|Friday, 19 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>‘uesday, 7 October 2008 Issue No: 3014
 Gov't tables draft 2009 state budgetThe government on Monday tabled the draft 2009 state budget in Parliament, which sets out eight targets for the coming year, namely, a further reduction of deficits; enhancement of fiscal transparency; streamlining the management of state enterprises, local governments and state hospitals; more tax reform and cutting unemployment; more effective amelioration of poverty through activation of a previously announced National Social Cohesion Fund; greater development in the provinces, as well as boosting investments and ensuring satisfactory growth rates.
The 2009 draft budget contains a 13-percent increase in credits for the employment ministry; an 8.3-percent increase for the health ministry; a 6.1-percent increase for the education ministry; an increase of 7.7 percent for the agricultural development ministry, and an increase of 13.7 percent for the justice ministry, in comparison 2008.
According to the 2009 draft budget, the basic goal of the government's tax reforms are relief for physical entities, a further reduction of income tax, expansion of the tax base and curbing tax evasion.
Revenues from direct taxation are forecast at 26.9 billion euros, up 18.1 percent from 2008, while revenues from indirect taxation are estimated at 34.655 billion euros, up 10.4 percent from 2008.
Unveiling the draft budget, Alogoskoufis that it was in line with the framework of economic policy and aimed at growth, increasing employment, and social cohesion, while it takes into consideration the impact on the Greek economy from the global credit crisis, as well as an anticipated rise in food and other prices, and a rise in inflation.
The government's fundamental aim was continuation of fiscal re-adjustment, enhancement of the country's developmental prospects and reinforcement of the incomes of the economically weaker classes of society, the minister explained.
Alogoskoufis also referred to the adverse international economic environment and the latest developments occurring on almost a daily basis, as he said, stressing that an end to the turmoil was not in sight.
"All these have serious repercussions on European economy, while the impact on the Greek economy is more limited due to a broad programme of reforms and fiscal adjustment being implemented," he said.
Alogoskoufis further referred to the achievements of the Greek economy in recent years, adding that, in the framework of the policy of fiscal adjustment, the minimal adjustment allowed by the EU (reduction of the deficit by 0.5 percent) would be implemented in 2009, while the National Social Cohesion Fund (or fund against poverty) would also be activated in 2009.
He continued that the ministry services anticipated a 3.6-percentage point increase in GDP, containment of the general government deficit to 1.8 percentage points, and reduction of the state debt to 88.4 percentage points, while unemployment is projected to drop to 7.3 percent, whereas inflation is estimated at 3.2 percent. Further, the average real salary will rise by 3.4 percent.
Regarding the Public Investments Programme (PIP), total expenditures were estimated at 8.5 billion euros, of which five billion euros would be funneled for projects co-financed by various EU Funds, with the remaining 3.5 billion euros allocated to projects financed exclusively by national coffers.
Replying to press questions, Alogoskoufis was reassuring regarding the Greek banking system, saying it was absolutely secure and credit-worthy.
The 2009 draft Budget forecasts a 13.6 percent increase in revenues from tax which, according to Alogoskoufis, would emanate from a nominal increase in GDP, the regulations recently legislated for curbing tax evasion, and a broadening of the tax base.
More specifically, tax revenues are expected to increase by 7.39 billion euros, reaching 61.565 billion from 54.175 billion in 2008.
Additionally, he said revenues from direct taxes will increase by 18.1 percent, reaching 26.910 billion euros against 22.780 billion this year. The increase in revenues from direct taxes will emanate from a 13.6 percent rise in revenues from income tax, a 58 percent increase in revenues from property taxes, a 35.8 percent increase in revenues from direct taxes of previous fiscal years, and an 11.6 percent increase from other direct taxes.
Alogoskoufis reiterated that the basic targets of the government's taxation policy, in the framework of the tax reform, were to expand the tax base being advanced under the latest tax law, and tax relief of physical entities through further reduction of the tax rates. More specifically, the 29 percent and 39 percent rates in the current taxation scale will be reduced to 27 percent and 37 percent respectively for 2008 incomes, while in 2009 the rates will be further reduced to 25 percent and 35 percent respectively.
Further, the 40 percent rate applying to incomes of over 75,000 euros will remain intact. At the same time, Alogoskoufis reiterated, there will be a further reduction of the 25 percent rate for physical entities, entailing a gradual reduction of one percentage point annually from 2010 to 2014, aiming at a 20 percent rate for incomes earned in 2014.
Regarding indirect taxes, a 10.4 percent increase in revenues is forecast, reaching 34.655 billion euros from 31.395 in 2008, emanating from a 10.5 percent increase in revenues from transactions taxes, which will rise to 23.295 billion euros from 21.090 billion in 2008.
