|Friday, 15 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-03-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 7 March 2009 Issue No: 3139
 PM calls on PASOK leader 'prove he comprehends need for nat'l understanding on economy'Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday called on main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou to prove that he comprehends the need for a national understanding on the economy, speaking in Parliament during the Hour of the Prime Minister, as he replied to a question tabled by the latter on the impact of the global economic crisis on domestic demand and regarding what he charged was "credit asphyxiation" in the market.
"The economy, under the weight of the severest financial crisis faced by humanity, at least in its post-war history, is a national cause with capital letters," Karamanlis said, stressing that "whenever we Greeks dedicated ourselves to national goals, we managed quite well, and this is what we must do now, too".
The Greek premier stressed that he had not asked for a "carte blanche" from anyone. "I asked for the self-evident, for all of us to accept six fundamental points...a rational framework within which we must forge the country's course for the following years, and for the following governments".
Referring to a statement by Papandreou after their meeting that Greece needs a change of course, Karamanlis said that "it is monotonous and boring to hear you constantly resorting to unceasing election speculation".
"This matter is closed. I have clarified that we (ND) do not play with the institutions, that we are not occupying ourselves with election scenarios. I made it clear that we are not considering (early) elections," Karamanlis reiterated, stressing that "our concern, unlike yours, is to limit the repercussions of the crisis ... This is the collective and national interest".
Papandreou, in turn, charged that the ND government has failed miserably and added that the country needs a change of course.
"You are simply trying to cover up your own failures behind the veil of the international crisis. You do not have the confidence of our partners, you do not have the confidence of the Greek people, nor do you have the volition to change course, and the country needs a change of course. ND may have gone bankrupt, but we will not allow you to drive Greece to bankruptcy as well. It is the hour of the people. That is why we need a new beginning, a new government that will emerge from elections; a PASOK government that will take the country forward, with optimism and a plan," Papandreou said.
The PASOK leader accused the prime minister of passing off his government's blame to the opposition, and charged that the government has no plan for the country's salvation but rather he was planning only for its own salvation and with that, the salvation of the interests it wishes to serve.
He called on the prime minister to look over the proposals that have been tabled by PASOK, noting that the government could easily implement some of them.
Papandreou further accused the prime minister of increasing the state debt by 16 billion euros annually and of a sharp rise in state spending.
In reply, Karamanlis said the PASOK leader was the last person allowed to refer to debts and deficits, since "you took over the state debt at 30 percent of GDP and raised it to above 100 percent of GDP", while the deficit it handed over (to the ND government in 2004) was running at 7.5 percent, while its budget forecast had been 1.2 percent.
"Is there greater dishonesty and irresponsibility than that?" Karamanlis asked.
 PASOK spokesman on PM's address in ParliamentMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou termed the prime minister's presence and address in Parliament on Friday "exercises of courage towards the (ruling) New Democracy (ND) party's Parliamentary Group" and attributed to him "evident irritation due to the failure of his communication effort yesterday (Thursday)."
On the question of the prime minister's reference to the public debt, PASOK's spokesman also attributed to him "an effort to conceal the repercussions of the Mitsotakis governance (1990-93) on the debt", while adding that "the country, during the governance of ND, was placed under supervision twice."
As regards the question of consensus, Papaconstantinou stressed "there can be no consensus without a content, as a blank cheque, as the prime minister realises it."
Replying to questions on the time of the next elections, the spokesman said that "they can take place at any moment, due to ND's deadlocks and the problems facing the country" and added that neither on Thursday nor on Friday did the prime minister say "anything more clear than that he is not considering elections."
Lastly, Papaconstantinou also referred to Thursday's killing of policeman Mihalis Spanoudakis, extending PASOK's sincere condolences over the loss of a policeman who "lost his life, going even further than his own duty."
 Consensus sought in specific areas, gov't stressesThe government has a plan for weathering and eventually exiting the economic crisis, which it has already put into effect, and it is seeking consensus with the opposition parties in specific and well-defined areas, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros clarified on Friday.
Replying to reporters' questions, the spokesman stressed that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had outlined the six areas on which the government seeks consensus, convincingly and in detail, during his address to the nation on Thursday night.
Antonaros pointed out that the government was not seeking agreement on everthing, nor asking the political parties to abandon their positions.
"At the same time, the reply to any and all initiatives - and here I refer specifically to the main opposition [PASOK party] - cannot be 'no' to everything," he added.
 FM on tabled question criticising annual State Dept. human rights reportForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis emphasised on Friday that the annual US State Department human rights report as well as another independent report by a UN expert in no way change the fact that Greece is modern European nation that absolutely respects human rights and works tirelessly for their strengthening and protection.
Bakoyannis made the comment in Parliament in answer to a tabled question by a Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) deputy directed towards the premier.
On his part, MP Adonis Georgiadis referred to a "direct intervention by Washington in Greece's internal affairs", in commenting on the annual State Department report that attempts to gauge the status of human and minority rights in every country and territory of the world, sans one.
