|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-01-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 22 January 2009 Issue No: 3102
 Bakoyannis promised support for OSCE aims in MoscowMOSCOW (ANA-MPA - N. Melissova)
Meeting her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov here on Wednesday, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis extracted Moscow's pledge of support for all priorities set by the Greek presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), including plans to bring peace in the Caucasus and Moscow's assistance in drawing up a new map for European security.
Bakoyannis arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, during her first official trip abroad since Greek assumed the OSCE presidency. In statements afterward, Lavrov expressed hope that the Greek OSCE presidency would also help to strengthen the two countries bilateral ties, leading to a strategic partnership.
The greater part of the meeting between the two ministers was devoted to Greece's proposal for finding a compromise solution that would allow OSCE observers to remain in Georgia and South Ossetia. Neither side revealed the contents of the Greek proposal during a later joint press conference, however, with Lavrov refusing to answer questions regarding the possibility of separate missions to South Ossetia's capital Tskhinvali and to Tbilisi - something that the Georgian government objects to.
Bakoyannis stressed, on her part, that Greece does not intend to cross the "red lines" of either side, while Lavrov described the Greek proposal as "realistic" and one that took into account both the 'de facto' and 'de jure' aspects of the situation.
The Greek minister also underlined the difficulty of the undertaking:
"All 56 countries of the OSCE must agree; countries with different approaches but with common values and principles. We must deal jointly with existing problems, such as the presence of the OSCE in Georgia and South Ossetia," she said.
Lavrov praised the Greek side's successful bid to broker the flow of natural gas from Tbilisi to South Ossetia, stressing that this was a major humanitarian success for Greece given that it was now mid-winter.
He further expressed his gratitude to Bakoyannis for adopting a proposal by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for dialogue on redesigning the security structure of Europe.
"The common aim is to ensure that the security of each side is not at the expense of some other side," he underlined, adding that the OSCE possessed mechanisms for political and military cooperation that could be used to promote dialogue toward this end.
Bakoyannis and Lavrov continued their talks over lunch, during which they were expected to tackle issues of bilateral interest, such as cooperation in the energy, tourism and trade sectors.
The Greek minister is scheduled to depart for Brussels on Wednesday afternoon in order to attend a dinner for EU foreign ministers that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has also been invited to attend, in order to discuss ways to shore up the fragile truce in Gaza.
 Russia hails Greece's OSCE prioritiesMOSCOW (ANA-MPA - T. Avgerinos)
In the wake of a meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry issued an announcement saying that "Russia hails the priorities of the Greek presidency of the OSCE in 2009."
"The Russian side evaluated positively the priorities stated by Greece for the OSCE's activity in 2009 and hailed the intention of the Greek presidency to organise a special ministerial meeting to continue discussion on the security problems in the EuroAtlantic region and ways of resolving them," the announcement adds.
It additionally stressed the prospects of a discussion in the OSCE of a proposal by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for talks on revising Europe's 'security structure'.
Other issues stressed by the Russian side were the continuation of talks on restructuring the OSCE and the need to take into account the new "legal-political realities" in the Caucasus region when discussing the OSCE missions to Georgia and breakaway South Ossetia.
The discussion also covered the Middle East problem and the peace process, while both sides expressed satisfaction with the strong growth of bilateral cooperation.
 Inner Cabinet focuses on economyThe course of the economy and the ongoing global financial crisis dominated discussions at the Inner Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The latter also referred to mobilisations by various farmers' groups around country, urging the immediate settlement of their problems.
Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou, who had a separate meeting with the prime minister earlier, underlined that 2009 will be a difficult year but more positive developments are likely, probably coming by the end of the year.
As regards the Greek economy, Papathanassiou underlined that it has a positive growth rate, adding that the deficit will be smaller than the Eurozone average and pointing out that the public debt is a long-standing "major thorn".
He also stressed, in pointing to the opposition, that those who engage in "danger mongering" and make extravagant promises will soon lose any shred of credibility they might have.
Meanwhile, asked to respond to an administrative first instance court ruling on private college-issued diplomas, Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos termed it as unprecedented, pointing out that there is still a long way to go before becoming irrevocable.
