|Sunday, 18 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 3 September 2008 Issue No: 2986
 Gov't satisfied with '08 tourism figuresTourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Tuesday expressed his satisfaction over the course of tourism figures this year and said that the Greek tourism sector maintained its dynamism by showing a rising trend in new markets despite an unfavourable international economic conjucture.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the fact that tourist arrivals remained at last year's levels so far in 2008 was a success.
Spiliotopoulos said that according to figures published by the National Statistics Service, tourist arrivals at the country's major airports were up 3.0 pct this year and noted that July figures were unchanged at last year's levels.
He said Greece was among the winners of this year's global tourism market, with tourism foreign exchange inflows rising 8.5 pct in the period from January to June 2008.
The minister said tourist arrivals from Russia, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria surpassed one million visitors so far this year, with tourist arrivals from Russia up more than 40 pct compared with 2007. Cruise vessels arriving to Greek destinations was also more than 10 pct higher this eyar.
Spiliotopoulos said the ministry will work towards resolving chronic problems hindering tourism development and improving the quality of tourism services.
 PM confers with education ministerPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis had a meeting on Tuesday with Education Minister Evripides Stylianidis, prior to Wednesday's inner cabinet meeting to discuss education ministry issues.
After the meeting, Stylianidis reported two 'firsts' for the school system - the completion of the introductory orientation before the start of the school year and the fact that this would for once begin without shortages of textbooks and with all foreseeable operational gaps covered.
The minister also pointed to a generous school building programme, which would deliver 12,333 new school buildings by the year 2012, and noted that everything was in readiness for both extended-timetable schools and compulsory nursery that would be enforced for the first time after a transitional period, as well as additional teaching assistance for pupils.
 Political interest turns to TIF, to be inaugurated Saturday by PMPrime minister Costas Karamanlis will inaugurate the 73rd annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Saturday, with the traditional address unveiling the main guidelines of the government's economic policy for the following year, which he will be followed throughout the week by addresses by the opposition party leaders, thus bringing the political focus to the northern Greek capital.
Karamanlis will inaugurate the TIF at 9:30 on Saturday morning (September 6), after which he will tour the various pavillions and exhibits, while he will present the guidelines of the government's economic policy at an address at the Vellidis Conference Center at 8:00 in the evening. The premier will also give a press conference at the Center at noon on Sunday.
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou will be visiting Thessaloniki from 11 to 14 September, combining his visit to the TIF with other activities and events, while he will speak at the Vellidis center on Saturday, September 13, outlining the PASOK positions, and will give a press conference at the Center at noon on the following day.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga will visit the TIF on Tuesday, September 9, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader will hold a press conference on Wednesday, September 10 and tour the Fair's exhibits on Thursday, and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis will tour the TIF on Wednesday, September 10.
 Gov't lambasts PASOK charge of ballot tampering in Parliament voteThe government spokesman on Tuesday answered a flurry of questions related to a high-profile allegation, replete with video footage, by main opposition PASOK a day earlier of ballot tampering in Parliament during a May 27 vote on constitutional amendments.
The allegation generated increased television news coverage on Monday and several front-page stories in the Athens press on Tuesday.
Speaking at a regular press briefing, spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos echoed a response by Parliament President and ND deputy Dimitris Sioufas on Monday, referring to the "biggest political gaffe" by PASOK and its leader George Papandreou.
Former minister and high-ranking PASOK MP Dimitris Reppas, speaking at a hastily called news conference on Monday, showed reporters CCTV footage during the collection of MPs' ballots during the vote, charging that several ND deputies tore, pocketed or re-marked ballots from their own party colleagues.
In reply, Roussopoulos said that it "made one wonder how they could have misled Papandreou into making such a gaffe, which insults him and the Parliamentary process as a whole ... Lack of policies is constantly leading PASOK into panicked moves and cheap sensationalism."
Roussopoulos reminded that three ballots listing the constitutional amendments up for approval, and all printed by Parliament's printing press, were given to MPs at the time. He added that name of each deputy was mechanically printed on the three ballots along with an individual code number for each parliamentarian and special markings to allow for scanning.
Roussopoulos noted that some MPs had not signed their ballots, as required on both sides, while others had marked their vote outside the square required for proper scanning of the results, with those deputies being called by the presidium to either sign their ballots or correctly mark their choice.
