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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-03-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 18 March 2008 Issue No: 2846


  • [01] PM and defence minister discuss upcoming NATO summit
  • [02] New round of UN-sponsored talks on FYROM end in Vienna
  • [03] Parliament president holds talks with Bulgarian counterpart
  • [04] Debate on social security bill begins in Parliament
  • [05] Gov't social security reform, strikes
  • [06] PASOK leader Papandreou expresses 'indignation' over government policy
  • [07] Gov't responds to Papandreou's statements
  • [08] KKE leader meets with unions delegations
  • [09] Alavanos meets with GSEE, ADEDY
  • [10] Strikers interrupt Athens municipal council meeting
  • [11] Euro communist, labour parties meet in Athens
  • [12] President Papoulias receives justice minister
  • [13] Justice minister comments on Holy Synod decision on civil union
  • [14] European Affairs Secretary General meets Arab Ambassadors
  • [15] More aid dispatched to Albania
  • [16] MIG announces planned sale of 19pct stake in OTE to Deutsche Telekom
  • [17] Greek govt welcomes developments in Hellenic Telecoms
  • [18] PASOK opposes MIG-DT agreement for OTE stock
  • [19] SYRIZA criticizes sale of MIG's stake in OTE to Deutsche Telekom
  • [20] Multiple strikes on Tuesday, Wednesday over pension reforms
  • [21] Athens Commerce Union on strike action repercussions
  • [22] Hearing for injunction to stop TV technicians strike postponed
  • [23] FinMin on state budget
  • [24] Employment index in Greek retail sector down 0.7 pct in Q4 2007
  • [25] EU Agriculture Ministers Council announces 2 pc milk quota increase
  • [26] Eurobank Properties buys real estate in Kiev
  • [27] Gerolymatos buys Health Logistics Hellas
  • [28] Greek stocks plunged 3.59 pct on Monday
  • [29] ADEX closing report
  • [30] Greek bond market closing report
  • [31] Greece hosts int'l con'f on return of cultural property
  • [32] MoMA director Glenn Lowry visits Athens and Thessaloniki
  • [33] Events commemorating 1821 Revolution in Areopolis
  • [34] Symbolic tree planting at WWII battlefield in southern Albania
  • [35] Piraeus Archaeological Museum open for public
  • [36] Illegal immigrants
  • [37] Partly cloudy on Tuesday
  • [38] UNSG sees window of opportunity for the Cyprus problem
  • [39] FM sees positive climate in EU for Cyprus
  • [40] House President hopeful ahead of Friday's meeting
  • [41] EU Ombudspersons to meet in Cyprus in 2009 Politics

  • [01] PM and defence minister discuss upcoming NATO summit

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met National Defence Minister Evangelos Meima-rakis on Monday to discuss issues concerning the defense ministry and the upcoming NATO summit.

    In response to questions about the social insurance reforms tabled by the government as he emerged from the meeting, Meimarakis underlined that pension system reform was imperative and that the draft bill presented by the government was the result of talks between the two sides.

    Describing the proposed reforms as "substantive, real and wise reforms that concerned the next generations," he said they should go through exactly as they stood.

    With regard to the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Meimarakis said that the Greek government had set forth its views fully and clearly and that it was now up to the other side to make the steps required to come closer to Greece's views, otherwise it would itself be responsible for the outcome.

    Greece has softened its previous stance by agreeing to a new name for FYROM that contains the term 'Macedonia' as long as this is combined with an acceptable qualifier, preferably one that is geographical, and is the single name used for the country. Athens has made it clear, however, that it will not consent to an invitation to FYROM to join NATO unless the issue of the name is first resolved through a mutually accepted agreement.

    Asked if Greece will join other countries in the destruction of old ammunition, the minister said this had been done several times in the past using the required safety procedures, since human error could lead to costly mistakes.

    [02] New round of UN-sponsored talks on FYROM end in Vienna

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D.Dimitrakoudis)

    UN special mediator on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) "name issue" Matthew Nimetz declared himself more optimistic on the outcome of negotiations between Greece and FYROM after a new round of talks here on Monday, adding however that many things have yet to be done.

    Nimetz held two-hour talks with the two countries' representatives, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece and Ambassador Nikola Dimitrov of FYROM, over the two countries' 17-year dispute for the final name of the land-locked republic.

    Nimetz said there were many good reasons for both countries and the region to have the problem solved, and warned of the dangers which a non-solution entailed.

    The UN mediator also ascertained that there was great desire on the part of all sides to have the issue solved, "therefore one should be optimistic that the leaderships of both countries will realise the importance of a solution, as well as the great dangers if this is not solved."

    "This makes me optimistic that there are enough reasons for the problem to be solved, even if the problem is very difficult," Nimetz said.