 FinMin replies to statements by PASOK leaderFinance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Wednesday, replying to statements made in Parliament by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, that Papandreou is investing in the unfavourable repercussions of the international economic crisis to make petty-party gains.
Papathanasiou pointed out that Papandreou was trying to convince people that the international crisis is not to blame for the economic difficulties but the policies of the New Democracy party.
"If this is so, how is it that Greece is one of the five eurozone countries only that will have a positive development and why does Greece have a lower deficit than the eurozone countries, as well as less unemployment," the minister said.
Papathanasiou added that Papandreou attempted to annul the government's work in the economy, that unemployment has decreased since 2004 from 11.3 percent to less than 8 percent and that the deficit has dropped drastically from 7.5 percent of GDP that it was in 2004, while the debt fell to 94 percent of GDP from almost 100 percent that it had been in 2004.
 FM spokesman denies press speculation of change of Athens FIRForeign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Wednesday denied press speculations that changes would be made to the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), calling the reports "absolutely ungrounded", adding that "they in no way correspond to reality".
Koumoutsakos, who is accompanying foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on her visit to Russia, said in a statement that the 'document' published in an Athens daily was a "depiction of the Athens FIR, and not a redetermination or alteration" of the Athens FIR.
He also explained that meetings taking place "for the clarification of procedurl matters" were being held "because their digital recording entails specialised work by the authoritative agencies and has a financial cost that will be covered by the State budget".
Further, Koumoutsakos continued, the 'document' explicity states that the policy line agreed in the framework of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) would be followed, and that special care has been taken so that the depiction in question coincides with the Greek-Turkish sea borders. "Nothing is being moved," Koumoutsakos stressed.
Finally, he reminded that the limits of the Athens FIR have been set out via regional, and therefore international, agreements, in the framework of ICAO (1950, 1952, 1958), which meant tnat for any change a corresponding international agreement would be required.
 PM Karamanlis congratulates U.S. President Barack ObamaPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent a letter of congratulations to United States President Barack Obama on the assumption of his duties.
The prime minister stressed his appreciation in his letter for the new U.S. President's commitment to tackling the ongoing global crisis in cooperation with the international community.
Karamanlis further pointed out that President Obama's momentous speech on Tuesday, that also had an appeal extending beyond the borders of the United States, sent forth the principles of understanding, cooperation, solidarity and of the power of the example, values that both leaders jointly embrace.
Lastly, Karamanlis expressed his hope of cooperation with President Obama, looking forward to meeting him in the near future.
 PASOK meeting on public order issuesMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired a party meeting on public order and law enforcement issues, following his visit to a police emergency services unit and a downtown Athens police precinct in the Kypseli district on Tuesday night.
During the meeting, Papandreou referred to a "generalised sense of insecurity" felt by Greek citizens, as a result of the current government's policies.
"In a democratic state there are no dilemmas between security and rights," he noted, and called for immediate intervention that would restore the respect, meritocracy and professionalism of the Greek police force, thus restoring the public's confidence in the police.
Papandreou's visit to the Kypseli police station, which is hosted in the same building as the Athens security sub-directorate, formed part of a more general policy of highlighting issues concerning day-to-day problems faced by the public.
 Tsipras on small businesses, farmers' protestsCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party president Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday expressed support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) following a meeting with the General Confederation of Greek Small Businesses and Trades (GSEVEE) board, while he also made a statement in support of protesting Greek farmers.
Tsipras said that the tax system was becoming increasingly unfair to SMEs because of the abolition of the 10,500-euros tax-free allowance, the failure to peg the taxation scale to the consumer price index, the lack of a plan to support SMEs' social insurance fund and the inability of the Guarantee Fund to cover the needs of small businesses.
He also called for a revision of spatial planning for commerce, especially for big department stores and shopping malls.
GSEVEE president Dimitris Asimakopoulos said the issue of large malls and department stores had been discussed at length during the meeting and stressed that these were a "scourge that will not only affect small businesses but will also trap the enterprises that would be forced to operate in these malls with gigantic agreements that will grow over time".
In comments on protests by farmers that have blocked national highways and closed down airports, Tsipras said that they were stepping into the shoes of the young people and school students in December in "fighting for their dignity and the right to a future".