If any ballot was destroyed, he said, a deputy had another two alternate ballots.
"The television images prove nothing, they don't even show indications (of wrongdoing) ... PASOK has lost its last vestiges of seriousness with this immoral attack against the Parliamentary institutions," Roussopoulos concluded.
 PASOK on EU Summit resultsA PASOK spokesman on Tuesday praised the position taken by EU leaders at the previous day's EU summit in Brussels, which was urgently convened to focus on the recent Caucasus crisis.
"It was positive that the position of not taking blind measures against Russia prevailed. For the EU, the development of mutually beneficial relations and equality is a matter of institutional significance," spokesman George Papacon-stantinou told reporters at a regular briefing.
 PASOK leader to address event on party's anniversaryMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) President George Papandreou will address a party rally at Theission, central Athens, on Wednesday evening on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of the party's foundation (September 3, 1974).
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, said Papandreou's speech will focus on "the Greek citizen's problems and PASOK's proposal's for overcoming the crisis."
 Coalition's Political Secretariat convenesThe Political Secretariat of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) convened on Tuesday and its members assessed that the Coalition's political planning must have next year's Euroelections as their horizon and spoke of an election that is of "major political significance."
The Secretariat stressed that in this period the main emphasis will be placed on the development of social struggles and of the movements that are necessary to repel government policy in crucial sectors, such as the economy, education and the environment.
"The Coalition will deploy all its forces so that the 'welcoming' of the prime minister in Thessaloniki will correspond to the attack launched by the government against working people and youth. The prime minister must receive the message that he cannot continue a policy that plunges extensive sections of the population into poverty and financial asphyxiation and undermines the future of the country," a relevant announcement said.
 Parliament ratifies bill on Greece-Russia natural gas pipelineParliament on Tuesday evening voted with an increased majority in favor of the bill ratifying the agreement for the creation of a natural gas pipeline between Greece and Russia.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) cast a blank vote.
Without disputing the necessity of the project, the KKE expressed its objections over "the maximization of the profits of capital" and to the profits of the major groups (instead of a state-owned people's energy agency).
On its part, SYRIZA expressed its "serious reservations" on the environmental issues which accompany the construction.
 FinMin on tax free ceilingFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, speaking on the first day of the tax bill's processing by the relevant Parliamentary committee on Tuesday, announced the preservation of the 10,500 euros tax free ceiling for the "generation of the 700 euros", as well as for families with three children.
The minister also made an early announcement of measures on the withdrawal of pollutant vehicles.
With a ministerial decision that will be anticipated in the present bill, free professionals who are remunerated by one employer will be able to declare to the tax authority that they are working and performing the same work as salary earners in the business and in this way to be subject to the 10,500 euros ceiling, the minister noted.
Alogoskoufis, who pointed out that employment in this way shows a case of illegality by their employers, said that in no way did the arrangement concerning the 10 percent rate concern the "generation of the 700 euros."
He also clarified that the Income Tax Code defines in a restrictive manner who are free professionals (doctors, architects, engineers, etc).
 Statement by Economic and Social Committee president on cost of livingGreece's Economic and Social Committee President, Christos Polyzogopoulos, said on Tuesday that the international price of oil has dealt a blow at the Greek citizen which is two times more than that of the European, "since one out of 10 of Greeks cannot pay his rent, two out of 10 have difficulty in paying off their cards and four out of 10 did not succeed in going on holiday."
"We are the most expensive country in the European Union, while the cost of living in Greece is double in relation to the average of the eurozone," Polyzogopoulos said on the sidelines of a conference held in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on the issue of the cost of living and the loaning of families in the country.
He claimed in his address that over the past three years increases on the shelves of super markets in many cases reached 83.3 percent, adding that economic and social activity in its entirety is also affected by the fact that over 200,000 houses all over the country remain unsold.
He further said that this, combined with increases in building materials and an increase in interest rates, render the right to acquire a home an "unreachable dream."
 PASOK spokesman on economic policy, high pricesMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou criticised the government's economic policy on Tuesday, saying that its tax bill is tangible proof of the failure of this government's economic policy.
"The Finance minister is unable to close a budget and he thinks that he will achieve this through more tax draining," the spokesman said.
