|Monday, 18 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-05-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 13 May 2009 Issue No: 3192
 Papoulias opens "Athens Summit 2009""The present conjuncture leaves some room for optimism. There are political leaderships that seek 'green' solutions to the economic and energy deadlocks. A pan-European and trans-Atlantic dialogue is being shaped to change the developmental model. Politicians with groundbreaking proposals for the protection of the environment are being rewarded. The ecological dimension is not in the margins of public concern anymore and becomes center stage," President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias stressed on Tuesday, opening the "Athens Summit 2009" conference.
"The ground for social mobilisation is ready just before the 12th hour arrives and has the form of a universal vision transcending political parties and embracing all human beings," he pointed out, adding that "solutions are painful."
Papoulias reiterated that "working for an environmental democracy is imperative," stressing that "its essence is intertwined with the struggles for a basic quality of life."
He underlined that "social mobilisation will bring political action and exert pressure on authorities to do their duty, to intervene and change existing legislation if necessary. Experience has showed that when the people in a local community faced with threats targeting health, economic activity or the quality of daily life stand up the local and central power have no other option than to give in," the he concluded.
Senior governmental officials, corporate leaders, financiers and experts participate in the "Athens Summit 2009" to debate and discuss how the twin goals of energy security and managing climate change can be achieved to the benefit of all people.
 Papandreou urges more green investmentsGreece will have to promote all necessary measures to increase "green" investments, main opposition PASOK and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou stressed on Tuesday, in his address to the "Athens Summit 2009" organized by the Institute for Climate and Energy Security.
Papandreou stated that the country was lagging behind in terms of infrastructure for "green" development. He called for a "turn toward quality products and the use of new technologies in all sectors (transport, health, tourism)," underlining the importance of investing in human resources through education.
He also noted that countries like Greece have huge potential as regards the development of Renewable Energy Sources (RES), such as wind power or geothermal energy, due to their geomorphology and climate, while he underlined the importance of decentralization through regional and local development.
On the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Copenhagen in December, he said that the main issue will be to promote good governance of the planet, that will allow the voices of all participating states to be heard.
"Greece can play an important role as regards cooperation with the SE European countries and the Mediterranean region through 'green' diplomacy," he stated.
Papandreou stressed that "green" development should be promoted as a means of making the planet viable while improving living standards for the people, adding that the conventional energy reserves will soon be depleted, leading eventually to new conflicts.
 Athens Summit 2009 conference on energy supplyThe two-day Athens Summit 2009 conference on "The road to Copenhagen" began at a downtown Athens hotel on Tuesday with speakers and discussions focusing on managing the security of energy supply in the face of security for demand, providing energy security in Europe and beyond, and assessing the role of the countries of southeastern Europe as a gateway to European energy security and diversification.
Dr. Leo Drolas, alternate executive director of the Centre for Global Energy Studies, reminded that Greece ranks second in the world regarding dependence on oil with 63 percent, coming behind Ecuador, whose dependence amounts to 77 percent but which is, at the same time, an oil-producing country.
On the question of handling supply security, Drolas proposes the "de-politicalisation" of oil and natural gas and the deregulation of the energy market in general. The only short-term practical measure, he said, that could contribute to the handling of the discontinuation of supply is keeping adequate strategic reserves. In parallel, in the long term and given that the world will remain dangerous and unstable, the best way to respond to the issue of supply security is the geatest diversification possible.
The general director of the Russian National Security Energy Fund, Dr. Konstantin Simonov, predicted in his address that the economic crisis will reduce the consumption of mineral fuel only over the 2009-2010 period. However, he expects a possible radical change of the oil and natural gas market, due to the crisis, into a suppliers market from a consumers market.
According to Simonov, neither the Russian plan for the South Stream natural gas pipeline nor Brussels' plan for the Nabucco pipeline secure the diversification of supply. "Solving the problem of Ukraine is much cheaper than the construction of South Stream and of Nabucco," he concluded.