"It is not the farmers that must explain themselves. It is the governments that have led them to desperation," SYN's leader added.
 Alavanos, education unionists meetEducation sector issues and solutions dominated a meeting of Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group head Alekos Alavanos with representatives of educators' unions on Wednesday.
Both Alavanos and the union representatives accused the government of promoting the privatisation of the sector of education in the east Mediterranean country.
Referring to ongoing farmers' mobilisation, Alavanos said the government has the responsibility to provide immediate solutions to their problems.
 LAOS' Karatzaferis meets with representatives of protesting farmersPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis met Wednesday at his party's offices in Athens with representatives of the coordinating committee of farmers in northern Greece and was briefed on their demands.
Farmers across Greece are continuing their mobilizations, demanding minimum guaranteed prices for their products, reduction of refundable VAT and increase in pensions.
 President Karolos Papoulias hosts reception for Diplomatic CorpsPresident Karolos Papoulias hosted an annual reception in honour of the Diplomatic Corps on Wednesday night, in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. President Papoulias welcomed the heads of the foreign diplomatic missions in Athens, as well as Greek diplomats and dignitaries.
Those attending the event included Deputy Foreign Ministers Yiannis Valynakis, Theodoros Kassimis and Miltiades Varvitsiotis, former prime ministers Constantine Mitsotakis and Tzannis Tzannetakis, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis, Defence Minister Vangelis Meimarakis, Merchant Marine and Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras and Deputy Minister Panayiotis Kammenos, Deputy Education Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, main opposition PASOK party foreign policy political representative Andreas Loverdos and the former president of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organising Committee Yianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki.
 Government on action to support farmersGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday said the government would soon announce measures designed to address problems faced by farmers, which were discussed during the cabinet meeting held earlier the same day.
"The demands submitted are being studied. Those measures that can be taken will be discussed and shaped in light of the international economic situation and the repercussions that this has on our country, then the government's initiatives will be announced," he told reporters. The government had already taken significant steps to support farmer incomes, he added.
 Hatzigakis on meeting with farmers from ThessalyAgricultural Development and Foods Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, speaking at the end of a meeting with farmers from Thessaly, central Greece, on Wednesday said that the amounts of money to be given to support crucial products will be determined in the coming days.
The minister further said that out of the 28 billion euros given to banks, the part belonging to them will also go to the farming economy, meaning that loans will be given to farming industries.
The farmers' representatives said on their part that the struggle will continue and that the meeting was deadlocked.
 Farmers block roads, suspend airport take-over in CreteFarmers' mobilizations continued on Wednesday throughout the country with roadblocks and protests.
The AthensThessaloniki national highway is closed at Tempi, central Greece, and the Mikrothebes intersection. Farmers with tractors have also closed from Tuesday noon the Greek borders with Bulgaria at the Promachonas frontier crossing. At Kilkis the local farmers have gathered at the city's entrance, but without causing any disruption to vehicle circulation.
On Crete, the farmers' coordinating committee suspended the occupation of Nikos Kazantzakis airport in Iraklion, which was blocked from Tuesday noon resulting in the cancellation of a number of flights.
Moreover, farmers on Crete are continuing the blockade of the highway connecting Crete's major cities of Chania and Heraklion and have occupied two buildings housing local financial services.
 NBG: Credit expansion up 18%The National Bank of Greece's (NBG) credit expansion continued unhindered during the last quarter of 2008, with Greek market portfolios recording positive growth rates, according to an announcement, in view of the bank's extraordinary shareholders general assembly on Jan. 22 to decide on a proposed share capital increase.
Loans approved by NBG and its subsidiaries at the end of 2008 reached 66.4 billion euros, up by 18 percent compared to 2007. The credit expansion rate in Greece was also described as "very dynamic" (+19 percent compared to 2007) with the business sector at the top (+29 percent) and retail loans showing a +14 percent increase, on an annual basis.
Based on NBG figures, credit expansion reached 4 percent, corresponding to a 2-billion-euro increase in the last quarter of 2008. In addition, home loans did not record a decline compared to the previous quarter, despite an overall decrease in applications.
New home loans totalled 800 million euros, corresponding to 1/3 of all new housing loans in the country.