Papaconstantinou added that the finance minister "does not know and cannot distinguish between tax evaders and honest taxpayers, taxing both and resulting in an honest self-employed professional having an income of 10,000 euros paying as of next year 1,000 euros in tax and another honest self-employed professional having an income of 100,000 euros having as of next year 1,500 euros less in tax."
The PASOK spokesman, referring to price increases, accused the government of not being interested in the essence of the problem but in communication.
Papaconstantinou pointed out that "for as long as high prices are in the consumer's pocket, the issue will be conveyed to the media by the journalists whether the government likes it or not. We shall do all that we can to show these problems and to highlight our own proposals on handling high prices."
 GSEE on collective labor agreementsThe General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) in an announcement on Tuesday condemned the behavior of bankers and the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) "to recourse to the courts to essentially cancel the role and the existence of the Organization for Mediation and Arbitration (OMED) as well as the constitutionally safeguarded institution of the Collective Labor Agreement."
"The bankers, dizzy by their super profits and with the silence of the government, have become more audacious and are attacking the rights of the working people who are seeking salary increases and the signing of the Sector Labor Contract in the banks," GSEE said.
GSEE called on the government "to give an order to the administrations of the major banks, which itself appoints, to withdraw their recourses and to start negotiations with OTOE (bank employees' union) for the signing of the Sector Collective Agreement in the banks."
 European Parliament ratifies report by Greek EurodeputyPARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
The European Parliament has approved the promotion, development and economic support of fish farming in the framework of the Integrated Management of Coastal Zones, ratifying on Tuesday a report by Greek New Democracy (ND) party Eurodeputy Ioannis Glavakis on behalf of the Fisheries Committee.
The report underlines the fact that the coastal zones are currently "the most intensively exploited regions and gather as much as 50 percent more population than the average of continental regions."
Glavakis stressed that, according to the European Commission's initial assessment, net profits from the implementation of the policy of Integrated Management in coastal zones range between 130 and 660 million euros annually.
The rapporteur underlined the strategic importance of coastal zones for the European Union's economy, since they constitute a link of vital significance in the chain of transportation and trade, including rich ecosystems and being a basic source of food and raw materials, while also offering citizens possibilities of entertainment.
 Greek inflation to gradually slow, National Bank reportGreek inflation is expected to gradually slow in the third and fourth quarters of 2008, a report by National Bank said on Tuesday. The Greek bank, in a bulletin, said the inflation rate was projected to end at an average annual rate of 4.4 percent this year and slowdown to 3.4 pct in 2009, although the core inflation inflation could rise to 4.2 pct in the fourth quarter of 2008 and to remain at high levels (3.7 pct on average) throughout 2009, reflecting structural weaknesses in the Greek economy and a strong domestic demand that fuelled imported inflationary pressures stemming from higher oil and food prices, internationally.
 Investment Bank top securities firm in Jan-AugInvestment Bank topped the list of most busier securities firms in August and in the eight month period from January to August, accounting for 16.22 pct and 22.26 pct, respectively, of total turnover in the Greek stock market.
It was followed by National P&K (14.0 pct), Eurobank (13.97 pct), Euroxx (11.12 pct), Alpha Finance (7.62 pct), Pireaus (6.86 pct), Kappa Securities (6.22 pct), Eurocorp (4.25 pct), HSBC (3.95 pct) and Proton (2.14 pct) in August, while in the January-August period, Eurobank was second (15.53 pct), followed by National P&K (15.09 pct), Piraeus (7.86 pct), Euroxx (6.35 pct), Alpha Finance (6.25 pct), Kappa Securities (5.0 pct), Proton (3.56 pct), Eurocorp (3.51 pct) and HSBC (2.38 pct).
