|Wednesday, 18 September 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-11-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 26 November 2008 Issue No: 3056
 Greece, China sign three bilateral agreementsFurther strengthening economic cooperation between Greece and China was the focus of a meeting on Tuesday between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao. This followed the signature of three bilateral agreements granting a concession for the management of the Piraeus port container terminal to COSCO Pacific Ltd, one for cooperation between the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the Chinese telecoms company Huawei, and a third for cooperation between the Greek state broadcaster ERT and China Central Television (CCTV).
In statements afterwards, Karamanlis praised the level of economic relations between the two countries, and described them as "strategic", stressing that substantial progress has been made in that sector.
Greece, he added, placed particular emphasis on its cooperation with China, and was determined to further enhance the already impressive results of the last few years.
Karamanlis further said that the shipping sector was a "strategic field of cooperation" between the two countries, and noted the significant presence of Greek ship-owners in the transport of goods from China, as well as their collaboration with Chinese shipyards.
The Greek premier also said that China played an important role in global economic developments, particularly in light of the current credit crisis, and placed emphasis on the agreement for the concession of the container terminal at the port of Piraeus that was signed earlier in the day between the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) and COSCO. He noted that, through that agreement, Greece was evolving into a transit hub for southern Europe.
Karamanlis said that the tourism sector offered prospects for further development in terms of bilateral cooperation, stressing that the joint statement of strategic relations that was signed during his visit to Beijing in 2006 has produced tangible results, and adding that the agreements of mutual interest would contribute to further development of relations between the two countries.
He also praised the excellent organization of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and congratulated Hu Jintao on their success, stressing that the ages-long cultural heritage of China and Greece comprised the foundation for further development of their bilateral economic and cultural relations.
Karamanlis briefed Hu Jintao on the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the Cyprus problem and Greece's political rapprochement with Turkey.
Hu Jintao's visit to Greece, he said, reflected the strong political volition for consolidation of the strategic relationship between the two countries.
President Hu Jintao, in turn, described his meeting and talks with Karamanlis as cordial and constructive, noting that they focused on matters of mutual interest, and added that the two countries had many views and perceptions in common.
He assessed that, since 2006, there has been immense progress in cooperation between the two countries in all aspects, adding that China was satisfied with the outcome of its cooperation with Greece.
Hu Jintao further said that he appreciated Greece's understanding for China's problems and concerns, stressing that his country attached great importance to their bilateral relations, at the heart of which were political and economic cooperation.
The Chinese President stressed that priority must now be turned to the following areas:
1. Broadening economic cooperation, on which he said the Chinese side backs Chinese investments in Greece, and called on Greek entrepreneurs to invest in China's competitive market, while noting that all the necessary measures would be taken to balance bilateral trade.
2. Intensification of cooperation in the shipping sector through investments and infrastructures.
3. Intensification of humanistic exchanges, cooperation in the sector of culture with the teaching of the two countries' languages in the other country, and the promotion of academic exchanges.
"We are willing to make a common effort in the new world order in order to consolidate the strategic relations between Greece and China," President Hu Jintao concluded.
 China's president visits Greek ParliamentChina's President Hu Jintao on Tuesday paid a visit to the Greek Parliament, where he was received by Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas and discussed the importance of the strategic partnership launched by Greece and China in 2006. The Chinese head of state is currently carrying out a three-day official visit to Greece.
"Since 2006 when the strategic relationship between Greece and China was established, bilateral cooperation in the political arena has intensified," the Chinese president stressed, adding that this new political trust was also becoming established in the trade sector and spreading to the cultural sector.
Referring to the three bilateral agreements signed during his three-day visit, Hu said these should bring about great progress in the overall strategic and partnership relationship of the two countries.
Sioufas presented the Chinese president with the gold medal of the Greek Parliament and assured him that relations between Greece and China would become even closer following the signature of the three agreements, noting that its relations with Greece placed China "at the gateway to Europe, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean".
During the visit, Hu deposited a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier outside the Greek Parliament.
 Papandreou notes China's role, in talks with JintaoMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou held talks on Tuesday with the visiting President of People's Republic of China Ju Hintao.
After the meeting, Papandreou underlined the need for further development of China -Greece bilateral relations, stressing that he places great importance on China's investments in Greece.
Reffering to the Cosco Pacific contract for the Pireaus port terminal he said "I had the opportunity to reiterate PASOK's steadfast position on the strategic infrastructures and how we see them for our country".
Papandreou noted China's role in the international financial crisis, especially at the present conjucture, and expressed his appreciation for Chinese President's decision to appoint a personal delegate to the Stiglitz Committee which has been established by the Socialist International, of which Papandreou is currently president, in order to work on a progressive proposal for a way out of the crisis. Ju Hintao addressed an official invitation to Papandreou to visit China.
 KKE leader meets with Hu JintaoCommunist Party of Greece secretary general Aleka Papariga met on Tuesday with visiting President of People's Republic of China Hu Jintao.
After the meeting Papariga said that she agrees with international cooperation when it is for the mutual interest, referring to Chinese investments in Greece.
