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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-08-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 27 August 2008 Issue No: 2980

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM confers with ADEDY on civil servants' issues ahead of TIF
  • [02] FM Bakoyannis: Name solution the only subject of the negotiation with FYROM
  • [03] UN mediator on FYROM name talks
  • [04] Roussopoulos on South Stream natural gas pipeline
  • [05] PASOK on Abkhazia, South Ossetia
  • [06] Iceland PM in Athens this week
  • [07] Greek PM confers with Northern Greece Industries Federation
  • [08] PASOK leader meets with SBBE presidium
  • [09] PASOK criticises gov't eco policy
  • [10] Greek PM meets with Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • [11] PM Karamanlis holds talks with PASEGES directorate
  • [12] Hutchison-led consortium wins Thessaloniki Port's cargo terminal tender
  • [13] Alpha Bank reports 10.9-pct rise in H1 net profit
  • [14] Halcor reports 1.7-mln-euro loss in H1
  • [15] OPAP: Ebitda up 40% in H1
  • [16] Greek stocks end 1.41 pct lower
  • [17] ADEX closing report
  • [18] Greek bond market closing report
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates: Wednesday
  • [20] Wildfire in progress on Crete
  • [21] Veteran journalist Skouras dies
  • [22] Eurostat on aging population
  • [23] Turkish cruiser runs aground off Patmos
  • [24] Ferry remains docked due to engine trouble
  • [25] Anorthosis Famagusta soccer team harassed for second time
  • [26] Police say coach carrying Cypriot football club 'harassed'
  • [27] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [28] Fair on Wednesday
  • [29] Cyprus President Christofias to visit Sweden
  • [30] FM: Turkey encourages illegal immigration to Cyprus
  • [31] Leaders' aides to discuss procedure of peace talks Politics

  • [01] PM confers with ADEDY on civil servants' issues ahead of TIF

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Tuesday with the presidium of the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY umbrella organization of civil servants' unions), at a meeting that was also attended by interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in an ongoing round of discussions with the social partners ahead of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next week, where the economic policy for the following year is traditionally unveiled by the prime minister.

    A review was made during the meeting of progress made in civil service issues at institutional level, while Pavlopoulos told reporters afterwards that the rights and obligations of the civil servants have been fully consolidated institu-tionally. He noted that the new system of promotions has entered into effect as of the beginning of the year, while the civil servants' training and education system has also been consolidated.

    Pavlopoulos also said that the dialogue with ADEDY on public administration matters would continue.

    ADEDY president Spyros Papaspyros told reporters afterwards said the umbrella organization was seeking a minimum salary of 1,300 euros per month, and immediate advancement of the relevant civil servants' salary scale, as well as the establishment of a minimum guaranteed income, which would initially be set at 900 euros per month.

    "The resources exist. The key is fairness in the taxation system," Papaspyros said.

    "We will not settle for subsidies and poverty funds," Papaspyros said, adding that "the unemployed, the pensioners, the working people are witnessing the failure of an economic cycle".

    He said a reverse redistribution of incomes and social services was necessary, adding that "we want more jobs and full-time work positions, and an end to 'hunger' pensions and salaries".

    Papaspyros further called for "harmonization" of government policy with its commitments, and a correctional salary increase for losses of income in 2008.

    The ADEDY leader further said that after the TIF and before voting on the new state budget in parliament, there would be a discussion with the government on the civil servants' salary scale, adding that ADEDY was planning labor action after the TIF.

    [02] FM Bakoyannis: Name solution the only subject of the negotiation with FYROM

    The target and only substance of the negotiation with FYROM was the finding of a mutually acceptable solution of the name issue, and a utile one at that, in order to put an end to the "hide-and-seek" taking place with its temporary name, foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Tuesday, during an interview on a private TV station.

    In reply to questions on a morning TV program on private Mega channel, Bakoyannis said that FYROM prime minister Nikola Gruevski was trying to find a way out by putting other issues on the negotiation table, warning that, with such an attitude, a solution cannot be found, "and the exclusive blame for non-advancement of that country's European and Euro-Atlantic course lies with Gruevski, and not Greece".