"We don't have any insecurities or phobic syndromes, these reports have been composed quite some time prior to their publication and similar ones are conducted for each EU country ... What is recorded is the rendering, evaluations and conclusions of their authors, and some times they include references which are not fair and accurate. They (reports), however, also include observations and numerous positive statements, such as respect for constitutional rights, the operation of dozens of organisations for the protection of human rights etc," Bakoyannis said from Parliament's podium, adding:
"We neither downgrade nor do we over-estimate anything; we assess everything, nothing more and nothing less, full stop. Our performance, however, is in no way connected with kudos or criticism by others," she emphasised.
Georgiadis charged that the foreign minister is deliberately downgrading the US agency's annual report, while adding that it reflects the opinion of the new US Secretary of State.
The UN reference was to a recent report compiled by UN independent expert on minority issues Gay McDougall.
 DM on full accession of all SE Europe countries to EU, NATOPeace and stability in southeastern Europe, through Euro-atlantic integration, as well as the contribution of the countries of southeastern Europe to operations supporting peace and managing crises were the issues discussed during the two-day conference of defence ministers of the countries of southeastern Europe that was held in Zagreb, in Croatia.
Speaking during the first session concerning peace and stability through Euroatlantic integration, Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis said, among other things, that "we have no doubt that the only path for us to move forward is the full accession of all the countries of southeastern Europe to the European Union and NATO."
The defence minister added that "we desire and look forward to the full incorporation of all the countries in the region, without any exception, in the Euroatlantic structures", but pointed out that "unfortunately, in some cases our efforts do not meet with a response", referring to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
On the question of FYROM's name, the minister reiterated that "Greece desires a solution to the issue on the basis of a composite name with a geographical qualifier that will apply to all. In this framework, our country remains steadfastly and constructively adherred to negotiations under the UN, so that the country in question will be able to follow a Euroatlantic course."
In his address during the second session, concerning peace and crises management, Meimarakis stressed the need for interstate cooperation in tackling international terrorism, nationalist extremism, organised crime, illegal immigration, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, piracy, environmental pollution and extensive natural disasters.
 PM receives Euro Ombudsman, MitsotakisPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis held consecutive meetings on Friday with European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros and New Democracy honorary president and former premier Constantine Mitsotakis.
Diamantouros afterwards said he briefed the prime minister on the European Ombudsman's actions regarding European citizens' rights, within the framework of his meetings with the Greek government.
In response to a press question on the EU's role amid the current international economic crisis, he merely stressed that the Union made clear that no European country, member or not, that is facing problems will be left alone.
Mitsotakis did not make any statements after the meeting.
 EU-Turkey relations in Euro-Parliament plenary session on WednesdayProgress made in the EU-Turkey relations will be examined on Wednesday within the framework of the European Parliament Plenary Session in Strasbourg next week.
A resolution adopted by the European and External Affairs Committee of the European Parliament underlines that Turkish forces will have to withdraw from Cyprus, while Turkey should further improve its relations with Greece, whereas Turkish authorities should accelerate democratic reforms in the country.
Also on Wednesday, Euro MPs will discuss the prospect of opening of accession negotiations with FYROM and examine the progress made in the EU accession negotiations with Croatia.
Other issues to be examined are the adoption of a package of measures for security at sea, limiting emissions of pollutants by the European industry, tackling the downgrading of farm land in the EU, particularly in southern Europe.
A report on the improvement of the EU-Brazil relations, prepared by Greek Euro MP Marilena Koppa, will be discussed next Thursday.
 Russian envoy to EU speaks on EU-Russia ties in AthensEurope and Russia needed to engage with each other without "demonisation" or prejudices based in the past, stressed Russia's special envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chisov on Friday, while speaking at an event in Athens organised by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).
Chisov stressed that progress in boosting ties between the EU and Russia was slow, partly because the EU was currently going through a long period of introspection but also because its very structure and complexity made it a "difficult partner".
He pointed out that it had taken four years to draft the road map in EU-Russia relations, with preparation for a strategic EU-Russia cooperation agreement finally launched in November 2006, only to have negotiations stalled for 18 months and then resume the previous summer.
The Russian diplomat referred to the principle of European solidarity and how this had served to block progress in EU-Russian ties in the case of Poland, while also noting that its application seemed to be "relative" and that this was "evident in the case of Cyprus, whose occupation by a candidate-state of the EU continues".
"European solidarity also operates as a 'one-way street', as occurred in the case of EU-Russian relations, which were blocked by Poland and which many presidencies for many years tried to unblock, coming up against the principle of solidarity with Poland," he added.
"At the same time, EU enlargement with the 10 new member-states has upgraded Russia's position as an EU trading partner, since the volume of its trade with Russia suddenly increased by 50 percent because of the old and traditional ties between Russia and the new members," he pointed out. In spite of this, Chisov added, Russia's relations with the enlarged EU had been "poisoned" by grievances dating back to the Soviet era or even imperial Russia.
