|Monday, 11 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-02-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 17 February 2009 Issue No: 3124
 PM calls for political, social responsibilityPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday again called for political and social responsibility to deal with the economic crisis, addressing the general assembly of the Association of Insurance Companies of Greece. He said the ongoing economic storm around the world mandates that political forces assume their obligations and take a clear-cut position.
He said the government's goal was to shore up the economy, as it has committed itself to doing, adding that the social needs of the present must not undermine the country's future.
Karamanlis further said that the updated 2008-2011 Stability and Growth Programme was realistic, and anticipated that its targets would be attained.
He also stressed that uncertainty was the only prevailing and known element of the present developments, adding that it was not by chance that, in the space of 14 months, the EU's forecasts for growth and the economy had been altered, for the worse, four times.
Economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou, addressing the same event, referred to new legislation for streamlining and transparency in the insurance sector, and stressed that enterprises should themselves adapt activities on the basis of social responsibility.
Association president Fokion Bravos cited a need for a national plan for the strategic development of the insurance sector, calling for dialogue among all sides involved for the drafting of such a national strategy, garnering a positive response by the premier.
 PASOK spokesman on PM's speechMain opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou called Monday on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to "present his plan for an exit from the crisis", in a reaction to the latter's speech at the general assembly of the Association of Insurance Companies of Greece earlier in the day.
The PASOK spokesman asked from the premier to table such a plan at the Parliament for a debate.
"If the plan implemented by the government is the stabilisation and growth plan, this has already been rejected by the European Commission, while the governor of the Bank of Greece considers it as being out of time and place," Papaconstantinou claimed.
Referring to the consensus called for by the government, Papaconstantinou termed it a "call for complicity, as it (the government) asks from all parties to agree in order for (the ruling) New Democracy to govern."
 FM Bakoyannis on Greek foreign policyGreek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis referred to the "new multi-polar balance of powers" -which has been shaped after the fall of the Berlin Wall- as well as to the political framework created by the current world economic crisis, during an address Monday to an event organised by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute of Democracy.
The minister also expounded on the philosophy, the objectives and pursuits of Greek foreign policy which she termed "a modern patriotic policy".
Referring to the characteristics of the current international conjuncture, Bakoyannis named them as: the existence of many factors on the central scene of the international community - traditional powers as well as emerging ones, such as the USA, Russia and the European Union, but China, India and Brazil also - the strong need for international cooperation by emphasising that "international problems need international solutions", the emergence of new issues regarding security, such as the control of the proliferation of nuclear arms and the handling of climate change and the growing existence of an "eurosceptic spirit", which "demands a bold political leadership with a vision and strong will for Europe."
"In this political landscape, Greece proceeds with a foreign policy which is based on broader consensus, follows an organised national strategy, aims at placing Greece at the centre of decision making processes, enriches its potential with economic diplomacy activities and is being characterised by transparency, clarity and knoeledge of international realities," Bakoyannis noted.
"Our foreign policy is being shaped and implemented with straightforwardness and looking into the future...We can not be hostages of stereotypes and phobic syndromes," she underlined.
 Papoulias receives visiting Azeri presidentPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday received the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who is on an official visit to Greece. They held talks on ways to further develop bilateral relations between Greece and Azerbaijan.
Private talks between the two presidents were preceded by an official ceremony of welcome, where the government was represented by Culture Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Merchant Marine and Island Policy Minister Panagiotis Kammenos. There was then a meeting with the full delegations of the Greek and Azeri sides attending.
This culminated in the signature of four bilateral agreements: one for avoiding double taxation and preventing tax evasion, which was signed by Greek Deputy Finance Minister Antonis Bezas and Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov; a flight services agreement signed by Deputy Transport Minister Mihalis Bekiris and Azerbaijan Airlines general director ÔÝëïòöüñìáòÁñ÷ÞöüñìáòJakhangir Askerov; an infotech and communications agreement signed by Bekiris and the Azeri Communications and Information Technology Minister Ali Abbasov; and finally a memorandum of understanding in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency sectors, signed by Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and Azeri Minister of Energy and Industries Natiq Aliyev.