He explained that this rise was due mostly to an anticipated 12.2 percent increase in revenues from VAT, which would reach 21.305 billion euros against 18.990 billion in 2008, which would result from further enhancement of the efficiency of the regulatory services and the new legislative framework for curbing tax evasion.
A 10-percent increase is also forecast in revenues from consumption taxes, which will reach 9.930 billion euros from 9.030 in 2008. More specifically, revenues from the special consumption tax on fuels will increase 18.7 percent, reaching 4.450 billion euros from 3.748 billion in 2008, and will arise from a readjustment of the special consumption tax rate on petrol products in 2009, and the curbing of trafficking and tax evasion in fuels that will result from the new, more efficient chain of distribution introduced in 2008.
Revenues from vehicle circulation fees are forecast to rise by 3.9 percent, while revenues from indirect taxes of past fiscal years will increase by 23.4 percent.
Also, 760 million euros have been included in revenues from the special accounts, which are being abolished.
Furthermore, the 2009 draft budget forecasts a 7.6-percent increase in expenditures for remunerations and pensions, while the forecast for new hirings remains at the 2008 figure of 10 million euros.
Specifically, the increase in the expenditure for remunerations and pensions -- which account for 45.7 percent of the primary expenditures of the budget -- arises from the new increases in salary and pensions set out in the 2009 incomes policy, the implementation of the new judiciary salary scale, wage rises due to personnel seniority, a rise in remuneration for contract personnel: cleaning personnel in schools, expenditures for new hirings in chiefly medical, nursing and teaching staff and professional (non-conscript) armed forces personnel.
Expenditure for social security, healthcare and social protection will increase by 11 percent, including a 5.9 percent increase for healthcare and a 4.1 percent increase in subsidies to social security funds, mainly to cover the deficits of the social security funds and to cover the cost of increases to the EKAS low-pension benefit and the Farmers' Pension Fund (OGA) pensions that were also announced by Alogoskoufis.
Subsidies to OGA will rise by 5.9 percent, by 6.1 percent for the Social Security Foundation (IKA), 5 percent for the Seamen's Pension Fund (NAT) and to the recently established Self-Employed Professionals' Fund, the result of a merger of smaller funds.
Social expenditures will rise by 36 percent, which include expenditures for large-family benefits, welfare benefits and the National Social Cohesion Fund, for which 100 million euros have been earmarked.
Alogoskoufis explained that, over the next few weeks, detailed announcements will be made concerning the National Social Cohesion Fund and the benefits for low-pension earners and the unemployed, as well as regarding the allocation of a heating subsidy.
The new budget further provides a 9.3-percent increase in operational expenditures and a 3.3-percent increase in subsidies to public sector institutions, etc., while public sector consumption expenditures is reduced by 2.1 percent.
 PASOK criticises 2009 state budgetMain opposition PASOK economy rapporteur Louka Katseli on Monday strongly criticised the 2009 state budget tabled earlier in the day by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, saying it presented numbers that were "up in the air".
"The theatre of absurd, with bad management of public finances and tax raids against middle and low income social strata is continuing. For yet another year, we will suffer from the same economic policy which leads nowhere. The numbers presented by the government are yet again up in the air," Katseli said in a statement.
The government's economic and finance team "again uses the same fiscal alchemies, used in 2007. It overestimates incomes, underestimates consumption spending and registers false positive results for Local Government bodies and public companies," the PASOK official added, noting at the same time that "reality is different and merciless. The 2007 fiscal deficit surpassed the red line of 3 per cent of the national income, as we had predicted. The same thing will happen in 2008, despite the government's assurances."
"For the year 2009, the government persists with tax raids, with more direct and indirect taxes amounting to 7.4 billion euros, while it decreases the Programme of Public investments by almost 1 billion euros, in a period of deep economic crisis," Katseli said.
 KKE, SYRIZAThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) sharply criticised the expressed directions of the 2009 draft state budget, tabled in Parliament on Monday by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.
"The draft budget clarifies that the only thing guaranteed by the government is, in reality, the protection of the profits of plutocracy. It signals a new and strong attack against the incomes of the working classes and small-to-middle social strata ... This policy by the government, which is also the EU policy and responds to the strategic interests of plutocracy, cannot be confronted with blanks by (main opposition) PASOK and SYRIZA parties," KKE said in an announcement.
On his part, SYRIZA's rapporteur for economic issues, Panayiotis Lafazanis charged that the government has tabled a draft budget that is a "savage tax raid against working people, a draft budget of harsh austerity vis-ŗ-vis wages and pensions, freezing and decreasing social spending ..."
