|Friday, 23 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 24 September 2008 Issue No: 3004
 Napolitano: Cyprus solution key to Turkey's EU progressSolving the Cyprus problem was a precondition for continuing accession negotiations between the European Union and Turkey, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said in Athens on Tuesday. He made the statement after talks with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
"We agreed that we must ensure the continuance of the negotiations process for Turkey's accession to the EU. Of course, a precondition for continuing these negotiations is a solution to the Cyprus problem, a thorny problem that has for years now troubled Greece and the EU," Napolitano said.
The Italian president is in Athens on an official visit, during which he will have a series of meetings with Greece's state and political leadership. In addition to his meeting with Papoulias, Napolitano earlier met main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou and is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis over a working lunch on Wednesday.
In joint statements after their meeting, the Greek president said that their talks had focused on the importance of constantly upgrading Greek-Italian relations on all levels.
"You can appreciate the symbolism and importance of such a gesture," Papoulias underlined, adding that it would help boost cultural and educational ties between Greece and Italy even more.
"In this framework, we hope to soon operate a Greek Archaeological School in Rome," he added.
Papoulias said they had discussed regional issues, during which he had stressed the Cyprus problem and the fact "that it is unacceptable for a European capital, Nicosia, to continue to be divided by a wall." The Greek president also underlined that all countries wishing to join EuroAtlantic structures should respect international law and observe good neighbour relations.
The talks between the two presidents additionally touched on the situation in the Balkans, the European perspective of Western Balkans and the ratification of the Lisbon Reform Treaty.
Napolitano said his visit had confirmed the very satisfactory level of relations with Greece and the prospects for improving these yet further through initiatives planned during his visit, while emphasising the importance of the energy collaboration between the two countries.
The Italian president noted the general agreement of Greek and Italian positions on political and regional issues also, such as continuing the process of European unification and the need to ratify the Lisbon Treaty before the next EuroParliament elections.
Napolitano said that ratification of the Treaty was vital in order to allow further EU enlargement, while both Greece and Italy were in favour of an enlargement that would take in the Western Balkans.
Referring to the crisis in the Georgia, meanwhile, the Italian president said the Greek and Italian viewpoint at the EU was unanimous.
"In this instance, the European Council succeeded in expressing a balanced common stance in an adequate and effective way. I assure you that the commitments and the efforts of both Italy and Greece will multiply so that the EU will be in a position from here on to express itself with a common voice in the framework of international affairs," he added.
 President Papoulias meets with visiting Italian counterpart NapolitanoPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday met with his visiting Italian counterpart Giorgio Napolitano.
Papoulias particularly thanked Napolitano for the gesture of the return of a fragment of the Parthenon frieze from Palermo, which he said acquired particular gravity at a time when Greece was seeking the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.
He further noted the aspirations for the operation of a Greek Archaeological School in Rome.
Papoulias also noted that he and Napolitano reviewed developments in the Cyprus issue and the Balkans, adding that they had both stressed the need for completion of the process of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty ahead of the European Parliament elections in 2009.
Napolitano, in turn, recalled that he had met with Papoulias a year ago on the island of Cephallonia, where the two Presidents attended a memorial in honor of those who fought against Nazism, and stressed the excellent relations between the two countries that go far back in history.
The Italian President further expressed his certainty of further development of bilateral relations, and referred particularly to the joint activities of the two countries in the field of energy, while also stressing the need for immediate ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
Napolitano also spoke of the need for the European Union to acquire a single voice, noting that completion of the Lisbon process was necessary before the EU went ahead with a new enlargement.
 Formal dinner for visiting Italian President NapolitanoPresident Karolos Papoulias, addressing a formal dinner he gave on Tuesday night in honour of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who is currently on an official visit to Greece, said that it is a top priority for all, and of the European Union in particular, to heed the anxieties of citizens.
President Papoulias stressed that together with Italy "we are sharing the same concerns regarding international security. With respect for international law and order as a fundamental principle, we defend the observation of the rules of International Law and respect for human rights and for the principles of democracy."
The president further said that "we share the same interest in developments in the area of Southeastern Europe. The Balkans have now entered a new era. Greece is making great efforts for a new impetus to be given to the European perspective of the Western Balkans and we hope that the preconditions for its realisation will be completed very soon."
President Papoulias also referred to the issue of Cyprus, saying that "I consider it unacceptable that the Turkish military occupation is continuing in Cyprus, a member-state of the European Union. That there should still be a European capital, Nicosia, divided with walls. I always believe in a just, viable and workable solution to the problem of Cyprus which will allow Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to live harmoniously in a European environment of security, growth and prosperity."
