|Saturday, 17 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 17 October 2008 Issue No: 3023
 PM: Support for incomes, no new taxesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The plan for supporting the Greek financial system seeks to ensure stability and protect incomes, especially lower incomes, loan holders and depositors, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday. He also stressed his opposition to abandoning or greatly relaxing the EU Stability Pact because of the credit crisis.
"A reversal of the stability pact should be neither expected nor should it happen," the Greek premier told reporters during a press conference, in which he presented the decisions made by the European Council.
Karamanlis appeared sanguine about the state of the Greek economy in general, noting that Greece was in a better position than most European countries and that Greek banks were much less exposed to "toxic" products. Though the country would unavoidably be affected by the broader repercussions of the international credit crisis, he pointed out that even the highly conservative forecasts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted annual growth rates above 2 percent for Greece, significantly above those of other EU countries.
He stressed, meanwhile, that the government was closely watching the situation and ready to intervene if necessary.
According to Karamanlis, the measures to support the Greek financial system would not lead to a change of taxation policy and Greeks should not expect to see any new taxes. He said that the reforms already passed would broaden the tax base while not increasing the tax burden on low and middle incomes.
Regarding the EU Stability Pact, the Greek premier stressed that this was not divorced from real economic conditions but added that these issues would be discussed in more detail at the next ECOFIN Council. He warned people not to expect any radical departures from the implementation of the pact, however, saying that EU countries would continue to operate within its framework while taking advantage of recent revisions allowing greater flexibility in its implementation.
Under provisions introduced in the latest revision of the Stability Pact, greater "flexibility" in its implementation is allowed in "extraordinary circumstances", similar to the ones observed today as a result of the credit crisis and the fears of a global economic recession.
Karamanlis underlined the importance of providing support for small and middle-sized businesses and of a plan being prepared by the European Investment Bank. For the support of lower incomes in Greece, meanwhile, he repeated a pledge to activate the Social Cohesion Fund and provide benefits for heating to those hardest-hit by the crisis, such as pensioners and the unemployed.
Regarding the decisions taken by the 27 EU leaders, the Greek premier said these aimed to restore confidence in the financial system throughout the Community. To achieve this, the European Council on Thursday agreed on a series of measures, such as a European early warning mechanism that would point out dangers threatening the economies of EU member-states, regular meetings of national regulatory bodies on a monthly basis and EU initiatives in collaboration with the Community's international partners to reform the finance system.
Karamanlis also outlined decisions taken by the 27 EU leaders on a number of other issues discussed during the summit, which was originally held to discuss action against climate change.
With respect to the stalled Lisbon Treaty, blocked since its rejection in an Irish referendum, he said this would be discussed in depth at the December summit, when the Irish side was expected to present specific proposals.
Regarding action against climate change, he reported only that Greece would not seek to be exempted from the implementation of Community policies that had already been decided.
Karamanlis further told reporters that he had sent a letter to European Council President Nicolas Sarkozy and his other EU counterparts on the issue of illegal immigration and asylum, asking them to display a spirit of solidarity with all the countries that, like Greece, were on the frontiers of Europe and faced strong migration pressures. Greece had also clearly supported further strengthening FRONTEX, the EU agency charged with coordinating EU member-state cooperation in policing the EU's external borders.
Commenting on developments in Georgia, Karamanlis expressed satisfaction at the prompt withdrawal of Russian troops from the Caucasus.
 PASOK spokesman on PM's interviewMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papa-constantinou, referring on Thursday to the press conference given by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis after the European Union summit in Brussels, said that he did not contribute to the EU's discussion".
"From al that the prime minister said it is evident that he did not turn up at the summit with proposals, he did not contribute to the discussion," the spokesman said.
Papaconstantinou referred to the proposals made by PASOK President George Papandreou regarding the European Investments Fund and the reconsideration of the role of the European Central Bank, as well as the Stability Pact, stressing that "none of this was on the prime minister's agenda."
The spokesman also expressed the party's concern over the possible slipping of Greece, due, as he said, to the crisis and policies on climatic changes, to the role of the "poor relative" and pointed out that the prime minister had offered assurances in his statements and added that "we want to be certain that Greece will not back down from these policies."
 PM: Gov't wants Vatopedi affair fully exposedBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday sternly defended his decision to request the establishment of a Parliamentary investigation committee for the politically charged Vatopedi Monastery land exchange furor, amid criticism by the opposition that he reversed his previous view on such committees.