"This budget, amidst the international capitalist crisis, pushes the economy towards recession and the great majority of society into despair," Lafazanis added.
 PM: Deposits guaranteed, responsibility to the country comes firstThe government's responsibility for the country and for the financially weaker citizens, comes before everything else, prime minister Costas Karamanlis said on Monday, opening a meeting of his ruling New Democracy (ND) party's parliamentary group, while he also stressed that the public's bank deposits were "absolutely guaranteed".
"Above all is our responsibility to the country, our care for the financially weaker, the people facing difficulties, who live with worry for the next day," Karamanlis told his MPs.
"The citizens demand to hear a clear-cut message on the country's course, the repercussions of the international crisis, and their day-to-day lives," Karamanlis said, and assured that "the government is in a state of constant vigilance, with a plan and clear-cut positions".
Greece, he said, is called on to withstand the pressure of the international state of affairs and to look forward with a plan, with determination, and with a sense of social responsibility.
Of exceptional importance was the fact that, in the midst of the international crisis, the Greek banking system "is secure and credit-worthy", while "the citizens' deposits are absolutely guaranteed", the premier said, stressing that the Greek economy "is shielded, and has strong resistance".
Karamanlis explained that the global economy was going through "a deep crisis of an unpredictable duration", and referred inter alia to the rise in interest rates, the acceleration of inflation, and the substantial increase in unemployment in many EU member countries.
In an extensive reference to the international economic crisis and its impact on the European and Greek economies, Karamanlis noted that the global economy, over the past year, has been going through a crisis, which influences the prices of raw materials and petrol.
Regarding the eurozone in particular, he said the international crisis was causing a substantial deceleration of growth, spurring the biggest inflation rate in the last 15 years, and a rise in interest rates and inflation.
"We are well aware of the effects on the Greek economy and the domestic pathogenies," Karamanlis said, noting that it was causing price increases, a rise in interest rates, and a slowdown of the growth rates.
However, he added, "the Greek economy is shielded by the reforms the government had carried out, and has strong resistance".
"The deficit has been reduced, the growth rates continue to be among the highest in the eurozone, and the unemployment rate is being reduced. The results of our policy affirm its correctness, and mandate a continuation and acceleration of the reforms policy," Karamanlis stressed.
The prime minister called for "increased cooperation" among ministers and parliamentary deputies, warning that "there will be no tolerance for closed doors by those who hold public posts".
"From today on, we are enhancing this cooperation, boosting our overture to society, and renewing our commitment to the citizens," Karamanlis said, and called on his MPs to put forward proposals and recommendations based on their input from the people.
The premier also criticized the opposition, saying that "some claim that there is no crisis, some do not see the rise in the international prices of oil and raw materials", adding: "What responsibility can those who do not see the crisis have? What credibility can those have, who promise benefits of millions of euros without saying where they will find the funds for them?".
"Those who are irresponsibly making promises, distorting (the true conditions), misleading (the public), leveling (everything), causing denial, nihilism and extremity are far removed from the reality. Even in these difficult times, due to the international crisis, they cannot find anything positive. They are acting without credibility and irresponsibly," the premier charged.
Turning to his government's priorities, Karamanlis said the first was the reinforcement of the financially weaker, by combating high prices and unemployment, allocation of a heating subsidy through activation of the Fund against poverty.
The reforms, he explained, were not an end in itself, but a response to the needs: "Why should the taxpayers pay three million euros a day for Olympic Airways (OA) and the Hellenic Rails Organization (OSE), when those monies could be channeled to upgrading education and social security, to boosting growth, the production of wealth and the social dividend?"
In self-criticism, Karamanlis acknowledged that "mistakes have been made, there have been delays, the government's cooperation with the parliamentary group has slackened", and gave instructions to his deputies and ministers: "I want to hear the proposals, recommendations and views of all of you".
He also said that the ND parliamentary group would meet more frequently, while the ministers would establish a specific day in the week for collaboration with the MPs.
"There is no tolerance to closed doors," the premier said, adding that the ministers would provide responses immediately to all the MPs, while all the ministries would move in the direction of the changes and reforms, and proceed with specific timetables for tackling the problems.
Another priority of the government, according to the prime minister, was the reform in the education sector, noting that the dialogue was proceeding for change of the higher education entrance system.
"We are moving forward to our third electoral victory," Karamanlis said, and stressed to his MPs: "You know the principles and values I serve. My only goal is contribution to the country. I will not compromise with the established interests."
Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Monday commented on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' speech at his New Democracy (ND) party's Parliamentary Group in the morning.
"We have a prime minister for internal party consumption," he said, adding that Premier Karamanlis "for quite some time now has abandoned his responsibilities as the country's prime minister and is dealing with the cover-up of guilty ministers and the handling of annoying deputies."
