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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-09

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

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

‘hursday, 9 October 2008 Issue No: 3016

CONTENTS

  • [01] FinMin on guarantee of bank deposits
  • [02] Inner cabinet meeting on economy
  • [03] Banking system safe and stable, BoE governor says
  • [04] PASOK spokesman on economy, PASOK's proposals
  • [05] FM Bakoyannis holds talks with Mladan Dinkic
  • [06] Greece, Cyprus vote for Serbian proposal at UN
  • [07] Bakoyannis address to Greek-Russian social forum
  • [08] Matthew Nimetz submits proposal on FYROM name
  • [09] Foreign ministry on FYROM name talks
  • [10] DM Meimarakis on FYROM name issue
  • [11] U.S. Defense secretary calls for 'urgent' solution of name issue
  • [12] Greece calls for UNHCR action on illegal migration
  • [13] Employment minister meets Synaspismos leader
  • [14] Archbishop of Albania a professor emeritus in Cyprus
  • [15] Greek economy grew 3.5 pct in second quarter
  • [16] Black Sea Economic Cooperation conference
  • [17] Greece, Moldova sign cooperation memorandum
  • [18] Workers demonstrate against public utility privatisations
  • [19] Greek inflation slowed to 4.6 pct in September
  • [20] Greek catering business worth 392.5 million euros, survey
  • [21] Building activity down 15.1 pct in Jan-July
  • [22] Greek stocks end 4.31 pct lower
  • [23] ADEX closing report
  • [24] Foreign Exchange rates: Thursday
  • [25] Grand celebration of the jubily of Apostle Paul
  • [26] Speech by de Villepin at the Athens Concert Hall
  • [27] Litheos River cleanup underway
  • [28] Cloud, showers on Thursday
  • [29] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [30] UNSG Special Adviser cautiously optimistic over direct negotiations
  • [31] Spokesman: Greek Cypriot side is not delaying negotiations
  • [32] British Minister welcomes commitment of leaders to solution Politics

  • [01] FinMin on guarantee of bank deposits

    A legislative regulation providing for guarantee of bank desposits of up to 100,000 euros, which will be in effect for the next three years, will be tabled in parliament in the next few days and will be incorporated into the draft law for protection of borrowers currently being discussed in parliament, economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis announced on Wednesday.

    Alogoskoufis said that the current 20,000 euros legislated guarantee benchmark will be raised to 100,000 euros, adding that the political commitment for protection of all deposits beyond the legislated 100,000 euros was in effect. He said the deposits guarantee was effectove fpr a;; banks active in Greece.

    The government's priority was to restore and boost confidence in the proper operation of the credit system, Alogoskoufis said, adding that any masure required will be taken for protection of deposits.

    Turning to Tuesday's meeting of the Council of EU Economy and Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) in Luxembourg, he said that the 27 member states had agreed to continue support for financial institutions, which were of great importance for the function of the systems.

    He said there would also be close cooperation among the EU '27' in actions to be made, while the possible cross-border impact of decisions taken at national level would also be taken into consideration. He clarified, however, that the underlying decision of the ECOFIN was that basic decisions for any interventions in the credit sector of a country would be taken at national, and not Community, level, and consequently each member country had the responsibility of intervention in order to do whatever its own credit system needed on the one hand, and on the other to coordinate with the other member countries so as to have coordinated action "given that we are a single market".

    ECOFIN further decided to avert distortions in handling between the European and American banks that could prospectively arise due to differing accounting regulations, Alogoskoufis said, adding that the national and Community interventions would be prompt, while the support would be of a temporary nature. The target, he said, was not to nationalise the European banking system but to restore confidence in it.

    [02] Inner cabinet meeting on economy

    The inner cabinet convened on Wednesday, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, and focused on economic issues.

    After the meeting, Development Minister Christos Folias stated that "intensified efforts, increased controls and stricter measures" will be the response to speculators, adding that the heating oil price will be announced shortly.

    Earlier, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had conferred separately with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in view of the meetings that the UN envoy for the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz will have in New York with the negotiators from Athens and Skopje.