Papariga stressed that "international relations should be taken advantage of to the degree that there will be a mutual benefit, and when they contribute to Greece not relying on 'centres' that obstruct its development", but clarified that the KKE opposes the privatization of ports, mountains, beaches etc.
"Our opposition has nothing to do with who, or of what nationality, the buyer is. We believe that the latter are all public property and must belong to the state. The responsibility lies on the Greek side. When you sell something, there will be buyers," Papariga explained, adding that that was why the KKE was putting the blame on the Greek government, "both the present and the preceding one", and not on the buyer.
The KKE leader also said that her talks with Hu Jintao focused on the international financial crisis while, turning to relations between her party and the Communist party of China, she spoke of a constructive, substantive and sincere exchange of views.
 President Hu Jintao arrives in CretePeople's Republic of China President Hu Jintao arrived in the city of Iraklio, on the island of Crete, on Tuesday night at the end of his official visit to Athens.
President Hu Jintao was welcomed at Iraklio airport by the Secretary General of the Region of Crete Serapheim Tsokas, the deputies Lefteris Avgenakis and Costas Bantouvas, the president of the Prefectural Council George Alexakis and the mayors of Iraklio and Alikarnassos Kourakis and Sissamakis, as well as by military authorities.
The President of the People's Republic of China is staying at a hotel in the town of Hersonissos and on Wednesday morning he will be visiting the archaeological site of Knossos and afterwards the Agricultural Cooperative Union.
At noon, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who will be accompanying him, will be hosting a dinner in his honour, while in the afternoon President Hu Jintao will be visiting the Archaological Museum of Iraklio and then he will be leaving for Athens and later on for China.
 Pavlopoulos participates in 2nd Euro-African Immigration ConferenceInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos participated in Paris in the 2nd Euro-African Ministers Conference on Immigration and Development and stated that the Immigration Pact does not create a Europe which will act as a fortress despite of what has been said.
He added that it is a Pact on legal immigration, on the protection of man, on respect for his rights and for the safeguarding of his dignity.
Pavlopoulos said that "the main characteristic of the Immigration and Asylum Pact is that it cares about immigration, not only when the immigrant has arrived in Europe, but also determines policies for the countries of origin. And here is precisely where its importance is judged for the 2nd Euro-African Conference. Because what is important is that the text that we are arriving at, places emphasis on help for the immigrants countries of origin and, consequently, provides substantively for those in greater need."
The minister added that "the Immigration Pact is a great opportunity for employment in third countries, to strengthen legal and combat illegal immigration and, in particular, those who are exploiting it. And I am speaking about the merchants of hope."
 PASOK reiterates criticism on economyMain opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou reiterated on Tuesday its party's criticism over the government's economic policy, charging that the government "wasted the country's growth reserves which had been created during the course towards the eurozone and after."
The spokesman was commenting on data released by the OECD's latest six-month "Economic Outlook" report on Tuesday which said the Greek economy's growth rate would be gradually stabilised in the second quarter of 2009, after staying at feeble levels during the first six months of the next year.
Papaconstantinou added that OECD's predictions "are worse than those of the International Monetary Fund" for the year 2009.
 Cyprus President speaks to ANA-MPA ahead of Athens visitNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias will pay, November 26-28, an official visit to Greece, during which he will hold talks with the Greek government, party leaders, the Speaker of the House and will attend a Business Conference.
In an exclusive interview with the ANA-MPA on Tuesday, President Christofias said his Athens talks would focus on Greek-Turkish as well as Cyprus-Turkey relations, in light of recent Turkish provocations.
He was referring to Turkey's recent provocations in Cyprus' territorial waters, when on November 13th, a Turkish warship forced a Norwegian vessel, which was conducting an exploratory survey on behalf of 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, fearing for the lives of its crew and the integrity of the ship.
The Cypriot president said that Athens and Nicosia should examine "in a greater depth Turkey's real, final, strategic target" regarding the protracted Cyprus issue "to see whether this tactic, which it (Turkey) follows today has any relation with this final aim."
President Christofias did not exclude in his interview the possibility of Ankara aiming "in one way or another at the recognition of the illegal entity in the Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus and afterwards (the establishment of) some kind of confederation."
"Turkey has been until now sending such messages," Christofias stressed, adding that the Greek Cypriot side "can not accept such a thing".
The Cypriot president also believes that Turkish provocations in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone were probably linked with corresponding provocations in the Aegean.
President Christofias noted that during his Athens talks all possibilities regarding the course of ongoing direct negociations between him and Turksih Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat would be examined and concrete decisions would be taken.
Regarding the thorny issue of guarantees in an eventual solution of the Cyprus problem, President Christofias underlined that Greece's and Cyprus's joint position is that no guarantor powers are needed as regards a country which is a member of the European Union.
Asked to give an account of the up to date results of the direct talks with Talat, President Christofias said he "would have ecpected signs to be more positive".
 FM Bakoyannis speaks to CNANICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)
Greece and Cyprus are for the complete withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces from Cyprus and the abolition of treaties of guarantte and alliance, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Tuesday in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) in light of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' official visit to Greece beginning Wednesday.
Guaranee and alliance treaties "have proved to be dangerous for the stability and security of Cyprus and they do not suit an EU member-state," Bakoyannis added.