 Deputy FM Valynakis holds talks with Archbishop of America DemetriusNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Depuy Foreign Minister Ioannis Valinakis and Archbishop of America Demetrius discussed on Friday the "important developments" concerning the decisions of the European Human Rights Court against Turkey that were achieved by the Kimisis tis Theotokou Orthodox Church Foundation.
Valinakis, who is in New York to represent the government at events organised by the Federation of Dodecannese Societies of America on the 61st anniversary of the incorporation of the Dodecannese islands with Greece, had the opportunity of discussing with the Greek Orthodox Church Primate a series of problems concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate that "continue to exist."
Valynakis praised the role played by Archbishop Demetrius on the issue of the orphanage. It is reminded that the Commission on International Religious Freedom of the United States had called on the Turkish government to implement the relevant decision taken by the European Human Rights Court.
Another issue discussed at the Archdiocese's offices in Manhattan was the recent initiative by 32 members of the U.S. Congress to send a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama calling, among other things, for the implementation of human rights and of religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Lastly, also discussed were aspects regarding Turkey's European course, as well as issues related to the expatriates community and the economic crisis.
 KKE criticism of gov't, PASOKCommenting on the exchange between the prime minister and the PASOK leader in Parliament a day earlier, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) stated, in a press release, that "the two-party argument aims, among others, at concealing the grand bankruptcy of their common strategy of an EU 'one-way street', which the people have paid for with heavy sacrifices".
KKE called on the people to decisively fight against this policy and to weaken ND and PASOK by strengthening the KKE.
 Minister announces sale of parts of OADevelopment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis announced on Friday midnight the successful outcome of negotiations between the government and the Marfin Investment Group (MIG) for the selling of parts of the flying sector and technical basis of the ailing Olympc Airways.
The minister added that, as regards land services, given the fact that the talks between MIG and Swissport for the completion of their own commercial agreement are still going on, a one week's prolongation of the talks with the public sector was given.
 Agriculture minister on dialogue on agricultural policyAgricultural Development and Foods Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis inaugurated Helexpo's three exhibitions, Detrop (foods and beverages), Oenos (wine) and Biologica (biological products) at the international exhibition centre in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday night, as well as the European Farm Foodstuffs Conference organised by the European Commission at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
Hatzigakis assumed a commitment for specific solutions through the dialogue that he has started on shaping agricultural policy.
He said that national dialogue is the tool for the development of the agricultural economy, with officials and farmers representatives from all over Greece, with every relevant agency and with a specific expiry date.
The dialogue, he added, "is continuing here tomorrow, in Thessaloniki, with the farmers of Central Macedonia and the day after tomorrow in Thessaly."
Referring to the international crisis and to the new Common Agricultural Policy, the minister stressed the need "for us to handle the problems with determination and courage."
 Convention tourism a barrier to crisis, industry saysConvention and congress tourism could act a "barrier" to any crisis hitting the country's tourism industry, as it shows increased resilience despite adverse economic conditions, while offering significant growth potential in bilateral cooperation networks, particularly with Balkan states, Dinos Astras, head of the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers (HAPCO), said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters, during a news conference on the 5th nationwide conference of convention and professional tourism in Thessaloniki, Astras urged the state to contribute in promoting the sector, saying Greece's share in the global convention tourism market was only 0.8 pct, according to figures by the International Congress Conventional Association.
Astras noted there was no register of congress and convention halls in the country and urged for actions to institutionalise the profession of a convention organizer, upgrading tourism education, promotion campaign and creating a metropolitan conventional centre in Athens in the form of joint venture between the Greek state and private investors.
He predicted that tourism arrivals to Greece this year will record a decrease of more than 30 pct based on available data so far.
 State borrowing derailing debt targets, PASOK assertsA critical rise in the Greek State's borrowing requirements has derailed public debt targets and the 2009 state budget, main opposition PASOK's economy sector head Louka Katseli and two PASOK MPs claimed in a question put to Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou in Parliament on Friday.
In their question, the main opposition MPs said that the 2009 budget forecast that the country's borrowing needs would come to 40.7 billion euros. After this was passed by Parliament, they claim that a succession of "mutually contradictory statements" by the finance minister and the head of the Public Debt Management Company raised this sum by figures ranging from 1.3 billion euros to 12 billion euros, in addition to outstanding state debts to hospitals (3.0 billion euros), construction companies (5.0 billion euros) and social insurance funds (10.8 billion euros).
"The Greek State is borrowing to cover its very high spending needs, significantly higher than those envisaged in the budget, and in order to cover needs arising as older bonds mature (18.5 billion euros by April, according to Bloomberg) and new issues," they noted.
In their question to the minister, they ask that the government submit a yearly schedule for covering its borrowing needs and the management programme of the Greek State's portfolio, as well as asking the minister to clarify the reasons why he does not table a new budget "given that all the budget targets set just two months earlier have been overshot."
 PASOK questions ion NSRF, high cost of livingThree questions tabled in Parliament by main opposition PASOK charged long delays in the materialisation of the 2007-2013 National Strategic Reference Framework, NSRF, and absence of policies against high cost of living and corruption, as they said.