"He has nothing to say about the problems of the citizens," Papaconstantinou furthermore said, adding that "for this reason Greek society has turned its back to the government and to Mr. Karamanlis personally."
Alavanos says state should guarantee savings deposits
The head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos on Monday said the government should immediately pass legislation that would ensure a state guarantee of retail savings deposits in Greek banks, while scrapping a 2000 law that placed an upper limit of 20,000 euros on the amount of savings guaranteed.
"This is the only way that people can feel some security and the state can regain its regulatory role over the banking sector," Alavanos said during an Athens book launch, referring to a statement on this issue made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in his address to ruling New Democracy's Parliamentary group earlier the same day.
Referring to promises made by Karamanlis, who stressed that Greek banks were robust and that the government would be able to guarantee people's savings, he pointed out that the prime minister would not be in office forever and that the guarantor of saving deposits under the current law in Greece was not the state but a bank-sector "Deposits Guarantee" Fund that only covered up to 20,000 euros in savings.
 PASOK to table bill on ameliorating citizens' problemsMain opposition PASOK was to table in parliament on Monday a draft law for the immediate confrontation of the problems faced by the Greek citizens, party leader George Papandreou said on Monday, following a broad meeting with PASOK parliamentary officials.
The meeting, which took place after the traditional blessing at the opening of the new parliamentary plenary session following the summer recess, was held to examine the party's planning for the new parliamentary period.
Papandreou said that PASOK, "contrary to others", turns its words into action.
"Today, we are here to prove once again our consistency with the commitments we have assumed towards the Greek people for backing the family income, particularly that of the low and middle income brackets," Papandreou said.
The PASOK leader further said that more legislative initiatives would be forthcoming from the party.
 KKE vents opposition to OA privatisationCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday stressed that it should be made clear why national carrier Olympic Airlines (OA) is being privatised, addressing the board members of the Federation of Civil Aviation Trade Unions (OSPA).
"The government and the opposition 'confuse' the OA employees, and in essence, undermine colleague solidarity," she said, pointing out that the ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK blame each other for the situation plaguing the ailing national carrier.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party-affiliated trade group PAME held a protest on Monday at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport against the OA privatisation.
Local PAME members briefly occupied a runway, staging a sit-in protest.
 KKE's Papariga visits OA Technical BaseCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga accused the current New Democracy (ND) and former PASOK governments of systematically downgrading the national air carrier Olympic Airways (OA) with the purpose of selling it or even shutting it down completely.
Papariga, who made the comments before visiting the OA Technical Base and ahead of her meeting with OA worker union representatives on Monday, stressed that everything being said as regards alleged OA inherent weaknesses are nothing but lies.
She underlined that OA should not be sold and expressed the hope that no buyer will be found, suggesting that the entire issue of privatizations made during the past 20 years should be put on the table.
 Joint meeting in NY between Nimetz and representatives of Greece and FYROMNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
A joint meeting of the representatives of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with the special envoy of the UN Secretary General, Matthew Nimetz will take place on Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. (Greek time), at the seat of the United Nations.
According to a spokesman of the UN's Secretariat, Nimetz will make statements after the meeting.
On Tuesday night, Nimetz will have separate meetings with the representatives of the two sides.
 7th Conference of SETE on 'Tourism and Development'World Tourism Organization spokesman Geoffrey Lipman, addressing the first day of the sessions on Monday of the Federation of Greek Tourist Businesses (SETE), on the theme "Tourism and Development", said that Greece must utilize its cultural heritage, with priority to the protection of the environment, given that it wants to lead the world tourism developments.
He noted that from the past, Greece has shown significant capability of rejuvenating its tourism, given that it possesses strong natural and cultural advantages.
The Conference will come to a close on Tuesday afternoon with a speech by Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos.
 Grimaldi submits public offer to buy remaining shares in Minoan LinesGrimaldi Compagnia di Navigazione Spa on Monday announced its direct and indirect stake in Minoan Lines totaled 33.36 percent, or 23,664.295 common nominal shares with voting rights, of which 0.46 pct was direct participation and the remaining 32.90 pct indirect participation through Atlantica Spa Di Navigazione.
Following this development , Grimaldi Group submitted a public offer to acquire the remaining shares in Minoan Lines at a price of 5.29 euros per share. The offer was submitted on Friday, October 3. NBGI (a member of National Bank Group) acts as financial consultant with Grimaldi Group, while Intesa Sanpaolo SpA as mandate lead arranger.
 OA cancels Wednesday flights due to strikeOlympic Airlines (OA) has announced the cancellation of 50 domestic and foreign return flights from Athens on Wednesday due to a 24-hour strike by all state enterprises announced by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), in which the Federation of Civil Aviation Associations (OSPA) is taking part.