"We advocate clearly the complete demilitarisation of the island and the definite exclusion of any right for military intervention," the Greek foreign minister added.
Bakoyannis also reiterated the support of the Greek government and all political parties for the initiatives undertaken by Cyprus President Christofias for the finding of a comprehensive and agreed solution to the Cyprus problem in the framework of UN Security Council resolutions and European Union principles and values.
 Parliament seeks judicial intervention over monks' refusal to testify in Vatopedi inquiryThe Parliamentary investigation committee set up to look into the Vatopedi monastery land swaps scandal on Tuesday sent a letter to chief prosecutor of the Athens first instance court Kyriakos Karoutsos, asking that he take action over the refusal of two monks to testify before the committee.
The letter informed Karoutsos that Abbot Ephraim, originally named Vassilios Koutsou, and the monk Arsenios, originally Antonios Filos, had appeared before the committee in response to a summons but refused to give evidence in person, instead submitting written memorandums that outlined their positions and refusing to answer questions or provide clarifications.
"In spite of the requests of the chairman and members of the committee that they testify, the both refused obstinately. We forward the minutes of the session, which record the entire process, and request that you take action yourself," the letter writes.
 SYRIZA asks that monks be made to testify in Vatopedi probeRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MPs meeting on Tuesday have decided to ask that a second summons be sent to the monks Ephraim and Arsenios ordering them to testify before Parliament's committee investigating the Vatopedi monastery land swaps and to answer questions put to them by MPs.
SYRIZA's leader Alekos Alavanos said that the actions of the two monks the previous day and their refusal to testify at the committee's request were "a major provocation to Parliamenta-rianism," adding that the two should be forcibly brought before the committee if they refused to comply and charged with perjury if they insisted on refusing in accordance with Parliamentary regulations.
He expressed hope that SYRIZA's request would also be backed by the other parties.
 DM: Defence sector investments secure peace, developmentDefence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis underlined on Tuesday that Greece's investments in the defence sector comprise an investment in peace, "given that without security no economy can develop."
Meimarakis made the statement during an address at the 19th annual American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce conference in Athens, where he reminded that "you cannot leave the country defenseless with difficult neighbours."
Conversely, he reiterated that the ministry's goal is to further reduce defence spending, "which had reached very high levels over the past few years".
Meimarakis said the Greek defence ministry's initiative for closer ties between corresponding ministries and military leaderships in neighbouring countries was behind his invitation to counterparts to attend events in Thessaloniki last month commemorating the 69th anniversary of Greece's entry into WWII.
Along those lines, he cited an agreement that the Hellenic Aerospace Industries S.A. recently signed with the Turkish government for the construction of 30 percent of the fuselage of new F-16 warplanes ordered by the neighbouring country.
 Bulgarian planes join military exercise held in GreeceBulgarian fighter jets have taken part in an operation beyond Bulgaria's borders for the first time since that country joined NATO, joining the exercise Brave Heart South 2008 taking place on Greek territory, the Greek military announced on Tuesday.
The planes are two Bulgarian Air Force MIG-29 from the 2nd squadron of Graf Ignatievo air base, who are training alongside Greek F-16 Block 30 and F16 Block 50 from the 111 Combat Wing at Nea Anchialos air base, in accordance with the military cooperation programme between Greece and Bulgaria for 2008.
The two MIG-29 arrived at the Nea Anchialos air base in Greece on Monday and carried out an aerial battle exercise with the Greek F-16s on Tuesday, while technicians from the two air forces will train in the service and support of the two types of aircraft.
The exercise seeks to improve interoperational military procedures, increase mutual cooperation and use NATO procedures in carrying out exercises. The exercise is scheduled to continue until November 29.
 Cypriot interior ministry delegation in AthensDeputy Interior Minister Christos Zois met Tuesday with a visiting Cypriot interior ministry delegation and discussed public administration issues aimed at improving the services provided in the public sector in terms of quality and effectiveness.
They also examined ways of cooperation in the Common Assessment Framework, aimed at promoting exchanges and cooperation with the purpose of modernizing government and public service delivery in EU member states.
 OECD on Greek economic growthPARIS (ANA-MPA)
The OECD's latest six-month "Economic Outlook" report publicised on Tuesday assesses that the Greek economy's growth rate will be gradually stabilised in the second quarter of 2009, after staying at feeble levels during the first six months of the next year.
Inflation will also decline, but the rate's difference with the eurozone will probably be maintained. According to the OECD's predictions, inflation is expected to drop to 2.4 percent in 2010, from 4.5 percent in 2008 and 2.7 percent in 2009.
Despite the weaker economic conditions, fiscal restructuring must be continued, based on better control of public expenditures, according to the international organisation.
The reforming of the pensioning system and greater effectiveness in the health system and public administration are essential. OECD says that the recent measures aimed at widening the taxation base are welcome.
The evaluation is also made in the report that the strengthening of competition in industries with network infrastructures and the restriction of inflexibilities in the labour market will contribute to the slackening of inflationary pressures and the improvement of development prospects in the long term.