    He said he tabled no new proposal but analysed the present situation and what possibilities existed "if we want the problem solved in a reasonable timeframe."

    Nimetz also announced that the two sides will be in New York next week for a new meeting "if they consider that this matter can further move, given the fact, also, that there is an ongoing intensified procedure. The two governments, after analysing their positions they will consider if this procedure can continue."

    He said that he had tabled on February 19 a proposal which "none of the sides accepted in its entirety, but the constitutive elements of this proposal were extensively discussed."

    Asked on FYROM's internal polical situation, Nimetz said that the country's political state of affairs was not an issue of the negotiations, while regarding initiatives by U.S. on the "name issue", he said he had always encouraged friendly countries to be helpful, "that is why all help is considered positive."

    He said he was in contact with the U.S., given its "real interest in having the problem solved," and welcomed its efforts as any other effort.

    In a related development and according to an ANA-MPA dispatch from New York, the United Nations issued the following statement on Monday's meeting in Vienna:

    "The Secretary-General's Personal Envoy for Greece and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Matthew Nimetz, held intensified negotiations in Vienna today on the "name issue". Present at the meeting were the two sides' primary negotiators on this topic: Ambassador Nikola Dimitrov of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece. Nimetz focused attention on the possible solutions that might reasonably be concluded in a short timeframe, and asked the parties to get back to him. If there are possibilities for movement, further discussions will be held in New York next week, Nimetz said."

    [03] Parliament president holds talks with Bulgarian counterpart

    The geographic qualifier for the constitutional name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) should be considered very seriously, visting Speaker of Bulgaria's National Assembley Georgi Pirinski said on Monday, while speaking at a joint press conference with Greek Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas.

    Pirinski, heading a parliamentary delegation, held talks with Sioufas on relations between the two parliaments in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact.

    On his part, Sioufas reiterated Greece's support to FYROM's European prospects and its NATO entrance "on condition it (FYROM) makes steps towards finding a mutually acceptable solution through the adoption of a composite name with a geographic qualifier vis-a-vis all" for the land-locked republic.

    "This position of Greece is unmovable and non negotiable," Sioufas added.

    "Relations of good neighbourliness must be based on mutual respect between the two countries and the two constitutions," Pirinski also said.

    [04] Debate on social security bill begins in Parliament

    Thedebate on the bill concerning "The administrative and organizing reform of the social security system" began at the Parliamentary plenum on Monday with a confrontation over the process and substance of the government's initiatives regarding the social security issue.

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Fanny Palli-Petralia said in her address that "we are looking at citizens in the eyes, we are going ahead with the great reform and we are assuming the political cost."

    Petralia also said that the government of the New Democracy (ND) party "does not cede to anyone the title of defenders of the working people" and accused the main opposition PASOK party of doing nothing for 20 years "regarding the time bomb on which pensioners and the insured were sitting."

    She also rejected criticism by opposition deputies that no social dialogue was held since, as she stressed, she met with all the agencies which also expressed their views to Parliament's committees as well.

    PASOK's Parliamentary representative Christos Papoutsis complained about a Parliamentary control day (Monday) being used for legislative work, while calling for the withdrawal of the bill for which "the working people are in the streets."

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Deputy Achilleas Kantartzis once again called for the bill's withdrawal and spoke of the government's "haste to finish earlier and to pre-empt popular reactions".

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Deputy Yiannis Dragasakis said that "no deputy can vote in favour of this bill and ignore the desire of the people."

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) Deputy Vaitsis Apostolatos said that the dialogue was "minimal and formal", adding that the bill "is not in favor of the many but in favor of the few."

    Indicative of Parliament's interest in the issue is the fact that 140 deputies were registered to make addresses on the bill, obliging Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas to announce that the process will be extended until 3:30 Tuesday. The session was attended by the presidents of the Parliamentary groups of PASOK and KKE, George Papandreou and Aleka Papariga.

    A part of the discussion on the firsty day was also attended by visiting President of the Bulgarian National Assembly Georgi Pirinski.

    [05] Gov't social security reform, strikes

    The government's intention to consider any constructive proposals vis--vis proposed social security reforms was reiterated by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday

    He stated that a government that respects both itself and the people has to make reforms that will guarantee the pension system's survival for future generations.

    Roussopoulos also rejected claims that the government is not tackling the problem of social security contributions evasion.

    In addition, he noted that an international tender for the management of the Greek container ports is currently proceeding as planned.

    [06] PASOK leader Papandreou expresses 'indignation' over government policy

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou expressed "indignation" over the government's policy, following his meeting with the boards of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) on Monday.

    Papandreou accused the government of "stealing from the working man and deceiving and abusing the labor movement which is struggling for the main rights of the insured Greek," adding that "the consequences of what it will create will be neither better services, nor better pensions, nor a more qualitative life."