    Asked whether Greece was mulling a veto on the commencement of EU accession negotiations with FYROM in October, Bakoyannis replied that "of course -- as we have said, and as they (FYROM) know -- there can be no European or Euro-Atlantic course without prior resolution of the name issue, which is the basis of good neighborhood".

    She reaffirmed that Greece will not change its policy, stressing that the country "has a firm policy, which has been agreed with all the political parties".

    Bakoyannis declined to make predictions on the outcome of the current effort by UN mediator on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz, saying only that "Greece is here, and is negotiating seriously and responsibly, with steadfastness and consistency".

    Questioned on the name 'North Macedonia' that the latest Nimetz proposals were rumored to put forward, Bakoyannis reminded the fundamental Greek position for a name with a geographical determinant for use internationally, adding that 'North Macedonia' constitutes a geographical determinant.

    On Greece's relations with Russia, and the formulation of the Greek position regarding the crisis in the Caucasus, Bakoyannis reminded that the Greek government has in recent years developed good economic and political relations with Russia, "but at the same time is true to its alliances, as a member of the EU and of NATO, the decisions of which we co-formulate".

    Greece, she added, was making every effort so that there would be full abidance to French EU President Nicolas Sarkozy's six-point plan, "which is the foundation". Beyond that, Greece is in favor of keeping open the West's channels with Russia, and in the framework of the policy of principles if follows, endorses the territorial integrity of each and every country, Bakoyannis said, adding that Russia is a partner of Europe, and must find a new equilibrium with it.

    To questions on the upcoming US presidential elections, and to the impact of a victory of one or the other parties on Greek issues, Bakoyannis said that the foreign policy of a country sets out at serving its own interests, "and the assessments of its link with our own issues are excessive or erroneous".

    "What the US needs is a relationship of equal and sincere cooperation with Europe," Bakoyannis said.

    Turning to domestic affairs, Bakoyannis said in reply to questions that she was not satisfied with the general picture of politics in the country, noting that policy has a role and a goal and that "this is not yielding to the degree it should".

    The government "is governing in difficult times, but it needs improvement," she added.

    On matters of transparency, Bakoyannis said that "impunity in the event of guilt is out of the question", adding that "this will be judged by justice, and we cannot condemn someone for the sake of viewership of the television news programs".

    The rationale of I condemn because of rumors" cannot prevail in a just state, she added.

    To a question on whether ND deputy and former merchant marine minister Aristotelis -- whose name has been implicated in a bribery case involving a prominent shipowner -- could 'facilitate' the ruling party with a different stance (that of temporarily declaring himself an Independent MP until the judicial investigation into the alleged graft incident was completed), Bakoyannis replied that the party "is not a restaurant to which people come and go".

    "We are a party that must be absolute on matters of transparency, but when an issue exists, because in society today rumors and mudslinging are rampant," the minister stressed.

    "We need to re-earn the lost honor of politics, and in this endeavor we need as our ally the party itself, parliament and, of course, Greek justice," she added.

    Asked whether she believed that prime minister Costas Karamanlis felt pressed by the government's slim parliamentary majority (of 152 MPs in the 300-member parliament), Bakoyannis said that "knowing the prime minister, I believe that he wont' feel that way for even one minute".

    Karamanlis, she continued, "is exercising a difficult and unpopular policy, amid an international crisis", stressing that "in such times, political stability is very important".

    [03] UN mediator on FYROM name talks

    The UN secretary general's special mediator on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz, said that both sides, in their recent private meetings, had encouraged him to continue the process for finding a solution to the FYROM name issue, although the differences remain, in statements on Greek state television late Monday night.

    The Nimetz statement came after statements by FYROM prime minister Nikola Gruevski in favor of a dual name, which were later echoed by FYROM foreign minister Antonio Milososki.

    "I prefer not to comment on public statements. I will say that, in the private meetings, I heard the views of the two sides, directly from the two sides, which encouraged me to continue the process, which is underway, regardless of the fact that the differences remain," Nimetz said.

    Nimetz had separate meetings in Skopje on Thursday with Gruevski and FYROM president Branko Crvenkovski, and in Thessaloniki on Friday with Greece's negotiator in the name talks Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis.

