|Saturday, 17 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-11-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 25 November 2008 Issue No: 3055
 President Papoulias holds talks with Chinese counterpartPresident Karolos Papoulias and People's Republic of China President Hu Jintao, who is currently on a three-day state visit to Greece, accompanied by his wife and a large delegation, on Monday stressed the will for promoting the Strategic Greece-China Partnership Relation.
"I would like to stress that the relation between the two countries is not only a relation of friendship and cooperation, it is a strategic relation," President Papoulias said during joint statements made after the talks, while his Chinese counterpart underlined in the same spirit that "since 2006 when the Strategic Partnership Relation was enacted, bilateral cooperation has achieved considerable progress" for which he expressed his "satisfaction."
The two presidents held a 20-minute private conversation that was followed by an enlarged hour-long meeting with the participation on the part of Greece of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Merchant Marine Minister Anastasios Papaligouras and Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas.
"We hope that the change in leadership in the United States will contribute to a new policy, that will be more fruitful and will provide a new momentum for cooperation policies," President Papoulias said.
The Greek President also had the opportunity of raising issues of Greek concern, underlining the "unacceptable fact of the continuing occupation of part of Cyprus by Turkey."
President Hu Jintao stressed the great importance for his country of the development of bilateral relations with Greece and proposed that this should be achieved in the following ways:
With meetings at the level of leaderships, Parliaments and parties, with the enlargement of economic cooperation, in particular to the sectors of shipping, energy, environmental protection and tourism, with the enlargement of cultural exchanges and the utilisation of cultural resources to enable "friendship to take roots in the hearts of people" and, lastly, with the intensification of cooperation at multipartite level through international or regional organisations, stressing that "there is a wide common conception" on a series of issues of international interest.
The talks were followed by the signing of a "plant hygiene requirements" Protocol by Agricultural Development and Food Minister Alexandros Kontos and China's Alternate General Administration and Supervision general director Wei Zuan Zong.
The protocol determines conditions of hygiene by which exports of Greek kiwi fruit will be made to China, constituting in essence the lifting of bureaucratic obstacles on the part of China for the access of Greek farm products to the Chinese market. It is the first of its kind, since the Chinese authorities demand the signing of a separate protocol for each product, while the signing of another is being prepared for citrus fruit.
The Chinese President noted that his government desires the balancing of the trade balance which, as he said, has a hefty deficit for Greece.
Another four agreements are expected to be signed on Tuesday after President Hu Jintao's talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
 President Papoulias addresses dinner for People's Republic of China counterpartPresident Karolos Papoulias, speaking during an official dinner that he hosted on Monday for People's Republic of China President Hu Jintao, who is currently on a three-day state visit to Greece, referred to the international economic crisis and stressed that "our primary duty now is to create global apparatuses that will be more effective both for the diagnosis of symptoms of economic imbalances and mainly for their prevention."
President Papoulias went on to say that President Hu Jintao's visit "is taking place while the most serious economic crisis experienced by the world since 1929 is developing" and that the present crisis "is due to a great extent to unwise overoptimism."
He said that this is due "to the creation of structures in the global monetary system that not only allowed the separation of responsibility from profits but that rewarded untrasparent attitudes as well. Very often common greed blinded logic."
President Papoulias noted that "we must continue and make specific the positive initiative of international cooperation that began with the recent G-20 session in Washington. Cooperation that, unfortunately, did not exist in the '30s."
He pointed out that "China has a great deal to offer in this course for a new global economic map. And I am certain that, as it should be, the importance of China and of developing countries in general will be all the more greater."
President Papoulias stressed that the presence of President Hu Jintao in Greece "signals the mutual desire for us to widen even more Greek-Chinese relations that are already excellent. Relations among two ancient peoples that are continuing a long cultural tradition. Among other things they are also linked by the conscience of their historic depth, a fact that constitutes a privilege and a challenge at the same time. And for this reason, we have a common and special sensitivity in history, its respect and the dangers from its distortion."
Lastly, President Papoulias said that in the person of President Hu Jintao "we are not only welcoming a country that constitutes a very important balancing factor for the international system. but a permanent member of the UN Security Council as well. The organisation whose principles constitute the most serious institutional guarantee for global peace. I believe that it is time that the principles governing the UN Charter should apply to Cyprus as well, a member of the European Union. So that the illegal military occupation will not continue. For Nicosia not to be the last divided city in Europe."