The OECD predicts that the Greek economy will have a 3.2 percent growth rate this year and a 1.9 percent one in 2009, although the growth rate is expected to be "slack" over the next few quarters.
 PM Karamanlis addresses Hellenic American Chamber of CommercePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis outlined the main aspects and goals of the Greek Action Plan to tackle the monetary crisis, during his address at the 19th annual conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday night.
Karamanlis sent clear messages to bankers, businessmen, trade unionists and the opposition parties, calling on them to rise to the occasion, to place "us" in the place of "I" and to "consider what more can we offer."
The prime minister assessed that what is worse about the crisis is that it has no visible end and nobody can make a secure evaluation today nor of the duration, or of the intensity or of the trend that it might take, while stressing that the Greek economy's endurance in the face of the crisis vindicates the government's economic policy.
He made a brief account of the phenomena that led to the crisis and noted that now it has beeen conveyed rapidly to the real economy and has caused a vicious circle of interreactions in all economic activities in all the economies of the world.
"The global crises require global solutions," the prime minister said and emphasised that the eurozone is already on the threshold of recession and the Commission's predictions for 2009 are very pessimistic.
"Despite all this, the Greek economy, strengthened by the reforms of the past five years has proved, and is continuing to prove, stronger endurances, compared to many others," he said and stressed that "this truth vindicates the policy of the past years, on the one hand, and dictates an intensification of efforts on the other."
The prime minister further said that what is necessary are responsible policies and a deep sense of political and social responsibility.
 Papaligouras addresses Hellenic American Chamber of CommerceMerchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasios Papaligouras addressed the 19th Conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on the theme of "The time of the Greek economy" on Tuesday, referring to the contribution of shipping to the Greek economy, as well as to the sector's development and prospects.
Papaligouras focused on the importance of the agreement signed on Tuesday between the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) and the Chinese COSCO on granting part of the containers terminal at the port of Piraeus and then spoke of the times we are experiencing, terming them certainly crucial since they coincide with one of the most difficult conjunctures for the global economy.
The minister further said that the country is being given the opportunity in this conjuncture, in the crisis that is under way, to reassess the role and the contribution of merchant shipping to economic and social prosperity, both at national and global level.
Papaligouras referred to the role of shipping for the country's economic and social development and stressed that, together with tourism, it constitutes the most important pylon of the Greek economy and the backbone of the country's social and economic fabric.
 Tourism Minister addresses Hellenic American Chamber conferenceEfforts are being made to protect the Greek tourist product stressed Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Tuesday while addressing the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce Conference on the Greek economy. The minister expressed restrained optimism regarding the prospects of the 2009 tourism market.
"Next year will be a tough one and the ministry's goal is to make sure that it will end with the fewest losses possible compared to other Euro-zone countries," Spiliotopoulos told reporters afterwards.
"With the global crisis unfolding, the tourist sector can offer substantial support to the Greek economy," he added, pointing out that the Greek economy will have to recognize tourism's substantial contribution.
"Responding to the challenges posed by the global tourist industry, Greece will have to become a leader in quality and new specialized tourism services in order to be competitive," Spiliotopoulos stated and referred to plans for closer cooperation with countries in the Mediterranean region.
As regards the tourism ministry's reform policy, he cited figures showing that 2008 closed with a record increase of 6 percent in foreign currency inflow, considering that foreign arrivals had reached record numbers in 2007.
 US envoy addresses chamber eventUS ambassador to Athens Daniel Speckhard on Tuesday addressed the annual American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce conference in the Greek capital, where he referred, expectedly, to the ongoing international credit crisis and the election of a new US president.
"So let me start with the political - the election on November 4 of Sen. Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States. This was a momentous election for us in many ways. The voter enthusiasm was quite extraordinary. I can assure you that many Embassy employees arrived for work quite bleary eyed after having stayed up all night to watch the returns, myself included," he said in opening his address.
In turning to the economic crisis, the US envoy warned against a generalised backlash against the entire free enterprise system.
"... In the wake of the crisis, there are those who would equate the free enterprise system with greed and exploitation and failure. It's true that this crisis included failures -- by lenders and borrowers, by financial firms, and by governments and independent regulators - and if truth be told, by many of us citizens, who bought into the desire to take on ever increasing mortgages or consumer debt to finance bigger homes or greater spending habits.
"But as bad as the current crisis is, it is important to understand that it is not an indictment of the market system as a whole, but rather a failure in an important component ... We need to adapt the global financial architecture to the realities of the 21st century and move forward with the market principles that have delivered prosperity and hope to people all across the globe."
Turning to Greece, Speckhard said the financial crisis is hitting each country differently, depending on each one's unique stage and characteristics of economic development, noting that Greek banks, and Greece in general, have not been hit hard by the financial crisis "because for the most part they did not engage in the financial tools at the center of the storm.
"But beware those who would say Greece should increase regulation and delay reforms on the market in general as the lesson to be learned from the crisis; that would be a mistake for the economic prospects for all Greeks," he said, pointing to the country's good record on economic reforms," he said.
