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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-01-31

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Saturday, 31 January 2009 Issue No: 3110


  • [01] PM chairs meeting of interministerial committee for econ policy
  • [02] Greece unveils updated stability, growth programme for 2008-11
  • [03] DM: No additional armament expenditures in 2009
  • [04] Bakoyannis: planned response to Olgac admission
  • [05] Dep. F addresses SEECP informal meeting in Moldova
  • [06] Papandreou and Alavanos discuss youth issues
  • [07] PASOK leader meets with members of party's humanitarian missions to Gaza
  • [08] Minister invites highschool teachers to dialogue
  • [09] Transparency and Reform of Administrative Procedures conference opens in Athens
  • [10] FM Bakoyannis congratulates new Moscow Patriarch
  • [11] Patriarch of Alexandria congratulates new Russian Patriarch
  • [12] Farmers end mobilisations
  • [13] Ag minister responds to tabled question on farmers' aid
  • [14] Chamber president attends Cypriot chamber session
  • [15] Greek retail turnover index down 1.1 pct in November
  • [16] Piraeus Real Estate reports 8.4 pct rise in 2008 profits
  • [17] Alpha Bank's report on Greek tourism
  • [18] Eurobank Properties says 2008 profits up 3.0 pct
  • [19] Vell Group buys Greek retailer for 3.3 million euros
  • [20] Greek stocks end 2.78% higher
  • [21] ADEX closing report
  • [22] Greek bond market closing report
  • [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [24] Three Hierarchs Day celebrated at Ecumenical Patriarcate
  • [25] Publisher, anti-junta activist Papazissis passes away
  • [26] Event at UN on Jews of Greece
  • [27] Road accident statistics
  • [28] Football stadium construction discussed by leftist leader, team officials
  • [29] Cloudy, rainy on Saturday
  • [30] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [31] Cyprus supports South Caucasus countries, pledges FM
  • [32] President Christofias: Investigation underway on Cypriot flagged ship Politics

  • [01] PM chairs meeting of interministerial committee for econ policy

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis chaired a gradual reduction of the country's deficits through reduction of expenditures, and third, strengthening of the vulnerable social groups.

    [02] Greece unveils updated stability, growth programme for 2008-11

    Greece is one of the five Eurozone member-states to achieve a positive economic growth rate in 2009, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou emphasised on Friday.

    "The crisis has led to higher deficits, while there is also the problem with a high public debt that burdens the country," said, adding that the government was seeking to reduce the deficit, the debt and to curtail overspending in the wider public sector. "We will support vulnerable groups of the population and we will accelerate structural changes, promoting market deregulation and attracting investments," he told reporters.

    The Stability and Growth program envisages that the fiscal deficit would be 3.7 pct in 2008 and 2009, falling to 3.2 pct in 2010 and 2.6 pct in 2011. The economy is expected to grow by 1.1 pct this year, while employment is projected to grow by 0.2 pct this year and by 0.6 pct and 0.7 pct in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Unemployment is expected to grow from 7.5 pct in 2008 to 8.0 pct this year and to remain at this level by 2011, before starting to fall.

    The program also envisages lower budget revenues (by 2.5 billion euros compared with 2009 budget provisions) reflecting reduced proceeds from direct taxation (600 mln euros), lower revenues from indirect taxation (1.6 billion euros), reduced revenues from rescheduling of outstanding tax debt (220 mln) and higher tax returns (400 mln euros).

    The Greek economy is projected to grow by 1.1 pct this year, 1.6 pct in 2010 and 2.3 pct in 2011, according to the program which was submitted to the European Union.

    The program also envisages privatization revenues totaling at least 1.0 billion euros and that hirings in the public sector would be drastically limited.

    "We are witnessing an unprecedented international crisis. The government has the plan to deal with the crisis, to strengthen production and labour forces along with the competitiveness of Greek products and services. Greece can deal with the crisis and exit from it in a better and stronger position," Papathanassiou said.

    [03] DM: No additional armament expenditures in 2009

    Defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis assured on Friday that there would be no new expenditure for armaments in 2009 beyond those contained in the budget.