 'Nostoi' exhibition to be inaugurated by Greek, Italian presidentsHellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias and his Italian counterpart Giorgio Napolitano will on Wednesday inaugurate the "Nostoi" Exhibition at the new Acropolis Museum in Athens. The two presidents will also attend the placement of a Parthenon fragment, returned to Greece in the form of a long-term loan, on the Acropolis.
The fragment, which was donated by Lord Elgin, has been in Italy since 1816 and comes from Salinas Regional Museum of Archeology in Palermo, Sicily. Other two Parthenon fragments are expected to be returned shortly by the Vatican.
In a press conference Tuesday on the occasion of the exhibition inauguration, Culture Minister Michalis Liapis stated that the New Museum of the Acropolis is the museum of the great "nostos" (plural "nostoi", meaning homecoming in Greek).
The "Nostoi" Exhibition will be open for the public for three months featuring 74 repatriated antiquities, the products of illicit excavations, kept until recently in museums in the United States.
"The exhibition is the tangible result of the joint effort between Italy and Greece on cultural heritage issues," Liapis stressed.
 Parliament President Sioufas meets Italian President NapolitanoParliament President Dimitris Sioufas met in Parliament on Tuesday with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who is on an official visit to Greece.
The two men referred to the ties of friendship and cooperation between Greece and Italy, particularly in the energy sector.
Sioufas referred to the traditional friendship between the two peoples and to the constructive cooperation in all sectors. Furthermore, he referred to the close cooperation he had with the Italian government, in his previous capacity as development minister, for the promotion of cooperation in industry and small and medium-sized enterprises.
He underlined the signing of the bilateral inter-state agreement for the construction of the under sea natural gas pipeline, the signing of the trilateral agreement between Turkey, Greece and Italy for the promotion of the southern European corridor for the transport of natural gas and to the joint proposal for the founding of the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Community.
On his part, Napolitano hailed Sioufas' role, when he was development minister, in the promotion of bilateral economic relations and in particular to the two countries' energy cooperation which he described as important for the broader region and all of Europe.
 FM Bakoyannis holds series of meetings at UNNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis continued her contacts here on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the 63rd General Assembly session of the UN.
In the morning (local time) she participated in a meeting of the OSCE Quintet. Her participation this year bears the mark of the upcoming assumption by Greece of the OSCE's Presidency in 2009.
Following her recent meetings with her counterparts from the countries of Central Asia, Bakoyannis is discussing, among other things, the priorities of the Greek Presidency in her contacts with counterparts of hers from other countries.
Bakoyannis also listened, from the Greek Permanent UN Delegation's bench, to addresses by U.S. and French Presidents George Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy respectively.
She also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, while she will be participating in the meeting between European Union foreign ministers and their Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov as well.
At 10 at night (Greek time), Bakoyannis will be meeting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and then she will be going to the offices of the Archdiocese of America for a meeting with the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church Demetrios.
The foreign minister's programme on Tuesday will be completed with her participation in the traditional dinner given by the UN Secretary General for the heads of the foreign delegations participating in the General Assembly's work.
 FM to meet with Rice on Thursday on sidelines of UN General AssemblyForeign minister Dora Bakoyannis will meet with US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in New York on Thursday morning (NY time), on the sidelines of the 63rd UN General Assembly, at the request of the Greek side.
The meeting will take place the day after the UN secretary general's special mediator on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz, holds separate talks in New York with Bakoyannis and FYROM president Branko Crvenkovski.
The Bakoyannis-Rice meeting is expected to focus on the FYROM issue, prospects for a Cyprus solution, developments in the Caucasus, and other issues of mutual interest.
The US side has asked for meeting between Bakoyannis and the third-ranking official in the State Department, Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns, the time of which has not yet been set.
Later on Thursday, Bakoyannis will take part in the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Quintet -- comprising Greece, Spain, Finland, Kazakhstan and Lithuania -- which is expected to focus on the Caucasus issue.
Bakoyannis will also attend the UN addresses by the organization's secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the presidents of the US, Brazil and France, while she will also meet with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.
She will further take part in a meeting between the EU '27' and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, which are also expected to focus on developments in the Caucasus, while she will further meet with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias for coordination of efforts on the Cyprus issue.
The Greek foreign minister will also be received by Archbishop Demetrios of America, and will attend the traditional dinner hosted by the UN secretary general in honor of the heads of delegations attending the annual General Assembly.
 Nimetz to hold separate meetings with Greek FM, FYROM presidentThe UN secretary general's special mediator on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz, will hold separate talks in New York on Wednesday with Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and FYROM president Branko Crvenkovski, who are in New York for the 63rd UN General Assembly.
Nimetz will meet with Bakoyannis on Wednesday morning (NY time), and with Crvenkovski in the afternoon.