Passengers booked to fly on Wednesday are advised to contact the airline's local branch or call the telephone numbers 210 9666666 and 801 11 44444.
 GSEE announces 24-hour strike on Wednesday over public utilitiesThe General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) has announced a 24-hour strike on Wednesday for certain public utilities, such as the Greek Railway Organization (OSE), Olympic Airlines and the Greek Post Office.
GSEE is protesting against the policy which the government is following in these specific public utilities.
The OSE trains will be immobilized for 24 hours as the employees will take part in the strike. The Athens Metro will also come to a halt.
Regarding trolleys and buses, there will be two three-hour work stoppages from the start of the shift until 8 a.m. and from 10 p.m. until the end of the shift.
Olympic Airlines employees will also hold a 24-hour strike, resulting in only one flight per destination locally and one per country abroad.
 Groupama selected preferable investor for ATE InsuranceATEbank on Monday said it declared Groupama as the first preferable strategic investor in the sale of a 50.08 pct equity stake in ATE Insurance, after examining the two binding offers submitted by Groupama and Ergo.
In an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange, ATEbank said negotiations with Groupama will begin immediately.
 Int'l con'f on human resources management strategyA one-day conference on human resources management will take place in Thessaloniki on Oct. 17, hosted by City College, an affiliated institution of the University of Sheffield. The keynote speakers at the first-ever International Strategic People Management Workshop will be prominent professors from major foreign universities.
 Greek stocks plunged 5.85 pct on MondayGreek stocks plunged to their lowest levels since 2005, in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday. The composite index of the market fell 5.85 pct to end at 2,640.78 points, with turnover a moderate 247.2 million euros, of which 2.7 million were block trades.
All sectors moved lower with the Technology (7.99 pct), Raw Materials (7.89 pct), Food/Beverage (7.51 pct), Utilities (7.40 pct), Banks (6.96 pct), Industrial Products (6.88 pct) and Commerce (6.74 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day. The FTSE 20 index ended 6.08 pct down, the FTSE 40 index fell 5.33 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 5.56 pct lower. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 245 to 12 with another 19 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -5.54%
Personal & Household: -6.50%
Raw Materials: -7.89%
Travel & Leisure: -1.44%
Food & Beverages: -7.51%
Financial Services: -5.18%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank and EFG Eurobank Ergasias.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 14.38
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.82
HBC Coca Cola: 11.40
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.12
National Bank of Greece: 27.00
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 11.74
Piraeus Bank: 13.20
Titan Cement Company: 23.50
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 126.891 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.76 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 15,358 contracts worth 112.748 million euros, with 27,695 open positions in the market, while volume on equities totaled 11,580 contracts worth 12.003 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (2,209), followed by Eurobank (351), Marfin Investment Group (1,277), OTE (975), PPC (761), National Bank (1,735), GEK (462) and ATEbank (365).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 211 million euros on Monday, of which 106 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 105 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 101 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bond fell to 0.89 pct. The Greek bond yielded 4.67 pct and the German Bund 3.78 pct.
In money markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.48 pct, the six-month rate 5.41 pct, the three-month 5.34 pct and the one-month rate 5.15 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.374
Pound sterling 0.778
Danish kroner 7.519
Swedish kroner 9.844
Japanese yen 141.91
Swiss franc 1.565
Norwegian kroner 8.414
Canadian dollar 1.490
Australian dollar 1.836
 Liapis in Bucharest for HFC centre, exhibition openingsBUCHAREST (ANA-MPA - I. Randou)
Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Monday inaugurated an exhibition of Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons at the National Museum of Art in Bucharest, organised by the Hellenic Foundation of Culture (HFC).
"In Romania there are more than 800 Greek businesses, employing some 4,000 Greeks. We have made great strides in the economic sector and we wish to do the same in the cultural sector," Liapis noted at the opening.
The exhibition, entitled "From the Incarnation of Logos to the Theosis of Man," also coincides with the inauguration of the HFC Centre in Romania.
The 65 icons in the exhibition come from the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens, the Museum of Byzantine Culture of Thessaloniki, the Museum of Veroia, the Museum of Kastoria and the Benaki Museum in Athens.
A distinct unit is made up of the 14 icons by Theodore Poulakis from the Kontominas collection, all works that depict themes from the Old Testament. The icons belong to the Post-Byzantine Cretan School, which combines Byzantine technique with influences from Western European art.
As part of the opening of the exhibition, there will be a performance of "Memories of the Theotokos", directed by G. Remoundos-a Byzantine work for actress (Katerina Chelmi), solo singer (G. Remoundos), choir of chanters and Byzantine choir, with selected extracts from the Gospels that refer to memories of the Mother of God from the life and Passion of Christ (November 10-11).