    The PASOK leader expressed his "full support" for working people, stressing that "we are together and a part of the people who are protesting."

    He once again called for "the withdrawal of the New Democracy party's bill on the social security issue" and pointed out that "we have tabled our own proposals for tomorrow, for a just, viable and public social security system."

    Papandreou also expressed the wish that "the struggle of the working people will be both good and united."

    [07] Gov't responds to Papandreou's statements

    Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday evening responded to statements made by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou after the meeting he had earlier in the day with the boards of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and of the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY).

    "Mr Papandreou, under the weight of his personal anxiety, has chosen the easy but ineffectual path of populism," Roussopoulos said.

    "Those who with actions and omissions, rendered the reforms in the social insurance necessary, today have not even one responsible proposal to counter table for the handling of the existing and pressing problem," Roussopoulos added.

    "In this manner, however, neither do they expiate themselves for the sins of the past, nor do they convince anyone regarding their capacity to understand the present and prepare for tomorrow," Roussopoulos concluded.

    [08] KKE leader meets with unions delegations

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga called on workers to "demand, in an unyielding manner" the withdrawal of the government's social security reform draft bill and, if this does not occur, to continue industrial actions after the bill's scheduled vote in Parliament on Thursday.

    Papariga made the statement on Monday after meeting with delegations of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY).

    "All workers, united in the work place, must create conditions to block this policy, which has been going on for years, and to abolish all anti-labor legislation passed since 1990 to date," Papariga said.

    The KKE leader also rejected a proposal by Coalition of the Left (SYN) president Alexis Tsipras for cooperation between the two parties, saying that "one cannot seriously take into consideration such a proposal when the forces from which it emanates are always moving within the present system."

    [09] Alavanos meets with GSEE, ADEDY

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos met Monday with the presiding boards of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY).

    During the meeting, held ahead of Wednesday's general nationwide strike called by the two umbrella unions, representing the private and public sector employees, Alavanos reiterated that the draft law on the social security system's reform should be withdrawn.

    He charged that the Greek people are witnessing an assault on the welfare state, adding that the government-sponsored draft law is targeting vulnerable population groups such women, youth, and the elderly.

    [10] Strikers interrupt Athens municipal council meeting

    A group of striking municipal workers interrupted and ultimately cancelled a Athens municipal council meeting on Monday at the city's town hall in protest over the presence of police at the greater Athens area's only landfill (Ano Liosia).

    Riot police have been dispatched to the landfill to ensure that it remains open amid an ongoing strike by at least one of the unions representing garbage collectors around the country.

    The strike, along with other industrial actions in the country over the past week, aims to block the government's social security draft law.

    In a statement, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis said he ordered the evacuation of municipal employees from the building until the take-over action ends, while he also condemned the act.

    [11] Euro communist, labour parties meet in Athens

    The adoption of more joint initiatives and actions was agreed by 23 European communist and labor parties that met in Athens over the weekend at the initiative of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    A statement issued on Monday by KKE refers to the EU Reform Treaty as a vehicle that "will turn the EU into an imperialist, financial, political and military bloc set against the interests of workers and peoples."

    Participants also condemned the unilateral secession of Kosovo and expressed concern over its repercussions. They also expressed opposition to the Lisbon Treaty, backed the right to disengage from EMU, EU and NATO, and also rejected any new NATO expansion.

    Participants also railed against the Bolkenstein Directive and privatisations, calling for free healthcare for all. They supported small-medium sized farmers and expressed concern over food chain safety.

    The meeting was attended 23 communist and labour parties from Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Luxemburg, Poland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

    [12] President Papoulias receives justice minister

    Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis briefed President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday on the "innovative, progressive and socially-oriented measures" adopted by the ministry of justice.

    In the 20-minute meeting held in a cordial atmosphere at the presidential mansion in Athens, Hatzigakis briefed the President on the so-called "velvet revolution" and the substantive reform underway in the sector of justice, which he said is embraced by the Greek society with a sense of relief, elation and satisfaction.

    [13] Justice minister comments on Holy Synod decision on civil union

    Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, commenting on Monday on the decision taken by the Permanent Holy Synod regarding a planned government bill on the civil unions, said "the views of the Church are respected and are registered carefully."

    "I believe, however, that it is one thing to legalize civil unions with a religious marriage, as the Church is reasonably demanding, and something completely different the regulation of its existing social consequences which the civil union wants to bring about. It is an existing social problem that imposes on the state to protect the children that are obtained through civil union - they are already 5 percent of the total number - of women and of single parent families," the minister said.

    "The pact renders free civil union relations which have existed until now 'less free' and citizens more responsible. We note that the pact exists in all the European countries and indeed for many years," he added.