    [03] Banking system safe and stable, BoE governor says

    Bank depositors in Greece received yet another reassurance by Bank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos on Wednesday, who stressed that the banking system in Greece is safe and stable and will weather the turbulence caused by the international financial crisis.

    Submitting the Bank of Greece 2008 Interim Report to Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, the Bank of Greece governor stressed that both the Greek economy and banking system are in a comparatively better position despite the strong turbulence caused by the international financial crisis.

    Provopoulos stressed that repercussions will not be avoided pointing out, however, that the Greek banking system managed to stand on its feet because it was not exposed to risky financial products and is not overly dependent on capital markets. "Profits will be affected but not to an extent that could cause concern," Provopoulos said, adding that "the conclusion is that bank depositors should rest assured that their money is safe."

    "The assurance that the Greek banking system is safe and stable is very important," Parliament President Sioufas stated, adding that it concerns the general public, private citizens and businesses.

    [04] PASOK spokesman on economy, PASOK's proposals

    Main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou, referring to the address made at the party's Parliamentary Group by leader George Papandreou on Tuesday and to the proposals the latter made on shielding the economy, said that "it is a pity that there was no response by the government to these proposals and, instead of this, various things about populism by PASOK were heard both from the finance minister and the alternate government spokesman."

    "The decrease in interest rates (by the European Central Bank, the Federal Bank of the United States and the Bank of England) is a move in the right direction and will help the European eonomy to find once again a part of its development momentum and with appropriate supplementary and suitable policies which, unfortunately, do not exist in our country, can help towards creating more jobs and more investments," the spokesman said.

    Papaconstantinou also believes that Tuesday's decisions by Ecofin on increasing the deposits guaranteeing limit to 50,000 euros and by the Greek government to 100,000 euros "are moving in the right direction."

    Asked to comment on an interview by PASOK official Anna Diamantopoulou who did not deny that PASOK would impose taxes, Papaconstantinou said that "it is evident that every government imposes taxes, but our difference is that (ruling) New Democracy (ND) imposes taxes to the many and gives tax breaks to the few."

    [05] FM Bakoyannis holds talks with Mladan Dinkic

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Serbian deputy prime minister and economy and regional development minister Mladan Dinkic discussed on Wednesday Greece's commitment on the completion of the European X Corridor that will turn Thessaloniki into the most important port in the Balkans, as well as the international monetary crisis and the issue of Kosovo.

    The Serbian minister thanked the Greek side for its commitment to pay the amount of 100 million euros over the next four years for the implementation of the European Corridor in the framework of the Greek Plan on Balkan Reconstruction and said that the commencement of its construction is set for this coming spring and its cost is estimated at 600 million euros.

    He also received assurances during the meetings he held in Athens with Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis as well on the good course of Greek banks that are active in his country and opposed panic moves.

    He thanked Greece for its support for Serbia's effort to promote through the UN General Assembly the issue of the legality or not of Kosovo's unilateral independence at the International Court at The Hague.

    As regards relations with the European Union, Dinkic said that although Serbia's views differ from the EU on the issue of Kosovo and this is an important element, he stressed that "as is also the case with families, we cannot agree on everything. We shall remain a factor of stability in the region and we are interested primarily in economic progress and underlined the importance of abolishing visas for Serb citizens."

    [06] Greece, Cyprus vote for Serbian proposal at UN

    UNITED NATIONS (ANA-MPA/P.Panayiotou)

    The UN General Assembly endorsed, on Wednesday evening, a request by Serbia to appeal at the International Court at the Hague regarding the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of indepence (UDI).

    The UN General Assembly adopted a draft resolution tabled by Belgrade by which the International Court at the Hague should opine on "whether the unilateral declaration of independence by the autonomous administration of Kosovo is in accordance with international law."

    77 countries voted in favour of Serbia's proposal, 6 against and 74 abstained.

    While many European Union member-states abstained from the vote, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Slovakia and Romania voted in favour of the draft resolution.

    [07] Bakoyannis address to Greek-Russian social forum

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday addressed a message to the first Greek-Russian social forum that met in Athens, which was read out by Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis. In her message, Bakoyannis underlined the strong ties between Greece and Russia, both historically and at present, through their economic relations and energy cooperation.