In statements afterward, Papoulias said the two countries gave priority to energy issues, investments, trade and cooperation in cultural and educational matters. He said the talks with Aliyev had also focused on Azerbaijan's relations with the European Union, in the framework of strengthening the Community's relations with Baku.
Their talks also covered current affairs in the surrounding region, including the Caucasus, the Middle East, the Balkans and the Cyprus issue.
"I referred particularly to the Cyprus issue and stressed to the Azeri president the need to end the Turkish occupation of a large part of the territory of a European country," Papoulias said, while thanking Aliyev for his invitation to visit Azerbaijan, which he accepted.
Aliyev noted that he was the first president of Azerbaijan to carry out an official visit to Greece and emphasised the significance of the visit, expressing confidence that it would result in an improvement and new period of progress in bilateral relations.
He also emphasised the issue of energy security, saying that Azerbaijan had done a lot to give the rest of the world access to its considerable energy resources.
"The relationship that Greece is now developing with Azerbaijan will help in this direction. The issue of energy security is a major priority of the international community and Azerbaijan is making every effort to increase the energy security of Europe. For over a year now, natural gas from Azerbaijan is reaching the Greek market. From there it comes into Europe. There is no doubt that much more could be done in this sector," Aliyev stressed.
Azerbaijan's president said a meeting between business people of the two countries on Tuesday would undoubtedly lead to a host of opportunities for business on both sides.
Aliyev also raised the issue of the Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijan's territory and the over one million refugees and internally displaced persons in the country that resulted from this conflict.
"In order to resolve this conflict there must be absolute respect for the principle of territorial integrity and international law. I believe that if Armenia respects this principle, the issue will be resolved," Aliyev said.
 Papoulias lauds Greek-Azeri relationsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias expressed on Monday evening his certainty over the enhancement of bilateral approachment and cooperation between Greece and Azerbaijan, while also referring to the traditional ties linking the two nations.
Addressing an official dinner hosted in honour of visiting Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, President Papoulias thanked the people of Azerbaijan for the hospitality offered to Black Sea Greeks "at difficult times of history", noting that even today the small Greek community in Baku was an "important link between the two countries."
The Greek president also lauded the "particularly important effort being deployed by the Centre of Greek Language and Culture at the Baku University for the teaching of Greek and the interest shown by Azeri students."
"Greece will always support this effort and will help practically all initiatives aiming at the centre's further upgrading," President Papoulias noted.
Regarding energy issues, Papoulias underlined that Greece "looks forward to the cooperation between the two countries for the construction of the natural gas pipeline linking Azerbaijan and Italy through Turkey and Greece." He also expressed the will of Greece for a faster development of bilateral economic and trade relations.
He also said that Greece was interested in consolidating democracy, development of the rule of law, respect of human rights and the peaceful resolution of differences in the broader region of Caucasus.
"An extremely important issue of human rights which still deplores our region is the Cyprus problem, where (part of) an European Union member state continues to be under Turkish occupation with Nicosia being the last European capital divided by a wall," Papoulias further noted.
Referring to the Greek 2009 OSCE presidency, the president said that Greece was making every effort in order to respond to the fundamental orders of the organisation, adding that as president Greece wants a solution to be found to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Concluding, President Papoulias pledged Greeek assistance to the efforts of Baku for an approachment with the EU.
 Papandreou meets visiting Azeri presidentMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met visiting Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in Athens on Monday. Azerbaijan's president is currently on an official visit to Greece.
Their talks focused on energy issues, while Aliyev emphasised bilateral relations between his country and the European Union, which were officially launched in 2003 under the Greek EU presidency as part of the Community's new 'neighbourhood' policy that sought to establish closer ties between Europe and the countries in the Caucasus, among them Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
In talks with Aliyev, Papandreou raised the Cyprus issue and Greece's relations with Turkey, repeating his party's support for the efforts of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias to find a solution to the Cyprus problem and Greece's desire for a solution based on UN resolutions, the principles and values of the EU and one that fully respected the European 'acquis'.
Azerbaijan's president showed lively interest and sought to be briefed in the policy for rapprochement between Greece and Turkey. He also extended an invitation to Papandreou to visit Azerbaijan.