The main opposition PASOK party's political representative for development issues, Mihalis Chrysohoidis, stressed the need for a clear diversification of sources for supplying energy resources, underlining the considerable problem that has risen due to Turkey's stance and the ensuing obstacles that are being created in the direct supply of the Greek and European energy market with natural gas from Azerbaijan.
"Another monopoly cannot be created, even a smaller one by Russia," he said.
 PM chairs Inner Cabinet meeting on digital convergencePrime minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the Inner Cabinet to discuss digital convergence.
Economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou briefed the Inner Cabinet on what he called the immense progress made in that area, stressing that Greece, from the last country in Europe with respect to digitla convergence, has now reached the EU average in very many aspects.
Papathanassiou was due to make detailed announcements later at the ministry.
 Papandreou addresses Symposium on 'Socialdemocracy and the challenges of the future'Main opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou addressed the international Athens Symposium on Tuesday, having as its theme "Socialdemocracy and the challenges of the future. What will the progressive model be for Europe?" stressing that the challenge for Europe's socialists was the quality of democracy.
"The challenge for the socialist parties of Europe today is the quality of democracy and the reasonable question arises of who is ruling the country, Europe, the planet. In the past years, with neoconservatism and globalisation, we had a huge accumulation of wealth and power by the few. There has been an era of huge inequalities and the handling of huge wealth by monetary systems held the political system captive in many cases," he said.
Papandreou also said that the European citizen feels marginalised and what "is necessary is the return of the citizen to the focus of concern and the return of the market and of the state to the service of the citizen."
"We must guarantee social rights, access to knowledge, the citizen's greater participation in the economy, green development, new forms of the citizen's participation in democracy such as through the Internet for example," Papandreou went on to say, adding that "the question that arises is democracy and socialism or barbarism."
Referring to the upcoming Euroelections, Papandreou said that Europe must become a model democracy, deepen democratic institutions and corporate democracy. He also focused at length on what is at stake in the Euroelections and what the socialists' aims are.
Papandreou said that "Europe's neoconservative governments are perplexed with the United States of President Barack) Obama and pointed out that it is an opportunity for international law principles to be promoted in the Euroelections and it is the time that many are looking towards socialdemocracy.
Turning to Greek affairs, the main opposition leader claimed that the government's closure of Parliament, last Friday, was aimed at writing off offences.
Papandreou said that "not everything is so bright in the country's political life," adding that the government "decided suddenly to close Parliament with the aim of writing off offences and it appeared in this way how the neoconservatives realise democratic institutions."
Papandreou was succeeded at the rostrum by former French presidential candidate Segolene Royal, who said that "we are currently at a crossroads and the peoples do not trust Europe." She added that egoism must be replaced by solidarity, a challenge is being experienced and a fair economic, political and ecological order is necessary.
"Right-wing governments are changing clothes and are using the language of the Left without shame. The crisis that we are experiencing is moral and cultural and this crisis revealed our common fate as Europeans. It is our generation's obligation to build a new harmony for the sake of our common future," she said.
Royal also referred to the social movements and to the demonstrations that take place in various European cities and expressed confidence that the socialists will find their unity again and will provide new values.
An address was also made by Socialist International Secretary General Luis Ayala.
The Athens Symposium is being held at the Athens Concert Hall under the auspices of the "To Vima" and "El Pais" newspapers in cooperation with the "Vima Ideon" and the French Desirs d'avenir movement. Participating in the Symposium are distinguished personalities such as the former prime ministers Costas Simitis of Greece, Felipe Gonzalez of Spain and Massimo d'Alema of Italy, as well as former European Parliament president Enrique Baron Crespo.
 Deputy FM's statements in MadridMADRID (ANA-MPA/Ch. Poulidou)
"Greece is absolutely clear. It supports Turkey's accession to the EU as a full member, provided it first fully abides by its commitments," Greek deputy foreign minister Yiannis Valynakis said on Tuesday, replying to press questions in Madrid on recent statements by German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicola Sarkozy that Turkey should head towards a "special status" rather than an accession prospect.
Greece's position was also the position of the EU, although the German and French leaders appeared to have a different view, Valyanis said, adding that Greece continues to believe that the ball was in Turkey's court and Ankara's degree of meeting the obligations it has undertaken.
