|Thursday, 24 January 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 3 October 2008 Issue No: 3011
 PM chairs cabinet meeting on global credit crisisThe government will persevere with the reforms needed to put the country on track and not back down, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined on Thursday. He made the statement after chairing a meeting of the full cabinet to discuss the ramifications of the global economic crisis and the government's response to it.
"Greece has only one path it can take. The path that leads ahead. And I am here to push things forward. This government was elected to change things and it will change things. This is the mandate I was given and intend to honour," Karamanlis said.
He also announced a government initiative for an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on the repercussions of the crisis, saying he had already contacted Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas to make the arrangements. He emphasised the significance of the credit crisis and said the debate would be an opportunity to inform parties and the people about its possible impact and the government's policy.
Karamanlis noted that in the last five years the country has been on a "trajectory of reforms" and was standing up against the "organised interests" that had been "manipulating the system in the last decades".
 PM exhorts ministers to do more work, cooperate with MPsIn his address to government ministers, Karamanlis exhorted them to show greater alertness, do more work and initiate targeted action to protect the economy against the repercussions of the global credit crisis.
"At this difficult time, the Greek economy has satisfactory indices and powerful resilience," the prime minister said. He emphasised that the Greek banking system was safe and that this was an especially positive fact for the economy, ordinary people and Greek businesses.
Referring to problems that have arisen within ruling New Democracy (ND) in past days, meanwhile, Karamanlis emphasised that he was well aware of the problems:
"I know what is happening in detail. I only stress that we have an obligation and, chiefly, the will and the power to honour the mandate we were given by the Greek people," he told ministers, adding that the government had "a plan and determination to deal with the problems".
Noting that the international crisis created an additional burden of responsibility for all, he urged ministers to quickly process and pass legislation announced by the government that was aimed at solving people's everyday problems.
He emphasised the government's intention to set up a strong social 'safety net', to pass measures to protect loan holders and restrain price rises and, as a top priority, activate the Social Cohesion Fund, whose first action would be to pay out heating oil benefits to lower income groups.
Turning to preparation for a new administrative structure for the country, the premier said he was determined to tackle problems that had persisted for decades, such as the loss-making national carrier Olympic Airlines or the state-owned Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) "that daily burden Greeks with deficits that approach three million euros".
Karamanlis also backed a finance ministry plan to introduce presumptive taxation based on standard of living indicators, stressing that these would be "simple and just", and pledged to gradually abolish "closed shops" in order to boost healthy competition.
One of the main issues emphasised by the premier was the need for ministers to work and bring tangible results that targeted the people's problems - not least in terms of cutting down wasteful spending.
He asked that each ministry set specific targets, to be given to him in writing, show greater involvement "on the ground" by visiting areas with problems and initiate major projects to improve the country's developmental infrastructure. He especially exhorted ministers to be open, accessible and work together with the MPs for each region, setting aside specific days for meeting Parliamentary deputies, while particularly demanding close cooperation with the ruling party's Parliamentary group.
"The reforms being planned in the coming period and the important decisions for the country are not reaching our deputies' ears, not through announcements nor through ministers' interviews," he stressed, making it clear that ministries and public enterprises must have their doors open to MPs of all parties and that ministry staff were there to serve and answer MPs' questions:
"They have an obligation to answer immediately themselves, not through their staff. Whoever does not meet this requirement will be immediately replaced," he emphasised, adding that no one was "tied to his seat".
One of the measures announced by Karamanlis for dealing with the economic crisis was the creation of a government committee for social policy, with the participation of the finance, interior, employment and health ministries.
"We must exhaust all options for supporting citizens, especially those that are economically weakest," Karamanlis underlined.
 PASOK criticises PM's appearance before CabinetThe prime minister had failed to meet expectations with his appearance before the cabinet on Thursday, main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou claimed afterward.
"He confines himself to generalities, spasmodic action and oft-repeated announcements and is clearly inferior to the occasion," he said.
After a whole day of rampant rumours talking of early elections or a government reshuffle, Karamanlis had merely confined himself to announcing the activation of the fund against poverty, plans for a bill to protect loan holders and asked ministers to work harder and collaborate with MPs, the spokesman said.
He also criticised announcements for a heating oil benefit and loan holder protection as long delayed, while accusing the premier of using the global economic crisis as an alibi for his government's failures.
"The global crisis, which really does exist, has nothing to do with the crisis being experienced by Greeks," Papaconstantinou stressed.
The spokesman announced that the main directions of PASOK's action for the economy had been decided during Wednesday's meeting between PASOK leader George Papandreou and senior echelons in the party, beginning with a draft bill to be tabled in Parliament that would include a one-off 'solidarity' benefit, a heating benefit and the return of VAT to farmers.
PASOK also had proposals for protecting the Greek economy against the global credit crisis and for initiatives on a European and national level that Papandreou would put forward in his capacity as Socialist International president.