In a question signed by 32 PASOK MPs, they charged that no project commenced two years after the launch of NSRF.
 Foreign investors raised equity stake in OPAPForeign institutional investors continue showing their confidence on OPAP -Greece's national lottery- despite the impact of a global economic crisis on stock markets and a continuous exit of foreign investors from the Greek market, Christos Hatziemmanouel, the organisation's chairman told reporters.
Hatziemmanouel stressed that OPAP was the top lottery company in the world -based on market capitalization- from fifth 18 months ago, while it was emerging as the second best company worldwide -based on market return. OPAP was the largest listed company in the Greek stock market.
Foreign institutional investors' confidence was based on a radical restructuring program implemented by the organisation and more secure prospects of maintaining its monopoly in the Greek gaming market. Foreign institutional investors hold 59 pct of OPAP's equity capital, up from 54 pct 18 months ago, while the Greek state owns 34 pct and 7-8 pct was held by private Greek investors.
Hatziemmanouel said the organisation was focusing on global activities and expressed his optimism of a positive outcome in a tender to buy the Turkish state lottery.
 Aegean promises to freeze domestic faresAegean Airlines, which on Wednesday submitted a bid for the purchase of Olympic Airways, on Friday announced that it will freeze ticket fares for domestic flights until 2010 if negotiations with the Greek government over OA's acquisition lead to a deal.
In an announcement, Aegean Airlines reiterated that its primary motivation in submitting a proposal for the state-run carrier is to create a "national 'champion" that will preserve the name Olympic and that will merge both companies' strong points.
Referring to the ground services unit, for which Aegean has not submitted a bid, the announcement notes that "when such a necessity occurs, Aegean can, in a few days and in cooperation with Goldair, with which it has already begun negotiations, submit a proposal that will guarantee a reliable solution."
 Green Business CongressAthens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) President Constantine Mihalos said that green entrepreneurship is the future and "those who realise this in time will have the lead in the development of the day after in the development of the new era."
Mihalos was addressing Friday the inauguration of the first "Green Business Congress" that took place at the Chamber.
He said that the incorporation of the environmental dimension in the functioning, products and services of a business is not merely a question of sensitivity, adding that it is a precondition for the survival of certain sectors.
He also said that green entrepreneurship can constitute a fruitful growth option for existing and new small and medium-size enterprises, by whose activities the competitiveness of our economy will be judged to a great extent in the years to come.
Eu ropean Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas referred on his part to the need to turn to the green economy as a response to the economic crisis, to the measures being taken by the European Union to face the climatic and economic crisis and the focal role that enterprises are being called on to assume for the transition to the green economy.
"If we handle the current difficult economic conjuncture cleverly we might be able to turn it into an opportunity for the creation of the green economy of the future, for the transition to a new economic model of low carbon dioxide emissions," Dimas said.
Dimas also proposed a reduction of the VAT rate for green products and the issue will be discussed at the ECOFIN meeting on Tuesday, as well as at the European leaders summit on March 19 and 29.
 Frigoglass extends supply contract with Coca-Cola Hellenic BottlingFrigoglass on Friday announced the extension of a supply contract with Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling until Dec. 31, 2013. The supply contract between the two companies expired on Dec. 31, 2008.
 ASE turnover down 13.89% in Feb.‘urnover at the Athens Stock Exchange fell by 13.89 percent to 2.118 billion euros in February, down from 2.460 billion in January, while compared with February 2008 (7.665 billion euros) turnover was down a staggering 72.36 percent, official figures revealed on Friday.
Average daily turnover was 105 million euros in February, down from 123 million in January and 348 million euros in February 2008, while the most active stocks of the month (in value) were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and the Public Power Corp. (PPC).
The composite index of the market ended February at 1,535.82 points, off 13.69 pct from a month earlier. The FTSE 20 index was down 17.89 pct, the FTSE 40 index dropped 3.98 pct and the FTSE 80 index fell 9.0 pct.
 Greek stocks end 0.48% lowerGreek stocks ended the last trading session of the week with moderate losses at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index fell 0.48 pct to end at 1,474.35 points, with turnover a low 98.5 million euros, of which 7.3 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Media (5.80 pct), Oil (3.24 pct), Healthcare (2.76 pct) and Commerce (2.75 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Personal/Home Products (2.60 pct), Travel (0.61 pct) and Constructions (0.35 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 0.36 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.11 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.08 pct off. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 130 to 63 with another 48 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -3.24%
Personal & Household: +2.60%
Raw Materials: +0.19%
Travel & Leisure: +0.61%
Food & Beverages: -1.78%
Financial Services: -0.46%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and Bank of Piraeus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.86
HBC Coca Cola: 9.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.74
National Bank of Greece: 8.96
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.64
Bank of Piraeus: 3.58
Titan Cement Company: 14.38
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with the March contract trading at a discount of 1.60 pct and turnover a low 36.284 million euros. Volume was 5,339 contracts worth 18.920 million euros, with 32,882 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 18,704, worth 17.364 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (6,917), followed by Eurobank (5,246), Marfin Investment Group (6.144), OTE (1,939), PPC (1,849), GEK (2,432), National Bank (4,780), Alpha Bank (1,549) and ATEbank (1,346).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to a new record high of 314 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with turnover at 747 million euros of which 342 million were buy orders and the remaining 405 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 120 million euros. The Greek 10-year bond yielded 6.06 pct and the German Bund 2.92 pct.