    The forum will convene on Wednesday and Thursday in the Greek capital and is organised by the Ioannis Kapodistrias Centre of European Studies and Humanities and the Centre for Hellenic-Russian Historical Studies.

    Bakoyannis underlined the importance of the partnership relations between Athens and Moscow, while underlining Moscow's important role in resolving complex international issues and ensuring the stability and security of Europe.

    The cooperation in the energy sector with Russia included a series of plans that would meet Europe's needs in terms of energy security as well, she added.

    The start of the forum was also addressed by the Russian Ambassador to Athens Andrei Vdovin, who expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Greek government, even in the face of external pressures, to develop bilateral ties with Russia.

    While always good, he underlined that bilateral Greek-Russian relations had reached their zenith with the agreements signed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Vladimir Putin when he was Russia's president.

    [08] Matthew Nimetz submits proposal on FYROM name

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    The UN secretary general's special envoy, Matthew Nimetz, submitted to Athens and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) a package of ideas for a solution to the problem of FYROM's name, during his meeting on Wednesday with Greek Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis and FYROM's negotiators Nikola Dimitrov and Martin Protoger at the international organisation's headquarters.

    Speaking after the meeting, Nimetz said "there is no timetable" and added that "it is not the end of the road."

    The envoy pointed out that, as he believes, his proposal constitutes a "fair basis" for a solution and that he is not preoccupied with internal issues in the two countries.

    Nimetz also said that he will await the replies of the two sides in two to three weeks.

    [09] Foreign ministry on FYROM name talks

    The foreign ministry said Wednesday Greece was assessing a new set of ideas, submitted earlier in the day by Matthew Nimetz, the UN Secretary General's special envoy on talks for solving the 'name issue' of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    "We are assessing with the necessary attention and in a constructive mood also, the set of ideas submitted today by the UN Secretary General's personal envoy, Mr. Nimetz, to the negotiators and then we will inform him on our conclusions," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in a statement.

    "We always present and elaborate, in a concrete and clear manner, on our positions, the reliability and seriousness of which nobody questions. Greece honestly wishes the final solution of this important issue in a mutually acceptable manner, without winners and loosers. We believe this can be feasible," Koumoutsakos concluded.

    [10] DM Meimarakis on FYROM name issue

    SKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)

    Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis said on Wednesday at the end of the conference of defence ministers from the countries of southeastern Europe, held in the city of Ohrid, it was clear to all that if the pending issue of the FYRM name was not resolved the euroatlantic perspective of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) cannot go ahead.

    "I believe that Greece took the necessary steps to enable us to find ourselves halfway on the issue of the name. If the other side also takes the necessary steps, then this problem can close once and for all thus opening the road for the accession of FYROM to all the international organisations," he added.

    Meimarakis noted that Greece considers FYROM a friendly country and this is also proved by the active Greek business presence in FYROM. He stressed that the pending issue of the name has not prevented, in all the past years, the development of bilateral cooperation.

    The minister also expressed the hope that the new efforts by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, on finding a solution to the pending issue of the name, will produce results and in this way the seeking of a mutually acceptable solution will be made possible, which will be based on a composite name with a geographical qualifier.

    Lastly, Meimarakis underlined that Greece unreservedly supports the euroatlantic perspective of all the countries in the region, since it believes that such a development contributes to the strengthening of security and stability in the Balkans.

    [11] U.S. Defense secretary calls for 'urgent' solution of name issue

    OHRID (ANA-MPA - N. Frangopoulos)

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Wednesday urged Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to settle their dispute over FYROM's name as a matter of urgency.

    "We encourage [FYROM] and Greece to urgently find a solution to the name issue. This would be something very important for both countries," he stressed. In response to questions, meanwhile, he emphasised that there was only one way to join NATO, which was based on the principle of unanimity.