 Papoulias visits Thrace, comments on global economyPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday paid a visit to the region of Thrace in the extreme northeast of Greece, visiting the Democritian University of Thrace in the city of Komotini, where he was made an honorary lecturer, and later the border town of Feres in Evros.
In statements at the university, Papoulias referred to the globalised economy and called for ways to redistribute wealth on a global level.
"In the era of globalisation it is necessary to once again consider the terms under which people and nations participate in the global market that is being created. We must take things one step further and seek mechanisms for redistributing wealth on an international scale, not only in order to lessen the repercussions of unfair treatment that certain people have received but also in order to boost global stability," he said.
He also spoke about the current international credit crisis, noting that this may have started in the United States but its repercussions would not be confined there, since every household and business would be affected by restriction of credit and high cost of money.
 Papandreou again calls for greater social spending, benefits to relieve economic crisisMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired a meeting of party cadres to focus on the economy.
Papandreou, a former minister in several PASOK governments, presented what he called a plan to relieve the effects of the ongoing credit crisis, citing proposals he presented at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) in early September, namely, to increase state spending for low to middle-income groups and to boost social benefits.
"PASOK's first priority is for citizens to feel secure and this will be accomplished with the immediate adoption of measures for bank borrowers' protection. Initiatives must be taken in order to help the weaker strata via a special solidarity fund; paying out a heating fuel subsidy to lower income groups and the return of VAT payments to farmers," he said.
Papandreou also called for lower rates by state-owned and bourse-listed utilities (power and telephony) as well as what he called legislation against monopolies and oligopolies, along with a fairer tax system.
The party's second target is to strengthen the Greek economy against the international fiscal and credit crisis through specific initiatives to protect depositors, along with better oversight of the credit system in every sector -- banks, the stock exchange and insurance companies.
PASOK's third goal, he said, eyes initiatives in European and international relations.
At the meeting, Papandreou also referred to the economic crisis Greek citizens are experiencing, blaming the government's policy, which he outlined as "taking from the middle and low classes to give to the rich".
"The government is trying to find an alibi for its mistakes in the international credit crisis, in order to overcome its own problems. Greek citizens understand that the crisis in Greece is homemade and signed by New Democracy's policy."
 FYROM 'name issue' contacts to resume on Tues. in NYCNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panayiotou)
A UN Secretary General spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the UN Chief's special envoy on the FYROM "name issue", Matthew Nimetz, has invited Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) for a new round of meetings on Tuesday in New York.
The spokesman added that he was not in a position to clarify whether these meetings would be separate or jointly held with the two countries' representatives.
UN-sponsored talks are currently taking place between the two neighbouring countries over solving the thorny "name issue".
Greece objects to the use by the landlocked republic of the name "Macedonia", arguing that it conceals irredentist designs against the northern Greek province of Macedonia.
In a related development, NATO Secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said on Thursday that the Alliance's decision at its Bucharest summit on April 2 to reject FYROM's accession was a reality, which the government in Skopje should realise despite its disappointment.
Scheffer was speaking after a meeting in Brussels with FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski, according to an ANA-MPA dispatch.
Referring specifically on the "name issue", Scheffer noted that it constituted an important factor for FYROM's accession to NATO, expressing at the same time hope at finding a solution soon.
Crvenkovski cites 'fair compromise'
Meanwhile, speaking after a meeting with EU enlargement Commission Olli Rehn in Brussels, Crvenkovski said his country was prepared to accept a "fair compromise that will not prejudice our national and cultural identity ... and I hope that the Republic of Greece will (also) show some flexibility."
On his part, Rehn also expressed optimism over the UN-mediated talks and commended UN negotiator Matôhew Nimetz for his "stamina", while stressing that a solution to the "name issue" with Greece was also important for keeping FYROM's EU course on track.
 Papandreou meets French Socialist Segolene RoyalMain opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist Interna-tional (SI) President George Papandreou hosted a working luncheon for French Socialist deputy and former presidential candidate Segolene Royal in Athens on Thursday saying afterwards that the socialists will not accept the global credit crisis being placed on the shoulders of midde class people and the less privileged, adding that "a struggle will be waged, initiatives will be taken and there will be close cooperation with Segolene and the socialists of Europe with these aims."
Papandreou said that the socialists have already taken initiatives which will be continued at international and European level so that "there shall be new policies, market functioning rules and protection for the income of the average and low-salary families."
Royal said that the present crisis "proves that the values of the Left are being mobilised today to give it a solution."
She further said that "policy must be ahead of economic logic, in the need for a fairer distribution of wealth and, mainly, in a monetary system that will be at the service of the economy and in an economy that will be at the service of human development."
Royal went on to say that "we are ultimately realising, in other words, that all are appropriating socialist values and the values of the Left for their own benefit. We are watching in France even the President of the Republic speaking a leftist language. We suddenly see even Mr. (U.S. President George W.) Bush, who was the most hostile towards state intervention, nationalising banks and finding, from one moment to the next, 700 billion dollars, when he could not find them to relieve the world food crisis."