    [04] Roussopoulos on South Stream natural gas pipeline

    Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday said in reference to the South Stream natural gas pipeline, that after a process which started some time ago and was completed in all its stages on July 16, the government tabled the contract for ratification in Parliament, where on Thursday, the relevant debate will commence.

    [05] PASOK on Abkhazia, South Ossetia

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papacon-stantinou, referring on Tuesday to Russia's recognition of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries, said condemnation of violations of international law constitutes a principle contained in its charter.

    "For us, the condemnation of the violation of International Law constitutes a principle contained in its charter. For one to stay within the framework of international organisations is what promotes the positions of Greece. We are facing all these issues in this way, we faced the issue of the independence of Kosovo in this way, which we condemned, and today we are facing the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia by Russia in this way as well," he said.

    Papaconstantinou further said that "we must remember that our own open issues depend on respect for International Law as well. Whenever we leave this framework, Greece pays a price."

    [06] Iceland PM in Athens this week

    The prime minister of Iceland, Geir H. Haarde, is expected in Athens this week at the head of high-profile industrial and banking delegation from the North Atlantic island nation, given the country's pioneering position globally in the fields of geothermal energy and renewal sources of energy.

    Haarde and the Icelandic delegation will be received by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and will also meet with Development Minister Christos Folias, who holds the energy portfolio.

    Among others, an open forum is scheduled for Friday on the issue of geothermal energy in Greece and Icelandic know-how, sponsored by the Athens-based Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME) and held at the organisation's amphitheatre at the Olympic Village.

    Financial News

    [07] Greek PM confers with Northern Greece Industries Federation

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with the presidency of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries (SBBE) on Tuesday, as part of a round of meetings with the country's producer classes ahead of his traditional speech on the economy during the Thessaloniki International Fair early next month.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, George Mylonas, president of SBBE, welcomed the stability of economy policy and noted that the business sector was ready to accept the introduction of certain economic measures in order to avoid being under monitoring again, but stressed that measures should offer a long-term solution to problems. He predicted that urgent measures would be introduced, because of the budget consolidation program although he underlined that the business world would not agree with the introduction of new measures unless the government successfully dealt with tax-evasion and state overspending.

    Mylonas said he told the Prime Minister that the government was rolling over its cost to the private sector. "The state is burdening us with a cost we cannot afford and this is catastrophic," he noted.

    [08] PASOK leader meets with SBBE presidium

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met on Tuesday with the presidium of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE), after which Papandreou said that his party wanted a "lasting cooperation" with SBBE in order to move from "generalizations and strategic directions" to "practical solutions" so that it will be "prepared from day one, for the governance of the country".

    Papandreou said that that the country was "sailing without a plan", adding that "in an era of creativity and innovation, the state's role is to equip the citizens".

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the PASOK leader said that the country needed to move ahead with new forms of development, which included construction, new technologies and the food industry, while he also endorses "simple rules in taxation and steadfast laws that promote investments".

    The discussion also focused on combating corruption, with Papandreou reiterating a recent proposal in that direction recently put forward by PASOK.

    The main opposition leader further placed emphasis on the matter of decentralization, criticizing the government of having a "concentration" rationale "because it wants to control".

    On Greece's potential, Papandreou said that "we proved that we can organize Olympic Games, why can't we do better in Education and Health?"

    He also said that "the businessmen are in despair, they hear PASOK's views with great interest, and await answers from PASOK at the Thessaloniki International Fair" next week, where the prime minister traditionally unveils economic policy for the following year and the opposition party leaders also present their own economic platforms.

    Also speaking after the meeting, which was held at the PASOK headquarters in downtown Athens, SBBE president George Mylonas called for agreement between government and opposition on the serious and important issues so that results may be forthcoming, and so that the various issues would not be used "as opposition weapons".

    Citing tourism as an example, Mylonas said that spatial planning issues needed to be solved quickly to enable infrastructures designed to attract tourism, particularly in border regions.

    "Is it commonly agreed that industry is an inalienable element of Greece and must be supported, or do we take it off the map and say that Greece will proceed only with services or something else?" Mylonas questioned.

    He said that the industrialists desire a shared view by government and opposition on such issues as the development of Thrace and western Macedonia, in which "the issues are not only economic ones".

    "If PASOK and the government want the issues to be solved, they can solve them. We want one step forward every day," he added.