 Greek stocks end 2.22 pct higherGreek stocks jumped 2.22 percent higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, following a strong rebound in other European markets. The composite index ended at 3,341.41 points with turnover rising to 212.1 million euros, of which 24.7 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Banks (3.80 pct), Constructions (2.86 pct) and Financial Services (2.28 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Commerce (1.61 pct), Technology (0.86 pct) and Food/Beverage (0.53 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 2.81 pct, the FTSE 40 index was 1.28 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index moved 0.23 pct up. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 130 to 89 with another 52 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.15%
Personal & Household: +1.44%
Raw Materials: +1.48%
Travel & Leisure: +0.31%
Food & Beverages: -0.53%
Financial Services: +2.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 17.60
Public Power Corp (PPC): 17.36
HBC Coca Cola: 16.62
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.60
National Bank of Greece: 31.88
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 14.22
Piraeus Bank: 18.68
Titan Cement Company: 24.28
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rebounding slightly to 99.041 million euros. The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.20 pct and the September contract on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.36 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 9,125 contracts worth 83.557 million euros, with 33,799 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was three contracts worth 59,690 euros with 11 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,794 contracts worth 14.933 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,657), followed by Eurobank (525), OTE (647), PPC (280), OPAP (254), Alpha Bank (1,584), Marfin Popular Bank (1,347), Intralot (286) and Hellenic Postbank (1,001).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.695 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.740 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 955 million euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security of the day with a turnover of 1.990 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose to 0.72 pct with the Greek bond yielding 4.91 pct and the German Bund 4.19 pct.
In money markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.33 pct, the six-month rate 5.16 pct and the one-month rate 4.96 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.463
Pound sterling 0.819
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.537
Japanese yen 159.27
Swiss franc 1.622
Norwegian kroner 8.070
Canadian dollar 1.560
Australian dollar 1.753
 Greek 'Doctors of the World' at TskhinvaliMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
A three-member delegation of the Greek organization "Doctors of the World" on Tuesday managed to reach the bombed capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, and agreed with the local authorities for a first program of activities, which it expects to develop in the region in the immediate future.
Doctors Christos Angelidis, Anna Gaigurova and Yiannis Mouzalas, with the assistance of the Association of Greeks of South Ossetia and of its president Yura Aslanidis, crossed by road the border of South Ossetia and reached Tskhinvali and saw the magnitude of the destruction.
"The destruction is enormous and the needs are many," the doctors said.
The Greek "Doctors of the World" is the second international organization, along with the Norwegian Church, which has taken action in the region of South Ossetia.
 Port authorities rescue illegal immigrantsOver 60 foreign nationals have been spotted in one day on rocky islets off Mantamados on the island of Lesvos, abandoned without food and water. Port authorities picked them up, together with a pregnant woman, children and an invalid.
The first 36 human lives were saved on the sea borders between Greece and Turkey. Men, women and many children were plucked from a rock, were they had been left, and taken safely to the city of Mytilene.
They were saved thanks to efforts by the port authorities, in cooperation with the Italian coast guard vessel Diciotti, which has been operating in the straits between Lesvos and Asia Minor since early August, in the framework of cooperation between European Union coast guards on handling the problem of illegal immigration.
Thirty one more foreign nationals were taken to safety from the islet of Barbalias, located in the same island complex, with the assistance of local fishermen who notified the authorities of the foreign nationals' presence on the islets.
 Concert for Greek-Egyptian community at Herod AtticusThe Association of Greek-Egyptians will host a concert under the aegis of the city of Athens on Saturday at the Herod Atticus odeon in support of the Greek-Egyptian Fund for the Needy.
Proceeds from the "Seferis-Cavafy - The Great Meeting" concert, which will feature several noted performers, will go towards eligible Greek-Egyptian families and students.
 Thessaloniki street to be named after Slovakia's capitalA street in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki is to be named after the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, as a gesture to underscore the excellent and traditionally friendly ties between Greece and Slovakia. The decision was made on Tuesday by the city's Public Relations, Monuments and Name-giving Committee, which approved a proposal was put forward by Slovakia's Ambassador to Greece.
The naming ceremony for the street will also be attended by Slovakia's President Ivan Gasparovic when he visits Thessaloniki on November 20, during a planned two-day visit to Greece.
 Fire at Allou Fun Park under controlA fire that broke out at 13:50 on Tuesday in Allou Fun Park, a theme park in the western Athens suburb of Rendi, was reported to be under control soon afterwards.
The fire brigade sent a large force to tackle the blaze, which began in an area of plastic toys, which quickly managed to contain the fire in a specific area. There were no reports that people were endangered as a result of the fire.