Lastly, she said that the words of the socialists will have proved to be beneficial "only if we want, indeed, these words to become deeds and the crisis to be beneficial, meaning to allow an in-depth change both of policies and of the system and not an offhand means that will merely allow the reproduction of the system."
 French deputy on 'The future of the Left and Globalization'French socialist deputy and former presidential candidate Segolene Royal gave a speech at the Athens Concert Hall-Megaron on Thursday evening on "The future of the Left and Globalization".
"We must put more democracy in globalization", she noted.
The French deputy explained that the Left "has political responsibility, we must make the world understand and not to be afraid of globalization. If one attributes to globalization the character of a demon, then automatically nationalism will be strengthened.
Present at the event were former prime minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Health Minister Dimitris Avramopulos, Employment Minister Fanny Palli-Petralia, New Democracy (ND) party Eurodeputy Yiannis Varvitsiotis, PASOK deputies Theodoros Pangalos, Anna Diamantopoulou, Evangelos Venizelos, Petros Efthymiou, Maria Damanaki and former deputies Yiannos Papantoniou and Tassos Yiannitsis.
Referring to the U.S. package for the salvation of the "collapsing fiscal and credit system", Royal underlined that "the amount which was not found for poverty has been found now. Seven hundred billion U.S. dollars is an enormous amount. It has been shown that money serves profit, as 1,800 billion dollars circulate daily in transactions and in movements of capital for profiteering purposes. Capitalism has started to go insane. Neo-liberalism threatens all of us and what is needed is radical insight."
The socialist politician further underlined that "in the present crisis, profit was put above the value of life and the interests of titles were defended and not of the citizens."
 FinMin receives leftist SYRIZA headEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday received Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos, with talks focusing on the international credit crisis and its repercussions on Europe and Greece.
Alogoskoufis told reporters afterwards that talks with the SYRIZA leader extensively covered the international credit crisis and its repercussions, adding that he informed Alavanos on initiatives being taken to tackle it.
On his part, Alavanos said he presented the minister with "proposals and ideas, such as the need of better supervision over the entire financial and credit system."
Alavanos also said guarantees by the state are necessary for social security funds, asking at the same time for measures to protect borrowers.
 Nat'l com't on social integration of migrants convenesA third meeting of a national committee on the social integration of migrants, chaired by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, was held on Thursday, in light of the 3rd international forum on migration and development (GFMD) to be hosted by Athens in the fall of 2009 following a forum in Manila this month.
Addressing committee members, Pavlopoulos referred to the forum's objectives, stressing that the issue is a global consultative process open to all UN member states and observers, with main characteristic being dialogue on migrant issues with representatives of civil society and NGOs.
Pavlopoulos also referred to the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, adopted at the EU Justice and Interior Ministers Council meeting last month in Brussels.
The pact, due to be formally adopted by EU leaders at their October summit, seeks to improve management of legal immigration, tighten controls on illegal migrants and develop a common asylum policy.
It also aims to enforce the repatriation of undocumented migrants and help developing countries persuade their citizens to stay in the country, while calling on governments to crack down on employers in the EU who hire illegal immigrants.
 Papaligouras on piracy issueMerchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasios Papaligouras has undertaken an initiative on the issue of combatting piracy in the region of Somalia.
The minister has sent a letter to the European Union, stressing the need for European maritime forces to be supported in Somalia in the framework of relevant initiatives by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.
Papaligouras pointed out in the letter to European Commission vice president Antonio Tajani and the EU's Transport Council presiding official J. Borloo that the increase in pirate attacks in Somalia "constitutes a serious threat not only for the personal safety of seamen but for the smooth operation of international shipping as well and, consequently, constant vigilance and increased patrols are necessary in the framework of international legality."
He also called on the European Council's presidency and on the European Commission to "act immediately, together with an understanding with NATO, to improve the coordination of the operations of member-states and of the EU in Somalia to achieve a more effective handling of this serious threat."
 Kassimis wraps up 3-day visit to HungaryBUDAPEST (ANA-MPA / S. Aravopoulou)
Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis completed a three-day visit to Hungary after attending a special event here on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Greek presence in the country, as he commended the Greek community for its schools and associations.
The roughly 5,000-member-strong ethnic Greek community, recognised as one of the 13 minorities in Hungary, is made up mostly of post WWII Greek civil war refugees who chose not to be repatriated.
The deputy FM also visited the Greek village of Beloiannisz (Beloyannis), where ethnic Greeks now make up one-third of its 1,200 residents.
During his visit, Kassimis met with his counterpart Marta Horvath-Fekszi and deputy minister to the prime minister's office Ferenc Gemesy.
The Hungarian government reiterated its intention to return 22 ancient Greek artefacts currently in the country, while they also discussed the potential for consular cooperation in third countries and exchanged views on developments in the wider Balkan region and the EU course.
 Greek gov't offers protection to mortage loan holdersThe Greek government on Thursday tabled to Parliament a draft bill aimed to offering protection to overdebted mortgage loan holders.