    The Synod hierarchs convened on Monday, under the chairmanship of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, and focused on the civil union which is being promoted with a justice ministry bill.

    As was announced by its press spokesman, the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Anthimos, "the Church accepts and blesses the established holding of a Wedding according to the Orthodox Practice, while it considers every other 'conjugal' relationship out of it, as prostitution."

    [14] European Affairs Secretary General meets Arab Ambassadors

    The Secretary General for European Affairs, Dimitris Katsoudas, held a working luncheon at the Foreign Ministry on Monday with Arab Ambassadors of member-states of the Barcelona Process.

    According to a ministry's press release, discussed at the luncheon was the prospect of strengthening political and economic cooperation between the countries of the Mediterranean, within the framework of the French initiative for the Union of the Mediterranean.

    Greece proposed the immediate cooperation through proposals for programmes of mutual interest.

    Katsoudas also presented the results of the Greek Economic Forum on the Mediterranean, which was held in Athens on February 21 at the initiative of the Foreign Ministry and urged the Arab countries of the Mediterranean to undertake a similar initiative for the preparation of proposals in view of the Summit of the European Union in France on July 13.

    [15] More aid dispatched to Albania

    A new mission transporting humanitarian aid to Albania to assist victims of an industrial accident at a munitions plant in the neighboring country departed from Greece on Monday, at around 1.00 p.m.

    A C-130 aircraft took off from Elefsina air base transporting medical staff from the 251 Air Force General Hospital, among them an anesthetist, an orthopedic surgeon and two nurses, as well as 110 boxes of IVs and 37 boxes of hygiene consumables and pharmaceuticals.

    Albanian authorities will also be given with five heavy-duty protective bomb-disposal suits and five heavy-duty mine disposal vests, which are being transported to Albania on the same aircraft.

    Financial News

    [16] MIG announces planned sale of 19pct stake in OTE to Deutsche Telekom

    Marfin Investment Group (MIG) on Monday announced that it has signed an agreement with Deutsche Telekom AG for the sale of its equity holding of 98,026,324 shares in OTE (Hellenic Telecoms) at 26 euros per share. The transaction is expected to be completed by May 7 at the latest, and is subject to approval by Greece's Inter-ministerial Denationalizations Committee.

    The agreement has been approved by the MIG administrative board and the Deutsche Telekom administrative board, but is subject to approval as well by the latter's Supervisory Board.

    Deutsche Telekom (DT), in an announcement of its own, said it has reached an agreement with MIG on the basis of which Deutsche Telekom will acquire MIG's entire share package in OTE S.A., representing a percentage of just less than 20 percent of OTE's total share capital, at 26 euros per share, or approximately 2.5 billion euros.

    It said that the agreement is pending on approval by Deutsche Telekom's Supervisory Board, and on signature of the deal with the Greek State and approval by the Greek Interministerial Committee regarding the increase in Deutsche Telekom's share stake in OTE aimed at realising its strategic targets.

    The relevant talks between Deutsche Telekom and the Greek State for reaching agreement are due to begin in the immediate future, according to the DT announcement.

    [17] Greek govt welcomes developments in Hellenic Telecoms

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis on Monday, welcomed an agreement, subject to approval by the Greek government, announced on Monday between Marfin Investment Group and Deutsche Telekom for the sale of MIG's equity stake in Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (around 20 pct), saying the agreement was compatible with the government's strategy over the future of Hellenic Telecoms.

    In a joint statement, the two ministers said the government was expected to agree on a series of issues with Deutsche Telekom over the purchase of MIG's stake in the Greek telecoms operator.

    Meanwhile, OME-OTE, the workers' union in Hellenic Telecommunications Organization said the agreement to sell MIG's stake to Deutsche Telekom opened a new round in OTE's privatization effort and announced it would participate in a 24-hour Pan-Hellenic strike on Wednesday.

    [18] PASOK opposes MIG-DT agreement for OTE stock

    Main opposition PASOK party on Monday expressed its vehement opposition to an agreement between Marfin Investment Group (MIG) and Deutsche Telekom for the sale of MIG's equity stake in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), saying that the "planned course of OTE's sell-off is appearing to advance with the government's full consent."

    Louka Katseli, who is responsible for PASOK's positions on economic affairs, also said that a previously tabled amendment by PASOK "guaranteed that the state's equity would not fall below 28 per cent."

    "The government must make it clear that it does not intend to decrease the state's participation in OTE; that the state should continue its control over the company and its management, and that it will not proceed with moves for which the citizens will be called upon to pay through increased bills and services of a worse quality," a relevant PASOK statement read.

    [19] SYRIZA criticizes sale of MIG's stake in OTE to Deutsche Telekom

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) economic and social policy rapporteur and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Deputy Panayiotis Lafazanis said in a statement on Monday that the government's positive stance towards the selling of Marfin Investment Group's stake in the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) to Deutsche Telekom "confirms that the sale is taking place in collusion with the government to enable Marfin to profiteer and, mainly, for the control and management of OTE to be delivered eventually to Deutsche Telekom."