 Gov't readies bill on expats' voteAn initiative to give eligible Greeks abroad the right to vote in general elections should not be based on whether such a move is beneficial to whatever political parties, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis said on Monday in an interview to the ANA's Internet TV platform.
In echoing the government's position, the deputy FM asked why main opposition PASOK does not want Greek expatriates to vote after the 2011 elections and pointed out that it should be a priority to avoid dividing the Greeks abroad based on their political party affiliation.
Referring to the Inner Cabinet's approval last Tuesday of a draft law setting up the framework for the landmark development, Kassimis stressed that expatriates' voting rights became a constitutional right when PASOK held a majority in Parliament.
"The constitution was voted in 2002 but the specific clause was never activated. It was Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis who underlined that we have an obligation to give overseas Greeks the right to vote in (Greek) national elections," Kassimis stated.
He also stressed that he was impressed with the negative stance of the main opposition on the issue, pointing out that 200 votes out of the 300 MPs in Parliament are necessary to pass the legislation.
The draft law promoted by the government provides that each party should include three Greek expatriate candidates in its state ballot (a list of candidates that do not require individual votes by voters). Whether the names of the Greek expatriate candidates are on the top of the list or lower will be indicative of their chance to be elected. The votes of expatriates will be added to the overall electoral result.
Kassimis stated that the fact that PASOK is against tallying Greek expatriate votes in the overall election results constitutes an insult.
On PASOK's stance in favor of establishing Greek expatriate seats in Parliament, Kassimis said the government will examine this option at a later phase and after reaching a conclusion on the size of the expatriate electorate.
"This will be made possible after having them vote in the first general elections after 2011," Kassimis said. "Based on the ballots cast, a discussion can begin with the political parties on the expatriate seats in Parliament and the adoption of a relevant constitutional amendment. This is why the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) accepts, at this phase, the draft law approved, which allows expatriates to take part in Greek general elections," he underlined.
Asked about the stance of the Greek expatriates vis-à-vis their participation in Greek national elections, Kassimis said opinions vary, with some in favor of having a say in Greece, while others maintaining that they have no contact with everyday reality in Greece.
 Culture minister slashes top salaries to cut spendingCulture Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday announced plans to slash the salaries of top executives in organisations supervised by the culture ministry, during his first press conference since taking over the ministry. He also pledged action to resolve the contract worker problem and announced that the official inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum will take place on June 20.
The minister said that he had opted to impose large-scale salary cuts on top executives in response to a time of "financial difficulty" faced by the ministry. He said they would start with the president of the Hellenic Culture Organisation, who will have a current salary of 8,200 euros a month cut to just 3,000 euros a month, and the HCH executive board chairman, who will have his salary cut from 7,700 a month to 6,500 a month.
Samaras stressed the need for careful and prudent management of the ministry's finances, noting that its budget for 2009 was 54 million euros, while roughly the same amount needed to be secured to reach the amount of 109 million euros from the regular budget.
The minister has also decided to close the HCH office in Thessaloniki, thus saving the ministry up to 500,000 euros a year, and the General Secretariat of Olympic Utilisation, whose activities will now pass to the culture ministry.
He has cancelled a tender for moving the culture ministry to new premises at Rendi, as well as a tender for the New Acropolis Museum inauguration ceremony.
It has been decided that this will take place on June 20 and be organised by a committee supervised by Dimitris Pantermalis and coordinated by Costas Bouras.
Regarding temporary contract workers, Samaras said he was holding a recruitment drive via the civil service appointments authority ASEP to hire 194 guards throughout the country and intended to get approval for a new proclamation of openings for seasonal employees to be used during the extended summer schedule.
The minister finally promised a solution for contract workers carrying out specialised work for the ministry for several years, who were currently forced to work unpaid because their civil suits against decisions for their dismissal had run up against the Audit Council's refusal to recognise temporary court orders.
Noting that these were employees who did useful work for the ministry, Samaras said the only solution was to hold a declare a recruitment drive that would give these employees extra points for their years of experience.