    Replying in parliament to a question tabled by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos addressed to the prime minister on "the new orders of materiele for Greece", Meimarakis said that no new (further) procurement has been decided by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), clarifying that "what was decided was the formal commencement of the procedures, deliberations and negotiations for future procurements".

    Referring to relevant statements by the prime minister two months earlier, Meimarakis explained that "we were talking about the 2009 budget, not the 2010 or 2015 budget"/

    "There will be no additional budget expenditure for acquisition of armaments, not a single euro," the defence minister stressed.

    SYRIZA MP Theodoros Dritsas, standing in for Alavanos, said that social cohesion was the greates defence against any threat, without which no peoples, society or country can oppose the super-armaments that "are chiefly distributed through the diplomacy of armaments, in other words our relations with Mr. Sarkozy (French president), Mr. Obama (US president), Germany, Sweden or other European countries".

    Meimarakis countered that populism was the easy route, and questioned whether it was possible for a country to be left defenceless when it was facing such intense and serious provocations.

    [04] Bakoyannis: planned response to Olgac admission

    Greece and Cyprus are working together in consultation to carefully plan their response to the admission by Turkish actor Attila Olgac that he killed a Greek Cypriot prisoner of war during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told Parliament on Friday.

    "Hurried actions without substance, simply in order to impress, could lead us away from the goal of finding out the truth in the specific case and that on the issue of the missing," the minister underlined, responding to a question by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis.

    "It is a new lead that Greece intends to use based on a specific plan," she said at another point.

    Bakoyannis said that she had discussed the issue with her Cypriot counterpart Markos Kyprianou in Brussels, and they had agreed "that well planned and methodical actions are needed, and that what matters is that these are effective, not creating fleeting impressions".

    She said that an investigation carried out by foreign ministry into Olgac's televised statements, which the actor retracted the following day as the hypothetical plot of a movie script that he was 'testing' on the public, showed that the case did not meet the formal criteria for referral to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

    The same applied to the possible referral of Olgac and his superiors to the International Criminal Tribunal, since this had no jurisdiction over crimes committed before its charter came into force in July 2002.

    Bakoyannis expressed her horror at Olgac's admission and said the later attempt to "revise" this was not at all convincing and did not address the heart of the problem, which was Turkey's fundamental responsibility to carry out a full investigation into the fate of the Greek Cypriot and Greek missing of 1974.

    "It neither changes nor countermands Turkey's responsibility to use every legal means for an in-depth investigation of this case. It also makes current in the most dramatic way Turkey's obligation to comply fully with the 2001 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the Fourth Interstate application by Cyprus against Turkey," she stressed.

    She underlined that the Olgac statements, apart from their shocking brutality, lifted a veil of silence that official Turkey had for 35 years attempted to draw over the flagrant violations of international law and human rights that accompanied and marked its illegal occupation of Cyprus.

    Outlining the steps that the Greek and Cypriot sides intended to follow in this case, Bakoyannis said they had agreed on the need to use the Fourth Interstate application by Cyprus at the ECHR, which had already issued a ruling against Turkey on the issue of the missing persons.

    "The question of Turkey's compliance with this ruling against it is already being examined since 2001 by the Council of Europe, specifically the Committee of Permanent Representatives. The confession of the Turkish actor should be screened and assessed as a new lead in all its aspects by this Committee of the Council of Europe. In consultation with the Cyprus Republic, we will proceed with all the required actions," she said.

    In addition to the above, the Olgac issue will be raised within the framework of the United Nations, specifically at the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly, where Greece raises the issue of the violation of human rights on Cyprus every year, the minister said.

    "We will do the same this year, at the Human Rights Council and in Geneva," she added.

    Regarding action within the European Union, Bakoyannis reminded MPs that the issue of the missing during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus was being dealt with in the framework of accession procedures for Turkey, as a human rights issue.

    "It is assessed as such constantly and the relevant findings are included by the European Commission in the annual progress reports on Turkey," she pointed out, adding that the Olgac confession would also be raised in this framework. The minister also noted the sensitivity shown by the EU on such issues, as reflected in the statement made by European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn in response to the Olgac admission when he called it "a tragic, shameful story that violates the Geneva Convention".