 China's Hu Jintao arrives in Greece for state visitThe President of the People's Republic of China Hu Jintao arrived in Greece on Monday for a historic visit, where he was greeted upon his arrival at Athens' international airport by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and top officials.
Hu Jintao is on a three-day official visit to Greece, during which he will be present at the signing of a landmark 35-year contract, worth 3.3 billion euros, awarding the Piraeus port container terminal's management to Cosco Pacific Ltd. The successful international tender to privatise the Piraeus terminal, amongst the most strategic in the east Mediterranean, ranks as one of the Greek government's biggest privatisation initiatives to date.
The Cosco contract will be signed following Hu Jintao's talks with Karamanlis on Tuesday. Additionally, an agreement between Hellenic Telecoms (OTE) and Huawei, state broadcasters ERT and CCTV as well as a MoU between Greece's National Accreditation System and the China National Accreditation Service for Assessment will be signed in Athens.
Karamanlis will also host an official reception for the influential world leader on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, the Chinese news agency Xinhua on Monday disseminated an interview given by Karamanlis, where the Greek premier referred to a "significant milestone" in Sino-Greek relations. The interview is also reproduced in the newspaper "China Daily", the electronic edition of the "People's Daily" and carried on the China Radio International broadcast.
Among others, Karamanlis said the Greek government wants to transform Greece into a vital regional hub for attracting Chinese investments.
 PM Karamanlis visits Transport MinistryPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday visited the Transport Ministry in Athens and was briefed by Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis on the developments in the privatization of aircarrier Olympic Airways (OA) and reforms in the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) .
Karamanlis underlined that OA and OSE burden Greek tax payers by 2.7 million euros per day, adding that it is a pity for so much money to go to waste instead of being chanelled to citizens in need.
"Besides OA's denationalisation, our target is also to streamline OSE and to cut down its operational deficit to 80 million euros by 2010," said the premier.
He also referred to the regional airports modernisation program via concession contracts, without, however, altering the status of the Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) staff, but aiming at modernisation of the entry ways of the foreign visitors and also to open new opportunities and jobs through new investments so that young people will stay in their places of residence.
"The economy," said Karamanlis "is the big stake in the midst of the international financial crisis, with the aim that, when the crisis ends, the Greek economy will accelerate.
"This stake concerns all the citizens and all political forces of the country," he said, noting that the government has chosen responsibility, and stressing that, today, the reform are more imperative than ever.
Replying to press questions on the increased revenues from taxes contained in the 2009 draft budget, the prime minister stressed that they will be generated from the enhanced measures against tax evasion and the growth of the economy, adding that in no new taxes will be imposed in 2009. On the contrary, he said, there was a provision for reduction of the tax rates on physical entities to 25 percent.
 Transport minister outlines pro-environment policiesTransport Minister Kostis Hatzidakis on Monday outlined the actions being taken by his ministry to protect the environment while addressing a seminar on "Choices and Challenges in a Time of Climate Change" held in Athens.
He said the main thrust of the ministry's policy was to improve and modernise public transport in order to encourage people to use their cars as little as possible, while at the same time promoting the use of "green" transport by extending rail systems and replacing old-technology buses with new vehicles using new-generation, low-emission engines and those fuelled by natural gas.
Hatzidakis underlined the direct relationship between transport and the quality of the environment and stressed that transport, if left unchecked, could emerge as one of the worst enemies of the environment.
The minister cited figures showing that transportation was responsible for 21 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by the 15 older member-states of the EU, with road transport responsible for 93 percent of total emissions for the sector.
He said that Greece ranked 12th in the 32 member-states of the European Environment Organisation in terms of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to transport between 1990 and 2005, with an increase of 46 percent.
The equivalent increase for Germany was just 1 percent, for Finland 8 percent and Sweden 10 percent.
The minister stressed that Greece, as a member of the EU, had to make its own contribution to Europe's efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papa-constantinou said on Monday that the prime minister's visits to ministries and the countryside "have communication and image as their sole aim and are not solving the citizens' problems".
The spokesman added that the prime minister's visits to the countryside and Monday's visit to the Transport ministry did not change in the least what the citizen is experiencing daily.