    He was speaking after successive meetings on the sidelines of the Southeastern European Defence Ministers (SEDM) meeting with FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski and FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

    [12] Greece calls for UNHCR action on illegal migration

    Greece's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Ambassador Franciscos Verros, on Wednesday appealed to the UN High Commission for Refugees Executive Committee for cooperation with the transit countries for illegal migration. The Greek representative also called on those countries to take action aimed at tackling the problem of illegal migration and human-trafficking affecting the Mediterranean and Greece.

    Speaking during the UNHCR's 59th Executive Committee session being held in Geneva from October 6-10 to review and approve the agency's programmes and budgets and to advise on protection matters, Ambassador Verros referred to the measures taken by Greece and pointed out that it actively supports the French initiative for the creation of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

    He also noted Greece's offer to host the European Asylum Support Bureau when this was founded.

    The ambassador also pointed out that Greece, due to its extensive coastline, was receiving an ever-increasing number of illegal immigrants over the past five years. He reported that the entry of 112,000 illegal migrants into Greece was recorded in 2007 alone, while asylum requests increased 461 percent between 2004 and 2007.

    [13] Employment minister meets Synaspismos leader

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Fanny Palli-Petralia on Wednesday met with Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras.

    After the meeting, the minister described Tsipras' proposals as "useful" and noted the volition of all the political forces to safeguard the social security system.

    Earlier in the day, the Synaspismos leader submitted to Palli-Petralia his party's three proposals regarding the economic situation of the funds. He called for the return of bonds to the banks and the corresponding capital (about 700 million euros) to the social security funds.

    He also called for the state's old bonds which are at the funds to be replaced with new bonds for the purpose of pensions.

    The minister stated that the insured and the wealth of the funds have the guarantee of the Greek state, noting that the funds do not include "toxic" bonds.

    [14] Archbishop of Albania a professor emeritus in Cyprus

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA / A. Viketos)

    Archbishop Anastasios of Albania stated that Cyprus is entering a new period of prosperity and expressed the wish that it will be both spiritual and cultural. He made the comment upon his departure from the island on Wednesday, ending a formal visit to the Church of Cyprus.

    On his part, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus announced that the Church of Cyprus intends to undertake to solve the economic problems faced by the Church of Albania as regards the payment of the wages of its clergy.

    Meanwhile, the University of Cyprus has decided to bestow the title of professor emeritus upon Archbishop Anastasios. A special ceremony will be held next year.

    Financial News

    [15] Greek economy grew 3.5 pct in second quarter

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    The Greek economy grew by 3.5 percent in the second quarter of 2008, compared with the corresponding period last year, according to revised figures released by Eurostat on Wednesday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency said economic growth in the Eurozone was 1.4 pct in the second quarter, while in the EU-27 growth reached 1.7 pct. GDP growth in the US and Japan was 2.1 pct and 0.8 pct, respectively. Romania (9.3 pct), Slovakia (7.6 pct) recorded the highest growth rates, while Estonia (1.0 pct) and Ireland (-0.7 pct) the lowest growth rates.

    [16] Black Sea Economic Cooperation conference

    Development Minister Christos Folias on Wednesday addressed a Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (OSEP) conference on trade opportunities in the energy sector, stressing the importance of energy cooperation for peace and prosperity in the wider region of the Black Sea and southeastern Europe.

    According to Folias, the international community recognises the importance of the Black Sea region as an energy hub at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. As he said, interest in developments in the region was increasing and the expectations created were high.

    He further noted that it was extremely encouraging that the Black Sea zone was currently the second fastest developing region in the world after Eastern Asia since, according to data by the Black Sea Bank, its growth rates are approaching 6 percent.

    The development minister stressed that "the Greek position is explicit and clear. Energy balance is a precondition for peace and the prosperity of peoples. For this reason, the effort to develop cooperations must be constant, overriding hesitations, postponements and delays."

    He further said that "the Greek extroversive energy strategy is unfolding on these focal options. A strategy that highlights Greece's hub position between Europe and Asia at the intersection point of the system of the three seas: the Caspian, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean."

    Folias went on to say that "Greece has proved that it is a reliable partner in large scale initiatives (the Turkish-Greek-Italian natural gas pipeline, the South Stream pipeline, the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline) for the promotion of considerable development targets."

