct in Q4 2007

    Greece's construction production index rose 7.9 pct in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared with the same period in 2006, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.

    The statistics service said the index was up 7.7 pct in the fourth quarter from the third quarter of 2007, reflecting a 3.3 pct increase in the building production index and a 10.6 pct jump in the engineering production index.

    [25] Greek stocks end 0.82 pct higher

    Greek stocks ended higher on Friday, ignoring a wave of selling that hit international markets on worries over an expanding credit crisis. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange rose 0.82 pct to end at 3,924.37 points with turnover a moderate 349.2 million euros, of which 35.7 million were block trades.

    Sector indices ended higher, with the Financial Services (5.07 pct), Telecommunications (3.35 pct), Food/Beverage (2.94 pct) and Personal/Home Products (2.04 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (1.23 pct), Chemicals (1.07 pct), Oil (1.01 pct) and Healthcare (1.00 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.02 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.58 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.68 pct. ANEK (19.17 pct), Lazarides (9.78 pct) and Lampsa (9.09 pct) were top gainers, while Livanis Publications (19.57 pct), Ideal (16.72 pct) and Ippotour (8.77 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 153 to 84 with another 56 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.93%

    Industrials: +0.29%

    Commercial: +0.67%

    Construction: +0.19%

    Media: +1.56%

    Oil & Gas: -1.01%

    Personal & Household: +2.04%

    Raw Materials: -0.28%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.75%

    Technology: +0.69%

    Telecoms: +3.35%

    Banks: +0.27%

    Food & Beverages: +2.94%

    Health: -1.00%

    Utilities: -1.23%

    Chemicals: -1.07%

    Financial Services: +5.07%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP and Alpha Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 20.00

    ATEbank: 2.90

    VIOHALCO: 7.14

    ELTEX: 7.66

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 24.80

    HBC Coca Cola: 28.46

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.94

    National Bank of Greece: 34.02

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 18.40

    Bank of Cyprus: 7.74

    Intralot: 11.30

    OPAP: 19.78

    OTE: 19.14

    Titan Cement Company: 26.50

    [26] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 605 million euros on Friday, of which 275 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 330 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 136 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose to 0.73 pct with the Greek bond yielding 4.41 pct and the German Bund 3.68 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate was 4.05 pct, the two-day rate 4.05 pct, the one-month rate 4.33 pct and the 12-month rate 4.62 pct.

    [27] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices ended mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover jumping to 262.749 million euros, reflecting increased activity ahead of the end of the March contract.

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.23 pct and the February contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.69 pct. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 22,398 contracts, worth 225.369 million euros, with 29,120 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 162 contracts worth 3.880 million euros, with 495 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 26,422 contracts worth 28.514 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Investment Group's contracts (6,824), followed by Eurobank (3,249), Hellenic Telecoms (1,890), National Bank (3,249), Alpha Bank (1,126), Intracom (2,633), Marfin Popular Bank (833), Mytilineos (506), Hellenic Postbank (1,679) and ATEbank (4,130).

    General News

    [28] Athens municipality meeting on health risks stemming from the sanitation workers' strike

    Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Friday stated that there is no risk of an epidemic as a result of the ongoing sanitation workers' strike stressing, however, that isolated incidents of gastroenteritis cannot be ruled out urging the public to follow strict hygiene practices.

    The mayor made the comments following a meeting he chaired Friday at the Athens City Hall held with the participation of health sector experts to determine if public health was at risk while sidewalk rubbish piles grow higher.

    In Thessaloniki, Mayor Vasilis Papageorgopoulos entered into a confrontation with sector trade unionists who objected to his allegations that only 34 of the Thessaloniki municipality 1,717 sanitation workers actually participate in the mobilizations.

    In a press conference Friday, the strikers maintained that participation in the mobilizations is very satisfactory stressing that it reaches up to 80 percent in regional municipalities.

    [29] Garbage collectors proceed to partial end of strike

    Garbage collectors are proceeding to end their strike and specifically all those who belong to the POP-OTA federation, while the other federation, POE-OTA, is continuing its strike.