Referring in particular to the prime minister's visit to the Transport ministry, PASOK's spokesman said that the work carried out at this ministry over the past five years "is condensed in the transformation of the biggest telecom-munications organisation in the Balkans into a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, in the sale of Olympic Airlines that is under way these days and in the doubling of the debts and deficits of the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE)."
Focusing on the prime minister's statement regarding taxation measures in 2009, Papaconstantinou reminded that increased revenues amounting to 7.1 billion euros have been registered for next year and added that, contrary to the prime minister's statement, there shall be new taxes in 2009.
 PM, ministers at event on Greek, French tiesA number of government ministers were among those addressing an event entitled "Greece-France: Institutions and Policies" that was held in Athens on Monday, organised by the Greek newspaper "Apogevmatini" in collaboration the French Embassy. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was among those attending.
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis spoke about the global financial crisis, focusing on the fact that economies should be ready to take advantage of the prospects that will arise when the crisis inevitably reaches its end.
He said that Greece and France had shared perceptions on how to confront the crisis, and also referred to the economic relations between the two countries and their prospects.
The minister stressed France's role as the fourth largest investor in Greece and one of the country's top customers and suppliers, stressing the need to keep trade transactions open and continue efforts to further develop bilateral ties.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said that Greece and France were strategic partners and valuable allies, both on a bilateral and multilateral level in the framework of the EU and NATO. She noted that the two countries worked together closely and had converging views on several contemporary international issues, while she stressed Greece's deep appreciation of France's steadfast and consistent stance on issues of importance for Greek interests, such as the Cyprus problem or the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The minister also pointed to Greece's support of French initiatives to set up a Union for the Mediterranean, adding that bilateral ties were at their "most mature and dynamic point".
National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis stressed the very close cooperation between the two countries in the defence sector, especially in terms of the defence industry and upgrading domestic defence industry infrastructure and strengthening the Greek armed forces.
He noted that bilateral cooperation in defence-related high technology research and development had expanding Europe's operational capacity on a strategic level and yielded benefits on a national level because the Greek Armed Forces had solved the problem of operational duration and rapid reaction capability.
"We look forward to continuing cooperation between our two countries in a constantly evolving European environment, in which economic and industrial alliances will play an important role," he added.
Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos underlined the importance of the French market for Greek tourism, with Greece ranking 10th among the favourite destinations of French tourists and receiving roughly 700,000-750,000 visitors from France each year. He said the ministry's goal was that Greece should receive about one million visitors from France annually by the year 2010 and climb to 8th place among top destinations for the French.
The event was held at a central Athens hotel and was organised in the framework of the French EU presidency, while it is taking place under the aegis of the economy and finance ministry.
 FinMin addresses "Greece-France: Institutions and Policies" eventThe global financial crisis will come to an end, sooner or later, and the economies will have to take advantage of the prospects that will arise, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday, addressing an event titled "Greece-France: Institutions and Policies" hosted by the Athens daily Apogevmatini at a central Athens hotel.
Alogoskoufis said that Greece and France shared perceptions on confrontation of the crisis, and also referred to the economic relations between the two countries and their prospects.
France, he noted, was the fourth larget investor in Greece, while it was also held one of the top positions on the list of customers and suppliers.
Alogoskoufis further said that the reforms needed to be continued, as well as the efforts to keep open the trade transactions betwee the two countries, adding that it was also important to continue the efforts for further development of Greek-French relations.
Greece, he added, had comparative advantages in the region os Southeast Europe, which was developing very dynamically.
The miniser also referred to the prospects for investment plans in Greece, particularly in the sectors of energy, transports, technology and the food industry.
 Noted Greek economist: Local economy not immune to int'l crisis"The Greek economy cannot be left unaffected from a global crisis," according to Maria Negreponti-Delivani, a noted econo-mist and thrice-elected rector of the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki and recipient of France's prestigious Legion d' Honneur -- Chevalier Class, bestowed via a presidential decree signed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The Greek academic will receive the medal from the French ambassador during a special ceremony to be held at the French embassy in Athens on Monday. Negreponti-Delivani is honoured for her contribution to the promotion of scientific cooperation between Greece and France.
In an interview with ANA-MPA, she referred to the unequal distribution of income and high unemployment in Greece, pointing out that the industrial sector has not been developed adequately, domestic and foreign deficits are huge, while domestic banks remain exposed due to their major investments in the Balkan region, where many countries now face problems.