In the interbank market, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.95 pct, the six-month rate 1.84 pct, the three-month rate 1.72 pct and the one-month rate 1.39 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.275
Pound sterling 0.897
Danish kroner 7.510
Swedish kroner 11.807
Japanese yen 123.51
Swiss franc 1.475
Norwegian kroner 9.024
Canadian dollar 1.638
Australian dollar 1.994
 Interior Minister's message for Int'l Women's Day"The bleak reality of the global economic crisis experienced by almost every country calls for even greater vigilance and intensified efforts to combat inequality between men and women, considering that the crisis favours all kinds of inequalities," Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed on Friday, in a message on the occasion of the International Women's Day this Sunday, March 8.
He also referred to the measures taken through the ministry's General Secretariat for Gender Equality aimed at protecting women, while promoting the multi-faceted role they can play in modern society as mothers, employees and active citizens.
Pavlopoulos underlined the special efforts made to eradicate all forms of violence targeting women and tackle new kinds of threats associated with new technologies and globalization by raising public awareness.
 Kostas Axelos becomes AUTH professor emeritusThe title of professor emeritus was conferred upon Greek philosopher Kostas Axelos during a special ceremony at the Thessaloniki Aristotle University's (AUTH) School of Philosophy and Pedagogy.
Addressing the event on Thursday evening, department chairman Socratis Delivogiatzis stressed that Kostas Axelos, influenced by Aristotle and Marx, focuses on the human being, history, ethics, politics, higher education, mass media, political parties and ideologies.
The consul general of France and the AUTH rector also addressed the event, which closed with a lecture delivered by the honouree.
 Internet use by Greek women rises in 2008Internet use among Greek women rose sharply in 2008, according to a survey posted on Friday by the Observatory for the Greek Information Society to mark International Women's Day on March 8, though they still lag behind the country's male population.
Specifically, Internet use among Greek men and women in 2008 now stands at 46 percent and 32 percent, respectively. The rate for both genders has nearly doubled over the last four years and there was a sharp rise of 12 percent for men and 10 percent for women in the year 2008.
The survey also found a large difference in Internet use between women in large cities and women in smaller urban or rural areas. In the large urban centres of Athens and Thessaloniki, for example, Internet use among women was 46 percent and 41 percent, respectively, while in smaller urban centres it stood at 27 percent and in rural areas at 23 percent.
The gender gap reduces sharply in younger age groups and is tending to become smaller. Among 16-25 year olds, the difference in Internet use between men and women dropped from 10 percent in 2005 to just 2 percent in 2008. The observed convergence in this age group holds good not just in large cities but also in smaller urban and rural areas.
In older age groups, by contrast, the gender differences remain high and are tending to rise, especially for women aged 36-55 who have considerably lower Internet use than men.
Of the women that use the Internet, 58 percent tend to use it on a daily or almost daily basis, recording an increase of some 12 percentage points in frequency of use in 2005-2008.
Home and work continue to be the main places for accessing the Internet for both men and women, while educational establishments continue to be access points where women have higher percentages than men.
Greek women still lag behind those of other European Union countries in the use of new technologies, with 45 percent of Greek women using computers compared with the EU27 average of 63 percent, and just 32 percent using the Internet per quarter compared with 59 percent in the EU27.
This is changing rapidly and tending to converge with rates in the EU, however, with the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for Internet Use by women in 2005-2008 estimated at 29.4 percent, which is the highest among EU countries, where the EU27 CAGR is 11.7 percent.
 CoS hears arguments in Votanikos projectA motion filed by 130 plaintiffs to block construction of a commercial centre (mall) next to the central Athens site selected for a new Panathinaikos sports complex was heard on Friday by a Council of State (CoS) plenum, Greece's highest administrative court.
Ń recommendation by a CoS rapporteur favored a ruling for the plaintiffs, viewing that a law allowing for the double regeneration project contravenes European and Greek law.
The ambitious project would pave the way for construction of a sport complex, a large mall and adjacent green spaces in the Votanikos district of central Athens, one of the most rundown areas within the Athens municipality. It would also demolish the outdated Panathinaikos pitch along Alexandras Avenue in favor of a park.
Attorneys for the construction company overseeing the entire project, Babis Vovos, as well as for the Panathinaikos pro football team and amateur division, along with the City of Athens, the Greek state and representatives of 257 Athens residents outlined their arguments in support of the law's legality.
