|Saturday, 16 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-12-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 23 December 2008 Issue No: 3079
 Govt to offer support to SMEs, PM saysThe Greek government is determined to offer financial support to small- and medium-sized enterprises amid an international financial crisis, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, during a visit to the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greek Premier stressed that the whole of the European Union has fallen into recession and noted that the crisis is hitting consumption, production and commerce, while unemployment was on the rise.
The Greek economy was still resisting pressures from an international crisis but 2009 would be a difficult year for all, Karamanlis said, adding that the government's aim was to limit the impact and to safeguarding benefits gained in the previous years.
The Greek PM said it was a top policy priority to offer support to sectors of the economy suffering from an international crisis, such as supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises. He said that the biggest part of a government-sponsored plan to boost liquidity in the economy would be chanelled to funding SMEs, while the government would also offer financial support to enterprises hit by vandalisms during recent street protests.
Karamanlis said the government was transfering funds from a Fourth Community Support Framework to SMEs, while it was introducing new measures to boost enterpreunship among young people and women. The government will take every measure needed - which is feasible- to deal with the crisis.
It is in the midst of this environment that we all have to make decisive choices for the future of this country, the PM said, adding that the government was choosing the uphill road of responsibility, "Our only choice," he stressed.
PASOK on PM's visit to EBEA
Chrysohoidis added that there was "no self-criticism, there was a tiring repetition of fruitless measures and no contact with reality" and said that "this hypocrisy must come to an end at last."
"The Greek economy is facing an unprecedented solvency crisis, as it is formulated in the assessments of international firms on its state and prospects and in the extent of the country's public loan holding, at the exclusive political responsibility of the New Democracy (ND) government. The problem, therefore, of the small and medium-size enterprise in Greece is political and bears the signature of ND," Chrysohoidis stressed.
 Gov't not planning revision of 2009 state budget, spokesman saysThe government is not planning a revision of its 2009 state budget, Greek government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, during a regular briefing, Antonaros stres-sed that Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskou-fis had never said such a thing while the Prime Minister told Parliament on Sunday that the budget was drafted and tabled to parliament based on real data available.
"An international economic situation is constantly evolving. However, we do not table a budget to revised it the next day," the spokesman said.
Antonaros noted that the government supported consensus. "We call all interested agencies and political parties to a dialogue. The government is taking all necessary initiatives and waits for others to respond," he said.
 PASOK on state budget, coalition gov'ts"The state budget passed in Parliament on Sunday night is the last budget presented by this government; it is inadequate and will not be implemented," main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou said on Monday, adding that his party "will not extend a helping hand to those responsible for the country's current state".
On the likelihood of a coalition government in case no party achieves a majority in Parliament on its own in the wake of general elections, Papaconstantinou said such a solution would contribute to the continuation and deepening of the crisis, stressing that the country needs a new political direction.
On the university asylum issue, he said the relative institutional framework is clear and should be implemented by the university community, which has a better view of what takes place on campuses.
As regards the recent violent incidents, Papaconstantinou reitera-ted a statement made by PASOK leader George Papandreou, who had underlined that all opposition parties had adopted a responsible stance condemning violence.
 FM Bakoyannis meets with Russian ambassadorForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis received on Monday outgoing Russian ambassador to Greece Andrei Vdovin, whose term ends in the following days.
No statements were made after the meeting.
Soon after her meeting with the Russian envoy, Bakoyannis went to the French embassy where the French ambassador Christophe Farnaud has invited his European Union counterparts to event marking the conclusion of the French EU presidency.
 Gov't on the university asylumGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday refused to comment on a decision by the administration of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) to refuse to lift the campus asylum, saying that this concerned the operation of justice.
As regards the proposal by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) President George Karatzaferis concerning the lifting of the university asylum, Antonaros stated that the government has made its own proposals on the issue that have already become a law of the state.
"Requesting the lifting of university asylum is up to the prosecutor and the university administrative body," Antonaros stated, adding that "those who are responsible for maintaining order in universities and ensuring their smooth operation will do their duty."
Commenting on the likelihood of amending the university asylum framework, Antonaros stated that existing laws have been passed recently, stressing that they should be implemented well.
 KKE's Papariga and NTUA administration discuss asylumCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday met with the administration of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), accompanied by the secretary of KKE's youth party KNE, Yiannis Protoulis.
Papariga termed the meeting "useful and interesting" and said that students and high school pupils had a long and difficult struggle ahead of them in order to achieve a truly modern and fully state-funded education system.
"The issues are major. There is already a law that is in operation and which we want, as much as we can, to obstruct in practice. In this sense, the struggle will be hard and long. It must take all forms and, much more, this struggle must be joined by the thousands of students that have not yet taken part," she said.
She also urged students to join forces with other sections of the working-class movement.