 Inner cabinet meeting discussed int'l credit crisisA Greek inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, discussed developments in an international credit crisis and its impact on the Greek economy in general.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said he briefed the PM and cabinet ministers over significant developments in the United States and in particular an unprecedented state intervention to ensure confidence in the international credit system. Alogoskoufis said that the impact on Europe was far less and stressed that what was important was to contribute in maintaining confidence in the credit system, something that central banks and state authorities were doing very well.
In Greece, problems are very limited, Alogoskoufis said, adding that the Greek credit system was stable. The government's concern was to ensure the minimum possible impact on the real economy and to continue economic growth, higher employment and dealing with social problems.
The Greek minister noted that efforts must continue to contain the impact on domestic inflation, a development of high importance to households and citizens.
 Greece resists pressures from int'l crisis, FinMin saysGreece seems to resist pressures from an international credit crisis, with economic growth at 3.5 pct in the first half of 2008, but there is no room for complacency, instead we must move on with reforms and structural changes, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told a conference on Banking on Greece on Tuesday.
In his speech, the Greek minister acknowledged that the Greek banking system would be affected by the international credit crisis, but reassured that the Greek banking system is and will remain safe.
Commenting on the crisis, Alogoskoufis said that despite liquidity injections by central banks, negative impressions have intensified in the last few months regarding higher interest rates, higher bond prices, higher yield margins and the closure of markets. He stressed that new pressures in interbank money markets further pushed interest rates higher, burdening households.
Alogoskoufis said the crisis coincided with higher international inflation trends. The impact on the EU economy came earlier that we thought, he added, and was stronger, resulting to additional pressures on both state and household debt.
 PASOK official criticises FinMinMain opposition PASOK economy rapporteur Louka Katseli on Tuesday accused the government and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis of "dealing with the international credit crisis as mere spectators."
Criticising statements made earlier in the day by Alogoskoufis, Katseli asked the minister what measures competent authorities, such as the Capital Market Committee, have taken in the past five years for the reinforcement of transparency of the Athens Stock Exchange's (ASE) listed companies and banks, charging that "carelessness and lack of pre-emptive policies are the only 'achievements' of Mr. Alogoskoufis and his government."
 Defence Minister statements after inner cabinet"Well-intentioned self-criticism should not be misinterpreted," stressed Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis after the inner cabinet meeting Tuesday, clarifying comments he had made on Monday. During a televised interview, Meimarakis had noted that he, as any other government minister, was not "irreplaceable".
"Pinpointing shortcomings with the purpose of correcting them is within the scope of a government minister's responsibilities," he said, adding that any misinterpretations can lead to inaction.
The defence minister also underlined that at present there is no question of a government reshuffle stressing, however, that there are pending issues that need to be discussed.
"The prime minister will make the decisions, but until then proposals will have to be tabled," he said.
 PASOK spokesman on government Inner CabinetMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, referring to Tuesday's Inner Cabinet meeting and Monday's visit to the Bank of Greece by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, said that the prime minister "is placing communication before politics".
The spokesman charged that it is "the second day without any news about the prime minister's activities, in which we did not find something that will justify the government's presence over the last two days."
Papaconstantinou further said "according to what is being said these days, one would expect some statement about the fund against poverty or about people receiving loans, but nothing was heard since the government is continuing not to produce policy."
Also referring to a statement by the Finance and Economy minister that the government's economic policy has been fruitful since 2004, Papaconstantinou said that since 2004 and until now "there has not been even one economic indicator that is better than in 2004," when the ruling New Democracy (ND) came to office.
 Roussopoulos replies to PASOK spokesmanGovernment spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, replying Tuesday to statements by main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, accused PASOK of "populism and nihilism".
"Who is anxiously trying to replace real politics with void talk of promises, populism and nihilism is known very well by the citizens. Against the known empty words of PASOK, the government is continuing steadfastly along the path of work and of results, along the path of real politics that is being dictated by the Greek women and men," Roussopulos said.
 PM fires advisor following court convictionYiannis Kefalogiannis will no longer offer services as an informal advisor to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, the premier's office said in an announcement on Tuesday. The announcement came after Kefalogiannis' conviction and sentencing by a first-instance court to a one-year jail sentence, suspended for three years.
The former political aide has lodged an appeal against the ruling passed by a Rethymno court on Monday, which found him guilty of perjury and attempting to harbour a criminal. The charges against Kefalogiannis said that he had asked a police officer to change his testimony in favour of a defendant in a drug trafficking case.
 Papandreou: PASOK regains its identityMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou met on Tuesday with visiting president of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano.
Addressing a meeting of the party's Political Council on Monday night, Papandreou stressed that "it is not a time to celebrate, we have much work ahead of us", referring to recent opinion polls indicating a PASOK lead over ruling New Democracy, adding that his address at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) had been positively met, which means that "the people are now listening to what PASOK has to say, which in turn increases the party's responsibilties".