The main sponsor of the exhibition is EFG Eurobank, which is a major shareholder in the Romanian based Bancpost, and the curator is Athens University History of Art professor Nikos Zias. It will run until January 15, 2009.
The Romanian HFC Centre is the first to open in a Balkan country. More such centres are scheduled to open in Sofia, Bulgaria next month, while in January 2009 two more centres will open in Belgrade and Tirana. Among their goals, is the dissemination of the Greek language abroad, with classes aimed mainly at adults and the academic community.
 Successful rescue operation for Bulgarian climber on Mt OlympusThe ordeal of nine Bulgarian climbers who were trapped on Mt Olympus, central Greece, when one of them was injured after a fall on a slippery path had a happy ending Monday morning. The rescue operation launched Sunday afternoon turned into a thriller when one of the participating helicopters was forced to carry out an emergency landing on the mountain slopes due to mechanical failure; and under severe weather conditions with very high winds, snow and low temperatures.
The injured climber, who suffered a broken leg, was taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Katerini by members of the Greek Rescue Team on Monday morning.
The Bulgarian was injured in a remote area at an altitude of 2,700 meters near the "Christos Kakkalos" climbers' shelter and his team members called for help using their mobile phones. A private helicopter attempted to supply the climbers with special equipment but at an altitude of 2,200 meters it made an emergency landing. The pilot and two rescue team members on board were not injured.
A Greek Air Force "Super Puma" all-weather helicopter took off soon after with four experienced climbers on board and landed at an altitude of 2,640 meters late Sunday evening. An EMAK special rescue team from Thessaloniki had also arrived in the region. The rescuers reached the shelter on foot during the night and the entire team of Bulgarian climbers, their injured partner included, were airlifted to safety the following morning.
 Conference on environmental protection methodsThe Earth's observation from space, using advanced methods with the purpose of ensuring better protection of the environment, was the topic of the one-day conference organised on Monday by the Institute for Space Applications and Remote Sensing, National Observatory of Athens at the Goulandris Natural History Museum.
State and local administration officials as well as representatives of citizens' groups were briefed on the use of innovative observation methods. They were also updated on the new actions undertaken by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission toward this direction mainly through the "Copernicus" satellite programme (former GMES) which provides valuable information to civil protection agencies, fire department, coast guard etc.
The Institute for Space Applications and Remote Sensing focuses, at a research level, on the study and management of the natural and human-made environment through the digital processing of satellite images, air and ground observation and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which capture, store, analyze, manage and present spatially referenced data.
 Greece avoids EU fine for Kouroupitos dumpGreece has permanently avoided European Commission fines for environmental transgressions at the Kouroupitos gorge, formerly the site of an illegal dump, and the Mesomouri waste bundling plant on the island of Crete, the Hania prefecture announced on Monday.
According to prefecture authorities, a European Commission team of experts visited the two sites in Akrotiri municipality, after which the Commission informed Greek authorities that it was dropping legal action after finding that both sites had been fully restored according to the specifications set by the Community.
 Bodies of 7 would-be migrants discovered in coast, waters off AlexandroupolisAuthorities in Alexandroupolis on Monday announced the gruesome discovery of seven bodies washed up on the border prefecture's beaches or floating off its coast over the past few days, with initial indications pointing to an ill-fated attempt by illegal migrants to land on Greek territory from neighbouring Turkey aboard a boat.
Based on documents found on two of the bodies, the victims are apparently Iraqi nationals.
The first body became entangled on Thursday in a fishing boat's nets off the port of Alexandroupolis, with another four bodies located by Sunday on the beach, including the body of a boy estimated to be around 10 years old. All of the bodies washed ashore in the region between the Evros River Delta and Alexandroupolis.
On Monday morning, a sixth body became entangled in fishing nets, while a final body was spotted on a nearby coastline in extreme northeast Greece.
The causes and exact times of death are to be determined by local medical examiners.
 Greek film festival in The HagueThe 2nd Greek Film Festival in The Hague will open its doors to the public on Oct. 30 until Nov. 2. The event is organised by the ethnic Greek community in the Dutch capital, in cooperation with the Greek embassy and the Federation of Greek Communities of the Netherlands.
The festival will feature recent Greek film productions and a Dutch documentary on roadside shrines in Greece, ubiquitous yet sad memorials to traffic accident victims.