On the Ministerial' special session marking the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe, Valynakis spoke of "a great day in the history of Europe", noting that Greece had been one of the founding members of the Council and stressing that "on our days, the family of democratic countries has grown, and the application of human rights has broadened".
He said that the Council of Europe foreign ministers had discussed, during the special session, ways of making protection of human rights more efficient, speeding up the dispensation of justice by the European Court of Human Rights, and ways for a more productive collaberation among the Council of Europe, the EU and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the area of human rights and also, more generally, the consolidation of peace, stability and security.
Valynakis recalled that Greece, as chairman of the OSCE, had made a specific contribution to the building of the European institutional architecture and can also contribute constructively to rendering the activities of the three above organisations supplementary to each other.
The Greek official further referred to his meeting with his Moldovan counterpart, noting that the tension in the relations between Moldova and Romania was an issue that Greece was concerned about, given that Moldova is an OSCE member and also because Greece supports the European orientation of the region.
However, Valynakis stressed, Greece insists that all the required criteria are respected.
 Antonaros defends early end of Parliament sessionGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Tuesday repeated his defence of the government's decision to end the regular session of Parliament early, stressing that the move had sought to ensure that the country approached the European Parliament elections on purely political terms, with debate focused on important political issues.
He also rejected criticism against the move from the opposition parties, stressing that the prime minister had made use of a right given to him by the Constitution and that the criticis "obviously had their own political agenda".
"They want to focus on scandals, they want to sling mud, to continue making a desperate effort to criminalise the political life of the country and cheapen the institutions," he said.
Referring to statements that compared the move to a "Constitutional deviation" and "institutional anomaly," Antonaros underlined that the "institutional deviation" was being committed by those that failed to respect the dictates of the Constitution but interpreted them in any way that suited them.
In a surprise move on Friday night, after a succession of debates focusing on suspected political scandals and more in the wings, the government announced that it was activating an article in the Constitution in order to end the current Parliamentary session early in the run-up to the European Parliament elections on June 7. Parliament will re-open for the first of its three summer sessions, with 100 MPs in each one, after the elections take place.
Another repercussion of the decision is that any offences involving ministers or MPs committed between 2004 and 2007 become automatically statute-barred because two general elections have intervened.
 SYRIZA MEP on June's Euro-electionsRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis, who will be on his party's ticket (number 3 on the list) for the June 7 European Parliament elections, on Tuesday called on voters to participate, stressing that "voter abstention will be a kiss of life to the status quo, a meaningless protest that will help things remain as they are."
In a press conference in Thessaloniki, he underlined that "people are not gullible anymore and cannot be led into believing that ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK represent to opposite and different worlds," adding that "SYRIZA will try to win over the people who are angry and want things to change."
 Karatzaferis unveils LAOS Europarliament candidatesPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday unveiled his party's list of candidates for the June 7 European Parliament elections, which is headed by economist Niki Tzavela, followed by lawyer Athanassios Plevris in the second spot and lawyer Nikos Salavrakos in the third spot, while the final spot on the 22-candidate ticket, which is an honorary spot, was taken by the party's outgoing Europarliamentarian Ambassador George Georgiou.
Addressing a press conference in Athens during which he released LAOS' Europarliament ticket, Karatzaferis said that the party's target for the Euroelections was 4.2 percent, the percentage that LAOS had amassed in the preceding European Parliament elections.
Karatzaferis said that the recent adjournment of parliament ahead of the Euroelections was not in deviation of the Constitution.
He put some of the responsibility for the House's closure, however, on main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, who he charged had converted parliament into a court interrogation room.
Karatzaferis also referred to his own proposal, which was not passed, that the present parliament plenary remain in session until June 8, the day after the Euro-elections, after which the politicians would decide what they would do with the scandal cases before the House, adding that the closure of parliament served not only the ruling New Democracy (ND) party but other parties as well.
He also said that the closure of the Siemens slush funds case by parliament also served PASOK, not because there was a risk of referral (to a special court on the accountability of ministers) of some of its own officials, but for reasons of morale, as the noise that would have arisen would have been harmful to the main opposition party.