Papandreou praised the Political Council's contribution to PASOK's successful presence at the TIF, while he also set out the party's priorities, stressing that the target was to "bring back politics to PASOK".
He also said that, in that direction, he considered it important that the Panhellenic Socialist Movement "clarified, early on, who we are, with whom we are, who are on the other side, and what our fundamental priorities are".
"PASOK is regaining its identity, albeit gradually, that of a Movement of the people, and not of governmentism," Papandreou concluded.
 PASOK leader departs for New YorkMain opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou departed on Tuesday afternoon for New York where he is scheduled to chair a meeting of the SI's presidium on the sidelines of the 63rd UN General Assembly, party spokesman George Papaconstantinou announced.
The PASOK leader will also attend the Clinton Foundation conference against poverty and meet with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, Papaconstantinou added.
At the UN headquarters, Papandreou will have a number of meetings with Socialist leaders and address an event for Greek-Americans on Saturday organized by the "Friends of PASOK" of America in Astoria.
According to an ANA dispatch from New York, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Papandreou will attend on Sunday a reception hosted by the Cypriot Federation of America and the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) in honor of President Christofias, who will address an audience on the course of the negotiations on the Cyprus issue and the positions of the Greek side.
 PASOK Youth Movement Festival in ThessalonikiThe "Green Festival" organised by main opposition PASOK's Youth Movement will take place in Thessaloniki on September 26-27, in the district of Kalamaria, after a 20-year-long interruption.
The events will open with a speech by PASOK National Council Secretary Yannis Ragousis.
 Coalition's Political Secretariat convenesThe Political Secretariat of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) convened on Tuesday and discussed issues concerning institutional matters of local administration and the meeting of the party's Central Political Committee on September 26-27.
As regards the first issue, the Political Secretariat stressed in a relevant announcement that the country needed "a democratic and administrative reforming of the state and of local administration that will redistribute roles, funds and duties for local administration with the aim of decreasing social and regional inequalities."
 SYN leader Tsipras backs Olympic Airlines employeesCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party president Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday gave his backing to Olympic Airlines (OA) employees opposing a government's plan for ailing Olympic Airlines, when he visited "Eleftherios Venizelos" Athens International Airport.
He took part in the gathering of the OA staff at the offices of the air carrier's board and their symbolic seizure of the airport's runway.
"We are submitting proposals of common action of the opposition and we receive the answer that the proposals are not realistic," Tsipras told the staff.
He added that "therefore, we clearly say that realism is to have a state air carrier and for eight thousand working people not to end up in the waste paper basket."
 US embassy event honors Greek-American vet, Greek officersThe US embassy in Athens on Tuesday honored a Greek-American WWII veteran and three Greek military officers during an event held at the US ambassador's residence on the occasion of US Armed Forces Day.
Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis was in attendance for the event, as US ambassador to Athens Daniel Speckhard emphasised that for nearly a century America has never taken to the battlefield without its friends and allies in defence of freedom and liberty.
During the ceremony, a Bronze Star was posthumously awarded to Sgt. John E. Tsouderos, a veteran of the WWII-era 122nd infantry battalion, better known as the US Army's "Greek Battalion".
Tsouderos, an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) volunteer during the Second World War, parachuted into occupied central Greece in June 1944 and organised guerrilla operations against the Nazi forces in the Lamia area.
Additionally, Gen. Georgios Bardamaskos (ret.) received a Presidential Legion of Merit citation, as did Hellenic Air Force Col. Aris Fitilis and retired Brig.-Gen. Athanasios Papanikolaou, as the latter two served as Greece's air force attaches in the Greek embassy in Washington, D.C., respectively.
 Kassimis signs agreement with Jordan for two Orthodox churchesMADABA (ANA-MPA - S. Aravopoulou)
Greece will contribute roughly half a million euros toward two projects being carried out by Jordan at Madaba, the site of two major shrines of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, under a memorandum of cooperation signed here on Tuesday by Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis.
The other signatories of the agreement included Jordan's Planning and International Cooperation Minister Suhair Al-Ali, Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos and the head of the U.S. programme for the development of Jordan's tourism.
The programme involves the Madaba archaeological park and calls for the collaboration of the Greek foreign ministry, Jordan's antiquities service, the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the Institute of Mosaic Art and Restoration of Madaba and USAID.
The two projects concern two Greek Orthodox churches containing exquisite Byzantine-era mosaics that are to undergo restoration and facilities that will allow more visitors to view the antiquities.
 European Creativity and Innovation YearBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Eurodeputies decided on Tuesday to proclaim 2009 as the "European Year of Creativity and Innovation," adopting with a large majority (602 votes in favour, 10 against and 20 abstentions) a report by Culture and Education Committee President and main opposition PASOK party Eurodeputy Katerina Batzeli.