    "This unacceptable government manipulating, which is leading to the full privatization of a strategic corporation, such as OTE, constitutes a major political, economic, social and labor crime against the country, as well as national security. The manipulated game for the privatization of OTE will meet with the opposition and resistance of all the Greek people. The sale of Greece, which the government is proceeding to complete, will not succeed," Lafazanis said.

    [20] Multiple strikes on Tuesday, Wednesday over pension reforms

    Multiple strikes have been called by trade unions throughout Greece from Tuesday until Thursday, in support of strike action on Wednesday by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) to protest against the government's proposed package of reforms to Greece's pension system. Debate on the draft bill will begin in Parliament on Monday.

    Among those joining the strike will be staff on Athens' public transport networks, with the metro and electric railway ISAP coming to a standstill on Tuesday and rolling 24-hour strikes on the Proastiakos suburban railway from Tuesday until Thursday. Over this period, the only services will be the Proastiakos service from Piraeaus to Kiato at 11:38 am and the Kiato-Piraeus service at 7:14 pm.

    On Wednesday, when GSEE has called a nationwide general strike, OASA buses and the tram will not run throughout the day and there will be a work stoppage by trolley buses from 10:30 am until 3:00 pm and by the electric railway and metro between 10:00 and 3:00 p.m.

    Express buses serving the Athens Airport will strike from 4.25 am on Wednesday until midnight the same day.

    Also joining the strike action will be workers in the Greek Railways Organization (OSE), who have called two 24-hour strikes on Tuesday and Thursday, in addition to the 24-hour strike called by GSEE on Wednesday.

    No Greek railway trains will run over the three days except designated "essential" services that include two trains on the Athens-Thessaloniki-Athens route, two trains on the Thessaloniki-Dikaia route, two trains serving the Piraeus-Kiato-Patras-Kalamata-Piraeus route and two on the Thessaloniki-Florina-Kozani-Thessaloniki route.

    OSE announced that all tickets for services that will not be carried out are to be refunded.

    Meanwhile, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) workers union GENOP-DEH issued an announcement on Monday, in which it stressed that its members and local unions were continuing their ongoing strike as planned.

    "Attempts to slander and besmirch the fight being given by PPC strikers have fallen flat, since even court rulings judge that our strike action so far has been legal and ruled out all responsibility by GENOP-DEH for the power cuts," the announcement read.

    It stressed that the struggle would continue until the aims were met and demanded the removal of the PPC's government-appointed CEO Takis Athanassopoulos and board-member Constantine Mihalos.

    [21] Athens Commerce Union on strike action repercussions

    The Athens Commerce Union called on Monday for the suspension of payments due to the state (VAT, social security contributions), banks and utilities for at least two months, pointing out that Athens and its centre in particular has been "held hostage" since the beginning of the discussion on the social security bill.

    Merchants in the capital are also requesting the suspension of auctions and of eviction court rulings as well as the settlement of all past taxes and dues that are owed by businesses to the municipality of Athens and to regional municipalities.

    "The consecutive strikes and marches by many social agencies and professional sectors, the strike of employees at the Bank of Greece, with the great repercussions which it has for the banking system and the transactions of citizens, the strike of garbage collection employees, the strike of employees of the Public Power Corporation (DEH), as well as continuing strike action by employees at the country's ports, have brought all the commercial businesses to a difficult position. The repercussions of the aforesaid strikes are particularly unfavorable for small businesses," the union said in its announcement.

    Meanwhile, a survey carried out by the same union on purchasing activity and businesses revealed that almost half of the merchants (49.31 percent) out of 426 shops that participated in the survey ascertained that, compared to last year, the activity of illegal peddlers in all the main streets of Athens increased throughout the holiday period during the hours that shops are open (54 percent).

    [22] Hearing for injunction to stop TV technicians strike postponed

    A hearing scheduled to take place on Monday before an Athens First-instance Court to discuss a petition for an injunction against a strike by technicians working for private television channels was postponed when lawyers representing the parties failed to attend due to an ongoing lawyers' strike to protest against proposed social insurance reforms.

    The petition was filed by seven private television channels (Mega, Antenna, Alter, Alpha, Star Channel, Skai and Macedonia) and the Union of Private Channels of Nationwide Coverage against a 24-hour strike called on Tuesday by the Union of Technicians of Attica Private Television, whose main demand is the payment of employer contributions so that they can join a unified mass media employee insurance fund.

    Among witnesses who turned up to support the technicians' demands were the president of the Athens Union of Journalists (ESHEA) Panos Sombolos, the vice-president of the Athens Labor Centre and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP and journalist Liana Kanelli.