Referring to the global financial crisis, she underlined that the conditions that led to it are comparatively the same with those that led to the major crisis in 1929-1932 and expressed the hope that a scenario, according to which, unemployment will rise from 9 percent to 15 and even 20 percent, will not become a reality.
 Papandreou addresses Hellenic American Chamber of CommercePASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on Monday night, said that his party "will confront the crisis aggressively and not with the concept of a fearful observer, as the current government is doing."
Papandreou uderlined that "we are in a change of era with the entire planet living in the whirlpool of the global monetary crisis and seeking a way out" and stressed that "Greece resembles a ship that is entering the eye of the cyclone battered by the sea and out of control," while noting the need for Greece to enter a different orbit, regardless of the appearance of the international crisis.
The PASOK leader reiterated his party's position for "green development" that is being completed with Greece's "emergence as an important player in regional and international developments".
Referring to the causes of the international crisis, Papandreou invoked the view of Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugmann that "the basic reason for the crisis is the huge accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few" and criticised four policies of the Bush governments: The decrease in basic salaries and the purchasing power of the lower and medium-level incomes, the undermining of the working people's right for collective negotiations, the "blocking" of proposals for transparency in the monetary system, following the Enron scandal and the immediate redistribution of wealth for the benefit of the wealthy through the taxation system.
Focusing in turn on the results of these policies, the PASOK leader said that "it was the uncontrolled expansion of unsupervised investments services by monetary foundations, the pursuit of speedy and easy profit under the veil of 'toxic bonds' and with the tolerance, if not complicity, of companies that had the obligation to assess the danger and to function, supposedly, for the benefit of public interest."
As regards Europe, Papandreou said that "it must play its role at international level and protect its citizens from the upcoming crisis."
Papandreou also expressed confidence in Greece's possibilities, stressing that "the country needs a New Agreement in which all will participate, with mutual commitments and all will gain: the working people, healthy and productive entrepreneurship and the state" and underlining that PASOK "has a vision, a plan and above all a political will."
 KKE leader meets Judges and Prosecutors UnionCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking after her meeting with the Judges and Prosecutors Union on Monday accused the Greek as well as other European governments that "both in the European Union and in Greece measures are being taken for extreme poverty, and if you want our opinion, these measures are also offensive because the people have very great needs and not the 100 euros for heating oil but consciously, however, they are leaving out a very large sector of woking people whose life has also worsened and they also want to dump the burdens of the crisis on them."
Papariga further said that all that is being said on the part of the government "finds us radically opposed precisely because the logic is: To help profit-making and an axe to fall literally on the rights of the working people."
Referring to the situation prevailing in the Justice sector, Papariga said that KKE believes that "certain things have more than matured and if they are not handled by the Justice ministry and by the government in general, we can speak of phenomena of decay."
 Synaspismos leader holds talks with Russian envoyCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alexis Tsipras met on Monday with Russian Ambasador to Greece Andrey Vdovin, with the former telling reporters that his party supported further development of relations between Greece and Russia.
"For Synaspismos, these relations are a basic papameter of a multi-dimensional foreign policy we want for our country," Tsipras said, adding that his talks with the Russian envoy focused on a series of international issues and the need for their solution on the basis of international law and not through war.
"In particular, we dealt with the dangers emanating from NATO's expansion and the deployment of the so called 'anti-missile shield'. Our steadfast position is not only against expansion but also in favour of NATO's dissolution," Tsipras underlined. He also said that he expressed to Vdovin his appreciation for Russia's staedfast position in favour of a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem on the basis of United Nations resolutions.
 Vatopedi monastery files legal case against ministerial orderThe Vatopedi monastery on Monday filed a case with the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, in which it asked that a finance ministry order regarding that removed its ownership of Lake Vistonida properties be annulled as illegal.
The case concerns a recent deputy minister's order issued after the affair hit the headlines, which revoked decrees issued his predecessors from 1999 to 2003 that granted ownership of Lake Vistonida properties to the monastery "for reasons of obvious and serious public interest".
According to the monastery, which said it had title deeds and other documents proving its claim to the said properties, the minister's order was illegal because it was inadequately justified.
 MPs slam Vatopedi monks' refusal to testifyThe members of a Parliamentary investigation committee looking into the Vatopedi monastery land swaps scandal on Monday sharply criticised the refusal of the monastery's abbot Ephraim and the monk Arsenios to testify before the committee. Earlier the same day, however, the two monks had been allowed to submit written statements presenting their views on the affair, even though they declined to answer questions put to them by MPs.