    Finally, she pledged the government's and her own ministry's support for those MPs and Euro-MPs that sought to raise the issue of the Cyprus missing in the international organisations that they participate in, after it was once again brought to the foreground so sensationally by the Olgac statements.

    The government does and will continue to do everything possible to shed ample light on this top priority humanitarian issue, so that justice is served," she underlined.

    Raising the issue, Karatzaferis had criticised the government's stance and urged it to press harder for Olgac's extradition to Greece, so that he could be questioned by Greek authorities. Replying, Bakoyannis stressed that the Greek government was responding seriously and responsibly to the issue, which it had pursued all these past years and had included in the criteria raised by the EU for Turkey's accession.

    [05] Dep. F addresses SEECP informal meeting in Moldova

    CHISINAU (ANA-MPA / C. Poulidou)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis underlined that prospects for European enlargement amid the ongoing global economic crisis are being examined carefully by the Union, speaking during an addresss at an informal gathering of South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) foreign ministers here.

    Referring to EU enlargement, Valinakis said adherence of all interested countries to a number of prerequisites, topped by the principle of good-neighborly relations, is a fundamental precondition.

    SEECP foreign ministers, attending a two-day meeting, focused on regional cooperation in SE Europe, inter-Balkan cooperation and the course of the region's countries towards Euro-Atlantic institutions.

    A Sarajevo-based regional council secretariat was also established and participating ministers discussed cooperation in the sectors of energy and transports.

    Finally, a 300,000-euro check for the purchase of equipment for the Children's Hospital in Chisinau was delivered to the Moldovan health minister on behalf of Greece, during Valinakis' meeting with Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan.

    [06] Papandreou and Alavanos discuss youth issues

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou and the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos met at Papandreou's offices in Parliament on Friday, where they discussed issues affecting young people and the prospects of cooperation between their respective parties.

    After the meeting, Papandreou said that PASOK will support SYRIZA's proposal for a cross-party committee dealing with police issues.

    Alavanos, on his own part, stressed that "our policy differences on important issues do not allow a broader cooperation."

    Papandreou said their discussion had been "honest" and that, in addition to the main agenda focusing on young people and education, it had also covered issues like the current financial crisis experienced by Greece, or the "coming crisis into which the country is entering without defences, due to New Democracy's policies".

    On police-related issues, Papandreou underlined his objections to the arrest and charging of young people taking part in demonstrations using anti-terrorism legislation.

    Alavanos noted that on all issues where there was a common approach, "we are ready for joint activities with PASOK and other forces of the democratic opposition".

    Friday's meeting was the third between Alavanos and Papandreou since 2005, after those held to discuss Olympic Airways and one in June 2006 to discuss foreign policy.

    [07] PASOK leader meets with members of party's humanitarian missions to Gaza

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday met with the members of PASOK's humanitarian missions to Gaza.

    Papandreou congratulated the mission members on their decision to go to Gaza, stressing that it was a difficult decision for someone to enter an area that was being bombed, and also on the fact that they succeeded in the aid reaching the hospitals there.

    Such actions, he said, also symbolized the Greece "that we want...a Greece of humaneness and solidarity, and a champion of peace in the wider region".

    [08] Minister invites highschool teachers to dialogue

    Deputy Education Minister Andreas Lykourentzos on Friday sent a letter to the board of the highschool teachers' union federation OLME, inviting teachers to participate in dialogue on education reforms targeting the three-year upper highschool, or lyceum, and university entrance exams.

    In the letter, the minister underlined the government's sincere desire for open, honest dialogue without a pre-decided agenda, which he said would ensure that teachers could participate on an equal basis and be able to present their proposals "with a view to achieving the greatest possible consensus in choices that will improve lyceums and the process by which graduates gain access to tertiary education."

    He asked that the union appoint two people to represent it at the Primary and Secondary Education Council.

    The deputy minister also accepted OLME's demand for two-way dialogue between the union federation and the ministry, with himself representing the ministry and informing the minister on the progress of the talks.