    According to the president of POE-OTA, Themis Balasopoulos, workers and trade unionists of its federation which were due to be at the Ano Liossia landfill on Friday night, riot police have also been deployed.

    Balasopoulos denied that the trade unionists are obstructing the carrying away of waste from hospitals and other sensitive areas, following the decision of POP-OTA for the end of the strike, and are continuing this task, as they are doing since the start of the strike.

    The General Council of the Federation will convene on Sunday to decide regarding the future of the strike action.

    [30] Section of wall in Medieval Town of Rhodes collapses in heavy rainfall

    A section of the walls of the Palace of the Grand Maitre on the island of Rhodes detached and collapsed after a heavy rainstorm on Thursday.

    Local authorities and archaeology services immediately took steps to repair the damage, with teams of specialized technicians from the archaeology services arriving at dawn at the site.

    The Museum will remain closed for precautionary reasons on Friday, given that large stone sections have fallen in front of the main entrance to the Palace.

    According to local authorities, the rest of the building is not in danger, but immediate measures are imperative in order to inspect and fortify all the buildings in the Medieval Town of Rhodes, which are a vital part of the history of the island.

    [31] MoMA director Glenn Lowry to visit Athens and Thessaloniki

    Director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, Glenn Lowry, will visit Greece for the first time and address public audiences in Athens and Thessaloniki as part of the "Great Ideas" series.

    Featured in the Megaron Plus series, he will speak at the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall on Monday, March 17, at 19:00, on "Making the Modern: A Disruptive Theory of the Museum of Modern Art." His lecture will focus on how the Museum has dealt with the collection and display of artworks, the way in which it periodically reinvents itself, and the changing nature of contemporary art.

    On Wednesday, March 19, at 18:30, he will speak in Thessaloniki on the same topic. This event is co-organized with the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry and will take place at the Chamber's Conference Hall.

    During his visit to Greece, Lowry will also address student audiences at the University of Athens School of Fine Arts and the Thessaloniki Aristotle University School of Fine Arts.

    Lowry was appointed Director of MoMA in 1995. One of his initiatives was the construction of MoMA's new building, which was completed in 2004, and was a turning point in the history of the museum and a major cultural event for the city of New York.

    The goal of the "Great Ideas" series is to bring noted American experts and artists to Greece to perform and discuss current topics of interest to the Greek and American people.

    [32] Captain of grounded tour boat to Piraeus prosecutor

    The captain that ran the tour boat "Georgis" aground with 278 foreign tourists on board will be led before a Piraeus public prosecutor, the coast guard said on Friday. The accident, where the tourist vessel ran aground on Platia, an islet north of the island of Poros in the Saronic Gulf, occurred on Thursday in excellent weather conditions.

    They said the captain will be charged with causing a shipwreck through negligence, as a misdemeanor.

    According to statements taken by coast guard officers, Captain Antonis Spetsiotis was not on the bridge at the time of the accident while conditions at sea were fair and the boat was on a well-known route that it traveled daily.

    On the bridge at the time were the "watch", consisting of the a junior officer and a seaman at the wheel, carrying out orders given to him by the officer.

    The ship, which was carrying out a one-day cruise of the Saronic Gulf islands, is still grounded after all the passengers were safely evacuated on Thursday afternoon until the breach in its hull is sealed. The rescued passengers arrived at Piraeus late on Thursday evening.

    [33] Work stoppage to affect museum, archaeological sites on Sun.

    Museum and archaeological sites' employees will walk off their posts on Sunday, March 16, between 8 a.m. and noon to press for various institutional and financial demands by the culture ministry, which oversees the sector.

    Weather Forecast

    [34] Mostly fair on Saturday

    Mostly fair weather with southerly, southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 5-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 21C. Mostly fair in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 20C.

    [35] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The Development Ministry's measures against profiteering, the strike wave in protest of social security reforms and the 8th Congress of the main opposition PASOK party that began on Thursday with its leader George Papandreou making an overture to Synaspismos party dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: 'Profiteers thrash the markets - Oil reaches 111 dollars per barrel".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Divorce in two years - Revolutionary reform in Justice focusing in a more modern society".