    Mylonas said that SBBE wants PASOK's backing, too, on the development of the innovation zone in Thessaloniki, the TIF, and on the universities.

    To a question on his abduction earlier in the summer, and his release for ransom after 13 days of captivity, Mylonas said that he had a heart-to-heart discussion with Papandreou.

    To a question regarding dismissals, Mylonas said that "everyone puts the business in the corner and hits on them, but they should not forget that it that create jobs, and if the businessmen feel insecure or that they are at an impasse and stop creating working positions, then the difference will be evident".

    Flexible working hours does not mean injustice, but that a business is competitive on the international markets and does not disregard what is taking place in his neighborhood and what is the rule of thumb in the economies with which he is competing, Mylonas explained.

    "No one is speaking at the expense of the working people. There is no clash," Mylonas said in reply to other questions, adding "Today, we have our sleeves rolled up and our heads bent and work, employers and employees alike".

    If the employers and employees do not agree to move forward, everything else is 'political talk' that is not founded on reality, he continued, adding that the struggle was a common one, and "the talk about unfeeling businessmen is a big mistake". "They all want to offer better incomes and better conditions to the employees, but the issue is, can they?

    During the meeting, the SBBE presidium noted that the market was not going well, and that the desire for creation has been, while businessmen feel tired because the various issues are not being solved, but only patched up.

    Mylonas said that the industrialists believe that the state has lost its credibility, and call on the opposition to help in reversing the climate, while he also charged the government of carrying "collection pogroms" and passing on to the businessmen its own management ineptness.

    Among the topics discussed were Thrace and the lack of a long-term policy for the development of the region, the development of industry in northern Greece, the promotion of Greek products, taxation issues, and the development of innovation zones, while SBBE said it was awaiting specific proposals from PASOK, particularly on cutting back on bureaucracy.

    [09] PASOK criticises gov't eco policy

    PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday, following a meeting earlier in the day between party leader George Papandreou and the leadership of the Federation of Industrialists of Northern Greece, charged that the government's economic policy is not only "dealing a blow" to working people, but also to the country's entrepreneurship and growth prospects.

    "The phenomena of economic decline that we are seeing all over the country are very intense in the Macedonia and Thrace provinces," the spokesman said and referred to Papandreou's observation that Greece is "absent" from the Balkans and with insecurity gripping its citizens.

    In a related development, he said similar meetings the prime minister had with social partners took place in a "negative climate".

    The spokesman added that the country is experiencing a major fiscal crisis, with its competitiveness under collapse and stressed that despite "the desperate efforts by (Finance and Economy Minister George) Mr. Alogoskoufis to convince us that small changes are necessary, the reversal of the current economic policy is necessary to enable a restructuring of the Greek economy."

    [10] Greek PM meets with Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    The presidency of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) on Tuesday submitted, during a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, a package of 20 proposals aimed to support small- and medium-sized enterprises.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, EBEA's president Costas Mihalos expressed his confidence that these proposals would not cause any problems with a fiscal consolidation effort. "Both enterprises and citizens cannot afford any new taxes," Mihalos said and urged for a redistribution of spending and supporting low income earners.

    [11] PM Karamanlis holds talks with PASEGES directorate

    The directorate of the PASEGES farmers' confederation held talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the Maximos Mansion on Tuesday and called for measures to be taken to support the farmers' income.

    Speaking after the talks, PASEGES President Tzanetos Karamihas said that he briefed the prime minister on problems regarding the cost of production and the gap between the cost and the prices of farm products.

    "If measures are not taken immediately, we shall reach the bottom, if we have not reached it already," Karamihas said and added that the prime minister shares the farmers' scepticism over these issues.

    [12] Hutchison-led consortium wins Thessaloniki Port's cargo terminal tender

    The Thessaloniki Port Authority on Tuesday announced that the consortium Hutchison Port Holding Ltd-Hutchison Port Investments Sarl-Alapis SA-Lyd SA was declared the provisional winner of a tender to award management of the port's cargo terminal.

    The consortium had offered the higher price for the cargo terminal, 419.5 million euros in current value, while it pledged to invest another 490 million euros (in current value) to expand the port's No. 6 pier and to boost the cargo terminal's capacity.