"I have not changed my mind over when such investigation committees, in general terms, should be established, with the difference being that in this case, and following what (recently) occurred in the justice system, there was an attempt to create the impression that the government did not want to the bring the matter to Parliament and, in fact, was attempting a cover-up," Karamanlis said from Brussels in reference to this week's resignation by two prosecutors assigned to the Vatopedi case.
"We have nothing to hide and all our actions, moreover, prove our desire to establish a Parliament committee in order to fully expose this matter," he added, following an EU summit in the Belgian capital.
Additionally, in answer to a press question and amid a barrage of local press coverage over the past few weeks, Karamanlis said a rival proposal tabled by PASOK for a preliminary committee is legally shaky, given that it would have to include evidence of wrongdoing for specific individuals, something that is not available at present.
In response to the ubiquitous "early elections" question, he said such a prospect out of the question, whereas any reshuffle would be decision alone when and if it occurs.
 Gov't on Vatopedi case probe committeeThe government's firm position against setting up parliamentary investigation committees if judicial inquiries are underway was reiterated on Thursday by alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.
Referring to the prime minister's decision to call for such a committee that will look into the Vatopedi Monastery affair, he also commented on the resignations tendered by two prosecutors assigned to the probe, stressing that an attempt was made to merely create false impressions unrelated to the government.
"The existence of shadows will not be allowed," he said, stressing that the government wants light to be shed on every aspect of the case, while pointing out that the judicial investigation will continue.
 Sioufas refuses to seek Vatopedi file from prosecutorParliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday refused to ask judicial authorities to hand over the evidence file on the Vatopedi Monastery land deals to Parliament. Replying to demands made by main opposition PASOK MP Apostolos Kaklamanis and the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos, Sioufas said that this would amount to interference with justice.
According Sioufas, he was not personally empowered by the Constitution and Parliament regulations to make such a request of the public prosecutor at present, while the judicial preliminary investigation was still underway.
He noted that, in the case that a Parliamentary investigation or preliminary examination committee were formed, it was possible to request the evidence pertaining to the case via Parliament's president.
Kaklamanis said he had repeatedly asked Sioufas to request the file in view of next week's debate on a motion tabled by PASOK for the formation of an ad hoc preliminary examination committee to investigate possible criminal liability by Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and two former New Democracy ministers for the affair.
"It's not just us that want this. Even ND MPs would like to be informed on the contents of the file before they vote for or against PASOK's proposal," Kaklamanis stressed.
In a letter to Sioufas, SYRIZA's Alavanos made the same request and pointed to the "serious possibility" that Parliament would in a few days vote on this major and highly sensitive political issue without having knowledge of the evidence that turned up during the prosecutors' investigation, on a issue that "troubles the conscience of every MP personally, beyond party lines".
He called on Sioufas to publicly and strongly demand that the Supreme Court Prosecutor George Sanidas turn over the evidence file to Parliament, "as he should already have done," so that the evidence it contained could also be taken into account during the debate on PASOK's proposal.
The issue hit the headlines on Tuesday when the two appellate court prosecutors assigned to the case, Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou, both resigned from the case and their office after their recommendation to send the file to Parliament was ignored by their superiors, Appeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos and Sanidas.
The prosecutors claimed that evidence in the file implicated members of the present government in relation to the Vatopedi Monastery land exchanges, which traded prime pieces of state-owned land with land on the shores of Lake Vistonida having marginal value.
On Wednesday, Karoutsos announced that the preliminary investigation by his office would continue under a third prosecutor assigned to the case just a week before, Efstathia Spyropoulou, in spite of the fact that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had earlier tabled a motion for a Parliamentary investigation committee to look into the affair.
Setting up a Parliamentary preliminary examination committee targeting specific individuals, such as that requested by PASOK, requires an absolute Parliamentary majority of 151 votes or more.
If Parliament rejects the motion, however, no new proposal to press charges based on the same actual events can be tabled, which means PASOK must secure the support of both other opposition parties and some members of the governing majority that has 152 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament.
 Vote on PASOK's Vatopedi motion on Oct. 24A motion by main opposition PASOK for an ad hoc Parliamentary preliminary examination committee to investi-gate ministerial responsibility for the Vatopedi Mona-stery land exchange deals is to be discussed by Parliament next week on Friday, on October 24.
This was announced on Thursday by Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, said the decision was reached by a meeting of Parliament's presidency in which PASOK's representatives had asked that their party's motion be discussed during a separate morning session on the same day as a motion tabled by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for an investigation committee on the same issue, which is to take place on October 22.
PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday tabled a motion signed by 101 PASOK MPs for a Parliamentary preliminary examination committee to investigate possible criminal liability in the affair by Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and former ruling New Democracy ministers Petros Doukas and Evangelos Bassiakos.