 Mostly fair on TuesdayMostly fair weather with northwesterly winds are forecast in all parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 4-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 26C. Fair in Athens, with 3-4 beaufort northwesterly winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 24C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 23C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe crisis in the international credit system and its repercussions in Greece, the resuults of three new opinion polls, and the Vatopedi monastery scandal dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "A week of developments begins - Starting on Monday with the meeting of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's parliamentary group".
APOGEVMATINI: "Everyone must look out for himself - Europeans shocked by German leader Angela Merkel 's cynical statements".
AVRIANI: "Why main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou dreads the revelations in the Siemens slush funds affair".
CHORA: "Social security Funds and Banks losing billions of euros due to the decline on the Athens Stock Exchange".
ELEFTHEROS: "New shock in ND after claims that Development Minister Christos Folias is involved in a scandal with a real estate company".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Steep price hikes in food and oil - Black winter for households - Price increases of up to 67 percent in supermarkets and up to 30 percent in heating oil in October".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Five billion euros in new taxes - 2009 Budget: Second tax-raid after this year's 6 billion euros".
ESTIA: "Critical period for the economy- Political uncertainty is acting negatively".
ETHNOS: "Double shock from price hikes and fising interest rates - Borrowers and consumers in the vise of the financial crisis".
TA NEA: "Wild toying with bank deposits - Underground war over interest rates".
VRADYNI: "The cohesion battle - ND regaining the lost ground , PASOK upgraded rising in popularity, the latest opinion polls indicate".
 Bulgaria supports UN resolutions on Cyprus, says President ParvanovSOFIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Bulgaria supports all the UN resolutions on Cyprus that condemn the Turkish invasion to Cyprus in 1974 and calls for the withdrawal of the Turkish occupying troops, President of the Republic of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov has said.
Speaking at a press conference, after a meeting he held here Monday with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, who is paying an official visit to Sofia, Parvanov stated that "Cyprus must remain a unitary, sovereign state, with an extended to the whole island, sovereignty".
Parvanov welcomed the beginning of the direct negotiations' process, and congratulated President Christofias for that development, expressing hope for a positive outcome.
"Bulgaria supports any possible outcome that will be within the framework of the EU values, and will be at the best interest of the people of Cyprus, regardless their nationality and religion", he said.
Parvanov also pointed out that his country supports Turkey's EU accession course. However, he noted, every country wishes to become a full member of the EU should respect its regulations and its values.
"We hope the EU will actively seek for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem in the future", he added.
The Bulgarian president thanked President Christofias for the support of Cyprus towards Bulgaria's EU accession course.
Regarding the economic relations between Cyprus and Bulgaria, President Parvanov stressed that the investments in Bulgaria from Cyprus have mounted to 1.2 billion dollars. At the same time he expressed his conviction that the economic relations between the two countries will extend to new areas.
"I am standing here, next to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Parvanov, with a feeling of deep emotion", said on his part President Christofias and noted that in 1974 when Turkey invaded Cyprus and around 60% of the working population was unemployed, Bulgaria decided to host thousands of Cypriot workers.
"The people of Cyprus will never forget that nice and kind gesture", he said and added that the fact that 30.000 Bulgarian live and work today in Cyprus is "a small payback of that great gesture".
President Christofias noted that his visit to Sofia aims to renew and strengthen the friendship and the cooperation between Cyprus and Bulgaria within the new international environment and within the framework of the European Union, in which both countries are members.
The Cypriot President also thanked President Parvanov for his country's support towards Cyprus and the people of Cyprus in their fight for reunification.
Regarding the European Union issues, President Christofias said that despite the fact that Cyprus has not long experience in the EU, is ready to offer its expertise, in all areas, to the Bulgarian Government. At the same time, he added, the two countries will continue to cooperate and coordinate their policies within the context of international and regional organizations.
President Christofias and T/c leader Talat have been engaged in talks since early September, with a view to reach an agreement that willreunite Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Parvanov: solution must be backed by majority of CypriotsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
A solution to the Cyprus issue should be backed by the majority of the two communities on the island and must be in line with the acquis communautaire, Bulgarian President Georgi Sedefchov Parvanov has stressed, noting that Cyprus must remain a unified, territorially integral, sovereign state.
In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency on the occasion of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' official visit to Sofia, President Parvanov said that Turkey has to fulfill the obliga-tions it has undertaken for accession to the European Union. This, he added, must be a fundamental pre-requisite for the evaluation of the country's accession negotiations.
Parvanov expressed the view that Cyprus has a mission in the Middle East peace process and for this reason it believes that Cyprus' efforts to renew its friendly relations with the Arab countries will play a positive role.
Asked whether Bulgaria is prepared to use its relations with Turkey to help towards a solution to the Cyprus issue, Parvanov said his country advocates a fair, permanent and viable solution to the problem.