Later on Monday, Samaras and Deputy Culture Minsiter for sports Yiannis Ioannidis awarded the Greek medallists and finalists at the Beijing Olympic Games at a special event at the OAKA Olympic sports complex in Athens.
The event was also attended by Deputy Education Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, Hellenic Olympic Committee chairman Spyros Kapralos, the head of the Greek mission to Beijing Isidoros Kouvelos and the mayors of Maroussi and Halandri.
 Papandreou receives Chilean Chamber of Deputies presidentMain opposition PASOK leader and Social International (SI) president George Papandreou on Monday received the visiting President of Chile's Chamber of Deputies, Francisco Encina Moriamez, where he referred to the close relations of the Greek and Chilean peoples, ties that became even stronger during each country's struggle for democracy.
Referring to the global economic crisis, Papandreou inquired on how the Chilean economy was affected and what measures were taken in response.
Encina briefed Papandreou on the political developments in his country in view of the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled at the end of 2009 and the political cooperation between the left and progressive forces in the South American country.
On his part, Papandreou referred to the domestic political developments and foreign policy issues, focusing on Turkey and Cyprus. He expressed support to the policy followed by Republic of Cyprus President Demetres Christofias and stressed that Ankara holds the key to a solution in Cyprus, underlining that the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots should be free to decide on their common future within the EU.
Papandreou also commented on the Balkan issues, the FYROM "name issue" in particular, reiterating PASOK's position in support of a name with a geographic qualifier for all uses. He also briefed Moriamez on the Middle East issue and the role SI can play through its proposal for a regional conference with the participation of the countries in the region.
 Papandreou meets addresses prefectures' associationMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday stressed, in his meeting with representatives of the Greek National Union of Prefectural Local Authorities (ENAE), that the Greek state is among the most centralised in the world and that local government authorities are the most affected.
"Prefects turn into (central) state clients seeking to secure funding from different government ministries, a practice that results in scrappy projects and rivalries amongst prefectures," Papandreou stated.
He also underlined that PASOK will promote an "executive state" that will plan and materialise major projects, as an integral part of the party's proposal for decentralisation and administrative structural reform.
 President to receive PASOK leaderPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will receive main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday afternoon, the presidency announced.
 LAOS leader seeks Parliament debate on foreign policyPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Monday officially requested an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on Greece's major foreign policy issues, in a letter sent to Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas.
"The new facts on all our national issues create the impression that the government is a passive observer of events, seeking only to carry out a communications management on unfavourable outcomes within the country," Karatzaferis notes in the letter.
 BoG urges long-term reform planBank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos on Monday said a long-term plan, including all necessary reforms, was needed in the country, with fiscal restructuring a top priority.
Presenting the central bank's report on monetary policy, Provopoulos said Greek economic growth will slow to 0.5 pct this year, the inflation rate will fall to an average level of 1.8 pct, or lower, after a 4.2-pct figure last year, although the core inflation rate will remain at 3.0 pct (3.4 pct in 2008). The country's current accounts deficit is projected to fall from a 14.5 pct of GDP in 2008 and to start climbing again along with the economy's recovery. The central banker stressed that Greece's fiscal deficit must fall below 3.0 pct of GDP this year with the aim of falling to zero by 2012 and called for wage increases linked with the inflation rate and productivity increases by employees in the public sector.
Commenting on a widening yield spread between Greek and German state bonds, Provopoulos said the consequences from this development were felt throughout the economy and predicted that no significant decline in the yield spread will be seen over the next few months, a fact that made it even more pressing to achieve a fiscal consolidation to convince markets.
He attributed this situation to market reservations over fiscal prospects and the current accounts balance. Provopoulos said there was no discussion within the ECB over plans to intervene in the secondary bond market of Greece and other countries facing a similar problem (Ireland, Portugal).
The central banker recommended a restrictive fiscal policy with cuts in overspending and improving efficiency of state spending. Provopoulos said tax evasion exceeded 20 pct of total tax proceeds.
The BoG governor said he favored mergers in the banking sector, which would boost the size of Greek banks and urged banks to raise their provisions, noting: "the cost cannot be paid only by taxpayers but must be shared with shareholders".