Karamanlis had earlier tabled a motion for a special Parliamentary investigation committee to look into the land exchange deals, in which prime pieces of public real estate were exchanged with land of marginal value on the shores of Lake Vistonida, leaving the state deeply out of pocket.
In addition to Roussopoulos, PASOK accused former finance minister Petros Doukas and former agricultural development minister Bassiakos of criminal breach of faith against the public sector.
Specifically, the charges are related to decisions issued by Doukas in 2004, in which he accepted the recommendations of an advisory body for state real estate and tradeable property as well as a report issued by the Legal Council of State, through which the state sector essentially dropped a suit against the Vatopedi Monastery over a property case that was being tried before a Rodopi court.
The charge against Bassiakos relates to his signature in 2005 of a decision that put the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation in charge of exchanging pieces of state property with the monastery's stake in lands in and around Lake Vistonida, while both ministers are held liable for a joint decision in 2006 that again placed Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation in charge of the land exchange process.
PASOK said that Roussopoulos should be investigated as the moral instigator of the above offences and that the inquiry should also extend to the possible participation of other persons as accomplices or participants.
PASOK MPs stressed the urgency of launching such an inquiry, noting that "high chance" that the present Parliament would be dissolved and that acts committed under the previous government would then automatically escape prosecution under the law.
Attached to PASOK's motion was the letter of resignation given to their superiors on Tuesday by the two appeals court prosecutors investigating the Vatopedi case, Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou, in which they cite finding evidence implicating members of the government and pressures from their superiors not to refer the case to Parliament as one of the reasons for their decision to resign.
The PASOK motion will be discussed by Parliament's plenum and then put to a secret ballot, in which the persons against whom the proposal is directed have no right to vote. Setting up such an ad hoc preliminary examination committee requires an absolute Parliamentary majority of 151 votes or more.
If Parliament rejects the motion, however, no new proposal to press charges based on the same actual events can be tabled, which means PASOK must secure the support of both other opposition parties and some members of the governing majority that has 152 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament.
 PASOK submitting lawsuit on Vatopedi issueMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papa-constantinou said on Thursday that the party was submitting a lawsuit against the Supreme Court's prosecutor and the head of the Athens Appeals Judges Prosecuting Office.
The spokesman stressed that the reason was for "all that had taken place in relation to the obstructing of the forwarding of the file of proceedings to Parliament and in relation to pressures exerted on the two deputy prosecutors that had led to their resignation."
Papaconstantinou added that the lawsuit is gathering signatures of PASOK deputies and will be submitted immediately.
 FM's interview with Belgrade newspaperBELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)
Greece, in the UN-mediated negotiations with Skopje on the FYROM name issue, has displayed a spirit of good will and a frank desire for a mutually acceptable solution to be found, Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said in an interview with the Belgrade newspaper Vecernje Novosti, appearing in Thursday's edition, adding that unfortunately Skope has not acted in the same manner.
Bakoyannis said that the new package of ideas proposed by the UN secretary general's special envoy on the name issue was being "examined seriously" by the Greek side, but added that the "first messages arriving from Skopje are not encouraging".
She reaffirmed that Greece will continue to work for a solution of the name issue, and called on the FYROM political leadership to "abandon its intransigent stance and work for a common European and Euro-Atlantic future".
To a question on Serbia's European prospect, Bakoyannis noted that Greece supports Serbia's European integration, adding that the progress in its cooperation with the Hague Court, the course of reforms and the Serbian leadership's pro-European policy constituted encouraging messages, and day-by-day were bringing Serbia closer to Europe.
On bilateral relations, Bakoyannis said that the Greeks and Serbs shared special bonds, understood each other, and historically have always had excellent relations.
She further expressed her respect for Serb president Boris Tadic and foreign minister Vuk Jeremic, with whom she said she had a close and frank cooperation.
The Greek foreign minister further referred to the future of the Balkans, explaining that the Balkans' European prospect was "the key to stability".
She said it was necessary for the Balkans to shed their "powderkeg" stigma, adding that brave efforts were being made in that direction, and expressed hope that the entire South East Europe would soon join the "European family".
Turning to the global financial crisis, Bakoyannis opined that there were two options for overcoming it. "We can choose to retreat into narrow national frameworks and withdraw into ourselves, having limited abilities of facing the challenges, or we can unite our strength with the other European countries and jointly find practical solutions to exit the crisis", she said, adding that Greece backs the initiatives of the European Union.
Bakoyannis conceded that the road to exit from the global financial crisis was a "long and painful" one, but expressed hope that the EU's plan of action would bring positive results.