Presenting the draft bill, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the government was raising the sum allowing the auction of homes under mortgage loans to 20,000 euros from 10,000 currently and noted that the draft bill will forbid all real estate auctions at prices below official values.
Alogoskoufis reiterated that the Greek banking system was fully safe and credible and noted that saving deposits were fully guaranteed.
 PASOK on statements by FinMinMain opposition PASOK party economic issues rapporteur Louka Katseli, referring to statements made on Thursday by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on the tabling of the bill regarding loan recipients, said that the government "didn't even bother to examine the serious problem faced by hundreds of thousands of loan recipients so as to table measures that would relieve them substantively."
Katseli added that "once again the government is proving that it is acting purely with communications criteria, in an offhand manner and without understanding problems."
"PASOK has shown that it is aware of both the problem and its solutions and has proved this, submitting in time two law proposals with measures on relieving and reducing the burdening of households from overindebtedness, that have given a substantive reply to the problem," she further said.
 Greek banking system solid, Piraeus Bank CEO saysThe Greek banking system faces no risks because Greek banks have no exposure to "toxic" securities and are absolutely healthy, Mihalis Sallas, Piraeus Bank chairman said on Thursday.
Addressing an event on the occasion of the signing of a partnership agreement with European Investment Bank (EIB) over the funding of local small- and medium-sized enterprises, Sallas said Greek banks have a relationshiop of trust with their customers, as shown in banks' results.
Sallas said Piraeus Bank enjoys high liquidity rates currently and noted that saving deposits grew by 45 percent in the nine-month period from January to September 2008. He said the bank would publish its nine-month results on Oct. 20.
 Parliament ratifies amendments on Olympic Airlines, OSEAmendments concerning ailing national carrier Olympic Airlines and debt-ridden Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) were ratified by Parliament on Thursday, with 51 votes in favour -- by ruling New Democracy deputies and a recently transpired independent MP -- as opposed to 49 'no' votes by the opposition.
Earlier, Transport Minister Costis Hadzidakis reassured that the air carrier's name, emblem, employees, remote routes (mostly to the Greek islands) as well as its growth prospects perspectives have been secured.
Tabling the government's agreement with the EU Commission, Hatzidakis said the plan bears "the seal and the green light" of the European Union, something that had not been the case with a plan by former PASOK minister Christos Verelis, which was rejected from the very beginning by the Commission at the time.
Addressing the opposition, Hatzidakis said: "why do you want to extend the status existing today, since all the safeguards for OA are being secured? You are the conformist party of Greece; you are a force of reaction."
Replying to arguments heard during the afternoon session, the minister said OA's overdue debts to the state amount to 359 million euros and total debts reach one billion euros.
 Olympic Airlines employees rally outside ParliamentOlympic Airlines employees marched in the center of Athens on Thursday and later assembled outside Parliament, in view of the debate and voting in Parliament of the relevant amendment which was tabled by the Transport and Communications Ministry for the company's evolution.
The employees, carrying banners, were obstructed by riot police from approaching Parliament. They shouted slogans in support of the maintenance of the national character of Olympic Airlines (OA) and against the ministry's plan, which, according to their assessment, leads to the "sell-out" of the national air carrier.
Along with the employees of Olympic Airlines were also employees of the Greek Railway Organization (OSE), as also being discussed in Parliament was another amendment by the ministry for the restructuring of the organization.
OA's employees will continue their mobilization under the "umbrella" of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), which has declared a 24-hour strike for October 8 in all public utilities (DEKO).
EIB offers 650 mln euros in loans to Greece
The European Investment Bank on Thursday signed a package of loan facilities, worth 650 million euros, aimed at boosting the bank's activities in Greece. The contracts were signed by EIB vice-president Ploutarhos Sakellaris.
The loan facilities cover a 500-million-euro loan to Attiko Metro to fund the Athens metro's second stage of expansion and part of the first stage of the Thessaloniki metro project.
EIB is also lending 150 million euros to Piraeus Bank to be offered to small- and medium-sized enterprises in the sectors of tourism, manufacturing, commerce and other services, infrastructure projects, environmental protection and energy saving projects.
Speaking to reporters, Sakellaris said EIB could contribute to boost funding to Greece and said funding so far totaled 47.8 billion euros, of which 800 million euros was earmarked for Greece.
Sakellaris said EIB would significantly raise its lending to small- and medium-sized enterprises in 2008 and 2009 in an effort to limit the impact from a current credit crisis.
 EU Employment Ministers CouncilBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
The Council of Employment Ministers convened in Luxembourg on Thursday and focused on the new European Union directive on combatting discrimination and on the reformulation of the directive referring to the European employee councils. Greece's positions were supported by Deputy Employment and Social Protection Minister Sofia Kalantzakou.
The Council also reached a decision on the issue of labour accidents and illnesses, the implementation regulation on coordinating social security systems and a decision on proclaiming a European year (2010) on combatting poverty and social exclusion.