    [23] FinMin on state budget

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis rejected news reports alleging problems in the implementation of the 2008 state budget, pointing out that its objectives are not being reconsidered and its implementation is proceeding on schedule.

    The second phase of fiscal adjustment will proceed as successfully as the initial one, safeguarding development, employment and social cohesion, he stressed.

    [24] Employment index in Greek retail sector down 0.7 pct in Q4 2007

    Employment in the retail sales fell by 0.7 pct in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared with the same period in 2006, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the employment index in the retail sector rose 0.9 pct in the fourth quarter from the third quarter in 2007.

    [25] EU Agriculture Ministers Council announces 2 pc milk quota increase

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The Council of European Union Agriculture Ministers decided here on Monday to increase milk quotas by 2 percent as of April 1, 2008, that means for Greece an increase of 16,000 tons. Greece's positions were outlined by Agricultural Development and Food Minister Alexandros Kontos.

    Kontos analysed before the Council the serious developments in prices of inflows for the production of agricultural products in the EU, an issue that was registered in the Council's agenda and was discussed through Greece's initiative.

    More specifically, the minister briefed the Council on exorbitant increases in the prices of food for animals, a fact that has a negative effect on the production cost of livestock products and makes them uncompetitive.

    Kontos also referred to the very high prices of fertilizers and of other production elements and underlined the very negative repercussions stemming from increases in oil and natural gas prices, both for agricultural and fishing activities.

    The minister met and exchanged views with counterparts from other member-states, including the new Cypriot Agriculture Minister M. Polynikis.

    [26] Eurobank Properties buys real estate in Kiev

    Eurobank Properties on Monday announced the purchase of a real estate property in Kiev, Ukraine for 8.6 million US dollars. The property will be leased to Universal Bank, a member of Eurobank EFG Group.

    Aristotelis Karystinos, an executive board member and a member of the company's investment committee, said the investment was fully funded with money from a recent share capital increase plan.

    [27] Gerolymatos buys Health Logistics Hellas

    Gerolymatos on Monday announced the acquisition of Health Logistics Hellas SA for an undisclosed sum. Gerolymatos said the acquisition was part of its strategy to establish its position in the services sector.

    Health Logistics recently completed construction of a logistics facility in Inofyta, Viotia.

    [28] Greek stocks plunged 3.59 pct on Monday

    Greek stocks plunged on Monday, hit by a wave of selling in international markets amid an expanding credit crisis. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange lost 3.59 percent to end at 3,783.46 points with turnover an improved 545.4 million euros, of which 64.5 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors ended lower with the exception of Telecommu-nications (5.54 pct) and Financial Services (1.30 pct) which scored gains after the announcement by Marfin Investment Group that it was selling its around 20 pct stake in Hellenic Telecoms to Deutsche Telekom. Raw Materials (6.05 pct), Banks (5.74 pct), Travel (5.33 pct) and Healthcare (4.14 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The Big Cap index plunged 3.71 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 3.71 pct and the Small Cap index ended 2.57 pct lower. Epilektos (17.95 pct), Ippotour (7.69 pct) and Hellenic Telecoms (5.54 pct) were top gainers, while ANEK (30.0 pct), Ideal (19.68 pct) and Livanis Publications (19.59 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 252 to 22 with another 17 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.80%

    Industrials: -3.23%

    Commercial: -3.13%

    Construction: -3.27%

    Media: -3.74%

    Oil & Gas: -1.58%

    Personal & Household: -2.18%

    Raw Materials: -6.05%

    Travel & Leisure: -5.33%

    Technology: -4.01%

    Telecoms: +5.54%

    Banks: +5.74%

    Food & Beverages: -0.59%

    Health: -4.14%

    Utilities: -2.95%

    Chemicals: -3.89%

    Financial Services: +1.30%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 19.00

    ATEbank: 2.84

    VIOHALCO: 7.06

    ELTEX: 7.50

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 24.10

    HBC Coca Cola: 26.36

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.80

    National Bank of Greece: 31.30

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 17.46

    Bank of Cyprus: 7.50

    Intralot: 10.60

    OPAP: 18.60

    OTE: 20.20

    Piraeus Bank: 16.96

    Titan Cement Company: 25.42

    [29] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices ended mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 275.260 million euros ahead of the end of the March contracts on Thursday.

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.06 pct, while the March contract on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.57 pct. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 23,635 contracts worth 230.045 million euros, with 30,432 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 199 contracts worth 4.621 million euros with 489 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 29,208 contracts worth 34.865 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Investment Group's contracts (9,051), followed by Eurobank (633), Hellenic Telecoms (2,410), National Bank (4,132), Alpha Bank (776), Intracom (958), Marfin Popular Bank (3,515) and Hellenic Postbank (1,538).