 Engine problem delays President Papoulias' return from VietnamDA NANG (ANA-MPA/S. Tzimas)
An engine problem has delayed Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias' return to Athens on Thursday from a four-day state visit to Vietnam.
An engine failure indication on the instrument panel of the Olympic Airways (OA) A-340 airbus that was to transport Papoulias and the accompanying delegation of 180 people back to Athens caused cancellation of the 2:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. Greek time) scheduled departure from Da Nang for Athens via Hanoi.
The problem was pinpointed in one of the airplane's four engines as the plane was preparing to take off, and the pilot aborted the procedure, while OA technicians on board the airbus were trying to repair the problem.
Papoulias and the other passengers disembarked from the plane and were taken to a hotel in the city.
 ND Secretary Zagoritis chairs party meetingThe Intersecretarial Coordinating Body of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party convened on Thursday evening under the chairmanship of ND Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.
The objective of the session was the participation of government cadres at prefectural assemblies in the regions. Also discussed was the issue of the meetings which will take place abroad by overseas Greeks and specifically on 14 and 15 November in Brussels in view of the upcoming euroelections.
To reporters' questions whether the ND will participate in the voting for the setting up of an investigatory committee in Parliament which has been called for by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), Zagoritis replied:"We had the initiative of the discussion on the issue of Vatopedio. You will hear many and interesting things. PASOK will receive the answer which it deserves."
To a question whether there will be a government reshuffle, he said that the issue of a reshuffle "is exclusively the prerogative of the prime minister."
 Pavlopoulos at seminar on migrant integrationLocal government will have a crucial role in the final stages of adopting a European pact for immigration and asylum policy that the European Union was close to agreeing upon, Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Thursday. He was addressing a seminar focusing on "the role of municipalities and regional authorities in migrant integration".
He noted that Europe was now "one step before the adoption of a legislative framework for a single and comprehensive policy for migration, with the ratification of a European Pact for Immigration and Asylum by the European Council."
The minister also said that Greece had in recent years taken many steps to decentralise social integration policies, along with other measures to promote e-government and simplify transactions with the state sector.
Among the measures taken for migrant integration, Pavlo-poulos cited the National Commission for the Social Integration of Migrants, where the participants included representatives of local authorities and non-governmental organisations, and secondly the migrant integration programme ESTIA that included actions to sensitise public opinion and restrict marginalisation, racism and xenophobia, assist and support foreign nationals and improve their access to state services.
The seminar was organised by the Committee of the Regions and the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities of Attica Prefecture (TEDKNA). Among those attending were TEDKNA president Dimitris Kalogeropoulos and the president of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.
 Opinion poll on behalf of 'Fantomas' magazineIn favor of a government reshuffle are 2 in 3 voters, according to a nationwide opinion poll conducted by ALCO polling company on behalf of Fantomas magazine. Specifically, 66.9 percent of the respondents want a reshuffle of the current government whereas 26.2 percent believe that the prime minister should not proceed with such a move.
The picture remains the same in terms of political party followers with 66.3 percent of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party voters and 68.3 percent of those supporting the main opposition PASOK party in favor of a reshuffle.
When asked if they are for or against a government alliance between PASOK and SYRIZA, 46.7 percent responded negatively and 41.4 percent in favor.
However, the majority of PASOK voters are seeing positively the likelihood of an alliance (69.3 percent) compared to 26.5 percent opposing it. A similar trend is recorded among SYRIZA voters (68.7 percent favor collaboration with PASOK and 27.6 percent are against such an option).
 Public Works ministry on British newspaper reportEnvironment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry Secretary General Vassilis Baltas has addressed a letter of protest to the director of the British newspaper "Independent" in reply to a report appearing in the newspaper on Tourism's Special Town Planning Framework.
Baltas stressed that the report in question "is full of inaccuracies, it fully alters the philosophy and the content of the reform that we are promoting in the sector of tourism and contains defamatory references."
"It appears that the newspaper's correspondent in Greece has not studied the issue, he is unaware of the text of the Special Framework on Tourism and of the relevant statements by the political leadership of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry and adopts inconsiderately and with provocative onesidedness the groundless arguments of those who, either through ignorance or for various reasons and interests, have been opposing this great reform from the very first day," the secretary general added.
 Russian Embassy attache on Lavrov-Milososki meetingAnton Zanin, the press attache of the Russian Embassy in Athens stated on Thursday that Russia supports a solution to the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) name in the framework of the effort deployed under UN auspices.
"Russia supports a solution to the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the framework of the effort being made under the auspices of the UN. And when there shall be a solution to this issue, then we shall recognise your (Greece's) neighbouring country with its new name. Until then we shall be using the name that we had recognised at bilateral level in 1992," he said.