    [09] Transparency and Reform of Administrative Procedures conference opens in Athens

    Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos noted the efforts for combatting corruption, in a greeting on Friday to an international conference on "Transparency and Reform of Administrative Procedures" organized in Athens by the European Public Law Organization.

    Pavlopoulos said that transparency was a major issue both in Greece and internationally, noting that e-governance and simplification of procedures were contributors in that direction.

    Main opposition PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos, in his own address to the conference, stressed the need for placing emphasis on the economic dimensio of transparency and of convincing the public that it was in its own interests. He also noted that the Greek public needed to be convinced that it was in its interests to stop being an accomplice in illegal actions.

    [10] FM Bakoyannis congratulates new Moscow Patriarch

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis has addressed a message of congratulations to the new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, extending her warm congratulations and underlining the contribution of the Church of Russia to the effort to consolidate peace and solidarity in the world.

    [11] Patriarch of Alexandria congratulates new Russian Patriarch

    ALEXANDRIA (ANA-MPA / N. Katsikas)

    Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, in a letter of congratulations to newly elected Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, refers to the latter's spirituality, religious knowledge and long experience in ecclesiastical issues.

    Patriarch Theodoros departed for Moscow to attend the enthronement ceremony of the new leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Financial News

    [12] Farmers end mobilisations

    Farmers' protests around the country had apparently reached their final day on Friday, with tractors being withdrawn from a series of roadblocks on major highways and northern Greece border crossings -- mobilisations aimed at paralysing transports.

    Tractors blocking traffic at three key intersections on the main north-south road axis, the Athens-Thessaloniki highway were effectively lifted as of Friday afternoon.

    Meanwhile, farmers in the northern provinces of Macedonia and Thrace also suspended blockades.

    Local farmers withdrew tractors from the Egnatia motorway near the border crossing of Kipi in the northeastern prefecture of Evros and border crossings with Bulgaria and Turkey opened as well.

    Late on Thursday, protesting farmers in Servia, Kozani Prefecture, left the Kozani-Larissa national motorway, while protests ended in Imathia prefecture of northern Greece.

    [13] Ag minister responds to tabled question on farmers' aid

    Rural Development and Foods Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis promised that a national dialogue will be launched to establish a common front formed by the government and the farmers in order to better promote the latter's interests within the framework of the European Union.

    Speaking in Parliament on Friday in response to a relative question tabled by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Hatzigakis explained that the 500 million euros promised to farmers will come from an EL.GA (agricultural insurance organisation) loan that will be guaranteed by the Greek state and will have no relation to compensations.

    [14] Chamber president attends Cypriot chamber session


    The chairman of Greece's chambers' association, George Kassimatis, underlined the need for closer cooperation between the chambers of Greece and Cyprus and the EuroChamber, addressing the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry general assembly meeting here.

    Kassimatis also stressed that he will have the opportunity to be briefed on the effects of the global economic crisis on the local enterprises and economy and the solutions promoted.

    [15] Greek retail turnover index down 1.1 pct in November

    Greece's retail turnover index (in current prices) fell by 1.1 pct in November 2008, compared with the same month in 2007, after an increase of 5.2 pct in the 2007-2006 period, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.

    The statistics service attributed the 1.1 pct decline in the turnover index to a combination of a 5.6 pct increase in food stores and a 6.4 pct decline in the other store index.

    Retail sales volume index (turnover in fixed prices) fell 4.8 pct in November 2008, after an increase of 1.9 pct in November 2007.

    [16] Piraeus Real Estate reports 8.4 pct rise in 2008 profits

    Piraeus Real Estate on Friday reported an 8.4 pct increase in its after tax profits in 2008 to 9.971 million euros, from 9.199 million euros in 2007 and said pre-tax profits grew 8.1 pct to 10.540 million euros from 9.749 million euros over the same period, respectively. The company said operating expenses totaled 2.088 million euros, down 15.5 pct from 2007, while assets totaled 116.357 million euros at the end of 2008, up 2.36 pct from the previous year.