 Art objects from recyclable materials on display atThessaloniki's Institut FrancaisRecyclable objects such as empty soda cans, screws, coins, cutlery and metal parts of old cars that have been transformed into works of art that will be on display at the Institut Francais in Thessaloniki on March 11-24.
A total of 50 works by 10 artists will be presented in a special exhibition by the company UBU (abbr. for "Used But Useful"), involved in turning recyclable objects into art while raising public awareness to make recycling a way of life.
UBU S.A. was established in 2006, by the owners of Archimedes Neonakis S.A, Metal Recycling.
 HFC Centre opens in TiranaThe Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HFC) formally launched its activities in Tirana, Albania with a two-day cultural event dedicated to poet Constantine P. Cavafy and the Greek folklore tradition.
At a press conference on Thursday, HFC President George Babiniotis stressed that the objective is to introduce the Greek culture to Albania.
A tribute exhibition to the poet titled "Travelling with C. P. Cavafy" was launched on March 5 at the HFC Centre in Tirana, housed in the city's Arsakeio School.
The exhibition will run through April 6 and includes archival material (a production of the Centre for Neo-Hellenic Studies/Cavafy Archive) and a book-fair on Cavafy's poetry in translation produced by HFC in collaboration with the National Book Centre of Greece (EKEBI) and the Cavafy Museum in Alexandria, Egypt.
 Scientific conference on beekeepingThe 1st Macedonian Scientific Beekeeping Conference "Honey and Health" opens in Kavala, northeastern Greece, on Saturday hosted by local authorities and apicultural societies.
The conference aspires to inform the general public on the benefits of beehive products and healthy eating habits that lead to longevity and quality of life, while promoting bee culture and the education of beekeepers.
 Air Force airlifts French pregnant woman from Gavdos to CreteA 24-year-old French woman in the final weeks of pregnancy was air-lifted from the tiny island of Gavdos by a Greek Air Force helicopter on Friday and taken to the city of Iraklio on Crete in order to deliver her first baby. The woman is a permanent resident of Gavdos and is married to the community's vice-president.
She reported feeling unwell on Friday morning and her immediate transfer to hospital was judged necessary.
The island contacted the civil aviation department at Hania prefecture, which sought the assistance of the Air Force because of adverse weather conditions that prevented boats from approaching the island.
The helicopter arrived on the Gavdos helipad shortly after 15:00, with two doctors on board, where it picked up the woman and took her to Iraklio airport, landing in Iraklio where an ambulance was waiting to pick her up and take her to hospital at 16:20.
 Man injured in murder attemptA 37-year-old man was shot on a street in the Athens district of Nea Philadelphia, suffering serious injuries in the head and neck, in what police believe to be an attempted revenge killing between criminals.
The attempted murder occurred at 14:30 in the afternoon, on the corners of Nikolaou Trypia Street and Magnesia Street, as the man was getting into a car with a woman that was with him. The attacker then fled the scene and disappeared, while the victim was taken to hospital in critical condition.
According to police, both the victim and the woman accompanying him had criminal records for drug-related offences and the attack was probably prompted by a dispute over criminal dealings.
 Man injured in booby-trapped car explosionA strong explosion was reported at 8:50 Friday morning in Voula, southeastern coastal suburb of Athens. According to police a jeep was booby-trapped trapped with explosives and when the driver attempted to turn on the ignition the explosion occured and the car was englufled in flames. The driver was severely injured and has been hospitalized.
Attica security police are investigating the incident.
 Arson at ND offices in Ano PetralonaUnidentified persons attempted to torch a ruling New Democracy (ND) local office in the Athens district of Ano Petralona in the early hours of Friday.
According to police, at about 1:00 a.m. the perpetrators broke a window of the ND office and threw flammable liquid, which they set fire to.
The blaze was quickly extinguished by firemen who rushed to the scene.
 Cloudy, rainy on SaturdayCloudy and rainy weather and southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 4-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 18C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with southwesterly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 15C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 13C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis' meetings with the political leaders aimed at a common policy on the global crisis mostly dominated headlines in Friday's newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The outcome of the Prime Minister's meetings with party leaders was fruitless".
APOGEVMATINI: "Pettiness....The political leaders - except Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis - dismissed the prime minister's proposals on cooperation".
AVGHI: "Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos presented 25 counter-proposals to prime minister's neo-liberal call for consensus".
AVRIANI: "Political leaders and unions must assume their historical responsibilities to the country".
CHORA: "370,000 pensioners in danger of being left without medical care - Major problem faced by state social security funds".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "'Our political leaders failed to agree once again, for the good of the country".
ELEFTHEROS: "The leaders' hide-and-seek sank the consensus attempt - Karamanlis' 6 proposals and his mistakes".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Every man for himself - Papandeou torpedoed the effort for cooperation on tackling the crisis".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The performance ended - Karamanlis called the leaders, knowing in advance that they would disagree".
ESTIA: "The Greek economy sacrificed on the latar of party expediencies".
ETHNOS: "Karatzaferis extends his hand - 3 'no' and 1 'yes', but conditionally".