    The minister added that "our targets in the new era that is opening for the region must be the addition of strength, the exploitation of cooperations, good coordination and an increase in effectiveness to enable us to maximise the benefits for all our citizens."

    On his part, Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for economic diplomacy Petros Doukas stressed that the fact that the price of oil has decreased does not mean that energy ceases to be a main issue in internataional politics and, as he said, prices in the energy sector constitute a priority.

    [17] Greece, Moldova sign cooperation memorandum

    Greece and Moldova signed on Wednesday a memorandum of cooperation in the sectors of energy, particularly renewable energy sources.

    The memorandum was signed by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas and Moldovan Energy deputy minister Toudor Kopotsi on the sidelines of the International Black Sea Energy Policy conference.

    The memorandum provides for the implementation of a programme jointly funded by the Greek foreign ministry's Hellenic Aid service and USAID. According to Doukas, "it lays the foundations for concrete efforts by all interested parties, private and public sectors from both sides, towards a sustainable and environment friendly development of Moldova."

    [18] Workers demonstrate against public utility privatisations

    Employees of public utilities and other state enterprises on Wednesday carried out a rally and protest march, coinciding with a 24-hour strike held the same day, to demonstrate against the privatisation of companies in the broader public sector.

    The strikers gathered at Klathmonos Square in central Athens and then marched to Parliament.

    In speeches at the rally, trade unionists accused the government of "selling off public property" and warned that they would continue and escalate their protest action until the government reversed its policies.

    Among those addressing the rally was the head of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) Yiannis Panagopoulos, president of Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation, the president of the OSPA civil aviation staff union Manolis Patestos, the head of the Port Workers Federation Georgos Georgakopoulos and the general secretary of the Railway Staff Federation Andreas Vassilopoulos.

    Also taking part in the rally were delegations of MPs sent by main opposition PASOK and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group.

    [19] Greek inflation slowed to 4.6 pct in September

    Greek inflation slowed to 4.6 percent in September, compared with the corresponding month in 2007, but was sharply up compared with a 2.9 pct reading in September 2007, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service, in a monthly report, said the country's harmonized consumer price index was up 4.7 pct in September, while the core inflation rate was 3.8 pct in the same month.

    The statistics service attributed the 4.6 percent inflation rate in September to a 10.8 pct rise in housing prices, a 5.9 pct increase in transportation prices, a 5.5 pct rise in hotel-coffee-restaurants, a 4.9 pct increase in education, a 4.0 pct rise in healthcare prices and a 3.9 pct increase in food and beverage prices.

    Commenting on the figures, Manolis Kontopyrakis, National Statistics Service's secretary-general said the inflation rate was 4.57 on average in the nine-month period from January to September 2008, up from 2.62 pct in the corresponding period last year. He predicted that the inflation rate would fall by at least 0.2 pct in October.

    [20] Greek catering business worth 392.5 million euros, survey

    The catering services business is worth 392.5 million euros in Greece, a survey by Hellastat SA said on Wednesday. The food supply sector includes around 3,000 enterprises, with the vast majority offering reception catering services. Reception catering accounts for 51 pct of the market, which also includes industrial catering and airline catering services.

    Reception catering is a highly seasonal business (with high season in the period from May to September), while only a few companies are involved in the industrial catering business. The airline catering business is very specialized.

    The industry faces increasing pressures on its profit margins from high prices for raw materials, along with a lack of skilled human resources.

    [21] Building activity down 15.1 pct in Jan-July

    Building activity fell by 16.8 pct in permits and 15.1 pct in volume in the eight-month period from January to July 2008, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service, in a monthly report, said building activity fell throughout most regions in the country, except from South Aegean, where an increase of 6.2 percent was recorded in the January-July period.

    Attica (24.3 pct) and eastern Macedonia-Thrace (21.5 pct) recorded the biggest percentage declines in building activity.

    [22] Greek stocks end 4.31 pct lower

    Greek stocks plummeted in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, following sharp losses in other European markets as investors ignored a coordinated spectacular rate cut move by global central banks.

