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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-08-29

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

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

Friday, 29 August 2008 Issue No: 2982

CONTENTS

  • [01] FM briefs Parliament on Caucasus crisis; FYROM 'name issue'
  • [02] Greece, Iceland reaffirm ties
  • [03] PM meets with New Democracy secretary
  • [04] SYN leader criticises government policy during visit to Ikaria
  • [05] FinMin meets with Archbishop
  • [06] Russian envoy: Ossetia, Abkhazia 'sui generis' cases
  • [07] Finance Minister Alogoskoufis on measures against tax evasion
  • [08] Parliamentary com't ratifies South Stream pact
  • [09] OTE: 8.3% hike in H1 profits
  • [10] PPC reports 111.8-mln-euro loss in H1
  • [11] Wind-Tellas announce merger
  • [12] Alumyl reports mixed H1 results
  • [13] Marfin Popular Bank says net profits up 11% in H1
  • [14] Hellenic Fish Farming reports improved H1 results
  • [15] Greek stocks end 0.74 pct up
  • [16] Greek bond market closing report
  • [17] Foreign Exchange rates: Friday
  • [18] Wildfire reveals arms cache
  • [19] Wildfire in Kastoria prefecture extinguished
  • [20] People trafficking arrests
  • [21] Panathinaikos to play Inter, Werder, Anorthosis in Champions League
  • [22] Athletics federation head testifies on doping case
  • [23] Fair on Friday
  • [24] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [25] Spokesman: Opening of Limnitis crossing point, a priority
  • [26] House Speaker criticises Turkish stance over Limnitis Politics

  • [01] FM briefs Parliament on Caucasus crisis; FYROM 'name issue'

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday briefed Parlia-ment's relevant defence and foreign affairs committee, where she emphasised that Athens will meet all of the commitments and agreements it has signed before last week's crisis in Georgia.

    "Agreements we had made before the outbreak of this very dangerous crisis are in force. Greece has never gone back on its word," Bakoyannis told MPs.

    She also defended Athens' criticism of a controversial decision by Moscow to recognise the independence of the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, saying that, among others, this was an EU position clearly expressed by a French EU presidency announcement.

    "We realistically recognised that this tense situation would have repercussions in NATO-Russia relations ... as an alliance we should have exploited all of the forces and channels of communication within the institutionalised NATO-Russia council," she added.

    Moreover, she said Greece belongs to the group of countries that have continued over the years to support such dialogue, as well as the NATO-Russia and EU-Russia partnership.

    "Our government developed particularly close economic and political relations with Russia. Of course, there are problems, but we must deal with them through dialogue."

    Bakoyannis underlined that there was also a condemnation of Georgia's move into South Ossetia, saying the action violated previous agreements.

    Referring to the Caucasus country's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, Bakoyannis said "he made several major mistakes and misread the situation, and we said this to the Georgians themselves."

    Conversely, she said the affected territory is in Georgia, therefore, the Russian side's excessive response caused reactions amongst the international community.

    The Greek FM also reminded that Athens bases its foreign policy on respect of international law, something consistently applied to a series of thorny issues, such as the Cyprus problem, Kosovo, Taiwan and others.

    "We are neither in a Cold War nor in a post-Cold War period. The international community is experiencing the fluidity of a transitional period, with new developments, ones that signify a gradual transition to new balances," she said.

    FYROM

    In reference to the nagging "name dispute" with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bakoyannis merely reiterated that Greece remains committed to the negotiations under UN mediator Matthew Nimetz.

    However, Bakoyannis did not mince her words when referring to a recent "surge in irredentism, arrogance and (verbal) acrobatics" by the leadership in Skopje, adding that most of those comments are served up for internal consumption by the country's public opinion, "which, however, is slowly but steadily starting to realise that the country's isolation cannot lead to a prospect of prosperity for this people."