    Speaking to ANA-MPA, the port authority's chief executive, Yiannis Tsaras, said the next step in the process would be the start of small procedural negotiations with the winning consortium - expected to last around 30 days. The contract with the provisional winner is expected to be signed by the end of September or early October and then to be ratified by Parliament.

    Tsaras said the consortium was expected to take over the management of the terminal in early 2009.

    Meanwhile, a union representing port workers continued protesting against the Organisation's decision to tender the cargo terminal, warning of strikes in the next few days.

    Conversely, SBBE, the Federation of Northern Greece Industries, in a statement, praised the port's decision and said results of the tender created favourable conditions to boost transit cargo and business activities in Thessaloniki, the country's second largest port.

    [13] Alpha Bank reports 10.9-pct rise in H1 net profit

    Alpha Bank on Tuesday reported a 10.9-pct increase in its net profits to 414.1 million euros in the first half of 2008, excluding extraordinary income totaling 80.4 million euros from the sale of Alpha Insurance to AXA in March 2007.

    The Greek bank said earnings per share rose 12.1 pct to 1.03 euros, while return on equity was 25 percent. Net interest income rose 19.3 pct to 897.8 million euros while interest margin widened by 20 points to 3.2 pct. Net lending rose 27.8 pct to 46.8 billion euros, while the bank's loan portfolio remained at high quality levels, with the delayed repayment index at 3.5 pct.

    Earnings pre-tax from activities in Southeastern Europe totaled 85.7 million euros, up 72 pct, accounting for 16.4 pct of total pre-tax profits of the group. Loans and saving deposits grew by 74 pct and 38 pct, respectively, in the first half, in the region, accounting for 20.4 pct and 15.8 pct of total portfolios of the Group. Alpha Bank operated a network of 865 branches in Greece and abroad.

    Commenting on the results, Yiannis Costopoulos, the bank's chairman, said: "Our strong operating performance in Greece and Southeastern Europe, confirmed our successful efforts to deal with an extended negative economic situation. Our business prospects ensured positive liquidity conditions and strong capital structure."

    [14] Halcor reports 1.7-mln-euro loss in H1

    Halcor on Monday reported a 9.8-percent decline in its first-half consolidated turnover to 644.2 million euros, from 714.2 million euros in the corresponding period last year.

    The company said its sales volume was around last year's levels in the first six months of the year despite adverse conditions in the domestic and European markets because of an economic slowdown and a shrinking building activity.

    Gross profits totaled 33.1 million euros in the January-June period from 55.4 million euros last year, for a decline of 40.3 percent, while earnings before taxes, interest and amortizations (EBITDA) fell 45.6 percent to 25.7 million euros. Earnings before taxes and interest dropped 61.9 percent to 13.4 million euros.

    Consolidated pre-tax results showed an 1.7 million euros loss in the first half, after profits of 24 million euros last year.

    [15] OPAP: Ebitda up 40% in H1

    OPAP, Greece's lottery and betting pools operator, on Tuesday reported a 40.1-pct increase in its earnings before tax, interest and amortization (EBITDA) to 556.1 million euros in the first half of 2008, up from 396.9 million in the same period last year, while its EBITDA margin jumped to 20.2 pct form 16.7 pct over the same period, respectively.

    EBITDA rose 27.6 pct in the second quarter of the year to 256.7 million euros.

    OPAP said its improved results reflected mainly lower operating spending. Sales rose 16.2 pct in the first six months of 2008 to 2.760 billion euros, from 2.375 billion last year, with second quarter sales rising 12.8 pct to 1.380 billion euros.

    Net profits rose 35.2 pct to 385.8 million euros, despite higher amortisation costs. Net profits rose 24.9 pct in the second quarter to 177.3 million euros. Commenting on the results, OPAP's chairman and chief executive, Christos Hatziemmanouil, said: "We are very pleased with the continuing increase of our figures."