Zanin referred to an announcement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, regarding the contacts of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with FYROM's Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki and the issues they discussed, in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday.
His statement was made in relation to a report by FYROM's state-run news agency "MIA", according to which Milososki claimed after his meeting with Lavrov that Russia will continue to support FYROM with regard to the recognition of its constitutional name and its permanent use.
"This policy of the Russian Federation is expected to be continued in the future, something for which they assured us," Milososki claimed according to the report by "MIA".
 LA.OS MP retains immunityA request to lift the parliamentary immunity of LA.OS MP Costas Aivaliotis was rejected in a runoff vote in Parliament on Thursday.
Of the 184 deputies present, 152 voted against, 22 in favor, while 10 cast a blank vote.
Aivaliotis was accused of dodging his obligatory military service.
In the first round on October 8, and despite of a recommendation of a competent parliamentary committee in favor of the request, voting was equally divided (102 in favor, 102 against, five voted present).
 Calm reaction needed to deal with crisis, development minister says"Panic is the worst counsel and the worst strategy to deal with a crisis," Development Minister Christos Folias said on Thursday during an address to the Hellenic Association of Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises and Crafts (EOMMEX).
"What we need is calm in order to correctly evaluate all data and take the right decisions in the right time. Europe's coordinated response to the financial crisis, adopting specific measures to support the banking system, creates strong prospects to avoiding a protracted recession," he said.
Folias said that despite the impact of the crisis, new opportunities arose to deepen existing cooperation and expanding into new sectors as the countries in the Black Sea region have entered a steady growth course and the international community acknowledges the significance of the region as a transport and energy hub, in the cross-roads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
He noted that Greece has positively and actively contributed to the drafting of policies - in the framework of the European Union - to support small- and medium-sized enterprises, such as the Small Business Act.
 National Bank head: Banking system changing radicallyThe domestic banking system has resisted pressures from the international credit crisis and remains healthy, although competition rules are radically changing, ending a long period that began with the deregulation of consumer credit and the sharp growth of housing credit, National Bank chairman and chief executive Takis Arapoglou said on Thursday.
At the same time, he pointed to the possibility of "synergies" in the Greek banking system to deal with the indirect impact of the crisis remains.
Arapoglou noted that raising market shares in retail banking (private and small- and medium-sized enterprises) will no longer be the focus of competition that shifted to loan portfolio quality, strong capital adequacy and strong liquidity.
"Cutting operating costs will also become a vital factor in the financial sector around the world, to sustain profitability", Arapoglou said, noting that synergies through mergers and acquisitions could lead to this result.
National Bank's chief executive said he does not worry over a possible increase of non-performing loans because of the higher cost of money.
"There is no such sign in National Bank," he stressed, reiterated that loan applications are evaluated with stricter criteria, although this did not mean that the bank was limiting funding to its private customers.
Arapoglou said he was also not concerned over the bank's presence in Southeastern Europe and noted that National Bank's strong presence in Turkey was based on Finansbank's strong saving deposits levels.
Finally, he said National Bank not only will remain healthy after the end of the crisis, but it could end up with more benefits taking advantage of any opportunities arose.
 Transport minister announces final arrangements for Olympic Airlines employeesTransport and Communications Minister Kostis Hadzidakis presented on Thursday the final arrangements concerning Oympic Airlines employees, that will be included in the bill which will be tabled in Parliament on Friday and will be discussed next week.
The minister reiterated that special care is being provided for all the employees in Olympic's privatisation plan and it is a complete package whose cost totals 1.16 billion euros, meaning as much as Olympic's deficit is for three years which means that, apart from this, the Greek taxpayer will not be paying any more money for a loss-making company.
The package of measures contains special arrangements for individual employees. More specifically, it anticipates for regular employees the boosting of lumpsum compensation, the option of their going to another company in the public sector and a 50 percent increase in their social security rights. As regards pilots, the special bonus that they will be receiving will be extended for six years so that their pension will amount to 75 percent of their current salary. In the case of air hostesses and stewards, among other things, their social security rights will increase by 50 percent and they will have the possibility of pensioning in the event that they have been hired before 1993, while in the case of seasonal employees the package also anticipates an increase in their social security rights and a 50 percent increase of the unemployment bonus.
It is reminded that for all the employees there is also the "window" for their transfer to other corporations and organisations in the public sector, if they so wish.
According to the transport minister, the state will have covered the cost of Oympic's privatisation in nine years, while the public sector will be left with the amount it will be receiving from the sale of the three companies.