    AVGHI: "(President of the Republic Karolos) Papoulias backs the strikers - Major umbrella labour unions' (GSEE and ADEDY) leaderships met on Thursday with Papoulias ahead of next Wednesday's nationwide strike".

    AVRIANI: "Papandreou desperately seeking a 'life raft' from Synaspismos - He doomed PASOK to fall to the third place, and is begging for cooperations".

    CHORA: "(Synaspismos party leader Alexis) Tsipras was a guest star in the presence of the US ambassador, at the PASOK Congress - PASOK at a crucial crossroad".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "PASOK makes overture to Synaspismos at the party's Congress".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Papoulias anxious over the developments - The domestic generalised collision is dangerous for the national issues."

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Municipalities of Attica prefecture 'hiding' the garbage in illegal dumpsites".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Invitation for alliance - George (Papandreou) called for a self-sufficient (PASOK) government and made a cooperation overture to Synaspismos".

    ESTIA: "Scandalous - loans to parties".

    ETHNOS: "Mutiny in (ruling party New Democracy party) ND - The 'recipe' for the social security bill is: Disagree - vote for - case closed".

    KATHIMERINI: "New facts seeing the light of day following the crisis in FYROM".

    LOGOS: "Last chance...8th PASOK Congress began with speech by Papandreou".

    NIKI: "PASOK passed the test - Papandreou outlined the party's new course".

    TA NEA: "Papandreou extended his hand for cooperation with Synaspismos - George broke the ice between PASOK and Synaspismos".

    TO VIMA: "Strikes before the dead end - Chaos on Thursday in Athens".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Meeting of the EU's Communist, Left and Labour parties begins on Friday in Athens".

    VRADYNI: "Papandreou makes an open proposal, invitation for cooperation to SYRIZA".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [36] Barroso assures Christofias EU


    President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso assured on Friday that the EU would firmly support a renewed process for a Cyprus settlement, adding that the lack of real progress was detrimental both for Cyprus and the EU.

    Speaking after a meeting in Brussels with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, Barroso expressed hope that the Turkish side would also address efforts for a settlement in a spirit of good will.

    President Christofias assured that he would do everything in his power to reunify the country under the umbrella of a bizonal bicommunal federation, and that he would honour the signature of his predecessor, Tassos Papadopoulos, on the 8 July 2006 agreement, expressing hope that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat would honour his own signature.

    Barroso said he had a ''very interesting but also very promising meeting'' with President Christofias, whom he congratulated for his election to the presidency of Cyprus and wished him every success.

    The Commission president said it was also a pleasure to welcome former Health Commissioner Marcos Kyprianou as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    ''I can see in President Christofias the sense of history, the sense that he has now a very important responsibility and that he is ready to assume this responsibility. I am very pleased that you have stated your readiness to resume negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue,'' he said.

    Barroso added that the EU would ''firmly stand behind a renewed process for solving this issue'' and noted that ''the ongoing stalemate, the lack of real progress during the last four years is detrimental both for Cyprus and the EU.''

    ''I rely on your strong will and determination to move fast towards the solution,'' he said to President Christofias.

    He added that during their meeting, they also discussed ''the contribution that Cyprus can give to the European project'' and that President Christofias, who participated for the first time in the European Council, made his own contribution to the discussion.

    Barroso said Cyprus is already playing a role in the EU but can play ''an even more important role in the region with its tradition and its location,'' adding that it is ''a very important region for Europe and the world.''

    Referring to the Mediterranean Union, which was discussed during the European Council, Barroso said he saw ''enormous potential for Cyprus and for the relations between Cyprus and the EU.''

    ''Of course, as the President of Cyprus has said many times, it takes two to tango. I am of course now speaking with the President of Cyprus, I am encouraging him to make a real effort but of course, I also make the same appeal to the other party. It is important that everyone make a real contribution to see a solution for the Cyprus problem. It would be great for Cyprus and also very important for the EU,'' he added.

    President Christofias thanked Barroso for the ''warm welcome'' and noted that the commitments he has made are ''very serious and I assure you that your vision for the reunification of the island is first of all my vision, and the Cypriots as a whole.''