 Provopoulos sees mergers between smaller banks after crisisThe Bank of Greece will begin disbursements from a 28-billion-euro plan to strengthen local banks and boost liquidity in the economy, over the next few weeks, BoG Gov. George Provopoulos said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Thessaloniki, the Greek central banker expressed his optimism over a gradual return of the banking market to normal, predicting that credit expansion could slow to 10 pct, while he said he expected mergers, mainly between smaller banks, after the end of the crisis.
Provopoulos said that neither the Greek nor international economies were in danger of deflation, while he expressed reservations over the effectiveness of a move by the UK government to cut VAT rates by 2.5 pct.
The central banker, however, acknowledged that economic developments would be very difficult around the world in 2009, as international organizations predicted a negative economic growth in the eurozone. He added, though, that the government could achieve the targets of the 2009 budget "although the Prime Minister himself said it would be a difficult budget".
Provopoulos said a procedure to offer financial support to Greek banks could take as much as 3-4 weeks and warned that the central bank was taking precautionary measures to ensure that credit expansion - resulting from the government package of 28 billion euros - would be distributed to the real economy. He added that the central bank has also taken measures to avoid any "leaking" of funds to the Balkans -- a preferred destination for Greek banks' overseas capital investments.
He sounded optimistic that national-sponsored programs to support economies (totaling 2.0 trillion euros in the EU) and the European Central Bank's interventions would gradually bring results, cutting borrowing costs for banks and benefiting borrowers.
"Of course we cannot expect a direct change of the current climate. This could not happen overnight, but it will take time. The climate, however, has already started improving," Provopoulos said.
 Greece-Croatia Economic Cooperation CommitteeThe 3rd session of the Joint Interministerial Greece-Croatia Economic Cooperation Committee took place at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Croatian Deputy Economy, Employment and Entrepreneurship Minister Tamara Obradovic Mazal and Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas and examined the strengthening of cooperation in a series of important sectors of the economy, investments and trade.
Doukas and Mazal probed during their discussions possibilities for cooperation in the sectors of energy and natural gas, petroleum products, shipping and transport, as well as the building in Croatian shipyards of special ships that are used in underwater construction.
The Croatian side also showed great interest in tourism, particularly the possibilities provided by Croatia for Greek tourist investments.
Cooperation existing between the two countries in the framework of the "Adriatic-Ionian Initiative" Cooperation Organisation, whose presidency Greece will be assuming in the new year, was also confirmed once again during the session.
 Deputy FM Doukas holds talks with Egyptian trade ministerDeputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas and Egyptian Industry and Trade Minister Rachid Mohammed Rachid discussed issues concerning investments and cooperation in sectors of mutual interest, both bilaterally and in the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean during a working luncheon they had on Tuesday with the participation of leading Greek businessmen.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, it was stressed during the meeting that "the geopolitical and economic role of the two countries in the region is of strategic importance and we must urge the forces of the market to undertake actions that will achieve considerable results benefitting our peoples."
Rachid also gave a press conference in Athens on Tuesday focusing on the importance of further strengthening trade relations and investments between Egypt and Greece, through the framework shaped by the international economic crisis.
He referred to the improvement in trade and economic relations between the two countries since, as he pointed out, over the past years many Greek businesses have invested in Egypt in important sectors of the economy, such as energy, trade, shipping and banking.
Moreover, he noted that the activation of Egyptian businessmen in Greece, such as Nagib Sawiris is encouraging more Egyptian companies to come and invest in the country.
"The increase in trade and investments at bilateral level will benefit both Egypt and Greece, developing the economies and creating jobs," the Egyptian minister said.
 Turkish businessmen in KalambakaTwenty-seven businessmen from Turkey have arrived in the prefecture of Trikala, in central Greece, following an initiative by the Trikala Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber has organised meetings between businessmen from Turkey and Trikala in the town of Kalambaka with the purpose of promoting and concluding agreements with the ultimate aim of exchanging products.
The Turkish businessmen's interest focused at an initial stage on milk products. Heading the Turkish side at the meetings was the vice president of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, which has hundreds of thousands of members, while the side of Trikala was headed by the president of the city's Chamber of Commerce.
 Competition authority slaps fines worth 50mln euros on BP Hellas, Shell HellasGreece's competition watchdog authority on Tuesday imposed a total fine of around 50 million euros on BP Hellas and Shell Hellas for breaching competition rules and operating a price fixing policy.
The Competition Commission fined BP Hellas with 30.06 million euros and Shell Hellas with 19.66 million euros and urged them to change their discount policy towards retail distribution enterprises in the unleaded petrol market.
The competition watchdog accepted recommendations of its directorate-general, acknowledging that the two companies used their strong brand names to converge their net wholesale prices.
 ASE President sees opportunities in Greek marketThe global financial crisis has created opportunities in the Greek stock market, while the Athens Stock Exchange's (ASE) capitalisation to GDP ratio is at its lowest point since 1997 at approximately 33 percent, ASE President Spyros Kapralos stated said on Tuesday while addressing the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Conference on the Greek Economy.
"I continue to believe that hopes for the market's recovery once again lie with foreign institutional investors, who will return as soon as the international climate improves and as soon as they see investment opportunities in the Greek market," he said.
According to Kapralos, the dividends paid out by the 20 largest companies were expected to exceed the 5 percent mark, in spite of the global financial crisis.