    [30] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 440 million euros on Monday, of which 150 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 290 million sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2012) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 85 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.70 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.44 pct and the German Bund 3.73 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved higher. National Bank's overnight rate was 4.10 pct, up from 4.07 pct on Friday, the two-day rate also rose to 4.10 pct from 4.07 pct, the one-month rate rose to 4.35 pct from 4.32 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.67 pct from 4.59 pct.

    General News

    [31] Greece hosts int'l con'f on return of cultural property

    An international 2-day conference on the timely issue of "Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin" began at the New Acropolis Museum of Athens on Monday.

    Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis welcomed delegates -- which include attorneys, museum curators, archaeologists, academics and art experts -- to the conference, organised by the Greek culture ministry in cooperation with UNESCO.

    In opening comments and with the Parthenon atop the Acropolis only 400 metres away, Liapis emphasised that an "ideal momentum" has been created to search out for "clear-cut solutions" regarding the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens from the British Museum in London.

    Afterwards, Liapis guided Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on a tour of the new state-of-the-art museum.

    The president of the General Conference of UNESCO, George Anastassopoulos and UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture, Francoise Riviere, also addressed the conference.

    The conference participants will reflect upon and exchange experiences on the issue of the return of cultural property, examining several successful return cases, including: the Axum Obelisk from Italy to Ethiopia, the return of the Stone Birds of Great Zimbabwe from Germany to Zimbabwe, the return of human remains to the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal tribe of South Australia, the "Utimut" cooperation project for the return of cultural objects from Denmark to Greenland, the reunification of a Neo-Sumerian alabaster figure (cooperation project between the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of New York) and the case of the ceremonial mask of the Kwakwaka'wakw people of Vancouver Island between the British Museum and Canada,

    [32] MoMA director Glenn Lowry visits Athens and Thessaloniki

    Director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, Glenn Lowry, visited Greece for the first time and addressed an audience in Athens as part of the "Great Ideas" series.

    Featured in the Megaron Plus series, he spoke at the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall on Monday, at 19:00, on "Making the Modern: A Disruptive Theory of the Museum of Modern Art." His lecture focused 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.

    [33] Events commemorating 1821 Revolution in Areopolis

    The 187th anniversary of the Aeropolis uprising in the extreme southeastern Peloponnese -- which occurred a week before the official March 25 commemoration of the Greek Revolution against Ottoman rule is celebrated -- was held on Monday in the Laconia prefecture coastal town, which is located in the remote region known as Mani.

    Mani's residents, under clan leader Petros Mavromichalis, took an oath of the revolution on March 17, 1821, before liberating the port of Kalamata days later.

    [34] Symbolic tree planting at WWII battlefield in southern Albania

    A ceremony was held atop Hill 731 in the rugged Klisoura district of southern Albania last Saturday, during which three cypress trees where planted at the spot of the fierce battle between Greek and Italian troops in early March 1941. The Greek side's V infantry division -- whose soldiers mainly hailed from Trikala prefecture of central Greece -- bore the brunt of the efforts to keep the strategic summit.

    Trikala Prefect Elias Vlahogiannis and Mayor Mihalis Tamilos laid wreaths at a memorial service prior to the tree-planting ceremony in honor of the fallen soldiers of both sides.

    [35] Piraeus Archaeological Museum open for public

    The culture ministry on Monday announced that the Piraeus Archaeological Museum was once again open to the public between the hours of 8.30 am and 3.00 pm every day except Monday, after the completion of works to repair the museum and install air conditioning.

    [36] Illegal immigrants

    A group of 25 illegal immigrants were spotted and detained by a Coast Guard patrol boat in the early morning hours of Monday on the shores of Farmakonisi islet, near Leros island.

    The illegal immigrants, who told authorities that they had set off from the opposite Turkish coast in an inflatable engine-powered boat, were taken to Leros, where they were found to be well in health.

    The Leros port authority was investigating the incident.

    Weather Forecast

    [37] Partly cloudy on Tuesday

    Partly cloudy weather with westerly, southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 5-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 21C. Mostly fair in Athens, with westerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 7C to 19C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 17C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [38] UNSG sees window of opportunity for the Cyprus problem


    The international community should seize the momentum and the window of opportunity after the election of Demetris Christofias at the presidency of the Republic of Cyprus, UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon said on Monday.

    In statements to the press after his monthly working lunch with UN Security Council members, during which they discussed the Cyprus question, Kosovo and Darfur, Ban expressed hope ''that we will be able to see improvement and make some breakthrough in this long pending issue in Europe''.

    ''The international community should seize the momentum and the window of opportunity when Mr Christofias the new Cyprus president was elected and is committed to the resolution of this issue,'' Ban noted.