With that in mind, he also expressed his opposition to the creation of a "bad bank" in the Greek market to transfer all non-performing loans and underlined that banks should make a rational use of a government-sponsored 28-billion-euro plan to boost liquidity in the economy.
Provopoulos said the current crisis was the worse since 1930 and said that prospects for the global economy were bleak for 2009. EU governments' plans to boost liquidity and banks' capital totaled 2.9 trillion euros, or 23 pct of GDP in the region, he noted.
The central banker reiterated that the fundamentals of the Greek banking system have been affected less by the international crisis, compared with other countries, thanks to continuous controls by the Bank of Greece, banks' satisfactory capital adequacy levels and their marginal exposure to so-called "toxic" assets. These fundamentals allowed Greek banks to remain healthy and strong, he stressed.
Commenting on the implementation of a government plan to boost liquidity, Provopoulos said it strengthened financial stability and would help in avoiding a credit crunch, while he urged banks to fully exploit the plans provisions by carefully evaluating current economic conditions.
He predicted a slowdown of credit expansion to the private sector in the coming months, to around 10 pct on average this year.
"The BoG confirmed today, in the most categorical manner, the serious deterioration of the Greek economy and the major divergences between the government's estimates and the real situation. It also confirms the lack of any reliable government plan to persuade the European Commission and international markets over the government's ability to manage and overcome the crisis," Louka Katseli, PASOK's economy sector head, stated after the report was published.
On his part, a Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP, Panayiotis Lafazanis, charged that only the central bank's report and the industrialists' federation project higher labour costs and labour market inflexibility, "whereas employees are experiencing austerity and the collapse of labour relations".
 Greek ban on MON 810 corn upheld at EUBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Monday failed in an attempt to lift a ban imposed by Greece and France on the cultivation of the genetically-modified strain of corn MON 810. The Commission's proposal was not adopted by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, with 10 countries voting in favour of maintaining the ban, four abstaining and two absent.
The issue will now be referred to the ministers' council, due to meet in the next three months, which needs a majority vote in order to adopt the Commission's proposal. If there is no final decision, it then returns to the European Commission again, which will be empowered to decide. If the Commission's proposal is rejected by the ministers' council, however, the Commission must then submit a new proposal on this issue.
 Thessaloniki Port Authority says no decisions over cargo terminal tenderThessaloniki Port Authority on Monday said that its board has not taken any new decisions regarding a tender to lease the port's cargo terminal, after the collapse of talks with Hutchison.
The organisation said works for expanding the number 6 pier were currently under way, with the Thessaloniki Port Authority using its own capital. A statement said that if a tender to lease the cargo terminal was anulled, then the organisation would issue new tenders for the construction of infrastructure works and the supply of necessary equipment for the pier.
 Aspis Bank completed 424-mln-euro mortgage loan securitizationAspis Bank on Monday announced the successful completion of a mortgage loan securitization, worth 424 million euros. The securitization was completed on Friday 13, February, with Royal Bank of Scotland acting as a consultant. Under the terms of the issue, Aspis Bank transfered a mortgage loan portfolio worth 424million euros to Byzantium II Finance plc, with the latter issuing bonds worth 410.25 million euros. Fitch rating agency rated 89 pct of the portfolio (377 million euros) at AAA.
 Wind Hellas reports 112.9 mln euro loss in 2008Wind Group on Monday reported a net after-tax losses of 112.9 million euros in 2008, burdened by the completion of the acquisition of Tellas and high interest spending. Income totaled 1.269 billion euros, pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) totaled 433.8 million euros and EBITD margin was 34.2 pct.
The group invested a total 176 million euros on branch network expansion, network capacity and performance and advanced data services development in Greece. Wind invested 37 million euros to expand Tellas' network and creating new LLU hubs.
Customer base rose 15 pct in the year to 5.193 million customers, with 144,826 new customers registered in the fourth quarter of 2008. Tellas said its customer base totaled 789,116 last year.
 Draft decree on eco-design requirement signedThe government on Monday approved a draft presidential decree on "Setting eco-design requirements on energy-using products" through which Directive 2005/32/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of July 6, 2005 will be incorporated into the Greek national legislation.