    Finally, she emphasised that FYROM's Euro-Atlantic course is utterly linked with a resolution of the "name issue".

    "If the name issue is solved, then Greece has no problem with (FYROM's) entry into NATO and the EU, because this irredentism is connected with the name issue."

    Opposition parties

    Speaking for main opposition PASOK, former deputy foreign minister Andreas Loverdos said Georgia's attack on South Ossetia and Abkhazia was inspired by Washington, while he said the Greek government's support of the French EU presidency's decision to condemn Russia's "unilateral action" was correct.

    "We are a country that has experience from the Cyprus problem, and it is necessary that we come out against unilateral actions," Loverdos said.

    In terms of the "name issue", Loverdos said that Greece is obliged to re-evaluate its entire position "from the moment that Skopje's leadership does not wish to cooperate, but essentially ruins the talks by constantly piling on non-existent issues".

    [02] Greece, Iceland reaffirm ties

    Greece and Iceland on Thursday reaffirmed the good level of bilateral relations, during a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Icelandic counterpart Geir H. Haarde, who is on a working visit to Greece.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Karamanlis said relations between the two countries were exceptional, while their cooperation was excellent at both the bilateral level and within international organizations, although he added that many opportunities for furthering cooperation existed in the economy, in investments and in the tourism sector.

    He further noted that Iceland has major energy reserves, while it was also a pioneer in the know-how and exploitation of natural resources.

    The two prime ministers discussed prospects for cooperation between the two countries in the exploitation of renewable energy sources and in geothermal energy.

    The two leaders further discussed matters concerning NATO, and the developments in Georgia and in the western Balkans.

    Karamanlis also expressed appreciation to Haarde for Iceland's backing of Greece on the FYROM "name issue".

    Haarde, in turn, noted that relations between the two countries were problem-free, adding that there were opportunities that could be taken advantage of.

    He stressed that an agreement on avoidance of double taxation would be significant for the enhancement of economic relations, and also sought Greece's backing of Iceland's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

    [03] PM meets with New Democracy secretary

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Thursday with his ruling New Democracy (NBD) party's secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.

    In statements to the press after the meeting, Zagoritis said that the economic measures that were unveiled on Wednesday were mandatory, and that was why the government decided them.

    It was the first meeting between Zagoritis and Karamanlis after the summer holidays. "It was a regular meeting, in which issues concerning the party's acitivities and policy matterswere discussed," added Zagoritis.

    Referring to the government's economic measures, Zagoritis said that the people understand that the measures are necessary and also comprehend the government's effort to implement it's policy without burdening the lower income brackets.

    [04] SYN leader criticises government policy during visit to Ikaria

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras lashed out at the government on its education policy, during a visit Thursday to the town of Evdilos on the island of Ikaria, southeastern Aegean, and called the education minister a "sponsor of the (franchise) colleges", following the announcement of the minimum university entrance grade points a day earlier, according to which some 60,000 candidate students did not gain entry into higher education institutions.

    Tsipras charged that the "government ship has run aground, and is taking on water everywhere", while "its captain acts as if nothing is wrong and states his determination to continue governing the shipwreck with responsibility and decisiveness".

    The SYN leader noted that prime minister Costas Karamanlis, just one year ago, sought renewal of the people's verdict in order to 'repair' the budget. "The mandate was renewed and, without fear of an electoral cost, the government has wrought havoc in the social security funds, sold-off OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organization), is leading Olympic Airways and OTE to bankruptcy, is targeting labor rights. But he has not managed to fix the budget," Tsipras said.

    He also accused criticised the justice system, accusing the Areios Paghos (Greek supreme court) prosecutors' office of "covering up all the scandals that have seen the light of day", adding that the government was taking care to be "useful and pleasant to the judges, as it is not grudging on retroactive (salary increases) nor in blatant interventions in justice's work".

    Turning to the financial situation of the weaker social strata, Tsipras charged that the government's agenda contaned even more indirect taxes, salary increases below the inflation rate, and pensions below the poverty level.