    [16] Greek stocks end 1.41 pct lower

    Greek stocks ended lower on Tuesday following a similar trend in other European markets. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange fell 1.41 pct to end at 3,255.97 points, with turnover remaining a low 120.8 million euros, of which 9.8 million were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Food/Beverage (3.36 pct), Insurance (2.97 pct), Personal/Home Products (2.24 pct), Financial Services (2.06 pct), Banks (1.75 pct) and Technology (1.63 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Telecommunications (0.44 pct) and Media (0.30 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 1.53 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.23 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index dropped 0.55 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 165 to 57 with another 55 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.97%

    Industrials: -1.46%

    Commercial: -0.63%

    Construction: -0.36%

    Media: +0.30%

    Oil & Gas: -1.33%

    Personal & Household: -2.24%

    Raw Materials: -1.27%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.40%

    Technology: -1.31%

    Telecoms: +0.44%

    Banks: -1.75%

    Food & Beverages: -3.36%

    Health: -1.63%

    Utilities: -1.37%

    Chemicals: -0.02%

    Financial Services: -2.06%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 18.34

    ATEbank: 2.35

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 17.90

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.56

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.54

    National Bank of Greece: 28.30

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 13.84

    Intralot: 9.52

    OPAP: 23.80

    OTE: 13.76

    Piraeus Bank: 17.00

    Titan Cement Company: 24.76

    [17] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices were mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking to new lows of 48.328 million euros.

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.24 pct and the August contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.93 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 4,736 contracts worth 39.358 million euros, with 33,668 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was five contracts worth 97,881 euros, with 11 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 3,039 contracts worth 5.094 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (844), followed by Eurobank (227), OTE (187), Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (340), Alpha Bank (184), Intracom (350), Marfin Popular Bank (154) and Mytilineos (175).

    [18] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.775 billion euros, of which 935 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 840 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018), was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.415 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.70 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.81 pct and the German Bund 4.11 pct.

    In money markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.30 pct, the six-month rate 5.15 pct, the three-month rate 4.96 pct and the one-month rate 4.48 pct.

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates: Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.460

    Pound sterling 0.795

    Danish kroner 7.464

    Swedish kroner 9.382

    Japanese yen 160.3

    Swiss franc 1.614

    Norwegian kroner 7.921

    Canadian dollar 1.539

    Australian dollar 1.713

    General News

    [20] Wildfire in progress on Crete

    A wildfire that broke out Monday night in a remote area of Inahori municipality in Crete continued to burn on Tuesday morning. The blaze, burning forest and brush land in its wake, was heading towards the Kountouriana settlement and approaching the first residences. Firefighters dug buffer trenches around the settlement and managed to contain the flames.

    Firefighters and fire engines from several parts of Crete, assisted by a firefighting helicopter, are combatting the blaze.

    [21] Veteran journalist Skouras dies

    Noted retired journalist Georgios Skouras died on Monday, aged 101. His funeral will take place at the Athens First Cemetery on Friday in the afternoon.

    Skouras left his journalistic mark on the newspapers "Patris", "Akropolis", "Neos Kosmos", "Typos", "Fos", "Keri", "Eleftheros Anthropos" and "Chronos". He was also the director of the newspaper Le Message d'Athenes and the founder of the English-language Athens Daily Post and the French-language Le Message d'Athenes le Progress.

    [22] Eurostat on aging population

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    Three out of every 10 Greeks will be over 65 years of age by the year 2035, according to data publicised by the European Statistical Service (Eurostat) on Tuesday.

    According to Eurostat, people over the age of 65 in Greece will account for 26.3 percent of the population by 2035 (compared to 18.6 percent today) and 31.7 percent by 2060.

    Moreover, Eurostat assessed that Greece's population will increase by 3.2 percent by 2035 and decrease by 0.9 percent from now until 2060.

    As regards the population of the European Union, it is expected to increase from the present 495 million to 521 million in 2035.

    [23] Turkish cruiser runs aground off Patmos

    The coast guard on Tuesday reported that all seven passengers aboard a Turkish-flagged pleasure craft that ran aground near the rock islet of "Marathi", near the north Dodecanese island of Patmos earlier in the day, were safely transported from the vessel.

    The vessel, identified as the "Yildiz Hailar", had departed for a one-day cruise from Bodrum, in Turkey. The passengers were identified as Turkish crew-members as well as Greek and US nationals.