The draft presidential decree was forwarded for signing to the responsible ministries of national and economy and finance and environment, town planning and public works. The directive's incorporation in the national legislation is placed within a general plan aimed at saving up to 20 percent of energy by the year 2020.
The draft decree was signed by Deputy Development Minister Ioannis Bougas.
 ASE falls below 1,700 levelGreek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday pushing the composite index of the market below the 1,700 level. The index ended at 1,691.63 points, off 2.10 pct, with turnover a low 75.5 million euros, of which 9.5 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Telecommunications (4.74 pct), Financial Services (3.90 pct), Raw Materials (3.87 pct) and Constructions (3.68 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses, while Chemicals (1.71 pct) and Travel (0.60 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 2.14 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.91 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell 1.36 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 144 to 63 with another 49 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.70%
Personal & Household: -0.97%
Raw Materials: -3.87%
Travel & Leisure: +0.60%
Food & Beverages: -2.76%
Financial Services: -3.90
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, PPC, National Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.30
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.12
HBC Coca Cola: 11.06
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.58
National Bank of Greece: 12.58
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.66
Bank of Piraeus: 4.80
Titan Cement Company: 13.22
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices maintained their high discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 86.295 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.37 pct, with volume of 4,742 contracts worth 20.066 million euros.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 62,312 contracts worth 65.417 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (58,326), followed by Eurobank (246), PPC (498), National Bank (762), Alpha Bank (604) and ATEbank (604).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened further to reach 293 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday. Turnover was 728 million euros, of which 265 million were buy orders and the remaining 463 million euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 245 million euros. The Greek bond yielded 5.96 pct and the German Bund 3.03 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 2.11 pct, the six-month rate 2.01 pct, the three-month rate 1.92 pct and the one-month rate 1.95 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.286
Pound sterling 0.901
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 11.010
Japanese yen 118.27
Swiss franc 1.500
Norwegian kroner 8.847
Canadian dollar 1.603
Australian dollar 1.977
 City of Athens to present artwork to EuroparliamentAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis departs Tuesday for Brussels where, together with European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering, he will launch a visual artwork by the artist Pavlos entitled "Flags of Europe", to be donated by the City of Athens to the European Parliament.
Mayor Kaklamanis will be accompanied by Deputy Mayor for International Relations Sophia Daskalaki-Mytilineou and municipal ticket "Athens is Changing City" Councillor Yiorgos Arsenis.
"The Flags of Europe" is a composite artwork comprising the flags of all 27 European Union member-states and a white flag, which represents the bloc's perpetual interest in expansion to include other countries.
Pavlos' work, whose vehicle is the flags of member-states, conveys the vision of universality between nation-states, while at the same time expressing, in visual terms, the peaceful cohabitation of European countries.
The artist utilised the flags of European countries in their original form as the basis for his composition. On a second level, the base of the image is partly enveloped by a web of colours from all of the flags, which symbolizes European coexistence.
The work will remain on display in the European Parliament's Yehudi Menuhin hall until February 20, before it is transferred to a permanent exhibition space within the Parliament.
 Greek adolescents regular users of IT, mobile telephonyThe percentage of Greek adolescents that had regular daily or once-a-week use of a computer totaled 88.2 percent in the first quarter of 2008, while the percentage of children using the Internet totaled 71.7 pct and the percentage of the same group using a mobile telephone totaled 86.5 pct over the same period, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
In a report on the use of information technology and communications by Greek households in 2008, the statistics service said the percentage of adolescents aged 12-15 years with access to the Internet totaled 84.9 percent in the first three months of 2008.
The majority of the same age group that used either a computer or had access to the Internet, were based in their schools or their homes. Access rates from other areas, Internet cafes, public libraries, cultural and athletic clubs, totaled 23.5 pct for computer use and 28.3 pct for Internet access.
A 68.3 pct of Internet cafes' visitors were boys and the remaining 31.7 pct girls. The report also showed that 29.3 pct of adolescents were using msn services for Internet communications.