    [05] FinMin meets with Archbishop

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday met with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos and members of the Standing Holy Synod.

    Discussed during the meeting were the primary facets of operational programme "Church of Greece," within the context of the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) for 2007-2013.

    [06] Russian envoy: Ossetia, Abkhazia 'sui generis' cases

    Russian ambassador to Athens Andrei Vdovin on Thursday said Moscow's decision to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was a "necessary step that took place following the aggressive action by the regime of Georgia and its effort for the genocide of the peoples" in those regions.

    Vdovin, speaking at a press conference, also referred to a "difficult decision that produces the lesser harm."

    The Russian diplomat said his country had insisted in the past on the signing of an agreement on the avoidance of the use of force which, however, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili had rejected.

    Meanwhile, in response to press questions, Vdovin said "Russia shall not recognise any occupied territory on Cyprus. As far as we are concerned, the cases of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are sui generis."

    The Russian diplomat further pointed out that "there is no similarity between what is taking place in the Caucasus and in Cyprus. Russia is aiming at a solution to the issue of Cyprus based on UN resolutions and resulting from the direct talks between the two sides."

    In terms of Greek-Russian relations, he added that "Greece is a very important country with which we have achieved 180 years of diplomatic relations, and we greatly appreciate the effort by the Greek government for the development of bilateral relations."

    Asked whether his statement regarding South Ossetia and Abkhazia entails "displeasure" over Athens' diplomatic stance, the Russian envoy said that "I did not express displeasure; I raised certain questions on better understanding."

    On the question of ratification of an agreement on the South Stream natgas pipeline, Vdovin reiterated that "Greece is a friendly country and the agreement benefits both sides."

    Financial News

    [07] Finance Minister Alogoskoufis on measures against tax evasion

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis stressed in Parliament on Thursday that the taxation bill which was tabled in Parliament earlier on Thursday implements basic announcements by the government, both for the control of the budget and the confrontation of tax evasion.

    Alogoskoufis noted that the repercussions of the international financial crisis also strikes the Greek state budget due to the country's borrowing obligations. Nevertheless, he said, Greece continues to maintain a high growth rate.

    The minister went on to say that main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou "forgets that the high public debt is the creation of PASOK."

    On the reconstruction and development of the wildfire-affected regions, PASOK's parliamentary spokesman Evangelos Venizelos noted that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis "sees the citizens' trust in him being exhausted."

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos accused the government that "it does not respect, even its own supporters."

    [08] Parliamentary com't ratifies South Stream pact

    A relevant Parliamentary committee on Thursday ratified an agreement between Greece and the Russian Federation regarding cooperation in the construction and exploitation of a stretch of the South Stream natural gas pipeline which will pass through Greek territory.

    Voting in favour of the ratification were deputies of the ruling New Democracy party, main opposition PASOK and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party. Deputies of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted present, whereas deputies of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) voted against.

    The South Stream pipeline is projected to carry Russian natural gas to Europe, beginning from Novorossisk and crossing under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and on to Greece.

    Development Minister Christos Folias termed the agreement as historic (it was signed in April 2008), saying it fulfils the government's objectives in terms of energy policy for the country's adequacy in energy supply.

    Folias stressed that relevant timetables are being honored at all levels and that the pipeline will be completed in about 2014.

    He clarified that this project is not in competition with other pipelines, such as the Turkish-Greek-Italian connection that will be completed in 2012. Instead, he stressed that South Stream will be a supplementary because demand for consumption in Greece and the European Union is constantly increasing.

    [09] OTE: 8.3% hike in H1 profits

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) on Thursday reported improved first half results, with group turnover rising 2.2 pct to 3.128 billion euros, net profits rising 8.3 pct to 300.4 million euros and EBITDA margin rising by almost one point to 37.