    The composite index of the market ended at 2,512.01 points, off 4.31 percent, with turnover a heavy 377.4 million euros, of which 7.9 million were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Banks (6.48 pct), Raw Materials (5.89 pct), Telecommunications (4.94 pct) and Technology (4.84 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Oil (2.47 pct), Healthcare (0.52 pct) and Food/Beverage (0.24 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index dropped 5.15 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.67 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell 3.66 pct.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 206 to 38 with another 30 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.72%

    Industrials: -1.45%

    Commercial: -2.25%

    Construction: -0.85%

    Media: -4.70%

    Oil & Gas: +2.47%

    Personal & Household: -2.39%

    Raw Materials: -5.89%

    Travel & Leisure: -3.71%

    Technology: -4.84%

    Telecoms: -4.94%

    Banks: -6.48%

    Food & Beverages: +0.24%

    Health: +0.52%

    Utilities: -4.41%

    Chemicals: -2.39%

    Financial Services: -2.34%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, Alpha Bank and OTE.

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

    Alpha Bank: 13.72

    ATEbank: 2.01

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.14

    HBC Coca Cola: 11.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.34

    National Bank of Greece: 24.50

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 11.00

    Intralot: 6.10

    OPAP: 20.50

    OTE: 11.16

    Bank of Piraeus: 12.18

    Titan Cement Company: 24.00

    [23] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising further to 171.758 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.32 pct, while volume on the Big Cap index totaled totaled 20,626 contracts worth 143.344 million euros, with 29,387 open positions in the market. Volume on the Mid Cap index totaled one contract worth 13,850 euros, with five open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 20,309 contracts worth 27.632 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6.495), followed by Marfin Investment Group (1,138), OTE (1,645), PPC (960), Piraeus Bank (1,051), Alpha Bank (1,213), Marfin Popular Bank (1,597) and Intralot (935).

    [24] Foreign Exchange rates: Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.384

    Pound sterling 0.787

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 9.757

    Japanese yen 139.53

    Swiss franc 1.566

    Norwegian kroner 8.464

    Canadian dollar 1.522

    Australian dollar 2.018

    General News

    [25] Grand celebration of the jubily of Apostle Paul

    Events will be held at Iraklio, Crete, on October 16 for the jubily of Apostle Paul. Present will be Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios, Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos and Metropolitan of Pergamos Ioannis who will coordinate the session of the Symposium on Apostle Paul, which will be held at Saint Titos Church.

    According to the program which was announced by the Organizing Committee, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the other prelates of the Orthodox Churches will arrive at Iraklio airport at 8:30 a.m. on October 16. There, they will be welcomed by Archbishop of Crete Irineos, the members of the Holy Provincial Synod and by local officials.

    From the airport, the prelates of the Orthodox Churches will go to Saint Minas Church, in the court of which, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will deliver a message to the holy clerics, the monastic brotherhood and to the people of Crete.

    [26] Speech by de Villepin at the Athens Concert Hall

    Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin on Wednesday spoke at an event held at the Athens Concert Hall.

    "We have need of more Europe and the present crisis has shown that our world is becoming complex, as when the Americans do everything by themselves, they lead to conflicts," he said.

    Welcoming Villepin as the "diplomat, politician, intellectual and poet", the president of ELIAMEP, Loukas Tsoukalis recalled the former prime minister's "impressive speech" at the UN Security Council during the war in Iraq, "when he defended the international rules and legality".

    "The world today is split and particularly dangerous and it must acquire a common language and to follow common world rules," de Villepin said.

    [27] Litheos River cleanup underway

    The last part of the Litheos River cleanup project has been launched, authorities announced on Wednesday. It will focus on the region lying between Agios Konstantinos and Rizario in the municipality of Trikala, central Greece.

    The clean-up and maintenance of the old Litheos riverbed, a project with an estimated cost of 300,000 euros undertaken by the local prefecture, first got underway three years ago.

    Weather Forecast

    [28] Cloud, showers on Thursday

    Cloudy and showery weather with northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 9C and 26C. Partly cloudy in Athens, with 3-5 beaufort northeasterly winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 25C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 23C.