 Fair on WednesdayFair weather with northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 13C and 33C. Fair in Athens, with 3-5 beaufort northerly winds and temperatures ranging from 21C to 32C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 30C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceMonday's extraordinary EU summit meeting on the crisis in the Caucasus, and the country's excessive public debt were the main front-page items in Tuesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Elections (early general) only if ruling New Democracy MPs vote against government's reform bill - This was confirmed (indirectly) by the alternate government spokesman (Evangelos Antonaros)".
APOGEVAMTINI: "Fiasco worthy of an Oscar - All of Greece laughed at the (PASOK) charges of adulteration by ND in a vote three months ago", adding that a video-tape presented by PASOK allegedly proving the adulteration showed nothing of the kind and was laughable.
AVGHI: "ND and PASOK losing the undecided votes - The first opinion polls of the autumn".
AVRIANI: "Cock and bull story no. 1 from George (main opposition PASOK leader Papandreou) - The supposed adulteration of the vote (in parliament) on revision of the Constitution (on May 27) - They're preparing new opposition 'bubbles' at Harilaou Trikoupi (PASOK headquarters)".
CHORA: "EU sends warning to Russia, but not sanctions", adding that Europe preferred the Russian investments rathern than lending backing to the furtune-hunger Saakashvili (president of Georgia), thus proving the defeat of the foreign policy of the US, which creates more scepticists than allies.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: " 'Deep throat' in ND behind the burning video - PASOK claims adulteration in the vote on the constitutional revision - Government down-playing the issue".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Parody vote - Shocking video released by PASOK, with ND deputies as the protagonists".
ETHNOS: "Censorship over the price hikes - Outlandish governmental directive for control over the mass media".
KATHIMERINI: "Europe opts for 'real politik' towards Russia, warns that it will suspend negotations with Moscow".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Everyone must take part in the protest rally on September 4 at Omonoia Square".
TA NEA: "Adulteration-gate with video evidence".
TO VIMA: "The mystery of the ballot box - The video and the crumpled ballots - PASOK charges adulteration during the vote on the Constitutional revision - What the government and the other parties say".
VRADYNI: "Blow against cancer - Revolutionary discovery by Greek scientist in US".
 Advisors meet for dinner ahead of direct talks on CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Just hours before President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat begin direct negotiations to reunite Cyprus, their advisors met on Tuesday evening over dinner, in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer.
In New York, Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokeswoman of the UN Secretary General, asked if there was anything on the direct talks on Cyprus, said ''the Secretary General has warmly welcomed the launch of the talks and that is all we have for now.''
Speaking before the dinner, Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou said ''everything is ready for tomorrow's launch of the direct talks'' and expressed the view that Wednesday's meeting would be short, since no negotiations will take place.
Asked what would be discussed during the dinner, Iacovou said ''we will have dinner, exchange some views on tomorrow's procedure,'' adding that the details have already been agreed on.
To a question if the leaders of the two communities would be entering issues of substance on Wednesday, Iacovou said the meeting would be the official launch of the talks and that negotiations would begin during their next meeting on September 11.
He furthermore said that Wednesday's meeting would be short and that the agenda has already been agreed on.
Downer said he believed everything was ready for Wednesday's meeting and noted that ''we are looking forward to it very much.''
Referring to the dinner, he said ''we are just going to have a general discussion,'' adding that he has not been in Cyprus for a few weeks.
''During August I have been back in Australia, and I am looking forward to sitting down and having a nice dinner and a bit of a chat. We are very much all of us looking forward to tomorrow,'' he said.
To a question about the procedure of the direct negotiations, Downer said ''you will see how it all works when the time comes, it will be pretty straightforward.''
Ozdil Nami, advisor to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, said he believed Wednesday ''will be an historic day.''
''We hope it is going to be a good beginning,'' he said and expressed hope that ''it is the beginning for the end of the Cyprus issue.''
Nami said ''we are looking forward to it, we have worked hard to reach that day so we will make it a good one, I hope.''
Asked if they would be discussing the issue of Limnitis at the dinner, Nami said ''we are here to have a pleasant dinner and of course from now on everything will be discussed, all issues will be discussed, there will be no stone unturned.''
''This is a new process and we are here to help each other, so it is within that positive spirit that we are beginning this new round of negotiations,'' he added.
He noted that ''all the details have been discussed'' and that the dinner ''is just a social get-together.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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