    OTE attributed its improved results to a good performance in the second quarter of the year, with revenues up 2.5 pct, net profits up 16.6 pct and its EBITDA margin rising by 1.5 points.

    Parent turnover totaled 1.285 billion euros in the January-June period, down 3.5 pct from last year, while net profits jumped 10.8 pct to 341.9 million euros and EBITDA margin rose to 33.3 points.

    Cosmote Group said net new connections totaled 942,289 in the first six months of 2008, with its customer base totaling 17,428,633, up 33.2 percent from last year. Turnover totaled 1.541 billion euros, up 8.1 pct, operating earnings rose 10.3 pct to 321.2 million euros and EBITDA margin rose to 33.9 points.

    Cosmote attracted more than 392,000 customers in Greece in the second quarter of the year, accounting for 53 pct of new connections. Turnover rose 6.5 pct, operating earnings were up 9.5 pct and EBITDA margin rose to 42 points.

    In Albania, AMC attracted around 57,000 new connections, with its customer base totaling 1.3 million, up 17.3 pct from 2007. Turnover rose 11.9 pct to 91.4 million euros, operating earnings rose 20.5 pct to 46.1 million and EBITDA margin rose to 63.5 points.

    In Bulgaria, Globul reported a 9.9-pct increase in revenues to 210 million euros, a 15.2 pct rise in operating earnings to 39 million euros, and EBITDA margin rising to 40.8 points.

    In FYROM, Cosmofon reported a 3.0-pct rise in turnover to 30 million euros, although operating results and EBITDA margin moved lower.

    Cosmote Romania reported improved results in the second quarter of the year, with EBITDA totaling 5.0 million euros.

    Retailer chain Germanos reported a 13.8-pct increase in turnover and a 99.1 pct decline in profits to 100,000 euros.

    RomTelecom reported a 0.7-pct increase in revenues in the first six months of the year.

    [10] PPC reports 111.8-mln-euro loss in H1

    Public Power Corp. (PPC) on Thursday reported a 111.8-million-euro loss in the first half of the year, after net profits of 99.4 million euros in the corresponding period in 2007. Pre-tax losses totaled 115 million euros, after profits of 111.6 million euros last year.

    The power utility said losses would have been 56.9 million euros lower if a provision for CO2 emission rights were excluded.

    Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings totaled 222.2 million euros in January-June, from 456.4 million euros last year, for a decline of 51.3 percent, while EBITDA margin fell to 8.0 pct from 18.5 pct in 2007.

    PPC said total income was 2.765 billion euros in the first six months of 2008, from 2.470 billion euros in 2007, up 11.9 pct, while electricity energy sales grew by 2.5 pct over the same period.

    In a statement, main opposition PASOK party development sector rapporteur Mihalis Chrysohoidis charged that the government's poor choices had lead to a deadend policy for PPC, turning it into a loss-making company.

    [11] Wind-Tellas announce merger

    Wind Hellas Telecommunications on Thursday announced its merger with Tellas SA. The announcement said the merger, which is subject to specific approvals, will boost joint activities and transform the company into an integrated telecommu-nications provider in the Greek market.

    The merger will proceed in the wake of a capital increase by Tellas SA in the region of 20 million euros, which will be equally covered by existing shareholders.

    The capital increase will be ratified by the companies' corresponding boards on Thursday. Capital contributions to Tellas SA will be carried out before August 31, 2008, while the merger process is expected to be completed by the end of December, 2008.

    [12] Alumyl reports mixed H1 results

    Alumyl on Thursday reported a 2.3-pct increase in its first half sales to 141 million euros and a 5.4-pct increase in net profits to 6.8 million euros. Parent sales, however, fell 7.4 pct in the January-June period to 106 million euros, reflecting the transfer of sales to the group's subsidiaries in Romania and Bulgaria.

    Parent pre-tax profits totaled 2.7 million euros, down 43.5 percent from last year, while after tax profits dropped around 50 percent to 1.7 million euros.