Lastly, the minister announced that andidate investors who have shown interest in principle will be announced on the first of November.
 Deputy Employment Minister meets textile workersDeputy Employment & Social Protection Minister Sofia Kalantzakou on Thursday met with workers' representatives of the United Textiles, a delegation of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the President of the Thessaloniki Labour Centre.
The workers expressed their deep concern regarding the continuation of the operation of the United Textiles.
The deputy minister briefed them on all government actions which have been taken and will be taken to help in the salvation and viability of the specific business but also in general the textiles sector.
"Our target is for the factories to continue operating, for there to be production and prospects and for the jobs to be saved. The Economy and Finance Ministry, which is handling all the case, has tabled an amendment in Parliament by which support is given to the textiles sector with the guarantee of the Greek State," the deputy minister stated.
 DEH president briefs Production and Trade CommitteePublic Power Corporation (DEH) President Takis Athanaso-poulos referred on Thursday to the need for rationalising DEH's rates to enable them to reflect the full cost, plus a reasonable profit for investments and share capital performance.
"The average revenue of DEH from energy sale rates lags behind its average cost for the first six months in 2008, despite the increases in rates," Athanasopoulos said during his briefing of the Parliamentary Production and Trade Committee in connection with the corporation's operation.
"The Corporation is affected to a great extent by the uncontrollable changes in the prices of liquid fuel and of natural gas that constitute, together with the payroll, the most important parameter in determining the operational cost of DEH," he added.
Referring to reports that DEH purchases at a high price electric power from those producing, and sells it at a cheaper price (the case of Aluminium of Greece), he said that "DEH purchases very expensively from its producers and sells cheaply to serve its customers."
Athanasopoulos also raised once again his request for the closure of units that are pollutant since, as he said, they are functioning without anything in exchange and they are costly.
 Greek cooperative banks report improved 9-month resultsGreek Cooperative Banks on Thursday reported a 25-percent increase in their nine-month assets to 3.827 billion euros, compared with the corresponding period last year.
Presenting the results, Nikolaos Myrtakis, president of the Association of Cooperative Banks of Greece, said loans grew 30 percent to 2.963 billion euros in the January-September period, up from 2.280 billion euros last year, while savings grew 22 pct to 3.061 billion euros, from 2.521 billion over the same period, respectively.
Equity capital grew 32 pct to 510.4 million euros, while cooperative banks raised the number of their members to 194,070 in the nine-month period this year, from 184,105 last year.
Pre-tax profits totaled 48.9 million euros, up from 44.1 million in 2007.
Panhellenic Bank, the central bank of Cooperative Banks in Greece, said assets rose 23 pct to 991 million euros, loans were up by 28 pct to 715 million euros and savings grew 22 pct to 855 million euros. Pre-tax profits rose 15 pct to 6.1 million euros.
 N. Ikonio container terminal concession to Cosco signedThe contract for concession of two piers of the container terminal of Neo Ikonio, near the port of Piraeus, to the Chinese company Cosco Pacific Ltd. was approved by the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) board of directors late Wednesday night, after minor incidents between dockworkers and police.
Cosco Pacific Ltd., a Cosco Group company and one of the biggest port operators in the world, had been named in August as the provisional bidder in an international tender for the Concession of use and exploitation of Piers II and III of the Piraeus Port Authority's container terminal at Neo Ikonio.
The document of approval of the contract for the 35-year concession, which will bring an estimated 2.356 billion euros to the state coffers, was signed by 10 of the 13 board members, while Piraeus mayor Panagiotis Fasoulas and the two employees' representatives on the board opposed the concession.
The 10 board members who signed the concession convened in the waiting lounge for cruiseship passengers, as protesting dockworkers staged a takeover of the OLP conference hall.
The concession contract will be sent for approval to the State Audit Council, after which it will be tabled in parliament for ratification.
Port employees protested that the approval of the concession was illegal and warned they will take recourse in justice.
 Conference on UNECE's role held in GenevaGENEVA (ANA-MPA)
A one-day conference on the role of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was organised here on Thursday under the auspices of Greece's permanent representation at the United Nations in Geneva.
Fifty members of the Greek Transport Association Chamber took part in the conference, which was organised in cooperation with UNECE's Transport Directorate and aimed at informing transport agencies on European and international developments.
Greek UN Permanent Representative Frangiskos Verros referred, in his address to the conference, to the importance of the cooperation between the private sector and the UN's institutional bodies. According to Verros, this was the first time ever that the UNECE welcomed at its headquarters a national delegation of the private sector.
 Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre to house police divisionsThe Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre, built east of Athens proper, along with its surrounding grounds (30.5 hectares), will be turned over to the ministry of interior for a period of 30 years without any obligations in return on its part.
According to the contract signed with Hellenic Olympic Properties SA, which is responsible for the management of 2004 Olympic Games facilities, the existing building complex (roughly 39,000 sq.m.) will house the greater Athens (Attica prefecture) police operation division, the Greek Police's special forces (EKAM) and the bomb disposal unit, while a new building will house the passports' division.
The Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre was the site of shooting events at the 2004 Summer Olympics of Athens.
The venue is located within the limits of the Markopoulo municipality, east of Athens and near the capital's international airport.
 Greek stocks end 5.30 pct downGreek stocks suffered another blow in the Athens Stock Exchange, pushing the composite index of the market 5.30 pct lower to end at 2,255.25 points. Turnover was a moderate 278 million euros, of which 7.4 million euros were block trades. Most sectors moved lower with the exception of the Financial Services sectors which ended 0.09 pct up. Constructions (9.43 pct), Banks (7.24 pct), Personal/Home Products (7.01 pct) and Healthcare (5.88 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 5.82 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 4.37 pct down and the FTSE 80 index eased 2.52 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 216 to 30 with another 27 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -3.06%
Personal & Household: -7.01%
Raw Materials: -0.52%
Travel & Leisure: -4.79%
Food & Beverages: -5.02%
Financial Services: +0.09%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Bank of Piraeus and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 10.90
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.34
HBC Coca Cola: 9.46
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.50
National Bank of Greece: 20.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.66
Bank of Piraeus: 10.34
Titan Cement Company: 17.50
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices saw their discounts widen in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 121.298 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.42 pct and the October contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.96 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 16,691 contracts worth 103.803 million euros, with 29,841 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was one contract worth 13,450 euros, with six open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,075 contracts worth 16.562 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,489), followed by Marfin Investment Group (1,208), OTE (1,084), PPC (1,177), Alpha Bank (800), Marfin Popular Bank (1,726) and Intralot (852).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.085 billion euros on Thursday, of which 620 million were buy orders and the remaining 465 million euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 715 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 0.82 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.95 pct and the German Bund 4.13 pct.
In money markets, interest rates moved further down. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.24 pct, the six-month rate 5.09 pct, the three-month rate 5.09 pct and the one-month rate 4.77 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.361
Pound sterling 0.788
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 10.12
Japanese yen 137.0
Swiss franc 1.541
Norwegian kroner 8.971
Canadian dollar 1.618
Australian dollar 2.017
 Ecumenical Patriarch and primates attend St Paul Jubilee events on CreteSpecial events are underway in Heraklion, on the southern Aegean island of Crete, marking the Jubilee of the Apostle Paul, which are being attended by t Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus and Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamon, who will coordinate the final session of the Symposium on Apostle Paul.
Before the liturgy at the Cathedral of St Minas, the Ecumenical Patriarch addressed a large crowd of faithful gathered outside the church characterizing Crete as the bridge linking the cultures of the three continents converging at the Mediterranean Basin and pointed out that Apostle Paul had included Crete in his grandiose apostolic vision.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Primates accompanying him will visit Gortina, the seat of Apostle Titos, where they will tour the Panagia Keras Church. They will also visit St Apostle Church in nearby Spileo and attend a luncheon hosted by the local government.
The final session of the Symposium on Apostle Paul will be held later in the afternoon to be followed by a formal dinner hosted by Archbishop Irineos of Crete and local authorities.
 ELIAMEP to celebrate 20th anniversaryThe Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) will mark its 20th anniversary on next week with a special event at the Benaki Museum's auditorium in Athens.
Mario Monti, the president of Milan's Bocconi University and former EU Commissioner, will deliver the 2008 annual lecture on the subject of "Challenges faced by Europe and the role of think-tanks."
ELIAMEP President Loukas Tsoukalis will also address the event.
ELIAMEP is an Athens-based independent, non-profit and policy-oriented research and training institute.
 Thessaloniki prosecutor warns parents, pupils over continued sit-insThessaloniki first instance court prosecutor Dimitris Papa-georgiou on Thursday warned regional secondary education department heads over continued sit-ins at public schools by groups of protesting pupils, referring to criminal acts and calling on headmasters to take action.
According to the prosecutor, pupils participating in school sit-ins are violating article 334 of the criminal code, citing interruption and disturbance of a public service. He also warned that parents and guardians could face charges of child neglect.
Various forms of sit-ins are reported in roughly 50 public schools in the Thessaloniki area, based on figures provided by the ministry of education. Beyond the interruption of classes, the government has pointed to widespread vandalism at schools after such mobilisations.