Referring to the discussion held at the Council on the new directive on combatting discrimination, Kalantzakou said in a statement that Greece agreed with the proposals' fundamental principles, while stressing the need for further strengthening legal protection for the vulnerable categories of the population and the priority given by the country to the promotion of equal treatment for people with disabilities.
 Deputy ministers Doukas, Kiltidis in LondonLONDON (ANA-MPA)
The deputy ministers of foreign affairs and agriculture, Petros Doukas and Costas Kiltidis, respectively, met with their counterparts during formal visits here.
Doukas, heading up a large business delegation, attended the opening of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) annual roadshow and held a meeting with his British counterpart for trade and investments issues.
Following a meeting with his counterpart, Kiltidis said an agreement was reached ensuring much-needed scientific, technical and research support for the upgraded Mediterranean Zooanthropozoones Control Centre, established in Athens in cooperation with the ministry of health.
 Commission's competition regulators OK DT-OTE dealBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom (DT) was granted permission on Thursday from an EU competition commttee to acquire the management of state-run Hellenic Telecoms (OTE).
"The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition," the EU announced in a statement.
"Given the largely complementary scope of the networks (Deutsche Telekom and OTE), the limited horizontal overlaps in the markets for retail fixed telephony and wholesale leased lines in Romania would not raise any competition concerns ... On the markets for international roaming, the Commission found that foreign mobile operators would continue to be able to get access to roaming services from alternative independent providers in each of the countries where OTE is currently offering wholesale international roaming," the statement added.
 Defendory opens its gates on Oct. 7Defendory International 2008, the 15th sector exhibition for conventional military systems, will be held the Hellenikon Exhibition Centre (former Athens Airport) next week under the auspices of the ministry of defence, with participation of NATO members and private exhibitors.
Roughly 500 defence contractors will participate in the international trade fair.
The US Department of Defense will participate for the first time in the exhibition with 54 sector industries, while Russia will have a notable presence with 36 defence industries. Participation of companies from Germany, France, Britain and Italy is equally impressive.
A total of 50 countries have accepted an invitation extended by the Greek ministry and will be represented by high-level delegations.
An air-show by the Portuille de France aerobatics team will take place on Oct. 8 in Paleo Faliro within the framework of the exhibition.
 Greek enterprises in roadshow in LondonA total 35 Greek-listed enterprises are participating in a roadshow organised by the Athens Stock Exchange in London. The roadshow, organised for the third consecutive year, has attracted the interest both from Greek-listed companies and foreign funds interested in investing to Greek enterprises.
Greek companies will meet more than 150 fund managers in 600 meetings during the roadshow. The 35 listed companies cover a wide range of categories, covering large but also small- and medium-sized capitalization stocks.
 22nd INFOSYSTEM exhibition inauguratedDeputy Development Minister Stavros Kalafatis inaugurated the 22nd INFOSYSTEM International Information, Telecommu-nications and Digital Technology Exhibition and the 14th Information Applications Conference on Thursday night, stressing that broadband links in Greece are currently approaching 1.5 million, compared to 25,000 in 2004.
Pointing out that in past years Greece has been the fastest developing country worldwide in broadband infiltration, Kalafatis said that the development of infrastructures to bridge the digital gap with the rest of Europe is continuing at a speedy rate.
The deputy minister also said that a plan is being prepared for the transition to new optical fibre networks and a national network is being created on which mobile telephony, autonomous local networks, wireless networks and all their services can be developed.
 Lamda Development participates in Metropolitan Center projectLamda Development on Thursday announced its participation with a 19.5 pct stake in the equity capital of Piraeus Metropolitan Center SA, the company to develop and operate a new exhibition center in the port of Piraeus. The investment is budgeted at around 9.0 million euros. Other companies participating in Metropolitan Center are J&P Avax (19.5 pct), REDS SA (19.5 pct), Rota Ltd (15.75 pct), Damco Energy-Kopelouzos Group (15.75 pct) and Routsis SA (10.0 pct).
 Intralot signs 10-year lottery services contract in GuatemalaIntralot on Thursday announced the signing of a 10-year contract to operate lottery games in Guatemala. Intralot is the main shareholder in a joint venture with International Gaming Limitada, SGLBVI Ltd and VLTBVI Ltd. The lottery in Guatemala will operate under the supervision of Funcacion del Nino, an foundation to protecting children in need.
Guatemala has a population of around 13 million with a per capita gross domestic product of 4,700 US dollars.
 European distinction to EAITYThe support system of electronic voting PNYKA, which was created by the Patras Research Academic Technology Institute for Computers, won the European first award in the European competition e-mail.
Taking part in the competition, which was organized by the Competence Center for Electronic Voting and Participation, were trade network systems of electronic voting which have been created in their entirety with open code tools.
The PNYKA system was developed by the EAITY's Electronic Governance Center in cooperation with the company EXPERtNET-Advanced Applications S.A, within the framework of a research program.