    He noted that Cyprus ''must finally become a peaceful island, a bridge between the EU and the neighbours in this crucial region,'' with which Cyprus has developed ''very close relations.''

    ''This is the first obligation, to solve the problem, to find a common language with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots. We knew this language before, together with Mr. Talat. I want to believe and I believe that we shall renew this promise,'' he said, adding, ''We want the EU to have a peaceful Cyprus, instead of being a problem.''

    President Christofias assured that he would do his ''utmost in order to fulfil this mission, to put an end to the occupation, to reunify the country under the umbrella of a bizonal bicommunal federation, to live together with the Turkish Cypriots peacefully and in conditions of prosperity.''

    Replying to questions, Barroso said, ''the process of reconciliation and of peace and of reunification means at least two, and so I hope that we find the same spirit in the Turkish Cypriot side.''

    ''I have already met sometimes Mr. Talat and I can tell you that I always conveyed that message to him as well and I think now that there is a possibility for a breakthrough. I told President Christofias, and of course he knows that, that his election was received in Europe and outside of Europe as a possibility, a very important possibility for a solution to the Cyprus problem, so I can encourage of course Mr. Talat, the Turkish Cypriots, to make an effort and use this opportunity for the good of Cyprus as a whole,'' he said.

    Barroso added that ''we certainly hope that Turkey also has a constructive role to play in this situation.''

    Asked about a letter sent to Barroso by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stating Turkey's willingness to support a new effort for a Cyprus settlement, and what the starting point would be for the negotiations since the Greek Cypriot side said this was the 8 July 2006 agreement and the Turkish Cypriot side said this was the Annan plan, Barroso said he would not make mediation in public.

    He pointed out that ''what is more important than the start of the negotiations is the end of the negotiations.''

    ''Let us concentrate on the goal. This is the important thing,'' he added, noting that ''if there are persons with good will on both sides, and I really believe there are, concentrate on the goal, forget about the technicalities.''

    Barroso said the aim was ''a reunified, democratic Cyprus, full member of the EU, with our common values of freedom, peace, democracy and more, living in good harmony with all its neighbours and of course we give importance also to the good relations we have with Turkey and to the progress we want to see in the relations we are having now with Turkey, namely our negotiations.''

    Replying to the same question, President Christofias said the Annan plan has been rejected by the Greek Cypriot community, and the UN have not said they would reintroduce this plan.

    ''The international community believes that we have to start on something on which we both agree and the only agreement between the two communities, which has been adopted by the Security Council of the UN and by the Council of the EU, is the July 8 agreement, according to which the two leaders have to create working groups and simultaneously technical committees in order to start work to bridge the gap between the two sides,'' the president said.

    He added that ''then the leaders have to sit again to come to an overall agreement on these several crucial aspects of the Cyprus problem.''

    ''Under the text of the July 8 agreement, there are two signatures. The one is the signature of the previous President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. (Tassos) Papadopoulos, and the other is the signature of Mr. Talat, my old friend and co-negotiator for the future, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. I say, and this is my answer to Mr. Erdogan, with all due respect, that I am going to honour the signature of Mr. Papadopoulos and I hope that my good friend Mr. Talat is going to honour his own signature under the text. This is my expectation. Let us see how he is going to behave after one week and then we shall speak,'' President Christofias said.

    He noted that his own commitment was to do his ''utmost in order to put an end to this deadlock and to move forward for a solution which is going to reunify the island.''

    ''I hope that we both are going to speak the well-known Cypriot language, without any pressure from outside. This is my will, this is my promise,'' he said.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [37] UN: Pascoe to visit region on assessment mission


    A UN spokesperson confirmed that the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is planning to send soon Under-Secretary-General Lyn Pascoe to lead an assessment mission to the region.

    ''Discussions are going on with the parties on the dates and the details of the mission,'' said the spokesperson responding to a question regarding Thursday's meeting between Ban Ki-moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in Senegal on the sidelines of the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

    ''The mission will assess the situation and consider next steps,'' UN spokesperson added. According to diplomatic sources possible dates for the mission is for Nicosia 2-4 April, 4-5 April for Athens and 5-6 in Ankara.

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