    [13] Marfin Popular Bank says net profits up 11% in H1

    Marfin Popular Bank on Thursday reported an 11-pct increase in its consolidated net profits to 220.4 million euros in the second quarter of the year, compared with the first quarter, and a 7.0-pct rise compared with the corresponding period last year.

    The Group reported significant improvement in Greece and abroad, along with positive financial results despite a negative economic environment. Group assets surpassed 35 billion euros, up 22 pct from last year, ranking fifth among Greek banks.

    Loans grew by 40 percent in the first half and saving deposits were up 19 pct, reflecting an expanding branch network and higher customer base figures. International loans totaled 2.7 billion euros, or 13 pct of total loans, while the group's loans to deposits rate was 89 percent.

    Group revenues rose 9.0 pct to 587.7 million euros, while net interest income totaled 359.3 million euros, up 8.0 pct from last year. Return on equity was 1.35 percent in the first half.

    Commenting on the results, Efthymios Bouloutas, the bank's chief executive, said the results showed a significant improvement of operating profitability and said he expected similar trends to prevail during the next two quarters of the year.

    [14] Hellenic Fish Farming reports improved H1 results

    Hellenic Fish Farming SA on Thursday reported a 37.7-pct increase in its first half turnover to 39.49 million euros, form 28.68 million last year, reflecting a 40.5-pct jump in the sales of large fish during the same period.

    Exports totaled 25.6 million euros, up 79.9 percent, while gross profits rose 36.6 pct to 9.98 million euros in the January-June period.

    Gross profit margin was 25.3 pct of consolidated turnover, up 0.2 points from 2007. Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) totaled 5.48 million euros, up 13.9 percent, while EBIT rose 22.9 pct to 4.73 million euros. Pre-tax profits rose 7.3 pct to 2.88 million euros in the first six months of the year.

    Consolidated profits, after tax and minorities, eased to 1.75 million euros in the first half, from 2.1 million euros last year.

    [15] Greek stocks end 0.74 pct up

    Greek stocks moved higher on Thursday following a recovery in other European markets. The composite index rose 0.74 percent to end at 3,267.94 points, with turnover rising to 248.4 million euros of which 17.5 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the Telecommunications (4.78 pct), Healthcare (2.45 pct), Oil (1.88 pct) and Banks (1.57 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (3.22 pct), Food/Beverage (2.12 pct) Media (0.64 pct) and Travel (0.63 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 1.10 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.55 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.92 pct up. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 116 to 106 with another 60 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.55%

    Industrials: +0.20%

    Commercial: +0.81%

    Construction: -0.41%

    Media: -0.64%

    Oil & Gas: +1.88%

    Personal & Household: +0.21%

    Raw Materials: -0.50%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.63%

    Technology: +1.35%

    Telecoms: +4.78%

    Banks: +1.57%

    Food & Beverages: -2.12%

    Health: +2.45%

    Utilities: -3.22%

    Chemicals: +1.02%

    Financial Services: +0.45%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the Public Power Corporation (DEH).

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

    Alpha Bank: 17.48

    ATEbank: 2.34

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 17.00

    HBC Coca Cola: 16.82

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.68

    National Bank of Greece: 28.98

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 13.92

    Intralot: 9.08

    OPAP: 23.90

    OTE: 14.90

    Piraeus Bank: 17.70

    Titan Cement Company: 25.50

    [16] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover on the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.665 billion euros on Thursday, of which 775 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 890 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 900 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.70 percent with the Greek bond yielding 4.90 percent 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.

    [17] Foreign Exchange rates: Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.478

    Pound sterling 0.805

    Danish kroner 7.463

    Swedish kroner 9.444

    Japanese yen 161.55

    Swiss franc 1.611

    Norwegian kroner 7.922

    Canadian dollar 1.546

    Australian dollar 1.705

    General News

    [18] Wildfire reveals arms cache

    A wildfire in the region of Doliana, northwest prefecture of Ioannina, on Thursday led to the discovery of an arms cache.