 Greek stocks end slightly lower on ThursdayGreek stocks eased in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the composite index of the market ending at 2,828.88 points, off 0.29 percent. Turnover was a moderate 261.3 million euros, of which 22.7 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Food/Beverage (17.37 pct), Industrial Products (3.08 pct) and Commerce (2.74 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Travel (2.77 pct), Telecommunications (2.63 pct) and Banks (2.27 pct) scored gains. The FTSE 20 index rose 0.92 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.49 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell 1.07 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 142 to 73 with another 58 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.44%
Personal & Household: +0.85%
Raw Materials: +0.80%
Travel & Leisure: +2.77%
Food & Beverages: -17.37%
Financial Services: -2.31%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, HBC Coca Cola, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 15.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.00
HBC Coca Cola: 12.52
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.36
National Bank of Greece: 29.70
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 12.56
Piraeus Bank: 14.40
Titan Cement Company: 23.80
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 102.501 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.51 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 10,832 contracts, worth 85.066 million euros, with 27,105 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,439 contracts worth 16.002 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (2,008), followed by Eurobank (1,214), Marfin Investment Group (1,671), OTE (1,704), OPAP (1,123), National Bank (1,261) and Piraeus Bank (689).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.91 pct in the Greek electronic secondary bond market, where turnover shrank to 383 million euros, of which 188 million were buy orders and the remaining 195 million euros were sell orders. The Greek bond yielded 4.86 pct and the German Bund 3.95 pct.
In money markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.26 pct, the six-month rate 5.42 pct, the three-month 5.33 pct and the one-month rate 5.11 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.401
Pound sterling 0.793
Danish kroner 7.519
Swedish kroner 9.805
Japanese yen 147.62
Swiss franc 1.585
Norwegian kroner 8.357
Canadian dollar 1.492
Australian dollar 1.781
 SAE attends 1st meeting of European expatriatesOver 100 representatives of European expatriate organizations, among them, World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis attended the 1st Meeting of Europeans Residing Outside Their Country of Origin held in Paris on September 30.
The meeting was held within the framework of the French EU Presidency at the invitation of Foreign Minister of France Bernard Koushner and the Assembly of French Nationals Living Abroad (AFE). Europeans Throughout the World (ETTW) Vice-President and SAE representative in the organization Pascalis Papachristopoulos also attended.
The meeting's objective was to gather the representatives of official European organizations of Expatriates with the purpose of exchanging experiences and viewpoints. The topics addressed in two Roundtable Discussions were "Better Protection for European Citizens" and "Better Experiencing European Justice and Administration".
 Church of Greece hierarchy meetingArchbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece referred to the Church-State cooperation addressing the meeting of the hierarchy of the Church of Greece. Speaking before the hierarchs on Wednesday, Archbishop Ieronymos stressed that a well-governed state and a Church that ministers to the same people have a duty to cooperate to the public's benefit, commenting on the recent monastery property scandal.
The Archbishop stated that the problem with which Hellenism is faced is how to survive in a constantly changing world, pointing out that the sweeping technological advances cause a series of chain reactions in the economic and social life unavoidably leading to a radical reorganization of humanity.
The Church hierarchy meeting continues Thursday focusing on ecclesiastical education issues.
 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue eventA special event within the framework of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue will be held Friday at the Antirio Sports Centre in southern Greece, hosted by the European Parliament Office and the European Commission Office in Greece in cooperation with the ministry of education.
The main speakers will be Education Minister Evripides Stylianidis, Greek Parliament vice-president Elsa Papadimitriou and EU officials.
Following a public discussion with students, a human chain will be formed on the Rio-Antirrio Bridge by 2,000 local schoolchildren.
 Queen Sophia of Spain visits EpirusQueen Sophia of Spain made a private visit on Thursday to the region of Zagorohoria and Konitsa, in Epirus, Northwestern Greece.
The Queen arrived by car from Thessaloniki and will depart from Ioannina on Friday afternoon.
 International toxic waste conference in Chania, CreteAn international conference on the management of dangerous toxic waste took place on Thursday in Chania, Crete.
The conference involved 400 scientists from 60 countries and focused on long-term solutions for waste disposal.
According to the director of the laboratory management of hazardous and toxic wastes of the Technical University of Crete (TUC), Vangelis Gydarakos, the conference comes at a critical time.
"We do not even have landfills for hazardous wastes," he said. "We do not have the necessary and appropriate management facilities for hazardous waste."
The exact quantity of hazardous and toxic waste products produced by Crete is still undetermined. Gydarakos added that "the issue is to manage the waste that already exists and to find the necessary, correct and integrated solutions for the waste being produced."
According to Gydarakos, "much of the material in the waste can be separated and recycled, so that only the waste residues will remain."
The conference at Chania took place under the auspices of the TUC, the Technical University of Hamburg, the University of Padua and the international working group on waste.