 Pavlopoulos opens seminar on checking municipal spendingInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday delivered the opening remarks for a seminar on checking the legitimacy of spending by municipalities and communities and associated public-sector legal entities.
Pavlopoulos referred to the action taken by the interior ministry to install mechanisms to check local government spending in order to prevent corruption and mismanagement while promoting transparency. This included a precautionary inspection of spending in authorities with more than 5,000 residents since June 2005, which he said had led to the best performance by local governments in terms of mismanagement since 2003.
"We do not claim that the problems have all been solved. We are continuing our efforts and, as interior ministry, intervening wherever we can in order to encourage the establishment of transparency and good management in the operation of municipalities and communities," he said.
The seminar was organised jointly by the interior ministry, the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), the Audit Council, the Public Administration Inspectors and Auditors Corps, and the Hellenic Society of Local Development and Local Government (EETAA).
 Metropolis of Cameroon celebrates 50th anniversaryThe Christian Orthodox Metropolis of Cameroon celebrated its 50th anniversary in a formal ceremony held in the capital Yaounde in the presence of Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, government ministers, foreign ambassadors, the Vatican representative and members of the local Greek community.
The Patriarch, speaking in the Church of the Annunciation within the framework of the celebrations, paid tribute to all those who served the Orthodox Church of Africa, while Metropolitan Grigorios of Cameroon referred to the great contribution of the Greek community honored with a commemorative plaque at the church's main entrance.
The Metropolis of Cameroon was founded on Jan. 13, 1959 and under its jurisdiction are Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the St Thomas and Prince Islands.
 Man accused of sex act with minor remanded in custodyA 57-year-old man accused of sexually abusing his underage niece was remanded in custody on Monday after appearing before the 23rd examining magistrate.
The accused George E. Iordanou from Markopoulos denied the charges of seducing a minor and repeated counts of rape, claiming that the entire affair was a frame set up by the victim's family.
The name of the accused was made public by order of public prosecutor Eleni Raikou, based on legislation concerning offenders accused of crimes against minors.
 Body of Greek national found on Albanian borderGJIROKASTR (ANA-MPA - P. Barkas)
The dead body of a 28-year-old Greek man has been located just 300 metres within the Albanian border with Greece at Thesprotia, near the village Ninati.
The body was found late on Sunday night and will be taken to the hospital in Sarande on Monday, while a team of Albanian police has launched an inquiry into his death.
Police in Sarande are looking for three people, residents of the area, whose names have not been released. According to local Albanian press, the death was probably a "settling of accounts" within a drug trafficking ring.
 Countdown for Athens 2011 Special Olympics beginsTourism Development Minister Costas Markopoulos represented Greece, the host of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, in the traditional passing of the Special Olympics flag in Idaho, the host of the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Markopoulos and Joanna Despotopoulou, the president of the organising committee for "Athens 2011" also held a private meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden, who accepted an invitation to attend the Special Olympic Games in Greece.
Greece received the Special Olympics flag and a glass ball (the Special Olympics emblem) at the Idaho Games' closing ceremony on Friday.
 Early frost, showers and storms on TuesdayFrost overnight with scattered showers and storms are forecast for Tuesday throughout most of Greece, with light snow at high altitudes. Winds from mostly northwesterly directions, 3-6 beauforts, switching to southwesterly throughout the country later in the day. Temperatures ranging from -6C to 14 C. Overcast in Athens, 1C-12C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, -2C to 6C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe state of the economy, the political situation, and a reduction in the military conscription term were the main front-page items on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Are we close to a cure for cancer? Greek in Canada discovers miracle medicine".
APOGEVMATINI: "9-month conscription term - All the conscripts will here on serve only in the army".
AVRIANI: "Head-on collision with the oil cartel decided by Hatzidakis (development minister)".
CHORA: "Elections do not bring magical solutions, regardless of who wins".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Benefit to 300,000 salary earners via...Appeals Court - 2.2 billion euros 'landmine' for the budget".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "200 million euros 'gift' to the golden boys - Banks and businesses gave out stock worth 550 million euro in the period 2004-2008".
ESTIA: "The economy requires bold measures - Opportunity for resolution of chronic problems".