"This behaviour is unacceptable and may quite possibly be taken as confirmation of the stance they have shown up until now of the very important problem we are investigating," said an announcement signed by all MPs on the committee. This also accused the two monks of showing a lack of respect for Parliament, the work being done by the committee and the demand of the Greek people to find out the whole truth about the affair.
Accompanied by lawyers and bodyguards, Ephraim and Arsenios arrived in Parliament on Monday in response to a summons to testify before the committee but instead submitted two memorandums outlining their views and positions, saying that they refused to testify unless their lawyers could be present.
Ephraim said that he had been advised by his lawyers that he should not testify before a public prosecutor and the Parliamentary investigation, "giving explanations and behaving like a suspect," and was therefore submitting a memorandum instead.
"I respect the Committee, I respect all individually, I pray for you to be illuminated by God to give the right position and to properly investigate the issue, but I cannot attend and accept questions," Ephraim said.
Arsenios said he would adopt the same stance as the abbot, noting that "we cannot at the same time be suspects and witnesses according to international and national rules".
The refusal of the two monks to testify was ultimately accepted by the committee, though not without strong reservations, after a vote in which ruling New Democracy MPs and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MPs voted in favour of allowing them to submit the memorandums.
That decision and the parties that agreed to it were later strongly criticised in an announcement by main opposition PASOK, which said that it created a precedent where witnesses could refuse to answer questions in future Parliamentary investigations.
 EU's Rehn on FYROMBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)
EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn on Monday declined to comment on an eyebrow-raising decision by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) -- an EU hopeful -- to institute legal proceedings against Greece at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, months after the one-time Yugoslav republic's bid to join NATO collapsed over the still unresolved "name issue".
Addressing a press conference, Rehn said every country has the right to apply to the ICJ, while adding however, that beyond any judicial procedures what is needed is political cooperation between leaders and reconciliation amongst peoples.
 Gov't spokesman on opinion pollsRegarding the latest round of opinion polls published over the weekend, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said they "register tendencies", pointing out that the global econo-mic situation is not favorable, and that it's only natural for people to face limited consequences as a result.
He also added that governments are judged by the people when they go to the polls, stressing an election is still too far away considering that the current government has served only one-fourth of its constitutionally guaranteed term in office.
Responding to a press question over the likelihood of a government reshuffle, he repeated the standing leitmotif this initiative belonging solely to the prime minister.
 Parliament president receives Cyprus' EU CommissionerParliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Monday received Cyprus' European Commissioner for health issues Androulla Vassiliou, who is currently visiting Greece. During the meeting, he pledged that the Greek Parliament will support her work in the Commission and praised her efforts to update European legislation on public health and food safety issues.
 Greek delegation visits AzerbaijanA Greek diplomatic delegation visited Baku, Azerbaijan last week in view of Greece's 2009 OSCE chairmanship.
Within the framework of the two-day visit, members of the delegation met with Azerbaijani Parliament President Ogtay Asadov, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Defense Minister Safar Abiyef.
They also had meetings with all political party leaders and were briefed on the activities of the OSCE office in the Caucasus country.
 FinMin warns against return of protectionism"We must keep the global trade alive and not return to protectionism," Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis emphasised on Monday, during an address at a conference organised by the American-Hellenic Chamber in Athens.
Alogoskoufis stressed that international markets evaluate not only countries but fiscal policies as well, adding that these policies were one of the rating criteria.
The Greek minister noted that the government will continue structural reforms and urged various groups in society to put national interest above their vested interests.
 Athens Chamber calls for addition measures to support economyA government-sponsored plan to boost liquidity in the banking system is not enough. A new government plan to support growth and the real economy is urgently needed, Kostas Mihalos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry told a conference in Athens on Monday.
Addressing a conference on "The Hour of Greek Economy", organised by the American-Hellenic Chamber, Mihalos said the current crisis must not result to a fiscal derailment of the country, undermining the Greek economy in general. The only responsible choice right now is a fair redistribution of budget funds, to support growth and the society. Mihalos said the role of a Public Investments Program will be very significant. The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked for an increase in the funding of the program, to support public works and boosting employment.