Protoulis referred to the incidents in universities by groups abusing their asylum status, while stressing that KKE was against the lifting of asylum and that police had no business in universities.
"It is an issue for the student movement itself, however, to take a stance toward the phenomena of the past few days, where various groups without legitimisation from student unions, from general assemblies, from collective processes and protest committees, take over institutes and convert them into centres for Molotovs and destruction in the centre of cities," he said.
He urged student movements affiliated to all parties to take a clearcut stance on this issue, pointing out that no student organisation or group had sanctioned the creation of a centre such as that now operating at the NTUA.
 Papandreou visits "Doctors of The World"Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou visited Medecins du Monde-Greece's (MDM-Doctors of the World, a non-governmental humanitarian aid organization), open polyclinic and hostel, where he spoke with the doctors, the staff and with migrants.
"We Greeks are a nation that knows what migration means, the pain of leaving one's homland and immigration. For this reason I want to congratulate the Doctors of the World who are making a tremendous effort to provide shelter and medical care and to manifest humanity to those people seeking a different future and have came to Greece looking for a new homeland. We must take measures to integrate them, to assist them and support them. We must unite our forces," stated Papandreou after the visit.
"In a period of international crisis, which makes the conditions for migrants and refugees even harder, Greece must be a land that will set the example; and this is our goal," said the PASOK leader.
 SYRIZA press conference on its main goalsThe Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Secretariat headed by Alekos Alavanos presented the party's main goals in response to the economic, social and political crisis experienced by the country.
In a press conference on Monday, Alavanos stressed that the "two-party model of governance has run its course" in Greece, while adding that the ruling New Democracy (ND) party was going through a major crisis. He went on to say that an effort was being made to "help the system survive through calls for a grand coalition and appointment of government ministers enjoying wide acceptance".
Alavanos also referred to the major movement in search of new prospects which found support among the youth as indicated by the latest developments following the police killing of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos in Exarchia, Athens earlier in December.
The first draft plan of SYRIZA's immediate goals will be presented in early 2009 while a more detailed debate will be held in the party convention scheduled to take place in March.
As regards the allegations that SYRIZA is behind the hooded rioters, Alavanos stated that soon the accusers will have to change their stance.
On the State budget rejected by SYRIZA in parliament in Sunday's vote, he said that "the allocation of funds presented constituted an insult to the workers and the young".
Alavanos also stated that it will be unthinkable for Greece to be brought before the International Monetary Fund because such a move would constitute the end of the Euro-zone.
On the likelihood of cooperation with other parties, he responded that SYRIZA's proposals are being directed to all political forces active in environmental politics.
Among the immediate goals of SYRIZA are the country's withdrawal from NATO and the shutting down of the bases in Suda and Aktio, the immediate withdrawal of Greece's signature from the Treaty of Lisbon, the abolition of the Stability Pact and the nationalization of all privatized companies.
 Photovoltaic Energy Federation establishedA Federation of Photovoltaic Energy Producers was established during the first panhellenic gathering of producers from Photovoltaic Parks held in the town of Kalambaka, in central Greece.
Producers and representatives who are active in the photovoltaic sector and who have succeeded in linking up with the Public Power Corporation's (DEH) network gathered and decided unanimously to establish the Federation.
Coordinators will be setting the holding of a General Assembly in mid-March, with the main issue being the election of the first administrative council.
 Partnership transformation of OSEThe Interministerial Privatisation Committee has formally approved the partnership transformation of the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE), in the framework of the Greek Railways Reconstruction programme with the aim, according to an announcement by the transport and communications ministry, to have a more flexible and effective formation.
According to the Committee's decision OSE, which currently has four subsidiaries (TRAINOSE, ERGOSE, GAIAOSE and EDISY) will only have one, ERGOSE.
TRAINOSE will become an independent company based on the provisions of EU law on the separation of infrastructure and operation. EDISY will be absorbed by OSE and GAIAOSE by ERGOSE.
 Greek stocks end 1.15% downΤέλοςφόρμαςΑρχήφόρμαςGreek stocks ended 1.15 percent down in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, as sellers took the upper hand of the market during the last hour of trading following a similar trend in other European markets. The composite index ended 1,711.80 points, with turnover an extremely low 76.8 million euros, of which 3.6 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Telecommunications (7.12 pct), Oils-Natural Gas (4.54 pct) and Commerce (3.95 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Media (4.82 pct), Technology (3.21 pct) and Raw Materials (2.18 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.13 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.35 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.66 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 110 to 103 with another 45 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -4.54%
Personal & Household: -0.81%
Raw Materials: +2.18%
Travel & Leisure: -1.90%
Food & Beverages: +1.80%
Financial Services: +2.07%
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: 5.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.60
HBC Coca Cola: 10.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.40
National Bank of Greece: 11.62
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.10
Bank of Piraeus: 5.50
Titan Cement Company: 13.28
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to a record low 15.445 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.08 pct, while volume was 2,509 contracts worth 10.839 million euros, with 20,211 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 6,969 contracts worth 4.428 million euros with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,540), followed by Eurobank (436), Marfin Investment Group (680), PPC (514), GEK (1,008), Alpha Bank (694) and Titan Cement (303).