    Referring to his recent meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in Dakar, Senegal, Ban said Talat ''also expressed willingness to engage in constructive dialogue''.

    ''In that regard I have decided to dispatch Under Secretary General Lynn Pascoe to lead an assessment team to engage in dialogue with all the stakeholders there. We hope that we will be able to see improvement and make some breakthrough in this long pending issue in Europe,'' he concluded.

    [39] FM sees positive climate in EU for Cyprus


    Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou believes that there is now a positive climate in Europe as regards Cyprus and hopes that Friday's meeting between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities will yield results.

    He also said that the government will make fresh efforts to improve contact with member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in a bid to avert any negative development for Cyprus.

    On efforts to open a crossing point to and from the island's northern Turkish occupied areas, at Ledra street at the centre of the capital, Kyprianou said that this issue will be discussed at Friday's meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and expressed hope that the opening of the crossing point will be announced on Friday.

    Responding to questions on Monday, the minister said he believed that now the climate in Europe is positive for Cyprus and that the good will of the Greek Cypriot side as regards a political settlement as well as the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community is acknowledged.

    This positive climate, he explained, will facilitate attempts to explain our concerns and observations on various EU initiatives relating to the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus or the Turkish Cypriot community.

    On relations between the EU and NATO, Kyprianou said that Turkey is hindering cooperation and creates problems to organizations to which Cyprus belongs.

    "Turkey must not be allowed to act in this manner. Ankara is trying indirectly to have a decisive role in decision taking within the EU, something which member states cannot accept," he noted.

    Asked if there are any indications of a shift in the positions of the Turkish side on Cyprus, Kyprianou called for patience, noting however that recent remarks by Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot side are not encouraging.

    "We will have to wait until Friday to see if these are tactical maneuvers or if indeed there are problems of substance and then we shall deal with them appropriately," he added.

    Responding to questions, he said the most recent OIC resolution does not include anything new but he described is as worrying. The resolution calls for the lifting of what the Turkish Cypriots call embargo.

    The minister acknowledged that Turkey has a lot of leverage within the OIC and added: "We will try to engage more actively with members of the Organization - it is up to them to implement the resolution - and I believe we could have a better chance to avert any fait accompli."

    On the political crisis in Turkey, Kyprianou said that "these practices do not abide by the European standards", noting that the government is monitoring developments with concern.

    "The Turkish government, if faced with such problems, will not be able to handle as it should the Cyprus question or it might use the situation as an alibi for the positions it may adopt," he added.

    [40] House President hopeful ahead of Friday's meeting


    House President Marios Karoyian expressed hope on Monday that the first meeting between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities will be productive and creative and it will help implement a UN-brokered agreement in July 2006.

    Asked what he expects from the Turkish side, Karoyian said "we will deal with developments in a composed and calm manner."

    "The President of the Republic was very clear in the past few days in setting out our positions, which are consistent with international law, the will of the international community, as this is expressed by UN Security Council, the five permanent members, the European Union and powerful states", Karoyian said.

    Unfortunately, he said, "these days Turkey has opted to go the other way, displaying an intransigent approach."

    The Greek Cypriot side, he pointed out, will not follow this logic and President Christofias will go to Friday's meeting with good will, positive spirit to help implement the July agreement, which was also signed by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    Concluding he said one has to be patient to see the outcome of the meeting and see whether the Turkish side will meet its obligations deriving from the agreement, which provides for preparatory discussions to facilitate substantive negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement that would reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    If the Turkish attitude is implacable, it will be assessed by the international community and it is certain that pressure will be exerted towards Turkey, Karoyian said, concluding that he would be positively supportive of the president.

    President Demetris Christofias will meet Talat on Friday, under UN auspices, the first such encounter since Christofias was elected to the presidency in last month's elections.

    [41] EU Ombudspersons to meet in Cyprus in 2009


    The conference of the 27 Ombudspersons of the European Union, which will be held in Cyprus in 2009, and the changes to come about with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty were discussed during a meeting in Nicosia on Monday between Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou and European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros.

    Speaking after the meeting, Kyprianou said they discussed various issues of mutual interest, ''changes or foreseeable changes with the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the meeting scheduled to be held in Cyprus next year between the 27 European Ombudspersons.''

    He noted that the government supported cooperation on national and European level ''because we are interested in proper administration and the promotion of the rights of Cypriot and European citizens.''

    Diamantouros, currently visiting Cyprus, expressed hope that the Lisbon Treaty would be ratified in 2009, adding that then ''it will create rights for the citizens emanating from the Charter of Fundamental Rights and thus the Cypriot citizens, as European citizens, will be able to enjoy increased rights.''

    He noted that ''every two years all the ombudspersons of the EU organise meetings, during which they discuss developments in EU law and better practices.''

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