KATHIMERINI: "The government left alone in the face of the crisis - PM's meetings with party leaders were fruitless".
LOGOS: "Karamanlis called for consensus on 6 points and received 3 negative and 1 positive answer".
NIKI: "Karamanlis confessed complete failure after 5 years of governing - He threatens 'tsunami' of severe measures".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The working class united for the plutocracy to pay the cost of the crisis".
TA NEA: "They (banks) are not passing on to new loans the latest European Central Bank (ECB) interest reduction".
TO VIMA: "Scenario of despair - Mr. Karamanlis bringing new distresses - The political leaders did not gave him the 'alibi' of their consensus".
VRADYNI: "Consensus is wanted - 3 'no' 1 'yes' -Clash instead of agreement".
 President Christofias to continue striving towards a viable Cyprus settlementNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias assured on Friday that he would continue to strive towards achieving a just, viable and functional settlement of the Cyprus problem, noting that the key to a solution was in Turkey, which should change its intransigent policy, and that efforts within the EU and the international community were bearing fruit.
He also said he was determined to press on with direct negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot side for a comprehensive settlement, that would serve the interests of the people as a whole, and pointed out that in order for the efforts to be successful, unity and consent on the internal front were of great importance.
In his opening remarks during a press conference to mark the first year of his term in office and referring to the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said ''the government's programme is the guiding light and compass of our governance'' and is a point of reference, which ''commits us to work for a just solution to the Cyprus problem and for a fairer society.''
Quoting the government's programme, President Christofias said it determines that ''it is a pressing need for the Greek Cypriot side to undertake the initiative of moves'' and that ''a flexible and sincere policy will allow for either the current deadlocks to be overcome or, if Turkey does not alter it stance, to bring to the forefront its responsibilities for the intransigent policy it is following.''
''Our aim is the solution of the Cyprus problem but we have said many times that the key to the solution is in Turkey,'' he said, adding that ''there will be a solution to the Cyprus problem if Turkey shows understanding and changes its policy, alters its stance.''
President Christofias said that since his election last year, ''we undertook initiatives to achieve the aim of a just, viable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem, which will terminate the occupation and settling and reunite the country, the people, the economy and the institutions, in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as described in the relevant UN resolutions, a single federal state with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international identity, safeguarding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the whole of the people, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins.''
''Our policy on the Cyprus problem aims at the activation and collaboration of all factors at home and internationally, who play or could play a role in the comprehensive settlement of the problem,'' he added.
Referring to results so far, President Christofias said the deadlocks were lifted and mobility was created, and the two communities entered direct talks for a settlement. He added that the basis of a solution was reaffirmed, namely a bizonal bicommunal federation, and that the interest of the international community in the Cyprus problem was rekindled and the international community credits the Greek Cypriot side with sincerity and good will for a solution.
''It is becoming accepted that the ownership of the negotiating process is Cypriot. It does not provide for tight deadlines or arbitration,'' he said, adding that ''our continuous efforts and contacts for the assumption of a specific role on behalf of the EU are bearing fruit.''
He said that the setting up of a group to monitor the Cyprus problem under the President of the European Commission is ''the result of these efforts,'' adding that ''it is now a position of the EU that Turkey in its accession course should meet its obligations towards the Union and the Republic of Cyprus and should also cooperate for a solution that will serve the interests of the Cypriots.''
President Christofias also noted that ''we have strengthened our relations with the President of the European Parliament and all its groups.''
''The Republic of Cyprus has come out of the corner, in which certain circles unjustly placed it after the referenda of 2004. The initiative is now in the hands of the Republic of Cyprus,'' he noted.
President Christofias said that, ''irrespective of the difficulties we are meeting in the negotiations, we are determined to continue them and take them to the end, always based on the principles of international and European law, and showing the necessary flexibility to reach a solution that will lead to the withdrawal of the troops and the termination of settling, a solution that will safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people as a whole.''
''With the same diligence and dedication we will continue the international mobility so that the international factor, and especially the UN, on the basis of the resolutions of which we are seeking a solution, keeps the Cyprus problem high on their agenda,'' he assured.
Referring to the issue of missing persons, President Christofias said the government was continuously striving to determine their fate and the conditions under which they disappeared.
''In order for our efforts for a solution to be successful, unity and consent on the internal front are of great importance. In order to achieve unity, the President of the Republic regularly briefs the leadership of the country, either within the National Council or in separate meetings with the leaders of the parties,'' he added, noting however that he was ''not sufficiently satisfied with the level of unity.''
President Christofias noted that the National Council convened seven times since he was elected and announced that the next meeting would be held on March 10.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Fate of the Cypriot people depends on the current talks
The fate of the Cypriot people depends on the talks taking place for a solution to the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said on Friday, noting that as times passes the fait accompli on the ground are being deepened and finalized.
Replying to questions during his press conference to mark the first year of his term in office, Christofias referred to the difficulties recorded during the discussions on the property issue, one of the chapters being discussed in the framework of the UN-led direct negotiations for a Cyprus settlement, which started early September 2008.