 Foreign Exchange rates:TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.408
Pound sterling 0.950
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 10.920
Japanese yen 126.67
Swiss franc 1.549
Norwegian kroner 9.933
Canadian dollar 1.689
Australian dollar 2.055
 Bomb hoax on Athens-Moscow flightA phone call warning a bomb on board an aircraft carrying out a flight between Athens and Moscow on Monday ultimately proved to be a hoax.
Athens airport officials summoned the Aeroflot aircraft back, which had departed shortly after 1 p.m. on its way to Moscow, and special police forces using sniffer dogs carried out an extensive search of the aircraft without detecting anything suspicious.
According to an announcement by Aeroflot, the aircraft with its approximately 50 passengers is expected to leave 20 minutes after midnight.
 Ferries remain in ports due to rough seasAll passenger ferryboats were not allowed to leave the ports of Piraeus, Lavrio and Rafina on Monday due to the 9-10 Beaufort-strong northeasterly winds blowing at sea, while a Coast Guard-issued advisory warns ships to set anchor in the nearest port.
Meanwhile, the Panamanian-flag cargo ship "Tina F" with a 12-member crew on board has gone adrift off the northern coasts of the Aegean island of Sifnos while en route to Sicily carrying cement. A tugboat from Piraeus is on its way to the area.
 Youth remanded in custody over Athens riotsOne of five young people that appeared before an examining magistrate on Monday, following their arrest during incidents in last Thursday's protest riots in central Athens, was remanded in custody pending trial.
The five are accused of possession of explosives, attempting to intentionally cause grievous bodily harm, which is considered a criminal offence, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest.
Two other young people up on charges, one of them a minor, were released on condition that they report to their local police station twice a month. The remaining two were released after the examining magistrate and public prosecutor disagreed over whether they should be remanded in custody. A decision on this will be taken in a few days time by the Misdemeanours Court Justices Council.
 Foreign nationals arrested for the murder of woman in ChalkidikiTwo Albanian nationals, 35 and 30, are in custody accused of the rape and murder of a 47-year-old woman in Metamorphosi, Chalkidiki Prefecture last month.
The two suspects had met with the victim in a local bar and later waited for her outside her house where she lived alone. The woman, who was raped, died of asphyxiation after one of the assailants attacked her and hit her before placing her jacket over her face.
Afterwards, they broke into her house and removed 1,000-euro-worth household appliances which were sent to the house of one of the suspects in Albania.
The crime came to light on December 18 when the companion of the victim who lives in Austria informed police that he could not reach her on the phone.
Her body was discovered in her house and the two suspects confessed to the crime.
The stolen appliances were brought back to Greece by the parents of the suspect as soon as they learned about their son's involvement in the case.
In a separate incident, the body of a man aged between 55 and 60 was discovered in a ditch along the Thessaloniki-Thermi provincial road. The man died about a month ago and the causes of his death will be determined through an autopsy.
 Thessaloniki pedestrians union urges city centre ban for carsThe Thessaloniki Union for the Rights of Pedestrians has called for a total ban on private cars in the city centre, suggesting that motorists be made to leave their cars on the city outskirts and enter the centre using an express bus service.
The union also stated opposition to the municipal authority decision to allow free parking for private cars on the city seafront promenade in a bid to attract more shoppers to the downtown commercial district during the holiday season.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy and showery weather and northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -4C and 14C. Fair with light cloudiness in Athens, with northerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 11C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 3C to 10C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceParliament's approval of the 2009 State Budget and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' acute criticism of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou as being 'dangerous for the country' dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "PASOK MP and former Minister Theodoros Pangalos' incendiary statement on the uprise: 'Political vagrancy by SYRIZA'."
APOGEVMATINI: "Marginal majority - The government received vote of confidence - Full speed ahead for Cabinet reshuffle".
AVRIANI: "With... 'junk' and worn out 'material' the reshuffle is doomed in advance - The country needs a govenment of succesful persons to overcome the crisis that will last over 10 years".
CHORA: "Despite last months 'sins', 45.9 percent of the people want the government to remain".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "The state budget passed in parliament amidst accusations on the hooded groups' activities and the government received a confidence vote".
ELEFTHEROS: "Pangalos said the right words - SYRIZA conducts the political vagrancy".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Education ministry's basic plan and the alternatives for entrance to Universities and Polytechnics aims to appease the uprise".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis and economy up in the air - The state budget is nominal - Opinion polls indicate goverment's downswing".