    Piraeus AEEAP said investments on real estate assets totaled 95.626 million euros, down 4.1 pct from 2007, with total investments on 26 real estate assets around Greece accounting for 82.2 pct of its assets. The board plans to pay a 0.13 euros per share dividend to shareholders.

    [17] Alpha Bank's report on Greek tourism

    Tourism trends in Greece this year will depend on the extent a global crisis would affect the incomes of foreign tourists wishing to visit Greece and on the business dynamism and activities of the tourism sector in the country, which will have to intensify efforts to offer high quality tourism services, an Alpha Bank's report on Greek tourism said on Friday.

    Alpha Bank's analysts said government-sponsored measures to support touristic enterprises could help the Greek tourism sector, although they noted that prolonged labour mobilizations were undermining the country's tourism product.

    [18] Eurobank Properties says 2008 profits up 3.0 pct

    Eurobank Properties on Friday reported a 4.8 pct increase in its pre-tax profits to 41.6 million euros in 2008, from 39.7 million euros in 2007 and said after tax profits rose 3.0 pct to 38.4 million euros from 37.3 million euros over the same period, respectively.

    Revenues from leasing activities grew 44 pct to 38.7 million euros. Eurobank Properties' board plans to pay a 0.52 euros per share dividend to shareholders, including a 0.15 euros per share pre-dividend distributed in December.

    [19] Vell Group buys Greek retailer for 3.3 million euros

    Vell Group on Friday announced the purchase of E.Zitouniatis, an electric appliances retailer, for 3.3 million euros. The company said the acquisition would further strengthen its presence in the Greek market.

    [20] Greek stocks end 2.78% higher

    Greek stocks jumped 2.78 pct in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, pushing the composite index of the market to 1,779.47 points. Turnover was a thin 123.5 million euros, of which 2.5 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the exception of the Food/Beverage sector which ended 2.83 pct lower. Financial Services (5.10 pct), Constructions (4.50 pct), Banks (3.95 pct) and Telecommunications (3.48 pct).

    The FTSE 20 index rose 3.23 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 3.19 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.41 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 131 to 57 with another 60 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.83%

    Industrials: +1.10%

    Commercial: +1.74%

    Construction: +4.50%

    Media: +1.24%

    Oil & Gas: +1.25%

    Personal & Household: +1.61%

    Raw Materials: +0.78%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.82%

    Technology: +3.27%

    Telecoms: +3.48

    Banks: +3.95%

    Food & Beverages: -2.83%

    Health: +2.47%

    Utilities: +2.40%

    Chemicals: +0.11%

    Financial Services: +5.10%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Alpha Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 6.58

    ATEbank: 1.22

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.14

    HBC Coca Cola: 10.74

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.64

    National Bank of Greece: 13.18

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.92

    Intralot: 3.02

    OPAP: 22.80

    OTE: 11.90

    Bank of Piraeus: 5.20

    Titan Cement Company: 14.30

    [21] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices saw their discount widening in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising slightly to 51.575 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.85 pct. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,914 contracts worth 39.315 million euros.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,267 contracts, worth 11.996 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (2,675), followed by Eurobank (1,790), OPAP (937), Piraeus Bank (713), National Bank (2,472), Alpha Bank (1,915) and Cyprus Bank (725).

    [22] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 801 million euros on Friday, of which 326 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 475 million euros were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 221 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose slightly to 251 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.81 pct and the German Bund 3.30 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued falling. The 12-month Euribor rate was 2.27 pct, the six-month rate was 2.17 pct, the three-month rate 2.08 pct and the one-month rate 1.74 pct.

    [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.291

    Pound sterling 0.905

    Danish kroner 7.512

    Swedish kroner 10.693

    Japanese yen 115.9

    Swiss franc 1.499

    Norwegian kroner 8.958

    Canadian dollar 1.602

    Australian dollar 2.027

    General News

    [24] Three Hierarchs Day celebrated at Ecumenical Patriarcate

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos praised the contribution of classical Greek literature and Greek education to the Church, while speaking on Friday, on the Three Hierarchs Day.

    "The contribution of classical thought and of literature, and indeed of Greek, to the Church must also be stressed at some time as well," the Patriarch said.