Creativity through lifelong learning is "the motive force for innovation and the main factor for the development of personal, labour, business and social abilities," the rapporteur said in her explanatory report.
She underlined that the overall target for 2009 is "the promotion of creativity for all, and for all stages of lifelong learning, from working life and until after pensioning, as well as for all forms of learning as well."
 Black Sea Bank raises US$ 350 million in fresh capitalThe Black Sea Trade and Development Bank on Tuesday announced the successful completion of a syndicated loan, worth 325 million US dollars - plus another 20 million euros - with a group of 31 international banks.
Lead arrangers of the loan, which was 261 pct oversubscribed, were Bayerische Landesbank, Emirates NBD PJSC, Intesa SanPaolo SpA and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe.
The development bank, in a statement, expressed its satisfaction over the impressive oversubscription of the loan despite difficult conditions in international capital markets.
"It is the largest capital ever raised by us and we are happy to see the increasing support offered by the European credit market for our activities in the Black Sea region," the bank's chairman said.
The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank was founded by Greece, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Romania.
 BoG: Greek banks must contain bad loansGreek commercial banks should drastically contain their non-performing loans, Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos stressed on Tuesday.
Addressing a conference in Athens focusing on the Greek banking sector, organised by Financial Times, Provopoulos stressed that the central bank would force all commercial banks to comply with this policy, while he warned that banks would be obliged to move on with equity capital increases if they failed to do so.
Commenting on the impact of an international credit crisis on the domestic banking system, Provopoulos sounded optimistic, saying "it remains basically stable and its fundamentals are satisfactory".
The Greek central banker added that banks' liquidity were at satisfactory levels, although the cost of raising new capital to finance credit expansion has risen.
Provopoulos said Greece has suffered less compared with other countries from an international credit crisis so far, attributing this development to the minimal exposure of domestic banks to "toxic" investments. He said the crisis was the most difficult of the last decades, with shrinking growth and accelerating inflation.
Provopoulos urged for the coordination not only of central banks but of all supervisory agencies to overcome the ongoing international credit crisis. He noted that state interventions so far have helped to "avoid the worse".
 Economic cooperation agreement signed between Greece and S. KoreaDeputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas and South Korean Ambassador Young-han Bae on Tuesday signed an economic cooperation agreement between Greece and South Korea for the strengthening of the already high and broad economic relations between the two countries.
The agreement foresees "the strengthening of bilateral relations, particularly in the sectors of industry, ship building, agriculture, transport and tourism."
Greece is one of the best customers of Korean ship building industry which during the period 2003-2006, has received 500 orders for ships of Greek interests, while during the period 2003-2005, 150 Greek ships were built, worth 1.2 billion $ dollars per year.
 Thessaloniki a center of attraction for cruise shipsThe northern Greek coastal city of Thessaloniki has become the center of attraction for cruise ships as international cruise companies are in search of new seaport destinations. During the past few years, an increasing number of large ships have docked at its port, with thousands of tourists flooding its streets. It is indicative that in the past two years, cruise ship arrivals in the summer months recorded a 150 percent rise.
According to the local Maritime Travel Agency Owners Association, a total of 12 cruise ships had visited the port of Thessaloniki in the months of May through August 2006, compared to 23 during the same period in 2007 and 29 by August 31 this year.
Based on agreements signed for the next summer season, many large ships will dock at the port of Thessaloniki up to three times each, among them, a cruise ship with British archaeologists who will attend scientific lectures on board.
The huge "Navigator of the Seas" cruise ship of the Royal Caribbean International is currently visiting Thessaloniki within the framework of a week-long cruise that started in Barcelona and arrived in the city after stopping over at Messina, Italy en route to Istanbul. Its hundreds of passengers from 32 countries toured Thessaloniki, visiting its archaeological museums and shopping streets, while many of them opted for a visit to the archaeological site of Vergina before departing later in the afternoon for Turkey.
The 140,000-ton, 1,020-ft-long "Navigator of the Seas" has a 1,500-member-crew and can carry up to 3,500 passengers.
 Greece scores low in 2008 transparency reportGreece was once again among low scorers in the 2008 global corruption perceptions index (CPI) report released by Transparency International on Tuesday, scoring just 4.7 on a scale from one to 10. This was a marginal improvement on its 2007 score of 4.6 but still below the "pass mark" of 5.
According to the international watchdog, this "indicates that the effort for improvement must continue at a more intensive pace".
Countries with the highest CPI score in 2008 were Denmark (9.3), New Zealand (9.3), Sweden (9.3) and Singapore (9.2). Lowest scorers were Haiti (1.4), Iraq (1.3), Myanmar (1.3) and Somalia (1.0).