    Firefighters discovered seven Kalashnikov-style assault rifles, two machine-guns of an unspecified type, nine empty and four loaded bullet clips and 270 rounds.

    Given that the region is close to the border with Albania and the type of weaponry, it is believed the cache was concealed there during following the 1997-1998 looting of military camps in the neighbouring country.

    [19] Wildfire in Kastoria prefecture extinguished

    A wildfire that had broken out in a mountainous region in the municipality of Vitsi, in the northern prefecture of Kastoria, at noon on Wednesday was finally extinguished on Thursday afternoon after laying waste about 50 acres of forest and scrubland. Residential areas were not threatened by the blaze.

    [20] People trafficking arrests

    Police arrested late Wednesday night three people on people trafficking charges.

    Grevena, northwestern Greece, police officers arrested a woman from Albania on the Grevena-Elatos peripheral road for transporting in her car three Albanian nationals who lacked travel documents together, as well as two other Albanians in a car ahead who were acting as look-outs.

    Soccer

    [21] Panathinaikos to play Inter, Werder, Anorthosis in Champions League

    MONACO (ANA-MPA)

    Panathinaikos Athens soccer club will participate in the European Champions League's second qualifying round for the 2008-2009 period, following the draw that took place in Monte Carlo on Thursday. Panathinaikos will play against Inter Milan of Italy, Werder Bremen of Germany and Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus. Group play will begin on September 16 and come to a close on December 10.

    Sports

    [22] Athletics federation head testifies on doping case

    Greek Athletics Federation (SEGAS) president Vassilis Sevastis and the head of the country's sports mission at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Isidoros Kouvelos, on Thursday testified before a public prosecutor investigating the latest high-profile doping incident, following positive samples by track and field stars Fani Halkia and Tassos Gousis.

    "We shall also make our own disciplinary investigation, in accordance with international rules once we receive the file with the information on the case," Sevastis said after departing from the public prosecutor's office.

    On his part, Kouvelos referred at length during his testimony to the incidents in Beijing.

    Weather Forecast

    [23] Fair on Friday

    Fair weather with northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 17C and 35C. Fair in Athens, with 3-5 beaufort northerly winds and temperatures ranging from 23C to 35C. Local cloud in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 22C to 32C.

    [24] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The package of measures against tax-evasion and for widening the tax base announced by the government on Wednesday and reactions by the opposition parties dominated the front pages of Athens' dailies on Thursday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "New taxes necessary to close the 'immense hole' in the budget, curb wasteful spending in the public sector".

    APOGEVMATINI: "The main tax factor (for business concerns) to fall gradually to 20 percent - Economy and finance ministry's draft law for the new economic policy to be tabled in parliament today (Thursday)".

    AVGHI: "Tax raid with 'per capita' tax - Admission of failure of the government's policy".

    AVRIANI: "Blow against tax evasion, and transparency in the finances of the municipalities, hospitals and social security Funds".

    CHORA: "The changes in taxation - Alogoskoufis (economy and finance minister): 2nd stage of fiscal streamlining".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Alogoskoufis' risky wager - Widening of the tax base, with annual per capita tax of up to 1,220 euros for 1.6 million small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) and property owners".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The collector on the prowl - With his new measures, Alogoskoufis announced the 'death of the salesman' ".

    ESTIA: "Unconstitutional taxation discrimination - Non-salaried workers losing the tax-free benefit".

    ETHNOS: "Looting of 5 billion euros in the name of...reform - Collection measures for the 'black holes' of the budget".

    KATHIMERINI: "Wave of tax-collection measures - Tax-free ceiling abolished for professionals - Disgruntlement among ministers".

    LOGOS: "Extraordinary measures for the 'black hole' - Further reduction of tax factors for salary and pension earners".