    The Three Hierarchs Day was celebrated with traditional splendour at the Phanar, in the presence of Greek Tourist Development Minister Costas Markopoulos, Greece's General Consul Vassilis Bornovas and professors and pupils of the three community senior high schools.

    [25] Publisher, anti-junta activist Papazissis passes away

    Book publisher Victor Papazissis, of the Papazissis publishing firm, passed away on Thursday in Athens at the age of 71.

    Papazissis was born in Athens in 1937 and studied economics at the Piraeus school of industrial studies, and in 1956 took the helm of the publishing house founded in 1929 by his father, Argyris Papazissis. Under his direction, Papazissis Publications published numerous books on the economy, society, politics and the humanitarian sciences, familiarizing the Greek public with internationally-renowned intellectuals and thinkers.

    Victor Papazissis was arrested and tortured by the colonels' junta in 1969, and remained imprisoned until the summer of 1973, while the publishing firm, in defiance of the dictatorship's threats and censorship, continued publishing political books under the direction of his late wife, Isabella Papazissi, and Dimos Mavrommatis.

    Victor Papazissis' funeral will be held on Saturday at Athens' First Cemetery at 12:30 p.m.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, in a statement, noted that the deceased, throughout his entire life, had been a fighter. "His free and uncompromising spirit was reflected in his bold publishing initiatives, which left their mark on the book and on academic thought."

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said in a statement: "Victor Papazissis was a fighter for democracy, freedom, ideas and knowledge. A man with a liberal spirit, he created a new culture in the field of Letters and opened up new horizons in publishing. He was an uncompromising spirit and knew how to wage battles for his ideals and beliefs."

    Main opposition PASOK press spokesman George Papaconstantinou paid tribute to the deceased as "a publisher who opened up new roads in political and scientific books in Greece".

    [26] Event at UN on Jews of Greece


    The Department of Public Information/Relations with Non-Governmental Organisations organised an event at the UN's headquarters on efforts by Greeks to save Jews during the German occupation of Greece. The theme of the event was "The Sefardite Jews in Greece: An untold story."

    [27] Road accident statistics

    The number of road accidents throughout Greece rose by 8.7 percent in November 2008, compared with the corresponding month in 2007, according to figures released on Friday by the National Statistics Service (ESYE).

    According to the statistics, 109 people lost their lives, 154 suffered serious injury and another 1,431 were lightly injured in a total of 1,269 road accidents throughout the country in November 2008.

    In comparison with the corresponding figures for November 2007, the number of road accident-related deaths dropped 11.4 percent, while there was an 18.5 percent rise in serious injuries and a 9.7 percent rise in light injuries.


    [28] Football stadium construction discussed by leftist leader, team officials

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) President Alexis Tsipras met Friday at his party's offices with a delegation of officials from Athens-based Panathinaikos FC, including major shareholder Yiannis Vardinogiannis, for talks on a controversial land development project in the Votanikos district that also includes construction of Panathinaikos' new football stadium.

    After the one-and-half-hour meeting, Tsipras expressed hope that all parties involved will agree on a solution that will not hurt the environment and will provide for limited commercial uses at the site -- currently one of the most downgraded in the greater Athens area.

    On his part, Vardinogiannis stated that a new meeting will be held soon, adding that hopefully a solution will be found.

    Synaspismos and affiliated SYRIZA have come under virulent criticism by Panathinaikos' management, a portion of the press, the construction company undertaking the sports complex and an adjacent mall (Vovos S.A.) as well as the municipality of Athens, for perceived opposition to the commercial portion of the project, i.e. the mall and related land development.

    A three-justice Council of State (CoS) panel earlier in the month issued a temporary halt to construction following a petition by 131 citizens, some identified with Synaspismos, while a CoS plenum is expected to rule on the substance of the petitioners' objections on March 6.

    The sports complex and mall are set for construction in the rundown Votanikos district.

    Weather Forecast

    [29] Cloudy, rainy on Saturday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -1C and 14C. Cloudy in Athens with local showers and snow on Mount Parnitha, with northeasterly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 4C to 12C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 2C to 9C.