The greatest risk faced by the Greek market was reduced liquidity because many institutional investors tended to move their investments to more developed markets, he stressed.
"The lack of a strong domestic investment sector, the mutual funds flux, the portfolio investment companies being absorbed by the banks and pension funds abstaining from the market, create problems in the Greek market," the ASE president pointed out.
 Piraeus Bank completes 1.75-mln-euro securitisation issuePiraeus Bank on Tuesday announced the successful completion of a securitisation issue worth 1.75 million euros. The securitisation of Piraeus Bank's business loans was made by Axia Finance Plc, a UK-based company. Deutsche Bank AG (London branch) was the coordinator of the issue.
 Trade deficit down 2.9% in Jan-SepGreece's trade deficit rose 8.8 pct in September to 3.135 billion euros, from 2.881 billion euros in the same month last year, the National Statistics Service announced on Tuesday.
The statistical service, in a report, said the overall trade deficit, excluding fuel products, grew by 3.1 pct or 80.2 million euros, compared with September 2007, while the trade deficit in the nine-month period from January to September fell by 2.9 pct to 25.753 billion euros, down from 26.524 billion in the corresponding period of 2007. Excluding oil, the trade deficit rose by 964 million euros, or 4.4 pct in the nine-month period.
 Greek stocks end 1.96% higherGreek stocks continued moving upwards for the second consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, following a positive trend in other international markets. The composite index rose 1.96 pct to end at 1,901.42 points, with turnover at 204.2 million euros, of which 2.9 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Commerce (8.18 pct), Oil (6.38 pct), Chemicals (2.99 pct) and Constructions (2.67 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (0.86 pct), Food/Beverage (0.68 pct) and Personal/Home Products (0.05 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 2.27 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.50 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.75 pct up. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 130 to 84 with another 57 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +6.38%
Personal & Household: -0.05%
Raw Materials: +1.12%
Travel & Leisure: +1.74%
Food & Beverages: -0.68%
Financial Services: +1.55%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP and EFG Eurobank Ergasias.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.32
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.94
HBC Coca Cola: 11.64
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.10
National Bank of Greece: 14.86
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.30
Bank of Piraeus: 7.74
Titan Cement Company: 13.56
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover amounting to 78.436 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.72 pct, while volume totaled 13,790 contracts worth 67.944 million euros, with 30,513 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,331 contracts worth 10.199 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,516), followed by Marfin Popular Bank (1,714), Eurobank (1,167), OTE (1,051), and Marfin Investment Group (986).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 542 million euros on Tuesday, of which 322 million were buy orders and the remaining 220 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 305 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 169 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 4.92 pct and the German Bund 3.23 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 4.051 pct, the six-month rate was 2.995 pct, the three-month rate 3.94 pct and the one-month rate 3.44 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.291
Pound sterling 0.860
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 10.427
Japanese yen 124.06
Swiss franc 1.556
Norwegian kroner 9.154
Canadian dollar 1.603
Australian dollar 2.024
 Minister's message on int'l day against violence targeting women"The total and effective protection of the rights of women is interwoven with the essential meaning of human value and dignity, constituting part of the core of Democracy and the State of Law," Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed in his message on the occasion of the UN Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
"The relative initiatives undertaken by the United Nations attest to the extent of the problem calling for urgent measures to protect women from any form of violence," he stressed.
"Studies show that one in three women is likely to suffer some form of physical violence, sexual exploitation or abuse during her life, one in five women becomes the victim of rape or attempted rape, while over 80 percent of the victims of illegal trafficking and trading in humans are women," stressed Pavlopoulos.
The interior minister also referred to the effective interventions made at national level, both preventive and punitive, underlining the institutional framework adopted against domestic violence.
 Health minister on AIDSHealth Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos gave a press conference on Tuesday on the occasion of the International Day against AIDS on December 1, while latest data concerning the disease show an increase in new infections by the HIV virus, a phenomenon being recorded all over Europe and not only in Greece.
Avramopoulos said that prevention programmes must be intensified and expressed scepticism over the ascertainment that backing for the Diseases Control and Prevention Centre by the state budget is decreasing every year.
"AIDS is not a nightmare which is over, it is not something that we must place at the back of the subconscious. It remains both at national and global level a threat for public health if complaisance prevails," he said.
The minister announced measures being taken by the Health and Social Solidarity ministry for preventing and combatting the virus, through the National Action Plan. This year's prevention and information campaign regarding AIDS was also presented.
 Thessaloniki Film Festival concludes with Greek awards portionThe key provisions of a draft law aimed at the modernisation and development of Greek-language cinema were outlined by Culture Minister Michalis Liapis, who spoke during the State Quality Awards ceremony held at the conclusion of the 49th Thessaloniki Film Festival late Monday night.
Referring to the Greek Screenplay Institute, he stated that it will soon be established, while he also announced tax breaks in the form of incentives for more investments in the local film industry.
Two films, "Without" and "Sklavi Sta Desma Tous" (Slaves and their bonds) by directors Alexandros Avranas and Toni Likouresis, respectively, swept the prizes awarded in the festival's Greek competition section, winning six and 10 awards, respectively.