 Deputy Development Minister Vlachos addresses inter-group transactions conferenceThe inter-group transactions measure makes pricing documentation for sales necessary guaranteeing that prices will be justifiable, taking into account existing market conditions, according to Deputy Development Minister George Vlachos.
Addressing an event on Pricing Documentation Regulations in Inter-group Transactions in Greece hosted by Ernst & Young on Wednesday, Vlachos commented that the government supports healthy trade and will combat conditions of fabricated high cost.
 Vovos to appeal decision to temporarily suspend works at VotanikosThe Babis Vovos-International Engineering firm on Tuesday announced that it would appeal against a decision taken by a three-justice Council of State (CoS) tribunal on Monday issue a temporary suspension of construction of a large commercial development project (shopping mall etc.) in the rundown Votanikos district in central Athens, the area where Panathinaikos FC and affiliated amateur clubs are set to build a new sports complex.
The entire endeavour is called the twin regeneration project, and entails the establishment of green spaces, mostly, at the site of the current Panathinaikos field on Alexandras Avenue.
Some 131 people, most non-Votanikos residents, filed suit calling for the project's cancellation.
The listed company said it would appeal for a revocation of the decision, since there was clear evidence, as it said, of public interest to proceed with the project and underlined the increased socio-economic consequences of suspending the works in progress.
 Greece issues new five-year bond next weekThe Greek economy and finance ministry on Wednesday announced the issue of a new five-year bond with a fixed interest rate of 5.5 percent that will be available from the following Wednesday, 28 January 2009 and matures on 20 August 2014.
The ministry gives private individuals the option to buy the deeds with tax-free yields provided they are kept until their expiration date and are acquired on or up to five working days after the settlement date (from January 28-February 4).
The funds invested can be unlimited but at the prices set by banks and stock brokerage firms.
 Greek stocks end 3.04% upGreek stocks rebounded at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday amid a very fluid session.
The composite index of the market was up by 3.04 percent to end at 1,702.73 points. Turnover was a low 188.6 million euros, of which 16.4 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with Construction (5.42 pct), Telecoms (4.92 pct) and Foods/Beverages (4.92 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurances (-2.17 pct), Personal/Home Products (-1.28 pct) and Retail Trade (-0.65 pct) recording the biggest losses.
The FTSE 20 index gained 3.73 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.96 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell by 0.26 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 98 to 101 with another 52 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.70%
Personal & Household: -1.28%
Raw Materials: +1.78%
Travel & Leisure: +2.60%
Food & Beverages: +4.92%
Financial Services: +2.72%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.58
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.30
HBC Coca Cola: 11.38
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.30
National Bank of Greece: 12.18
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.84
Bank of Piraeus: 5.70
Titan Cement Company: 12.48
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a widened discount (2.48 pct) in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 73.610 million euros. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,289 contracts worth 59.079 million euros. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 19,527 contracts worth 13.433 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,960), followed by Eurobank (1,018), MIG (1,270), OTE (576), OPAP (1,303), Alpha Bank (1,180), Marfin Popular Bank (1,963) and ATEbank (167).
 Foreign Exchange rates: ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.301
Pound sterling 0.946
Danish kroner 7.510
Swedish kroner 10.854
Japanese yen 117.04
Swiss franc 1.488
Norwegian kroner 9.127
Canadian dollar 1.647
Australian dollar 2.009
 PM attends launch of art history book published by newspaperPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday visited the offices of the newspaper "Eleftheros Typos" in order to attend the launch of a new multiple-volume publication "Greek-museum" (Ellinomouseion) that follows the development of Greek art over time.
He was greeted by the publisher Gianna Angelopoulos, who said that the new multi-volume publication "records the inspiration and creativity of those people whose works and creations have put their stamp on a large part of our history and culture".
The newspaper's managing editor Serapheim Kotrotsos said the publication was a major initiative designed to upgrade the paper's communication with its readers and highlight an auxiliary but very important role that the media should have.
In 1,600 large-format pages with more than 2,000 photographs spread over 12 volumes, the collection depicts works of art by Greeks of all ages. It was originally compiled by Manos Stefanidis, while the new edition is also enriched by box texts, biographical information and a glossary of international art terms.