 Large gate unearthed in ancient Pelinna, central GreeceA large gate dated back to the ancient Greek times was brought to light during archaeological excavations in the region of ancient Pelinna, located along the east bank of Pineios River in Trikala Prefecture, Thessaly in central Greece.
Pelinna is first mentioned by Pindar (522-438 B.C.), the greatest Greek lyric poet, who refers to it as the homeland of Hippocles a winner in the Pythian Games in 498 BC. The games were held at Delphi every four years (the third of each Olympiad) and included musical, literary, and athletic contests held in honor of Apollo, one of the Greek gods. The games were named after Pythia, the priestess of the oracle at Delphi.
 Rare 19th century locomotive on display in ThessalonikiA steam locomotive built in 1894, identified as the only such model left in Europe, will soon be on display at the Thessaloniki Railway Museum, following extensive repair and preservation.
The unique sample of the 19th century engineering was built at the Graffenstaden factory. A similar steam locomotive was kept at the Museum of Karlsruhe in Germany, but it was destroyed during WWII.
 Extra buses, trains for free MTV concert on SundayThe Athens public transport organisation OASA announced that extra bus and train services will run on Sunday night, when MTV Greece is planning a major concert to promote its opening at Kallimarmaro stadium in central Athens, headlined by R.E.M. with support from the Kaiser Chiefs, Gabriella Cilmi and C:Real. Entrance will be free of charge.
OASA said that the 550 bus from Faliro Delta to Kifissia will run until 2:00 after midnight, with more frequent services, and that the metro will continue running until 1:00 after midnight, when the last trains leave Syntagma station in every direction.
The number 02 and 04 trolleys will run more frequently until 1:30 after midnight, while the tram will continue running until 2:00 after midnight. The last tram will set off from Syntagma toward the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro at 1:30 and the last tram from Syntagma to Voula will leave at 2:00 after midnight.
 Fatal accident on power pylonA 46-year-old worker, identified as an ethnic Greek from southern Albania and a father of three, was electrocuted to death in Hania, Crete on Thursday while working on a power pole.
The deadly accident occurred at a Public Power Corp. (PPC) pylon. The victim reportedly worked for a private contractor performing maintenance work for the utility.
 Cloud, local showers on FridayCloudy and showery weather with southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 29C. Cloudy in Athens, with 3-5 beaufort southwesterly winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 28C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 24C.
 House President: Talat's speech at PACE is unacceptableNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian on Thursday described Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat's Wednesday address at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) as unacceptable.
"While all expected Talat to look at the future, to explain his policy and how the Turkish side thinks to negotiate at the current phase of the Cyprus talks, Talat, once more, reiterated the unacceptable positions of the Turkish side on two peoples, two states, co-sovereignty and virgin birth", Garoyian said.
He added that Talat's speech was "unacceptable" and caused a bad impression on the parlamentarians, members of PACE as well as the international community.
On the other hand, he said, in his address at PACE, President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias "talked about the future, with positions which are full in line with international law, the European acquis communautaire, positions which can pave the way to a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem'' and added that President Christofias' speech was praised by the members of PACE.
"It is for this reason that we call upon the international community, once more, to explain to Turkey that these positions will not help her proceed to the EU, nor pave the way to the liberation of Cyprus and the reunification of our country and its people".
Referring to the resolution adopted Wednesday by PACE on the situation in Cyprus, Garoyian expressed Cyprus' satisfaction, "despite the reference made by the rapporteur regarding the implementation of the direct trade regulation" he said, referring to the resolution's call towards the Republic of Cyprus "to lift objections to the adoption of the Council of the European Union's direct trade regulation put forward by the European Commission allowing free direct trade between Turkish Cypriots and the EU through their own ports".
He expressed the view that "this negative reference could of course also be seen under an other angle, that any actions in the occupied areas can not contravene UNSC resolutions 550 and 541".
Garoyian said that "this negative reference is not in line with the EU principles and does not reflect reality".
But he hailed the references in the resolution on ending the usurpation of Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied areas of Cyprus, on the call on Turkey to fully respect the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, on Famagusta and the need to be returned under the UN and other references.
The House president expressed the position that the climate in the Council of Europe has changed in favor of the positions of the Greek Cypriot side.
 Spokesman welcomes PACE resolution on CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou welcomed on Thursday the adoption of a resolution on Cyprus by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
PACE adopted Wednesday a resolution in which it welcomes the resumption of fully-fledged negotiations between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, with a view to reach a settlement of the protracted Cyprus question.
"The government wishes to express satisfaction with the adoption of the resolution 1628 of PACE. This resolution constitutes a very important step forward, in comparison to the last resolution, 1376 of 2004, which praised the Turkish Cypriot community for its positive stance at the referendum and called on the international community to lift the so called international isolation", the spokesman said.
He added that the resolution reflects a change of the stance of the international community in favor of the Greek Cypriot side and said that the international community praises the initiatives of the Cypriot president regarding the Cyprus issue.
"The new resolution refers to various aspects of the Cyprus problem, with very satisfactory references on the stance of the Republic of Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot side on the Cyprus issue", Stephanou noted.