ESTIA: "A way out from the crisis is wanted - Prime Minister must take the initiative".
ETHNOS: "Requiem with rigged Budget - MP's voted on Sunday, they will change economy's basic figures in January".
TA NEA: "SOS plan for Italy and Greece - Red alert in Brussels in the face of the danger of bankruptcy".
VRADYNI: "Karamanlis cast down the gauntlet to PASOK: We produce work and you respond with populism".
 Cyprus President: Effort to conclude discussion on external relations January 16NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus will try to conclude the discussions on the external relations, within the framework of the direct negotiations, during their next meeting on 16 January 2009, Cyprus' President Demetris Christofias has said.
In statements Monday arriving at the Presidential Palace after his 13th meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the framework of the direct talks, Christofias said that during the meeting the Greek Cypriot side gave answers to the positions put forward by the Turkish Cypriot side during their previous meeting on December 16.
He also said that the UN rejected that Alexander Downer, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, had said that if no solution is achieved in 2009, the UN will end their efforts and the island will remain divided. "It has been an arbitrary interpretation of a Turkish newspaper's journalist, which the UN have denied", he added.
President Christofias, replying to a question noted that, according to the procedure of the direct talks, the one of the two leaders states his position on a specific subject, and at the next meeting, the second leader gives his answer to that. "Today, it has been our turn to give answers, and we have given them," he said.
Asked whether during the meeting the Turkish Cypriot side gave explanations on public statements about the UN proposed plan, the Anan Plan, which the Greek Cypriot side rejected in April 2004, while the Turkish Cypriot community accepted, as well as about the side that is violating the agreed framework and renege on agreed issues, President Christofias said that the two sides always give explanations, and that it is meaningless the two leaders to continue their discussion through the media.
Regarding the issue of who has violated the agreed framework, President Christofias stressed that on the one hand, there is his position and on the other hand, there is Talat's allegation.
"Everybody, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can judge", he said. Replying to a question, Christofias pointed out that the main effort is the two leaders to conclude the discussions on the external relations at the next meeting on January the 16th, clarifying that "a lot of issues will remain, on which we will need to come back and discuss when we will have an overall picture".
Christofias also said in view of the Christmas and New Year's feast a better and friendlier climate prevailed during the meeting. He finally said that he has already sent presents to Talat, the members of the Turkish Cypriot delegation, the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot political parties and the UN representatives at the talks.
President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since early September this year, aiming at reuniting the island, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Leaders say insufficient progress made in talks, pledge to resolve issue
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus said here Monday that although some progress has been made in their discussions within the framework of the direct negotiations which began in September with a view to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem, this has been insufficient.
However they reaffirmed their commitment to do everything in their power to reach a settlement as soon as possible.
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat pledged, in a joint statement, at the end of their 13th meeting, concluding their discussions which began in March 2008, say that "as we are entering a new year, we the two Leaders would like to reaffirm our strong commitment to find a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem".
In their statement, they said "looking back to our efforts since March 2008, we recognize that we still need to consider a long list of chapters. We also assess that although some progress has been made, it has been insufficient. But we assure you we are resolved to do all in our power to reach a settlement as soon as possible".
The leaders also thanked the UN for their contribution "to our effort".
With this in mind, the two leaders added, "we would like 2009 to bring peace and prosperity to Cyprus, our common homeland, as well as the whole world".
Answering questions after the leaders departed from the UN headquarters in the buffer zone, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said that Monday's discussion was a continuation on the external affairs and powers and next year, at the first meeting on the 5th January, there will be a discussion about the so called hierarchy of norms and some other of the constitutional questions still left to discuss.
He said that Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun will attend that meeting and he will also be present at the meetings which will be followed on the 12th and on the 16th of January.
Asked if he had told the Turkish side that the Annan Plan was a good opportunity for a solution and that it was a mistake for the EU to accept Cyprus without a solution, Downer replied "I said nothing to the media at all".
He added that when he was in Turkey he did not have any discussions with the media at all.
Asked if he had said that to Turkish officials, Downer replied "I am not going into anything I said to any officials on any occasion".
Invited to comment statements he was quoted by the Turkish media to have made that if the Cyprus issue was not solved in 2009 the UN will stop their efforts and Cyprus will be permanently divided, Downer said he did not see any such report, repeating he did not have any discussions with the Turkish media.
Downer added "we look forward to a productive year next year and I think there is a momentum here in these negotiations. The fact that the two leaders have made a joint statement here today is a very encouraging and a very positive development. And it is important that people look at their words and think about their words because these are two people very committed to a successful process", the UN official remarked.
He added that "endless speculation about what or may have been said by other people, including me, in private meetings, you get that all the time. I was the FM of Australia for 12 years and words have been put in my mouth which I have never uttered. I just never get into any discussion on that".
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