ETHNOS: "Robbers and burglars on a free-for-all - Dramatic increase in crimes against property".
TA NEA: "Three scandals return to the government - Vatopedi, toxic bonds, Pavlidis case".
VRADYNI: "9-month conscription, with 'scissoring' of postponements - Everything changing for the conscripts as of 2010".
 US Senator briefed on developments in CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
US Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) was briefed here Monday by Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou on the ongoing direct negotiations between President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, aiming at reaching a settlement to the protracted question of Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Durbin said "we are hopeful that they will continue on a positive note and that we can look toward a peaceful resolution of the situation here in Cyprus."
"We've come here because we understand this is an important part of the world for not only the people living here but for many in the region and the United States has many friends that we want to try to encourage to move forward with these negotiations," the Senator noted
Asked about his moves on his return to the US, he said "we don't come as an official delegation from the Administration. We leave it to President Obama and to Secretary of State Clinton to speak directly to the United States position, but we want to share with our friends in the Senate, in the American community the progress that is being made."
"It is very hopeful that President Christofias and Mr. Talat are meeting as they are and we are hoping that this leads to a positive solution here to a long-term challenge," Durbin concluded.
Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September last year aiming at reunifying the island.
 Downer: Cyprus leaders determined to reach a settlementNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
There has never been a moment's hesitation in terms of the commitment of the two leaders in Cyprus to succeed in the process of direct negotiations, aiming at a settlement of the Cyprus question, UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Downer Alexander Downer said here Monday, after a meeting with President Demetris Christofias.
Downer said he still remained cautiously optimistic about the process, "inevitably difficult, because these are issues that go back many-many years and there is a lot of a history to them. I think the two leaders remain very committed to the process and very determined to succeed. That's front and centre of this. If you have leaders determined to succeed, they can succeed. I think people should give the leaders space to negotiate and continue to work their way through these complex issues. If they are given the space to do that they can succeed," the Australian diplomat noted.
Asked if he is satisfied with the progress achieved so far, Downer said "I am not sure what people's expectations were, but when I first came here which was in July last year and I have a look at the issue and I think about the issue it was my view that this is an issue which has deep roots."
"People here feel strongly about the property question, they feel strongly about the way a constitution would work and territorial issues and so on, and the security questions, they feel very strongly about those matters. So it struck me when I arrived here that it would take a little while to solve this problem, for the leaders to solve this problem. And when I read in the media commentators saying they thought this could be finished by Christmas or quickly, it struck me, as somebody who has spent most of my adult life in diplomacy and politics, that that was completely unrealistic. You could never solve a problem as complicated as this that quickly and I've proven to be right," Dowenr said.
He noted that "the leaders need space. They certainly need some time. And they don't need a strict time-table imposed on them. I think that would be counter-productive. But they are working their way through these issues which are complex and politically very sensitive issues with a great level of maturity and with clear determination to succeed."
He added that "there's never been a moment's hesitation in terms of the commitment of the two leaders to succeed in this process," noting that "that's what we in the UN want and that's what happening, so I think that's good."
Downer expressed satisfaction "that there is so much support for the leaders coming from not just the UN but from the international community more generally, from the EU of course, from major powers like Russia, the US, Britain and China and France. It's very encouraging."
Invited to say if he is going to have experts on the chapters discussed during the negotiations, apart from the expert on government he already has, Downer said: "Well I obviously seek advice from people. I am not an expert on everything myself as you can imagine. So I seek advice from other people and sure I will seek advice on property issues and other questions as they come up to make sure I am absolutely on top of them."
Asked about his visit on Sunday to the Kapras peninsula, in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, Donwer said it was a fascinating trip and that he met Turkish Cypriots, Turkish settlers and Greek Cypriots "living in a Turkish Cypriot controlled area and I found it very interesting to hear their perspectives, how they work together, how they live together, what their problems are, what the challenges are."
Downer said he understands the importance of meeting people and hearing what people say, not just meeting the leaders, not just meeting politicians and civil servants but meeting ordinary people in their ordinary lives.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since early September last year, aiming at solving the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.
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