Presenting the report in Athens, Costas Bakouris and Aris Syggros asserted that an increase in Greece's score by just one point, from 4.7 to 5.7, would lead to an increase in capital inflows of 1.2 billion euros and increase incomes by 4 percent.
They said that the problem in Greece lay in a failure to uphold the laws, as they were in other European countries.
"As long as citizens continue to receive the message that the laws do not apply or only apply selectively, so will the repercussions become more severe over time," they said.
Significant progress on transparency issues was made by Turkey in the past year, which raised its score to 4.6 from 3.1, largely as a result of perceived improvements in Turkish justice.
Among European Union countries, nine have scores greater than seven, 12 have scores ranging from five to 7.3 and just six have scores of less than five.
Commenting on the report, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos noted the small improvement in Greece's score and said it proved that the measures for tighter control and bringing problems to light had yielded measurable results. He also pointed to deteriorating scores seen in other big European countries.
The global watchdog's report had come to prove that the fallacy of claims made by main opposition PASOK's leader George Papandreou concerning rampant corruption in Greece, Roussopoulos added.
 Romanian PM receives OTE, DT headsBUCHAREST (ANA-MPA / I. Rantou)
Romanian Prime Minister Colin Popescu-Tariceanu on Tuesday met with representatives of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (ΟΤΕ) and Deutsche Telekom to discuss developments in the wake of strategic partnership agreement signed between the two telecoms groups in May.
OTE chairman and chief executive Panagis Vourloumis and Rene Obermann, chairman of DT, represented the two groups.
Hellenic Telecoms owns 54.1 pct of Romania's Romtelecom with the remaining owned by the Romanian state.
Tariceanu said foreign investments in Romania have contributed to growth and the deregulation of telecoms sector in the country, while the two foreign groups noted that the Romanian government has encouraged them to proceed with new investments.
 Capital Markets Commission announces measures to control short selling activityGreece's Capital Markets Commission on Tuesday announced the introduction of temporary measures to control short selling activity in the Athens Stock Exchange, taking in view the extraordinary conditions prevailing in international markets.
The Greek capital markets' watchdog said that ASE members conducting short selling transactions must published daily detailed figures over their transactions, while investors with short position on a stock share, exceeding 0.10 pct of outstanding shares of the listed company, must also publish their move within 24 hours. The measures will be valid from September 24 until December 31, 2008.
 Numerous trucks stuck at Kipos customs post due to customs staff strikeTrucks have been immobilized at the Kipos customs post, Evros, northern Greece, due to the strike by customs staff. The trucks have formed a two-kilometer long chain.
On the Greek side of the border, up to now 165 trucks have been blocked, while on the side of Turkey's Ypsala customs, there are about 300 trucks stopped.
On Tuesday, at the Kipos customs, which is operating with a security staff, only two trucks were allowed to pass and which transferred animals (horses and frogs).
Drivers of private cars have also been affected by the strike, waiting 1.5 to two hours to pass the customs.
 RTL buys 66.6% in Alpha Media Group form 125.7 mln eurosRTL, the German TV group, on Tuesday announced the purchase of a 66.6 percent equity stake in Alpha Media Group, a Greek radio-television broadcaster, for 125.7 million euros.
RTL, the largest commercial television network in Europe, in a statement, said the agreement was signed with Dimitris Kontominas, the owner of what it called the third largest television enterprise in Greece. RTL also said needs approval from Greek competition authorities. The agreement is expected to be completed by November at the latest.
Under the deal, RTL will obtain five of the nine sets on the board of directors, with the right of appointing the chief executive and the managing director, while Kontominas will appoint the chairman of the board.
RTL said the Greek television ad market grew to more than 500 million euros in 2007, up from 300 million euros in 2001 and was expected to grow by 6-7 pct in the medium term. The German television network also said Alpha Media group's annual sales totaled around 100 million euros.
RTL is a member of Bertelsmann Group and has established activities in 10 European countries.
 Intralot begins lottery operations in BrazilIntralot on Tuesday announced its expansion in the Brazilian lottery market, with its subsidiary Intralot do Brazil taking over the lottery services of Rio de Janeiro state, Loterj.
Intralot will offer a combination of KINO and instant lottery services, beginning from late 2008 through an initial sales network of 1,000 on-line units. Intralot is expected to offer a wider range of games in a later stage.
Loterj operates for more than 60 years in Rio de Janeiro state and it is the leader among state lotteries in Brazil. The state has a population of more than 15.5 million, its gross domestic product totals 142.2 billion US dollars and per capita gross domestic products surpasses 9,200 US dollars, the highest in Brazil.
 Tram strike on ThursdayAthens trams will stop running for four hours on Thursday, between noon and 16:00 in the afternoon, during strike called by the tram drivers' union over financial and other demands.