The design was carried out by Dimitris Plivouris and the information in the biographies and the glossary was edited by art historian and literary expert Chrysa Kakatsaki. The final result has received warm praise from artists and art critics alike.
According to Stefanidis, the book "studies the great creators and embraces the minor ones, because they also create the overall atmosphere of each era". It further researches the very large number of artists since the fall of Constantinople until the present day that were unknown or excluded.
 Changes in ministry secretary generalsA Justice ministry announcement on Wednesday disclosed that, by decision of the prime minister, the Interior ministry's Public Order secretary general Athanasios Andreoulakos is assuming the duties of Justice ministry secretary general, in the place of Constantine Gletsos. The latter is appointed secretary general of the Agricultural Development and Food ministry. F. Vlachos is also assuming the duties of special security secretary of the Justice ministry's penitentiary system.
 Interior minister meets with KEDKE boardInterior & Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos met with the board members of Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) Wednesday and discussed issues relating to the "Theseus" developmental programme, designed to boost investment undertaken by local government organisations (OTA).
Concerning the reduction of a municipal tax imposed on enterprises operating in tourist regions, Pavlopoulos said he agrees with new Tourism Development Minister Costas Markopoulos, who noted that no decisions will be made on the issue before holding consultations with municipal authorities.
 Foreign correspondents union eventThe Foreign Correspondents Union, that has been operating in Greece since 1916 and has about 300 members, representatives of about 150 foreign media from 40 countries, cut its traditional New Year's "pitta" on Wednesday night.
The event was attended by Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros and former Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis.
The Union's president gave honourary awards to the SKAI radio and television network and to the newspaper Kathimerini for their contribution to informing the public on environmental protection issues.
The honourary plaque was received on behalf of Skai by Yiannis Alafouzos and on behalf of Kathimerini by Nikos Konstantaras.
 Attica police make arrest based on European warrantA 39-year-old Polish national with an outstanding European arrest warrant issued against him by Polish authorities has been arrested by Attica Security police.
The arrest took place on Tuesday night in the Athens district of Petroupolis.
The suspect is wanted on charges of robbery, grievous bodily harm, extortion, illegal production of alcoholic beverages and forging brand name labels. He is considered a member of an organised crime ring and was led before a public prosecutor, who ordered his incarceration in Korydallos prison on remand.
 Cloudy, rainy on ThursdayCloudy and rainy weather and southeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 20C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with southeasterly 5-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 11C to 18C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 12C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th US President and his engagements, the farmers' mobilizations, and FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou's statements from Brussels that Greece is one of the 5 eurozone countries that will have a positive growth rate dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Economy: Measures with social concern - Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis takes initiative for off-the -agenda discussion in parliament".
APOGEVMATINI: "20,263 job opportunities - Permanent and seasonal positions (in wider public sector)".
AVGHI: "The farmers' January succeeds the December of the Youth".
AVRIANI: "The Siemens slush funds file opens and we are heading at full speed to general elections - The scandal-mongering will boomerang against main opposition PASOK".
CHORA: "Barack Obama new US president: We are at war - US economy is the victim of irresponsibility and greed".
ELEFTHEROS: "Breather for professionals in social security payments - Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia's instructions to 13 social security funds managers"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Obama exorcised former US president George Bush's period - New page in the White House".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Hollywood with a splash of hope - Barack Obama on Tuesday became the first black president in the history of the USA".
ESTIA: "The ongoing scenarios of early general elections are dangerous political games".
ETHNOS: "Promise for turn of page - Proclamation of principles and hopes at Obama's inauguration".
KATHIMERINI: "New era prospect - The US, with Obama at the helm, is turning page".
LOGOS: "......And now the farmers - Tractors blocked the national highways' intersections".
NIKI: "Worry about a new wave of unemployed - Thousands of workers are losing their job due to the financial crisis".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Money for free to employers on the pretext of combating unemployment".
TA NEA: "They sowed hopes and now they will reap roadblocks - The government is paying for the unfulfilled promises".
TO VIMA: "America changing, the people hope - Barack Obama sworn-in as the 44th US president - He promised financial, social and international reversals".
VRADYNI: "FinMin sends message from Brussels: The Cassandras (doom-sayers) will be belied".
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