    NIKI: "Tax-axe from Alogoskoufis - Karamanlis government squeezing the Greeks dry".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Clash on all issues with the EU and the prevalent policy in Greece - KKE (Communist Party of Greece) leader Papariga tours Argolis prefecture".

    TA NEA: "1,050 euros per capita tax - Unprecedented attack on SMEs".

    TO VIMA: "The package of taxes - 2.5 million taxpayers affected - Strong reactions after Alogoskoufis' announcements".

    VRADYNI: "Upsets in taxation regime as of 2009, with unanimous approval by Inner Cabinet".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [25] Spokesman: Opening of Limnitis crossing point, a priority

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    The opening of a crossing point at Limnitis, on the northwest of Cyprus, is the first priority for the Cypriot government, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said.

    He added that the opening of the crossing point would facilitate crossing to and from the areas occupied by Turkey since its troops invaded in 1974, and would help further improve the climate between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities.

    In statements after a Council of Ministers meeting, on Wednesday, the Spokesman said that at the March meeting, between the two community leaders, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, it was agreed that the opening of Limnitis was a matter of priority.

    The opening of Limnitis, he said, "is first priority for us, it is an important step which will facilitate Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in the region and will be a step towards further improving the climate between the two communities and especially ahead of the commencement of direct negotiations on the Cyprus issue on September 3rd, it is very important to have a good climate."

    Asked whether the opening of Limnitis could be linked to any other issue, Stephanou clarified that there is no such possibility.

    "The March agreement between the two leaders as well as other joint communiques underline the need to open the Limnitis crossing point and I believe that this is very important," he said, adding

    "therefore there can be no connection of the issue of Limnitis with the opening of any other crossing points or any other matter."

    Invited to comment on the Turkish Cypriot side's position to link the opening of Limnitis with the opening of a crossing point in the village of Pyla, Stephanou reiterated that Pyla cannot be considered a crossing point, as defined in several official papers.

    The Spokesman noted that the opening of Limnitis would ''send the right messages and facilitate practically Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots."

    Stephanou clarified that the Greek Cypriot side has been ready long ago to open Limnitis and noted that now political will is needed.

    The Cabinet's meeting took place earlier as planned due to President Christofias' participation in the extraordinary European Council on developments in Georgia, in Brussels on Monday.

    Around 30 issues were on the agenda of the Cabinet meeting, including the Memorandum of Understanding signed Wednesday between Cyprus and Syria.

    Stephanou said that the Memorandum aims at strengthening political relations between Cyprus and Syria and enhancing bilateral cooperation in various issues of mutual concern as well as coordination of their political positions at international organisations and fora, including the Organisation of Islamic Conference.

    [26] House Speaker criticises Turkish stance over Limnitis

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)

    House of Representatives Speaker Marios Garoyian has criticised Turkey's negative stance in efforts to open a crossing point to facilitate movement to and from Cyprus' northern Turkish occupied areas.

    The House President pointed out that the Turkish side continues to raise obstacles to the opening of a crossing point at Limnitis, on the northwest, and consequently no progress towards this goal has been achieved.

    Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou told reporters on Wednesday after a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader's advisor Ozdil Nami that they had reached no decision on the opening of Limnitis.

    "What we had all expected to happen is actually taking place," said Garoyian, adding that Turkey's intransigent and rigid stance as well as a deliberate effort to raise obstacles in opening Limnitis continues.

    "We have no choice but to condemn once again this attitude," said Garoyian, pointing out that those who are trying to present Turkey as a country which really cares for a substantive solution to the Cyprus issue should "turn their attention to Turkey and force it to behave and act like a modern state."

    On July 25 President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Talat decided to start full-fledged negotiations on September 3, with the aim to reach a ''mutually accepted solution to the Cyprus problem which will safeguard the fundamental and legitimate rights and interests of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots'' and reunite the country, divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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