 Hundreds of thousands of packs of cigarettes seized in PiraeusA huge quantity of contraband cigarettes destined for EU countries was discovered in a container originating from China that was seized by finance ministry Special Audit Service officers in Piraeus, the largest commercial seaport in Greece.
Roughly 500,000 packs of cigarettes, all expensive brands amounting to lost import duties of 1.35 million euros, were discovered Wednesday after an inspection in a container which, according to accompanying documents, contained furniture items.
The suspicious container had arrived in Piraeus on October 5 and was monitored by Special Audit Service officers for several days, acting on a tip off. However, no arrests were made as none appeared to claim it. The individual mentioned on the accompanying documents as the recipient was a Cypriot man who has disappeared for the past three months.
 Minor earthquake in HalkidikiA minor earthquake measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale was recorded at dawn Thursday in Halkidiki, northern Greece.
The trembler was recorded at 6:38 a.m., with its epicenter 20 kilometers south of the town of Paliouri.
 Fair on FridayFair weather with southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-4 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 27C. Fair in Athens, with 3-4 beaufort southerly winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 27C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 11C to 24C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's motion for the establisment of a parliamentary fact-finding commission on the Vatopedi monastery affair and the international financial crisis dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Fact-finding commission in parliament on Vatopedi".
APOGEVMATINI: "Outstanding tax cases from 2000 to be settled - Opportunity for 300,000 professionals".
AVGHI: "The threat of recession deepens the crisis- Plunge on international stockmarkets despite the rescue measures".
AVRIANI: "Main opposition PASOK's political isolation - All the other parliamentary parties support the establishment of a fact-finding commission on Vatopedi".
CHORA: "Who is the maestro of the Vatopedi orchestra?".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "The 'holy' scandal is sent to parliamentary fact finding commission".
ELEFTHEROS: "Major cover-up ruse - Karamanlis makes spectacular move and calls for a fact-finding commission".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Karamanlis makes move on Vatopedi chessboard, targetting PASOK".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Three Ministers walking on hot coal over the Vatopedi scandal".
ETHNOS: "Karamanlis in fear of a preliminary investigation committee, remembered the fact-finding commission".
ESTIA: "Its engagement in fact-finding commissions a dramatic development for the government".
KATHIMERINI: "Fact-finding commission for Vatopedi - Karamanlis takes the initiative".
LOGOS: "Prime Minister's motion for a fact-finding commission to be discussed in parliament on 22 October".
NIKI: "Karamanlis covers up Roussopoulos', Doukas' and Bassiakos' sins - Prime minister makes political manoeuvre in proposing a fact-finding commission on Vatopedi scandal".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government gives to bankers fabulous wealth and huge poverty to the people".
TA NEA: "We accuse the 'holy trinity'(refering to PASOK' s accusations against Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, Deputy Foreigns Minister Petros Doukas and former minister Evangelos Bassiakos)- PASOK asks for preliminary investigation commitee on Vatopedi".
TO VIMA: "Government walking in a minefield".
VRADYNI: "Prime Minister Costas Karamnalis takes transparency initiative - He called for a fact-finding commission on Vatopedi affair".
 Iacovou and Nami exchange views on the issue of governanceNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat's adviser Ozdil Nami exchanged Thursday views on the issue of governance, in view of the next meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Talat, in the framework of direct negotiations on the Cyprus question, which began last month.
Iacovou said after the meeting that a lot of progress and convergence have been achieved on many issues of previous chapters regarding the competences of the central government.
He said that President Christofias and Talat are currently discussing the issue of the executive authority, in the framework of the governance chapter.
He added that Christofias and Talat asked the advisors, Iacovou and and Nami, respectively to discuss other relevant issues and that in this framework they discussed for two hours, and each side elaborated on its positions.
He noted that the meeting went on smoothly and that all that have been said will be recapitulated during Christofias and Talat meeting on Wednesday.
Invited to say if his meetings with Nami can help to achieve real progress, Iacovou said that "the President had asked for a series of clarifications for the positions expressed by Talat."
"The purpose of this meeting was to have these clarifications and we on our part gave certain clarifications which the Turkish Cypriots had asked for during the last meeting," Iacovou said.
Iacovou also recalled that there is also an issue concerning Ledra Street which concerns the area around Ledra noting that the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Cyprus Taye-Brook Zerihoun gave them a report prepared by the Nicosia Master Plan team that they will look into.
To a question about the Limnitis checkpoint, Iacovou said that this is always on the agenda, they exchanged some views and there will be a special meeting on this issue soon.
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