EBEA's president urged for a series of actions such as privatisation of major airports, promoting a sale and lease back program for state real estate property, gradually deregulating closed professions and putting an end to overspending by state-owned enterprises.
Mihalos also called for extending a ban on short selling activity in all market transactions for at least two years, introducing new regulations on hedging, raising a margin on security borrowing and creating a commodities market in the Athens Stock Exchange.
 Health minister at Economist conferenceHealth Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, addressing the Economist's conference on Monday, said that the pricing of pharmaceuticals in Greece will gradually pass on to the Health ministry. The pricing of pharmaceuticals has been carried out by the Development ministry so far.
The Health minister further said that the issue was not one of persons but of government policies and that it was something that should have been done long ago. He also referred to backing for the National Pharmaceuticals Organisation and to emphasis that will be placed in the coming years on the sector of pharmaceutical research in the country.
Avramopoulos revealed that over the first six months that the new law on prucurements has been in force, through tendering, 50 million euros have been saved and the target is to have a total of 500 million euros saved from procurements to public hospitals.
 Tourism minister on Greek-French relations since 18th centuryTourist Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos focused on management issues in the tourist development sector in his address at the Apogevmatini conference on Monday on the theme of "Greek-French relations from the 18th century until our days," stressing that the French market is of particular importance for Greece.
The minister said that over the past years Greece has been receiving 700,000-750,000 French visitors on an annual basis, holding 10th position in the preferences of French travellers. Greece's immediate aim is to reach the figure of one million visitors from France in 2010 which, in the minister's view, can be accomplished despite the unfavourable economic conjuncture.
Spiliotopoulos pointed out that if this is achieved, Greece will consolidate itself in eighth place regarding the destinations chosen by the French, while the ministry's medium-term target is stabilising this figure and attracting from France as many high-income visitors as possible.
 Gov't: Nuclear power still not an optionGreek Development Minister Christos Folias on Monday reiterated that use of nuclear power for electricity production in Greece is not an option in the country's energy sector strategy.
"Greece is closely following the concern and dialogue unfolding within the EU," he said.
Addressing an open discussion on the topic of "Conventional, Renewable and Nuclear Energy: Options and climate change challenges - Energy security in the EU", Folias stated that within the framework environmental protection efforts in Greece, the east Mediterranean nation is orientated more towards the effective utilisation of solar, hydro, wind and geothermal energy to produce "green electricity", as well as boosting renewable energy sources (RES).
"A total of 329 new investments worth 1.2 billion euros are close to being completed and are expected to add 919 MW to the currently produced 1,100 MW of electricity," he said.
He also referred to a RES draft law tabled in Parliament last week.
Folias mentioned a draft law on biofuel, currently under preparation, adding that conditions are being created for the development and rational utilisation of geothermal power in the country.
 Greece aims to promote congress tourismGreek Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Monday announced the formation of a special joint commission to promote congress tourism in the country, as a part a strategy to promote alternative tourism and enriching the domestic touristic product.
The tourism sector believes that a growth model for congress tourism needs further promotion through a cooperation between the state, industry unions and representatives of local authorities.
The joint commission will organize a closer cooperation between industry agencies to registering existing congress centers and improving infrastructure and making a more efficient use of facilities around the country. The commission will also work to promoting Greece's tourism market abroad.
The Greek minister welcomed the decision to forming a special joint commission on congress tourism as an initiative confirming the common view of the state and the tourism industry on the need to expand, enrich and specializing the country's touristic product. The commission held in first meeting on Friday, 21 November.
 MIG's shareholders approve 5-bln-euro share capital increase planMarfin Investment Group (MIG) on Monday said a repeat extraordinary general shareholders' meeting approved a share capital increase plan, worth 5.0 billion euros.
MIG's shareholders approved a plan envisaging that the share capital increase will be implemented through the issuing a new shares at a minimum price of 5.0 euros per share (closely linked with the company's internal value at the time of issuance to converge as much as possible with an initial decision for a share value of six euros per share). The final price will be determined by MIG's board. The plan is expected to be completed in the next 12 months.
MIG also said it requested permission to raise its equity stake in Marfin Popular Bank by up to 30 pct. The board also announced it was examining alternative ideas, such as partial de-investment or restructuring of capital in certain holdings with the aim to boost liquidity.