He said that these difficulties "stem from the fait accompli deliberately created by (Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali) Talat's predecessors, Rauf Denktash and Turkey.''
''We must see how to get out of this labyrinth,'' Christofias said, adding the Greek Cypriot side insists on principles ''and I hope at the end we find a common language.''
Noting that ''we must act responsibly,'' the president stressed that ''the fate of the Cypriot people hinges on these talks and I mean that, because as time passes and we fail, the fait accompli on the ground are deepened and finalized.''
President Christofias dismissed accusations that he made concessions in the negotiations, stating that his efforts are focused on improving the situation created by his predecessors.
Noting that the Annan plan, rejected by the Greek Cypriots and approved by the Turkish Cypriots in separate simultaneous referenda on April 2004, was no fruit of his efforts, Christofias said ''consequently I try to improve many mistakes which are considered as a UN body of work which we do not accept.''
President Christofias said that he would continue the negotiations on the agreed basis, noting that if a solution is reached it must be consistent with this basis.
Replying to a question whether there are any ''natural timeframes'' to be taken into account as the talks progress, Christofias said that such timeframes do exist, adding however that ''those concerned (by these timeframes) must show understanding for a solution.''
''Must I facilitate Turkey or the Turkish Cypriot side or should they try to serve their selves,'' he wondered.
''I have stated this to Talat and I state this in public, Turkey must make steps, Turkey should be the first to assist itself and if Turkey assists itself, we will have a compromised solution based on principles to serve the interests of the Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins,'' he added.
With regard to the illegal elections to take place in 2010 in the Turkish Cypriot community in the occupied areas of Cyprus, Christofias noted that he said to Talat ''let us reason so we can have a solution.''
Referring to the talks, he said that in every meeting both sides are making in-depth evaluation of the positions tabled by the two sides, adding that he believes that the Turkish Cypriot side can shift from its current positions.
Noting that his interlocutor, Talat, is not intransigent, Christofias said however ''if the EU and other factors of the international community do not convince Turkey that Talat as the negotiator should be totally free to negotiate, things will be difficult.''
He added that Talat have stated that he is consistent to the agreed solution basis, that is, one state with a single sovereignty, nationality and a single international personality with political equality, as defined by the UN resolutions.
Noting however that there might be different approaches regarding the interpretation of political equality, Christofias said such divergences ''are not unnatural'' and that they are discussed and they continue to be discussed.''
''I cannot say that we will not move from our positions. I said we will defend principles and we will be flexible. There are issues on which we can also be flexible,'' he said without elaborating.
So far, President Christofias and Talat had 21 meetings covering the issues of Governance and Power Sharing and Property. In the next meeting, they will start discussions on EU issues. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 27 per cent of its territory.
 President Christofias: Cyprus better off in Euroarea amid crisisNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus is better off as a member of the Euroarea in a time of financial crisis, President of the Republic Demetris Christofias said on Friday, adding that compared to other EU member-states the economy of Cyprus is in a better situation.
Cyprus entered the euroarea last year. On 2007 Christofias' party, left-wing AKEL suggested that Cyprus should postpone its entry to the Euroarea for one year.
''My party never said that Cyprus should not enter the Euroarea, it said we should enter in 2009. Indeed, due to the financial crisis, it is better that Cyprus entered the Euroarea last year,'' he said replying to questions during a press conference to mark the first year of his term in office.
Referring to the performance of the Cypriot economy amid the financial crisis, Christofias said that Cyprus performs better compared to other Euroarea member states.
''We have 2.5% growth rate in the first quarter,'' he said, adding however, that growth will not continue with such pace.
''With the measures we took we contained a free fall (of the economy) and we will have positive growth,'' he said, adding that a sound economy will allow the government to implement its programme.
Referring to inflation, Christofias said that it currently stands at 0.66% compared to 4.6%, a decline attributed mainly to falling oil prices.
Replying to a question regarding rising prices, Christofias referred to limitations imposed by the EU regarding state intervention.
He added however, that the government, where it has the authority, issues decrees setting a ceiling on the prices of certain products, adding however, that on other issues ''our hands are tied.''
''I have full knowledge of what is happening but we cannot do what I would like to do, that is, to expand government control (on product prices) beyond gas and oil,'' he said, making special references to the prices of milk and bread.
Furthermore, Christofias reiterated that his government would not apply for membership to Partnership for Peace because there is no such provision in his government programme.
He also referred to his predecessors' position on the issue, that as talks for a solution to the Cyprus problem are in progress Cyprus will not apply for membership.
Christofias also recalled the former President, late Tassos Papadopoulos' position that such an application would provoke a Turkish veto, Christofias wondered whether ''our aim is to put Turkey in the corner.''
Invited to comment on the fact that there is only one woman participating in his government, Christofias acknowledged that this issue constitutes a ''weakness''. He recalled though that that his government nominated a woman, Adroulla Vasiliou as the European Commissioner for Health.
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