    [29] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The ECOFIN Council's decision on the international economic crisis, the government's decision to increase the guaranteed deposits in banks up to 100,000, the Vatopedi monastery affair and the Siemens scandal dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "FinMin George Alogoskoufis' decision: The state guarantees deposits in banks of up to 100,000 euros".

    APOGEVMATINI: "100,000 euros the guarantee in deposits".

    AVGHI: "Toxic bonds in social security Funds - The Funds' reserves are being gambled after a governmental decision".

    AVRIANI: "Siemens high ranking cadre involved with the slush funds Reinhard Sicaczek gives away names and code numbers".

    CHORA: "Karamanlis puts pressure to his ministers - He started surpise visits to ministries".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Karamanlis woke up and remembered after five years New Democracy's (ND) program against the high cost of living".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Deposits are secure, 'black hole' in loans".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "1.4 trillion euros damage - UN speaks of crisis of the century and the International Monetary Fund counts the losses".

    ESTIA: "Back to 'socialism-mania' - New Democracy swerves from it's ideology".

    ETHNOS: "High cost of living is everyone else's fault except the prime minister's".

    KATHIMERINI: "Global alert over the crisis ".

    LOGOS: "100,000 the guaranteed deposit - Alogoskoufis doubles ECOFIN's agreed ceiling".

    NIKI: "High cost of living 'strikes' Karamanlis- After five years of governance, he understood finally the households' major problem".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Mockery of the people - Government's preannouncement over the crisis and high cost of living - EU, ND and PASOK support profiteering".

    TA NEA: "3,452 euros in extra taxes will be paid by every family in 2009".

    TO VIMA: "European FinMins decided to raise the guaranteed deposit to 100,000 euros in the eurozone".

    VRADYNI: "Financial crisis strikes real estate and constructions".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [30] UNSG Special Adviser cautiously optimistic over direct negotiations

    LARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    UN Secretary General Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said he was cautiously optimistic about the process of direct negotiations on the Cyprus question, noting that "both leaders are very much committed to a successful outcome."

    Speaking to the press upon his arrival Wednesday on the island, after holding meetings in New York, Washington and Brussels on the Cyprus question, Downer said, "There is hope that we can see the leaders taking the process forward here in the next few weeks and continue to build on the meetings and the agreements that they 've made so far."

    Referring to his meetings abroad, Downer said he was in New York where he met the UN Secretary General, had an informal meeting with the five permanent members of the Security Council to discuss the Cyprus problem and met a number of other United Nations officials.

    "I have been to Washington and spoken to senior government officials, I have been in Brussels and talked to the European Commission and the representatives and the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers," Downer said, adding that it was very fruitful for him to have the opportunity to talk to such a range of people.

    Asked if there is a message from New York and Brussels that he will convey to the two leaders on Friday, when their meeting in the framework of the direct negotiations will take place, Downer said "I will pass any messages I have to the leaders themselves."

    Noting that international financial crisis hits every corner of the globe, Downer stressed that "if the world can see that there is progress in a long standing issue like Cyprus it will give the world a boost and a moral at a time when it really needs a booster of its moral."

    "So there is hope that we can see the leaders taking the process forward here in the next few weeks, and continue to build on the meetings and the agreements that they 've made so far. We are all very hopeful and as I have said many times before I am cautiously optimistic about this process because I know that both leaders are very much committed to a successful outcome," he added.

    Invited to say if he noticed Talat saying one thing inside the talks and something else in public, Downer said that he was following the different things different people say as well as reports in the media.

    He added that "the job of the United Nations is to do what we can to try and help the process and not inject negative criticism of people but instead to look at ways of being helpful and build for the outcome. The important thing is that everybody focuses on what ultimately can be achieved here," he added.

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct talks since early September, with a view to reach an agreement that will reunite Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [31] Spokesman: Greek Cypriot side is not delaying negotiations

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Wednesday that the impression, which some circles are trying to give with regard to the direct negotiations on the Cyprus question, attributing the delay to the stance of the Greek Cypriot side and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, does not respond to reality.