The management of Tram S.A. announced that trams will gradually start to be withdrawn from service beginning at 10:30 and that services were expected to be back to normal from 17:15 onwards.
 Greek stocks plunged 3.55% on TuesdayGreek stocks plunged in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, hit by a negative climate in international markets. The composite index ended 3.55 pct lower at 3,062.72 points, with turnover at 273.2 million euros, of which 16.5 million euros were block trades.
All sectors moved lower, with the Raw Materials (5.40 pct), Banks (5.21 pct), Utilities (4.33 pct), Personal/Home Products (4.02 pct), Oil (3.15 pct) and Food/Beverage (3.07 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 4.06 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.67 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell 1.99 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 204 to 35 with another 35 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -3.15%
Personal & Household: -4.02%
Raw Materials: -5.40%
Travel & Leisure: -1.03%
Food & Beverages: -3.07%
Financial Services: -1.86%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 15.16
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.86
HBC Coca Cola: 16.68
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.94
National Bank of Greece: 29.78
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 13.20
Piraeus Bank: 16.20
Titan Cement Company: 25.80
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 158.119 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.15 pct and the October contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.97 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 16,624 contracts worth 139.602 million euros, with 29,737 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was four contracts worth 71,575 euros with six open positions. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,430 contracts worth 17.047 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,833), followed by Marfin Investment Group (347), OTE (881), PPC (1,552), Alpha Bank (1,010), Marfin Popular Bank (900), Mytilineos (841) and Cyprus Bank (405).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.210 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 645 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 585 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 285 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.75 percent with the Greek bond yielding 4.99 pct and the German Bund 4.24 pct.
In money markets, interest rates moved upward. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.33 pct, the six-month rate 5.25 pct, the three-month rate 5.05 pct and the one-month rate 4.84 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.484
Pound sterling 0.801
Danish kroner 7.519
Swedish kroner 9.669
Japanese yen 156.66
Swiss franc 1.605
Norwegian kroner 8.280
Canadian dollar 1.535
Australian dollar 1.765
 President meets with Greek Culture Foundation headHellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias received the Greek Culture Foundation President Prof. Giorgos Babiniotis at the Presidential Mansion on Tuesday. Babiniotis briefed him on the institute's newest branches, scheduled to open soon in Bucharest, Belgrade, Sofia and Tirana. Prof. Babiniotis commented that their establishment is "a major cultural event, the result of hard work" and invited President Papoulias to inaugurate one of them.
He also referred to the foundation's offices in Trieste and Melbourne, adding that special events promoting the Greek culture are being held in different parts of the world.
 Maria Buti Ferret and Athineos Filippou declared AUTH Medical School honorary professorsTwo distinguished scientists, Prof. of Pathology and Hepatology Maria Buti Ferret, of the University of Barcelona's School of Medicine and Prof. of Pharmacology Athineos Filippou, Medical School, University of Innsbruck, were declared honorary professors of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Medical School in a special ceremony Monday.
Prof. Buti, who is focusing on viral hepatitis and liver disease, addressed an event on the prevention and management of Hepatitis B Virus drug resistance, while Prof. Filippou referred to the push-pull method allowing for the neuro-chemical mapping of the brain.
 Extra public transport laid on for environment concertAthens public transport bodies on Tuesday announced that they would be extending their time tables and adding extra routes for people wishing to attend a concert for the environment organised at the Kallimarmaron Stadium by the broadcasting network SKAI, the Goulandris Natural History Museum and the radio station Melodia 99.2
Specifically, the 550 bus will continue running until 2:00 on Wednesday, with frequent buses after midnight, the metro until 1:00 when last trains will leave Syntagma in every direction, while line 3 trains will go as far as Doukissis Plakentias station.
The number 2 and 4 trolley buses will lay on extra routes and extend their operation until 1:30 after midnight, running parallel to the number 11 night bus from Ano Patissia to Nea Elvetia.
Finally, the tram will extend its operation until 2:00 after midight, with the last tram for the Peace and Friendship Stadium leaving at 1:30.
 Immigrant trafficking ring dismantledAn organised ring of immigrant traffickers was dismantled on Tuesday, following the discovery of a group of 29 Kurd illegal immigrants stowed in a secret compartment of a coal truck by police at Elefsina road tolls on Monday.
The investigation led the Attica Foreigners' Department to a group of traffickers that smuggled illegal immigrants into Greece from Turkey and then forwarded them on to Italy via the port of Patras. From Italy, they were then sent to various other countries in Europe.
The ring received 5,500-6,000 euros from each illegal immigrant.
Police on Monday found the 29 illegal immigrants when the truck was intercepted at the Elefsina toll posts, arresting the Greek driver of the truck and two Iraqis in a private car that drover in front of the truck and acted as look outs.