The best documentary award was garnered by "The Night Fernando Pessoa Met Constantine Cavafy", by Stelios Charalambopoulos, while the short film prize went to Josephine Markarian for her film "Partners".
 Dora Stratou theatre reports dire financial problemsThe 'Dora Stratou' Greek Dances Theatre, which has entertained generations of tourists with its shows of traditional Greek folk music and dancing on Philoppapou Hill opposite the Acropolis, on Tuesday revealed that its finances are in shambles due to underfunding while it also faces the prospect eviction from the site it has occupied for decades due to a claim by alleged owners.
The theatre's president Alkis Raftis said the theatre first established in 1953 had not received any grants from the culture ministry in a year, while the site of its theatre on Filoppapos Hill was now being claimed by seven private owners.
"We are a non-profit society and, since 1964, Constantine Karamanlis had specially bestowed, with the approval of the Central Archaeological Council at that time, a small part of the site for the operation of the theatre so that it could stage performances of Greek folk dances. In the last year we have received no subsidy from the culture ministry and a month ago we received an out-of-court document from seven private individuals that claim to own seven hectares on Philoppapou Hill where the Dora Stratou theatre is situated," Raftis told reporters.
The letter claiming the site has also been sent to the culture ministry and seven other ministries involved, he added.
 3 coast guard officers linked to Patras-based migrant-smuggling ringA joint operation by Greek Police and Port Authorities this week resulted in the detection of an illegal migrant-trafficking ring operating out of the port of Patras, western Greece, along with the arrest of three coast guard officers allegedly involved in the ring.
Besides the three law enforcement officers, another 10 illegal migrants were arrested after attempting to board passenger ferries in Patras, the hub for Italy-bound ferry boats in Greece.
 Rain on WednesdayRainy weather and southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 22C. Fair in Athens, with westerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 21C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 7C to 15C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe shortage of medicines and medical staff in public hospitals and the developments in the Vatopedi monastery scandal dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Vatopedi's Abbot Ephraim and monk Arsenios mocked and disregarded parliament's fact finding commission".
APOGEVMATINI: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis honoured (with his presence) an Apogevmatini event on Greece- France relations".
AVGHI: "'Black out' in hospitals - Health Minister, as an alibi, puts the blame on the 'piranhas'.
AVRIANI: "Karamanlis and FM Dora Bakoyannis take charge - Aggressive four-month political project aimed at radical reversal of the political climate".
CHORA: "Mercy - Abbot Ephraim dishonoured the parliament and the government".
ETHNOS: "Lord help us - Abbot Ephraim's show of arrogance in parliament".
ELEFTHEROS: "Opinion polls indicating main opposition to have taken the lead sets the government on fire".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Foreign countries ambassadors' stern recommendations regarding the debts to pharmaceutical companies - USA makes 'demarche' over the unpaid bills to American suppliers".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The battle of the crisis - Greek government gives....a heating- oil benefit while Europe takes measures for the real economy".
ESTIA: "Historic agreement with the Chinese - Greece to become the entrance gate to Europe".
KATHIMERINI: "The impasses in the Health sector multiply - Social security funds and disagreement among doctors".
LOGOS: "Karamanlis states : Not a single new tax will be imposed in 2009".
NIKI: "Abbot Ephraim pointed at the government after insulting parliament by giving a deposition instead of testifying".
RIZOSPASTIS: "People must stand up against government's and opposition's blackmailing for the euroroute impasse- People will pay the cost of the crisis".
TA NEA: "Light shed on 'Vatopedi Ltd' ledger - Millions of euros and secret accounts".
TO VIMA: "Vatopedi scandal angers the people, who are shocked".
VRADYNI: "New Deal against the credit crisis - Obama and Brown pioneers of a steam-engine for growth".
 President Christofias: Cyprus has the right to conclude agreementsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, stressed Tuesday that the Republic of Cyprus has the sovereign right to conclude agreements with other states.
President Christofias was commenting on Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat's written statement, which he read out during Tuesday's tenth meeting between the leaders on the framework of the UN-led Cyprus talks. In his statement, Talat was criticizing the recent official visit President Christofias has paid to the Russian Federation, as well as the common political declaration signed between President Christofias and the Russian President.
The Cypriot President said also that during Tuesday's meeting between himself and Talat, an agreement was reached on issues concerning federal offenses.
In statements after the leaders' tenth meeting, President Christofias said that regarding the discussion on federal offenses and way of handling ''we have an agreement".
"We also discussed the issue of federal police, where we have noted convergence but also deviations. We will continue the discussion", he added.
The next meeting between the leaders will be held next Tuesday, 2nd December. President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been meeting since early September to find a mutually agreed solution that will reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
In his statements, President Christofias expressed sorrow over the fact that during the meeting, the Turkish Cypriot leader chose to read out a written statement criticizing his recent official visit to Russia.
"The Republic of Cyprus has the sovereign right to conclude agreements", the Cypriot President said, adding "we will continue doing this until we reach a solution of the Cyprus problem, until the future Federal United Republic of Cyprus concludes agreements with other states".