    "If the two sides present rational positions, positions that abide by all those that have been agreed all these years, it is in the framework of the negotiating basis that has been agreed, and the positions serve the goal of a settlement providing for a bizonal-bicommunal federation then with these positions we help the negotiations to move forward," he said.

    Stephanou also noted that Christofias and Talat would meet on Friday in the framework of the direct negotiations while they will also have a private meeting. Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct talks since early September, with a view to reach an agreement that will reunite Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Invited to comment on the visit of British Minister for Europe Caroline Flint to Cyprus, Stephanou said that during her meeting Wednesday with President Christofias, the latter had the opportunity to brief Flint on the course of the negotiations and developments on the Cyprus question, but also about the situation in the Cyprus question in general.

    Stephanou said that the British minister conveyed the message that Britain supports efforts by the two communities in Cyprus to solve the Cyprus question, having in mind that the whole process is in the hands of Cypriots, it belongs to the Cypriots, something which Britain, the international community and the UN accept, as he noted.

    Replying to another question, Stephanou said that some circles support that the whole process is delaying and that the negotiations must be intensified; giving the impression that it is the Greek Cypriot side and President Christofias that are responsible for this delay.

    "This does not respond to reality," Stephanou said.

    He noted that the two leaders had other obligations and therefore after their last meeting on September 18 they could not meet earlier than Friday, October 10.

    Stephanou also noted that what is most important is what each side presents at the negotiation table, the will it shows and if it has the will for the negotiations to move on.

    He added that if the positions being submitted are contradicting to what has been set as the basis of the talks, then negotiations will not move forward.

    The spokesman expressed regret, because as he said, the difficulties that have come up until now have to do with the fact that the Turkish Cypriot side presents positions that do not support and do not serve the goal of reaching a settlement and to the reunification of the country, in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    [32] British Minister welcomes commitment of leaders to solution

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The British Minister for Europe, Caroline Flint, has said the UK remains committed to supporting the new direct negotiation process for the solution of the Cyprus problem, which began last month between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities.

    Speaking here Wednesday, after a meeting with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, Flint said that she is really "pleased to be here in such an important time, for both communities on the island".

    "I had a very constructive meeting with the President and I look forward to the rest of my trip, to listen and learn, but to also ensure that everyone is aware of our commitment to this historic process and hopefully to make it a success", she added.

    Asked if she is concerned about a loss of momentum in the negotiating process, Flint underlined that President Christofias has clearly expressed to her his desire to keep the momentum going.

    "I think this is very important", Flint said, noting that "both President Christofias and Mr. Talat have publicly said they are committed to this process".

    The British minister also stressed the need to maintain a momentum.

    "This is a matter to find solution for Cypriots by Cypriots and we stand by to give our support to that in whatever way we can", she said.

    Flint encouraged the two leaders to continue the negotiations. "What is always important in these situations is to keep talking," she noted and added: "It is not easy, but to keep the talking going is a really important sign that the momentum is still there".

    Earlier, Flint met Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou. Speaking after the meeting that took place at the Foreign Ministry, Kyprianou congratulated Flint on her appointment and wished her every success in this difficult task.

    Kyprianou expressed his appreciation "that just a couple of days after she took office, she visited Cyprus. This demonstrates the commitment of the UK government in this new effort", he added.

    "We had the opportunity to discuss our positions regarding the Cyprus issue in this new effort, the prospects, the difficulties, the hopes that we have for this new process, but also we catch up on other European issues, especially those that will concern the European Council'' next week in Brussels, the minister said.

    The Cypriot foreign minister noted that there is a common understanding on most of these important European issues, like the environment, climate change, energy issues and immigration.

    Flint stressed the importance the UK attaches to the relationship between Britain and Cyprus, and her commitment to supporting the new Cyprus process.

    "It is clear for me, from the discussion with Mr. Kyprianou, that there is a genuine and strong commitment within the government to find a solution, and I really applaud the progress that has already been achieved", she said.

    "Clearly this must be a solution by Cypriots for Cypriots", Flint pointed out and concluded: "I am also here to learn what support the UK can provide to assure that this opportunity is not missed".

    President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct talks since early September, with a view to reach an agreement that will reunite Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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