He explained that the resolution makes reference on the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey, on the need to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem that would be based on the principles of the Council of Europe, including the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.
Stephanou said that it is also important that the resolution refers positively to the measures taken by the Republic of Cyprus to the benefit of Turkish Cypriots as well as the inclusion of such measures in the framework of UNSC resolutions 541 êáé 550, which refer to the illegal act of the proclamation of the so called state in Turkish occupied Cyprus and consider this Turkish action as legally invalid.
The spokesman also referred to the call of the resolution towards the Republic of Cyprus "to lift objections to the adoption of the Council of the European Union's direct trade regulation put forward by the European Commission allowing free direct trade between Turkish Cypriots and the EU through their own ports".
"The above, which constitutes a negative point of the resolution, is in contradiction to point 9 of the resolution which says that the measures in favor of the Turkish Cypriots will not be used for serving political goals which will not comply with the goal of reunifying Cyprus", he stressed.
Stephanou added that "the reference on direct trade was made orally by the rapporteur of the resolution at the time of the debate and the adoption of the resolution".
The spokesman said that the resolution calls upon the Turkish Cypriot side to reaffirm its commitment for a Cyprus reunification and not to insist on the existence of a separate state, to stop the usurpation of Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied areas as well as to encourage illegal Turkish settlers to leave Cyprus through financial aid measures.
Stephanou said that the resolution calls upon Turkey to respect the UN resolutions on Cyprus and contribute constructively to negotiations, by reducing its troops in the occupied areas of Cyprus.
Turkey, he added, is also called upon to comply with its EU obligations especially the ones concerning the Republic of Cyprus and open its ports and airports to aircraft and vessels which carry the Cypriot flag.
The resolution also refers to the humanitarian issue of missing persons, whose fate is unknown after the Turkish invasion against Cyprus in 1974.
The spokesman said that the resolution outlines Turkey's responsibilities and the need to comply with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on the issue, without delay.
 Archbishop of Albania arrives for official visitLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania Anastasios arrived on the island on Thursday, expressing hope that soon the injustices and hardship which the people of Cyprus are facing will be over.
Welcoming Archbishop Anastasios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church on the island, Archbishop Chrysostomos II said "through him we welcome a special priest of orthodoxy, an academic and an experienced missionary".
In his remarks, Archbishop Anastasios said he is sincerely moved to be in Cyprus, noting for years "we watch with deep pain the adversities that the noble people of Cyprus have been through as well as their creativity and resilience and we are proud of them".
Welcoming the Archbishop on behalf of the President of the Republic, Minister of Justice and Public Order Kypros Chrysostomides said Anastasios is a "unique priest, academic and missionary".
Archbishop Chrysostomos said after his studies, Anastasios left Greece and headed to the Far East where he served for many years in Africa. He praised Anastasios for reconstructing the Orthodox Church in Albania.
"No one else could have been able to resurrect from the ruins, this troubled Church, who everyone thought was over, and bring it to the position it is today", he added.
He said Anastasios will have a series of meetings with members of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus and exchange views.
Replying, Archbishop Anastasios thanked Archbishop Chrysostomos for extending him the invitation to visit Cyprus and described the visit as an historic event.
"We are certain that this visit will reinforce relations between the two churches and will help in exchanging views and ideas on how the gospel can make its presence felt to the people who are suffering", he said.
"Our hope, desire and prayer is for soon all the injustices and hardships the noble people of Cyprus are facing will be over and we will be able to celebrate the reunification and a new course on the island", he concluded.
Archbishop Anastasios visited the Archbishopric in Nicosia, where a doxology was held at Saint John's church, and later on the tombs of those killed in armed conflicts.
On Friday, Archbishop Anastasios will meet Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and then travel to Kykkos Monastery, to be met by Bishop of Kykkos and Tillyria Nikiforos. He will lay a wreath at the tomb of the late Archbishop Makarios III, Cyprus' first President.
On the same day he will visit Saint Neophytos Monastery and on Saturday he will be in Paphos, on the west, to meet Bishop of Paphos Georgios. He will then travel to Limassol, to meet Bishop of Limassol Athanasios.
On Sunday a liturgy will be held in Nicosia at Phaneromeni church, where Archbishop Chrysostomos II will award Archbishop Anastasios the medal of Saint Barnabas.
On the same day, Archbishop Chrysostomos will host an official luncheon for his guest.
Later on in the day, Archbishop Anastasios will visit Saint Heracleidios monastery.
On October 6, Archbishop Anastasios will travel to Paralimni, on the east, where the European Churches' Council Central Committee will be holding a meeting.
On October 7, he will be at the Metropolis of Constantia, to be greeted by the Bishop of Constantia Vassilios.
He will also visit the Metropolis of Kition, to meet Bishop of Kition Chrysostomos.
Archbishop Anastasios will furthermore visit the churches in Larnaca and Kition. He will depart from Cyprus on October 8.
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