Soon afterward, police also located a second truck belonging to the ring in eastern Attica, carrying another 24 illegal immigrants and arrested three more traffickers.
Five foreign nationals and one Greek are now in custody, while another two Greeks and one foreigner wanted in connection with the affair are being sought.
Police said the 29 immigrants hidden in the coal truck had been at risk of suffocation and were forced to wear masks over their face because of the coal dust and because the makeshift air ducts in the compartment did not provide enough oxygen.
They also confiscated a truck, two vans and a private car that the traffickers had been driving. All six men arrested will be led before a public prosecutor, along with the 53 illegal immigrants who will most likely be deported.
 Extreme sports coach school planned by governmentIn an attempt to impose some order on activities involving extreme sports, Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos and Deputy Sports Minister Yiannis Ioannidis on Tuesday met to discuss the foundation of a National School of Extreme Sports.
They said the aim of such a school will be to train and certify instructors for such sports in order to avoid the occurrence of fatal accidents, such as those seen over the past year. The ministry is also planning to announce a series of initiatives concerning scuba-diving for tourists.
 Cloud, local showers on WednesdayCloudy and showery weather and southeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 25C. Cloudy and showery weather in Athens, with 4 beaufort southeasterly winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 25C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 19C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePlanned measures to fortify the economy and the weaker households and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' meeting Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos, the global fiscal and credit crisis, the Vatopedi monastery scandal and the foundation of a subsidiary fund for one million professional dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The new subsidiary fund is ready".
APOGEVMATINI: "Karamanlis response - Prime Minister took the game (the financial crisis) into his own hands".
AVGHI: "Government conceals the truth about the financial crisis".
AVRIANI: "Karamanlis takes the lead - He ensures financial stability and fortifies the banking system".
CHORA: "Abbot Efraim (Vatopedi monastery) smuggled 41 million euros out of the country - Karamanlis orders ' block' on the money deriving from the monastery's real estate sales".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "The poll results made the prime minister declare the government in a state of emergency".
ELEFTHEROS: "Mr. Karamanlis, seize the opportunity - This is not the time for the applauders and 'court flatterers'."
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Fiscal crisis makes the Economy Ministry take initiatives to protect 350,000 households unable to repay their debts".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Archaeological sites given as gift to Efraim, Abbot of Vatopedi Monastery, without the knowledge of the Archaeological Service".
ESTIA: "Thessaloniki International Fair is a guillotine for politicians".
ETHNOS: "PASOK accuses the Foreign Ministry of secret bargaining for the sale of national aircarrier Olympic Airways to Qatar Airways".
KATHIMERINI: "Oil , US dollar and Wall Street in a whirl due to (US Treasury Secretary Henry) Paulson Plan".
LOGOS: "Prime minister's first moves aimed to reverse the political climate".
NIKI: "Karamanlis to announce new measures - The government wants to 'annihilate' us".
RIZOSPASTIS : "Huge turnout at the political rally of (Communist Party of Greece youth organisation) KNE Festival".
TA NEA: "Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis 'shoots' at Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos- The clash in ND at the extremes".
TO VIMA: "Operation 'Return to the fold" - The turmoil in ruling New Democracy (ND)".
VRADYNI: "Reaction with political initiatives - Karamanlis targets reversal of the political scenery".
 Cypriot President meets Archbishop DemetriosNEW YORK (CNA/ANA-MPA )
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Archbishop of America Demetrios have discussed ways to promote the cultural aspect of the Cyprus issue.
President Christofias briefed the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America on Monday over developments in the Cyprus issue and thanked him for his support in efforts to promote the Cyprus cause.
The two examined ways to make use of "cultural diplomacy" with regard to Cyprus.
"We have talked about joint possible initiatives which we could undertake concurrently to promote the political problem of Cyprus as well as its rich cultural heritage; through cultural diplomacy", the president said, adding "we are at his disposal and his Beatitude is willing to help in this direction."
Christofias said that current efforts by the Greek Cypriot side to reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, are based on principles which aim at restoring the human rights of the people of Cyprus, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
He said "we have a common understanding, that Cyprus belongs to Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, because it is our common possession. There is enough room for all the Cypriots", he added.
In his statements, Archbishop Demetrios said that unfortunately Cyprus is not treated fairly as a result of wrong policies adopted by various decision making centres.
He described the president's efforts as heroic, noting "we have a responsibility to do whatever we can and even more to help this holy cause for a just solution to the Cyprus issue".
The Archbishop said Cyprus, which for thousands of years has seen the birth of various cultures, "should become a model of international peace, a model for productivity and creativity, should find at last the role it deserves".
Cyprus, he added, is "a symbol of principles that cannot be violated, such as freedom, human rights, the right of people to live freely and creatively and it is this which makes the struggle of Cypriots even greater."
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