President Christofias said he associates Talat's action with Turkey's recent provocations in Cyprus' territorial waters, when on November 13th, a Turkish warship forced a Norwegian vessel, which was conducting an exploratory survey on behalf of 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, fearing for the lives of its crew and the integrity of the ship.
Regarding Talat's criticism on President Christofia's official visit to Russia, President Christofias said he rejects what Talat has said in his written statement and underlined that the President of the Republic of Cyprus has the right to sign agreements and protocols with political leaders of the five permanent UNSC member states and other leaders as well.
The Cypriot President said that Talat had every right to make his statement but not in the particular place, at the UN premises.
"These issues are not on the agenda of the talks. These are not issues, which we agreed to discuss before the UN. Talat had every right to make that statement, as he understands it, but not there where he made it", he added.
President Christofias said that Talat's complaint was that "I have stated that the legal government of Cyprus can not exercise its sovereignty on the occupied area and that the essence of the Cyprus problem is the Turkish occupation which does not allow the Republic of Cyprus to exercise its sovereignty over the whole territory of the Republic".
He added that Talat concluded that the above means that "with the solution of the Cyprus problem, today's government, as he says, will exercise its sovereignty over the whole territory of the Republic of Cyprus. This is, I believe, an arbitrary interpretation on behalf of Talat".
President Christofias reiterated that after the solution of the Cyprus problem, Turkish troops will withdraw, there will be no occupation and the two communities, the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot, will jointly exercise the legislative and executive power of the United Federal Republic of Cyprus, based on the agreement that will be achieved between the two communities.
"I would like to express my sorrow because Talat chose to make that statement in that particular place", he said.
"I am saddened by those actions and I associate them with Turkey's provocations. But we will judge them based on the outcome of the talks at the negotiating table. It is true that it causes a tension. It is also true that one needs steely nerves".
He stressed that the President of the Republic of Cyprus does not relegate the right of a state, member of the UN and the EU, with all its territory, to Talat or anyone else, neither does it give anyone the right to doubt the Republic of Cyprus' sovereignty.
"I invite Talat to come together and solve the Cyprus problem. All those issues will be solved automatically, with a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem, on the basis of the UN resolutions, the High Level Agreements", he said.
Asked whether the UN have taken a position on the matter, since Talat chose to make his complaint in the framework of the UN-led Cyprus talks, President Christofias said he asked the UN not to get involved in the matter, saying that it is an issue concerning himself and the Turkish Cypriot leader.
 France reaffirms wish for a just and viable Cyprus solutionNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
France is in favour of a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem based on bizonal, bicommunal federation, French Minister of State in charge of European Affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet has stressed.
Jouyet also underlined that France maintains its firm position that Turkey cannot join EU before a solution to the Cyprus problem is found.
France's Minister of State was speaking during a meeting he held with a delegation of the Cyprus-France parliamentary Friendship Group paying an official visit to Paris at the invitation of the French National Assembly.
The delegation, comprising members of parliament Demetris Syllouris, Takis Chatzigeorgiou, Andreas Aggelides and George Varnava, held Monday a series of meetings at the French Foreign Ministry, accompanied by Cyprus Ambassador to France Pericles Nearchou.
According to an official announcement issued here Tuesday, during their meeting with Jouyet, Cypriot MP's congratulated French presidency both for its successful handling of difficult issues on the international scene and for the progress achieved in high priority issues set by the French Presidency.
They reaffirmed Cyprus' support to the work carried out by the French Presidency, while the French Minister warmly thanked Cyprus on behalf of his country for the support provided.
The delegation also expressed the gratitude of the people of Cyprus for the firm position of principles France maintains as a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council and as a strong European power with regard to the substance of the Cyprus problem and the ongoing efforts to resolve it.
Noting that the substance of the Cyprus problem is the Turkish invasion and the continued occupation of a part of European territory, Cypriot MP's pointed out that the EU has a say and a role to play so that the solution will be in line with international law, the relevant UN resolutions and principles upon which EU has been built.
Referring to the direct talks on Cyprus issue Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began last September, they noted that Turkey continues to present intransigent positions which clearly deviate from the agreed base of the Cyprus solution that of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality. Apparently, Turkey aims at upgrading the illegal occupation regime, they stressed.
Furthermore, they reiterated the Greek Cypriot side's sincere good will to work in good faith to achieve a just and viable solution based on the aforementioned principles, which will secure respect to the human rights of all Cypriots.
The French Minister welcomed the current momentum in the efforts for a Cyprus solution with the ongoing direct talks.
He noted that France wished for the achievement of a just and viable solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in line with the international law and the relevant UN resolutions.
The continuation of the status quo, he underlined, is not a solution because it widens the gap between the two communities. He also added that the division of the island cannot be a solution to the problem.
The French Minsiter reaffirmed his country's readiness to offer every possible support to the efforts undertaken in the framework of the United Nations during the EU French Presidency and after it ends, while he wished for substantial progress in the direct negotiations.
Referring to Turkey's EU course, Jouyet said that "Turkey's course is a separate chapter which is linked to the solution of the Cyprus problem".
France's firm position remains that Turkey cannot join EU if a solution to the Cyprus problem is not found, he concluded.
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