"Bulgaria's official position as regards the Cyprus problem has always been firm and consistent. We are saddened by the fact that despite the long-standing efforts on the part of the UN and the international community, the Cyprus problem remains unresolved. Bulgaria fully supports UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus and we support a fair, permanent and viable solution to the problem that will concentrate on the following principles".
Outlining these principles, he said Sofia respects "the indisputable right of the people of Cyprus to decide their own future, we back a solution which will be supported by the majority of the population of the two communities and will be in line with the acquis and the European achievements. The Republic of Cyprus should remain a united, independent, territorially integral state, the sovereignty of which should cover the entire island", he added.
Parvanov said the future structure of the state of Cyprus should respect the peaceful co-existence of the two communities in conditions of absolute security and respect of their legal interests.
"Cyprus, as an equal member of the European Union, should have a positive effect and will offer additional incentives for the solution to the Cyprus issue", the Bulgarian president remarked.
He said Bulgaria has expressed its position both at official fora and at bilateral meetings, including meetings with Turkey. "As a candidate state for accession to the EU, Turkey has undertaken the obligation to ratify and implement the Ankara protocol", Parvanov said, noting that although Bulgaria supports Turkey's European course and accession, "we believe that fulfilling the obligations it has undertaken will be a fundamental prerequisite for evaluating its readiness".
Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus' northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognise the government of Cyprus and refuses to meet its EU commitments, relating to Cyprus, including opening its ports and airports to Cypriot flagged vessels and aircraft.
The Bulgarian president expressed optimism that the efforts of the UN and the international community for a solution will continue and added: "we are anticipating that the new steps undertaken lately towards this direction and the negotiations that began between President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat will contribute to achieving the goal of finding a solution within 2008".
Asked about Cyprus's role in Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East as an EU member, Parvanov told CNA that his country acknowledges Cyprus' important geostrategic position in Eastern Mediterranean as well as its proximity to the Middle East.
"Cyprus has a mission in the Middle East peace process and for this reason I believe that Cyprus' renewed efforts to strengthen friendly relations with the Arab countries will strengthen this positive role", Parvanov said.
On bilateral relations, he said both countries wish to develop closer cooperation to increase trade and tourism, education and culture.
"Our countries have common interests", said Parvanov, adding that he is pleased with enhanced contacts between the two countries in the tourist industry, noting also the rising number of tourists visiting each other's country.
On Russia's relations with the US and the European Union, Parvanov said that his country acknowledges Russia's role as an important factor in European and world politics.
"During developments in the past months in Georgia, Russia has supported a position which we have not seen for many years", he said, adding that his country had contributed to the common position the EU has adopted with regard to this issue. At the same time, he said, Bulgaria has intensified the direct dialogue with these countries and is working intensely to become a regional energy factor.
"I must say that even through this complex situation, Bulgaria can be an effective and creative partner in international relations", Parvanov concluded.
 President Christofias: no impressive progress at talksLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias believes that there is no "impressive progress" at the direct talks he is engaged in with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mehmet Ali Talat.
However, the president also points out that it is early days in the ongoing talks and one must not express pessimism at this stage.
He said that the Greek Cypriot side will continue the dialogue with the Turkish Cypriots with good will and flexibility, defending the principles of a Cyprus settlement, that will reunite the country, which has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
In statements on Sunday evening before departing for Sofia, Bulgaria for an official visit, President Christofias said "the problem is that there is no impressive progress, not to say that there is no progress at all".
The president said he cannot be pessimistic. "We have just begun, only two meetings have taken place and there will be more", noting that there is a lot to discuss. For the time being, he said, "we are only talking about governance and I will remain cautiously optimistic despite the fact that at times I am anxious".
President Christofias said "We will continue the dialogue, defending principles, with good will and flexibility. The talks are under UN auspices and we aspire to reach an agreed solution that will serve the best interests of Cypriots and not of foreigners", he added.
The president dismissed as "fiction" reports that the UN are seeking an "express" process that might eventually lead to deadlines.
"The process remains as it is, I will meet Mr. Talat on Friday just as I have done so far but I have no idea about an 'express' process", he added.
The president refrained from any comment on the content of the talks, pointing out that there is a commitment to confidentiality.
On Talat's statements about a new partnership, President Christofias said Talat had not ruled out the possibility of having the current state of Cyprus being transformed.
"He is talking about a new partnership. This is the truth", said President Christofias, adding "our position is well known, we are not relinquishing the Republic of Cyprus. The Republic of Cyprus is the common state of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and this Republic of Cyprus, the united state, will evolve into a federal, bicommunal, bizonal state", the president concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island‘s northern third.
President Christofias and Talat began substantive talks on September 11, aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement. They are due to meet again on Friday.
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