 Attica Bank: Deal talks with Aspis Bank terminatedAttica Bank on Monday announced that a round of exploratory talks with Aspis Bank over a business partnership ended without leading to any deal. In a statement to the press, Attica Bank said talks had been held in October.
 OPAP reports 32.1 pct rise in nine-month profitsOPAP, Greece's state lottery organization, on Monday reported a hefty 35.3 percent increase in its nine-month EBITDA to 796.8 million euros, from 589.1 million euros in the corresponding period last year, with net profits rising 32.1 pct to 549.6 million euros, from 416.2 million euros, over the same periods, respectively.
OPAP said sales rose 12.2 pct to 3.977 billion euros in the January-September period and earnings per shares jumped 38.3 pct to 1.72 euros, from 1.25 euros last year.
Commenting on the results, Christos Hatziemmanouel, OPAP's chairman and chief executive, said the organization reported very positive three-month results despite an unfavourable economic environment. "We are very satisfied with the significant improvement recorded in profit margins, reflecting a restructuring of spending and a more effective management of operations. Our strong liquidity offers the necessary flexibility to examine possible investment opportunities, beyond Greece," Hatziemmanouel said.
Betting sales rose 7.2 pct in the nine-month period and KINO's turnover rose 19.6 pct to 2.045 billion euros.
The board approved a plan to pay a pre-dividend of 0.80 euros per share to shareholders, up from 0.60 euros last year.
 Yalco reports 2.41% rise in 9-month salesYalco Group on Monday reported a 2.41-pct increase in its nine-month sales to 51.69 million euros, compared with the same period last year, adding that its domestic activities were negatively affected by labor unrest at the country's main ports.
Parent sales rose 1.32 pct, with Yalco Romania reporting a 98.15-pct jump in sales and Yalco Hungary rising 93.23 pct. All subsidiaries reported an increase in their gross profit margin.
The company said pre-tax profits totaled 2.32 million euros in the January-September period this year, from 3.96 million in 2007, while after tax profits totaled 1.63 million euros, from 3.19 million euros in the corresponding period in 2007.
 Greek stocks end 2.10% upGreek stocks ended higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, following a positive trend in international markets. The composite index rose 2.10 pct to end at 1,864.81 points, with turnover remaining a low 139 million euros, of which 13.2 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Industrial Products (5.53 pct), Utilities (4.45 pct), Constructions (3.62 pct) and Chemicals (2.65 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (3.77 pct), Personal/Home Products (1.80 pct) and Healthcare (0.26 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 2.08 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 1.01 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.04 pct up. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 142 to 67 with another 59 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.52%
Personal & Household: -1.80%
Raw Materials: +2.37%
Travel & Leisure: +1.61%
Food & Beverages: +1.14%
Financial Services: +2.59%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and HBC Coca Cola.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.08
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.78
HBC Coca Cola: 11.74
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.60
National Bank of Greece: 14.30
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.34
Bank of Piraeus: 7.34
Titan Cement Company: 12.92
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 305 million euros on Monday, of which 130 million were buy orders and the remaining 175 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 200 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 148 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 4.90 pct and the German Bund 3.42 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 4.07 pct, the six-month rate was 4.0 pct, the three-month rate 3.97 pct and the one-month rate 3.48 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.287
Pound sterling 0.858
Danish kroner 7.514
Swedish kroner 10.485
Japanese yen 123.5
Swiss franc 1.556
Norwegian kroner 9.009
Canadian dollar 1.626
Australian dollar 2.009
 Cypriot columnist unveils book in AthensCypriot journalist Androula Georgiadou, a veteran columnist whose career goes back three decades, unveiled a chronicle of her columns entitled "Goodnight, My Baby", launched on Monday at the House of Cyprus Cultural Centre in Athens.
Athens News Agency (ANA) Consultant to the Director General, Andreas Christodoulides, presented the book.
The event was addressed by Cypriot ambassador to Athens Georgios Georgis and Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) President Panos Sobolos, while a message from Cypriot Journalists' Union President Andreas Kannaouros was read out.
 Rain on TuesdayRainy weather and southeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 22C. Partly cloudy in Athens with possibility of local showers, with southeasterly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 17C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe Vatopedi monastery case and opinion polls indicating main opposition PASOK widening its lead over ruling New Democracy (ND) dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The income of civil servants in 13 peripheries of the country will be increased".