    [24] Ferry remains docked due to engine trouble

    The car/passenger ferry 'Dimitroula' remains docked on Tuesday for over 7 hours at the islet of Lipsi, in the southeastern Aegean, due to serious engine trouble. The vessel developed problems in two of its four engines as it was was carrying out the route Pireaus-Rhodes route with in-between stops at the islands of Lipsi, Leros, Kos, Kalymnos and Symi.

    Soccer

    [25] Anorthosis Famagusta soccer team harassed for second time

    The squad of the Anorthosis Famagusta soccer club, that has arrived in Athens for Wednesday's Champions League third preliminary round second leg match against Olympiakos Piraeus, was harassed for the second time over a period of a few hours.

    This time, about 50 people went to Karaiskaki Stadium, where the Cypriot team was to hold a training session, and attempted to assault the players, the coach and the president as they were leaving their bus to enter the stadium's dressing rooms. Police intervention prevented the incident from getting even worse.

    Officials of the Anorthosis club said that they were kicked, that the representative of UEFA has been notified and that if this situation continues then it will be impossible for Wednesday's match to take place.

    Anorthosis had won the first leg match 3-0, that had taken place in Larnaca two weeks ago.

    [26] Police say coach carrying Cypriot football club 'harassed'

    Police in Athens on Tuesday confirmed that a coach carrying a Cypriot first division football team was "harassed" by roughly 10 youths riding atop motorcycles, as the latter momentarily blocked the vehicle only to shout slogans in favor of a Greek team the Cypriot Club, Anorthosi, will face on Wednesday for a Champions League qualifier here.

    Greek football champions Olympiakos Piraeus will host Anorthosi on Wednesday in a crucial second leg match to determine which side will qualify for lucrative Champions League group play.

    Authorities said the tourist bus carrying the Anorthosi squad -- players, coaches and club officials -- was approached by the group of motorcyclists at roughly 3:30 p.m. (13:30 GMT) on a stretch of the Attiki tollway, which connects Athens' airport with the city.

    The youths, who police said were without any identifying team colours, fled the scene when a police patrol car escorting the coach approached.

    Anorthosi team officials are expected to provide more information on the incident during a customary pre-game press conference.

    [27] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The anticipated clash between government and large unions after prime minister Costas Karamanlis' announcement of benefits for the financially weaker strata at the Thessaloniki International Fair next week, the tension in US- Russia relations over the Caucasus region, and UN mediator Matthew Nimetz' ultimatum to FYROM's president Nikola Gruevski that he intends to 'freeze' the FYROM name negotiations for six months dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Prime Minister to General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE umbrella union): Don't expect any benefits".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Prime minister reassures social partners: Our priority is the working people".

    AVGHI: "Clash between government and labor unions on the horizon - Karamanlis empty-handed for the workers".

    AVRIANI: "US Justice Department examiners interrogate former US ambassador in Athens Thomas Miller on the Siemens scandal".

    CHORA: "Moscow-Washington play terror poker - The diplomatic war harshens after the ceasefire".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Karamanlis covered FinMin George Alogoskoufis and made clear to social partners that he will not give them what they demand".

    ELEFTHEROS : "Seven new measures to reinforce low incomes will be announced by Karamanlis at Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF)".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "We are paying for milk 40 percent more than the rest of Europe".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Message for a heavy winter in economy - Karamanlis backed FinMin's policy".

    ESTIA: "The imposition of taxes is a lethal recipe - It hinders growth of the economy".

    ETHNOS "Workers', employers' outrage against government over taxes and austerity".

    KATHIMERINI: "Nimetz's ultimatum to Gruevski:"If you continue the provocations, I will freeze the negotiations".

    LOGOS: "Head-on collision... in view of TIF - Karamanlis began new round of meetings with social partners".

    NIKI: "All against Karamanlis - Society sends a resounding 'no' to the economic policy".

    RIZOSPASTIS: KKE' political bureau announcement:"Peoples in every country must form an oppositive front ".

    TA NEA: "High cost of living 'storm' awaits the holidaymakers' return".

    TO VIMA: "Scenery of a clash- The unions preparing a hot autumn- The meeting with the prime minister without result".

    VRADYNI: "5,072 hirings in public education via ASEP (public sector hiring examinations board) in the next two years were signed by Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis".