    [30] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The apparent sputtering out of farmers' mobilisations after an agreement between farmers' representatives and the government, ongoing concerns about the effects of a global economic recession on the local economy and measures to boost liquidity to small and medium-sized enterprises mostly dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "100 million euros 'dowry' to new farmers - "Applications accepted from Feb. 16"

    APOGEVMATINI: "Real estate at bargain prices"

    AVGHI: "Industrialists in northern Greece threaten to dismiss staff if banks don't provide cash"

    AVRIANI: "Government won battle with farmers - End to blockades after government's initiatives and dialogue with farm unionists"

    CHORA: "Piraeus Bank gives 1 billion euros in loans to 100,000 small and medium sized enterprises in cooperation with Athens Chamber'

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Democratic Revival party leader Stelios Papathemelis states to newspaper: 'Why I sued Turkish actor Attila Olgac' "

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "University entry exams in portions"

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Tractors leave, minister roars - Agriculture minister suddenly attacks main opposition PASOK for blockades and rejection of government's support plan"

    ESTIA: "Electoral games with President of Republic election"

    ETHNOS: "Measures now for liquidity in market - Business world sends dramatic SOS"

    KATHIMERINI: "Questions prevail over 28 billion euro support package to banks - Greek banks with EU approval send state's money to subsidiaries in Balkans and at the same time decrease loans to Greek enterprises, households"

    LOGOS: "Final curtain for blockades - Farmers' mobilisations ebbing"

    NIKI: "FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou tidies up mess in economy"

    RIZOSPASTIS: "End of impasse for farmers depends on social cohesion, alliance for socially-aware government"

    TA NEA: "First day of dialogue on education reforms"

    VIMA " Russia-China axis for exit from crisis - What Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin suggested to Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao in Davos"

    VRADYNI: "Free tax returns - Government supports market in the midst of financial crisis"

    Cyprus Affairs

    [31] Cyprus supports South Caucasus countries, pledges FM


    Cyprus will offer all its support in European Union efforts to help issues concerning South Caucasus, said here Friday Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou.

    Speaking after a meeting at the ministry with Peter Semneby, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, the minister pointed out however that countries like Azerbaijan should respect international law and maintain law and order as far as handling Cyprus and the northern Turkish occupied areas of the Republic is concerned.

    In remarks after his talks with Semneby, Kyprianou said he was informed on various issues that concern South Caucasus, noting that "countries in Caucasus are friendly towards Cyprus and we are interested to see that the so-called 'frozen conflicts' are solved the soonest possible because sometimes they turn to heated conflicts, such as what happened in the summer in Georgia".

    Minister Kyprianou said that Cyprus, as a member of the EU, "will support all EU efforts to solve these issues and support these countries".

    At the same time, he added, "we demand that these countries, and I am specifically referring to Azerbaijan, respect international law, respect their obligations towards the EU and comply with international law and order as far as its relations with Cyprus is concerned and the situation in the occupied areas".

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.

    [32] President Christofias: Investigation underway on Cypriot flagged ship


    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has said that an investigation is underway concerning the issue of a Cypriot flagged ship that has docked at Limassol port, adding that an inspection is underway.

    According to press reports, the ship is carrying arms that originated from Iran and was forced by an American military vessel to dock at Limassol port.

    In statements to reporters after signing the book of condolences of former Indian President R. Venkataraman at the Indian High

    Commission on Friday, President Christofias said the government is handling the issue responsibly but refrained from giving further details, noting more problems could be created.

    "It is a problem for us that we are forced to accept a ship under the Cypriot flag which is carrying whatever is carrying, which is contrary or in conflict with Security Council resolutions", President Christofias underlined.

    He said an investigation is underway to ascertain what the ship is carrying "and for this reason I am saying we will handle these issues very responsibly and with grave seriousness, without making a big deal in the Press".

    When the ship's cargo is determined, he added, the government will give its position.

    The president's statements were echoed by Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou, who said the government will handle the issue in a responsible manner.

    He also confirmed that the ship is in Cypriot waters, adding "all parameters will be taken into consideration".

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