APOGEVMATINI: "The gap between ND and PASOK is closing , opinion poll indicates".
AVRIANI: "Burning documents on Vatopedi monastery land exchanges scandal, pointing at blackmailers, pimps and political puppets to be revealed - A specific financier set up the scam, aiming on toppling Karamanlis and the government".
CHORA: "Who is able to reverse the hourglass ? The difference between PASOK and ND is widening".
ELEFTHEROS: "FinMin George Alogoskoufis' outburst against ministers - Leave aside the scenarios and criticism and deal with your own ministries' business".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Exclusive: Defence Ministry secret reports for the reduction conscription tersm and postponements of military service (only for completion of higher education studies)".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Prosecutor kept secret a report by the money laundering Committee revealing that Vatopedi monastery's treasury contained 105 million euros".
ESTIA: "Back to socialism - Leftist parties amass 60 percent of the voters".
ETHNOS "Former ND government Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis reveals the 'golden conspiracy' on theVatopedi monastery case, in an interview with the newpaper".
TA NEA: "Holiday crash threatens the market - Banks cut the 'Christmas loans' - Proposal to begin sales period from New Year's day".
VRADYNI: "Defence Ministry's draft law on Armed Forces hierarchy to be tabled in parliament".
 Spokesman assures sovereign rights will not be compromisedNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou pointed out on Monday that ''we will not compromise the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus for any reason and in any way.''
Commenting on the harassment by a Turkish vessel of a Norwegian ship, which was searching for hydrocarbons in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone, Stephanou assured that ''immediately the Cypriot government, the President of the Republic, reacted and they have sent and made representations to the UN Secretary General.''
He noted that ''the representation the President of the Republic made to the UN Secretary General on the specific incident has circulated as a UN official document,'' adding that ''the five permanent members of the Security Council have been informed in Cyprus and in New York.''
Stephanou said the government has also informed the European Commission and the French EU presidency about the incident, and that representations have also been made to Turkey.
''The representations of the Republic of Cyprus regarding the violation of international law and this illegal behaviour of Turkey against the Republic of Cyprus and its sovereignty, have already yielded results,'' he said, adding that ''various countries have turned to Turkey regarding the incident.''
Stephanou said the international community has appreciated the fact that Cyprus has reacted in a composed manner and noted that this was a test for Turkey.
''Turkey on one hand cannot state support to the negotiating process and the solution of the Cyprus problem and on the other hand show such behaviour that is a violation of international law. This is conflicting,'' Stephanou pointed out.
He said ''we expect Turkey to comply with its obligations, as they emanate from international law and the fact that Turkey wishes to join the EU.''
 House President and FM condemn Turkey's obstructions against Cyprus' EEZNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian has condemned Turkish obstructions against a Norwegian vessel which was conducting an exploratory survey for hydrocarbon reserves within Cyprus' exclusive economic zone.
In statements Monday, Garoyian condemned Turkey's behavior saying that Ankara "continues, to violate international law in Cyprus and Greece as well, with impudence and abysmal disregard of international law and sovereign rights of independent states".
The government, Garoyian said, has made all necessary representations to the UN and the EU, but he expressed the position that Ankara's provocative stance will not stop.
On November 13 a Turkish warship forced the Norwegian ship that was conducting an exploratory survey on behalf of Cyprus the Republic of Cyprus within its Exclusive Economic Zone, 27 miles off the south coast of the island, to cease its operations and withdraw within the territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus, under fear for the lives of their crews and the integrity of the ships.
The House President added that the Republic of Cyprus will continue defending its sovereign rights and not allow Turkey to doubt those rights, ''which are the corner stone of the Republic of Cyprus''.
He also noted that "we should send a clear message to the international community that it can not tolerate Turkey's implacable and unfair behavior concerning international law".
Commenting on the same issue, Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou stressed Monday that the Republic of Cyprus will not abrogate its political rights as a sovereign state nor its rights stemming from the law of the sea.
The law of the sea, he said, is a UN international convention ratified by all EU member states.
Kyprianou said that the Cypriot government has made all necessary representations on behalf of Cypriot President Demetris Christofias to the UN Secretary General, the EU President, the President of the European Commission as well as to the five UNSC permanent member states.
"We have made all protests and taken all actions. Turkey's moves are illegal, are against international law, they violate the principles of international law and will of course not be accepted by our side", he concluded.
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