    Weather Forecast

    [28] Fair on Wednesday

    Fair weather with northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 16C and 34C. Fair in Athens, with 6-7 beaufort northerly winds and temperatures ranging from 22C to 34C. Local cloud in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 22C to 32C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [29] Cyprus President Christofias to visit Sweden

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    Demetris Christofias, President of the Republic of Cyprus, will visit Sweden from September 4-5, it was officially announced here on Tuesday.

    The President will meet the Prime Minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt. The two leaders will give a press conference after their meeting.

    President Christofias will have an audience with King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden.

    During his stay in Sweden, he will also hold meetings with the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, the House President Per Westerberg, and the leader of the left-wing party Lars Ohly.

    The Cypriot President will give a speech, titled "Cyprus Current Developments and the Way Forward", at the Institute on Foreign Policy.

    President Christofias will be accompanied by the Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou, the Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou, the Director of the Division of Protocol of the Foreign Ministry Ioanna Malliotou, and a diplomat from the President's Diplomatic Office Kypros Giorgallis.

    [30] FM: Turkey encourages illegal immigration to Cyprus

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has said that Turkey is encouraging illegal immigration to Cyprus and called on the European Union to pay attention to this fact.

    Commenting on a European Commission report on the EU Green Line Regulation, Kyprianou said that Cyprus is taking all necessary measures to combat illegal immigration through the Green Line, which divides the southern government controlled areas and the northern Turkish occupied areas of the Republic.

    The Minister stressed that the main responsibility lies with Turkey.

    The Greek Line Regulation regulates trade between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, through the line that divides the two communities since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    According to press reports, the European Commission deems that Cyprus is not effectively monitoring the Green Line as far as illegal immigration is concerned.

    Kyprianou noted that the Green Line does not constitute an external border, but a cease fire line.

    '"The Green Line is not a border. It is a demarcation line, a cease fire line. The Republic of Cyprus is a unified state, member of the EU. There are some particular conditions and a specific approach is needed," he said.

    The Republic of Cyprus, he added, "is taking all necessary measures to prevent illegal immigration but the primary responsibility lies with Turkey, which not only encourages this by giving so-called visas to the Turkish Cypriot regime in the Turkish occupied areas, but also allows or encourages illegal immigration."

    He added that the government of Cyprus would expect the European Commission to emphasise to Turkey its responsibilities.

    [31] Leaders' aides to discuss procedure of peace talks

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou has said he would be meeting Wednesday Ozdil Nami, advisor to the Turkish Cypriot leader, to discuss procedural matters ahead of the commencement of direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus on September 3rd.

    Iacovou said Tuesday the two leaders, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, would be meeting at least once a week with the aim to reach a solution that will reunify Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third part of the island's territory.

    Apart from procedural issues concerning the negotiations, the two aides will discuss the opening of a crossing point at Limnitis, on the northwest, to facilitate crossing to and from the occupied areas.

    Asked whether the aim is to reach a decision by the 3rd of September for the opening of the Limnitis crossing point, Iacovou said that the issue has been discussed many times, adding that during those discussions "we were very close to reaching a decision for opening Limnitis."

    He expressed hope that no negative developments would emerge on this, noting that the opening of the crossing point was never linked to any other issues.

    Iacovou added that ''judging by the latest meeting I held with Nami and the meeting of President Christofias with Talat, we should be ready by the 3rd of September" to decide about the opening of Limnitis.

    Asked whether the opening of Limnitis would be linked to the opening of a crossing point in the village of Pyla, inhabited by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, Iacovou noted that this would be "an unpleasant development."

    He explained that Pyla can not be considered a crossing point like the ones already in place.

    "A crossing point, like the one at the Ledra Palace hotel, Agios Dometios, Astromeritis or Ledra Street is a point where you first enter the buffer zone to reach the other side. This is what we mean when we refer to a crossing point," he said, adding that Pyla is not a crossing point and linking the issue of Limnitis to Pyla cannot be accepted.

    Asked to comment on optimism about the prospects of a solution, expressed by the Turkish Cypriot side, Iacovou said that "Talat believes it is feasible to reach a solution by the end of the year but at the same time he says that there should be timeframes, even arbitration, which we do not accept."

    Iacovou expressed the wish that Talat will show the necessary political will and good spirit in order to reach a solution the soonest possible.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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