Karatzaferis further charged that "we will never learn the truth" about the Vatopedi Monastery-State land transactions affair, the Pavlidis case and other cases, and "we will never find out which ministers (past and present) took bribes".
The LAOS leader also criticised prime minister Costas Karamanlis and Papandreou of not speaking a word about the "burning European issues", adding that he would seek a debate next week with the other political party leaders so that the people may be informed of their positions on all those issues.
Finally, Karatzaferis charged that there were certain Greek Eurodeputies who, over the past five years, had voted in favor of maintenance of the Turkish occupation troops in Cyprus and of the casus belli.
 EcoGreens unveil election ticketGreece's Ecologists-Greens (or EcoGreens) party on Tuesday unveiled their list of candidates for the European Parliament elections on June 7, during a press conference given by a member of the party's executive secretariat Katia Lebesi.
The party intends to field 22 candidates in total, while the ticket is headed by Mihalis Tremopoulos.
"The Ecologists Greens express the flowering of new values on the level of politics and daily life," Tremopoulos said. Fellow-candidate Nikos Chrysogelos, third on the list, stressed that the current deep economic, social and environmental crisis demanded answers that addressed the problems as a whole, so that the party's slogan was "Green solution for the crisis".
The newly-emerged party has links with the European Greens, while in recent opinion polls it gained percentages that were above the threshold for getting into Parliament and not far below those of the current fifth party in the House, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS).
Regarding the reactions against EcoGreens from the left-wing parties in Parliament, another candidate Antonis Kafetzopoulos noted that "violent verbal reactions are to be expected from parties that feel like the owners of votes".
 Interior ministry unveils EuroParliament polls TV spotInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday presented his ministry's television campaign to encourage voters to participate in the European Parliament elections, during an event at the Zappion building in Athens.
He said the focus of the brief television spot would be to encourage the electorate to maintain Greece's position as the country that traditionally has the smallest abstention rate in elections.
Pavlopoulos underlined the symbolic significance of the upcoming polls, pointing out that it was the 30th anniversary since EuroParliament elections began, which came at a time when the European Union and the world were in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis that affected essential areas of people's daily lives.
There are 9,866,913 registered voters for the June 7 elections in Greece, of which 110,562 are voting for the first time. People registered to vote in polling stations outside their municipalities come to 119,034, while 6,530 EU nationals resident in Greece have registered to vote here.
Further information concerning the voting procedure can be requested at the 1500 phone line.
 PASOK leader leaving for Beijing on WednesdayMain opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist International (SI President George Papandreou will be leaving for Beijing on Wednesday for a summit meeting between the leaderships of the SI and the Communist Party of China, according to an announcement by PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday.
During his stay in Beijing, Papandreou will be meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao and will be chairing the SI's committee on a "viable global society" in the presence of the committee's coordinators, former Swedish prime minister Goran Persson and former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos.
 Education minister attends EU meetingBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
Attending the EU education ministers' council held here on Tuesday, Greece's National Education and Religious Affairs Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos stressed the need to face the major social challenges arising as a result of the global economic crisis.
He noted that the educational reforms currently being attempted in Greece sought to prepare the country to handle the challenges and problems created by the economic crisis in the best possible way.
Listing initiatives designed to promote research, innovation and encourage creativity, Spiliotopoulos said the planned reforms aimed to "modernise schools and chiefly to improve the quality of the services provided by Greek universities".
Commenting on the results of the meeting, Spiliotopoulos said the EU ministers had agreed on an exchange of "best practices" to help improved educational systems throughout Europe. Among such realistic "best practices" he cited greater involvement of the economically active sectors of the population in the education process, including economic migrants.
"It is our view that we should offer greater opportunities for specialisation, professional and scientific, to economic migrants also, so that we have a greater increase in competitiveness in the coming years," he said.
The ministers' meeting focused on problems caused by demographic shifts and technological progress in the EU, stressing the need to boost access to education and specialisation.
 Parliament vice-president meets UN human rights chiefGENEVA (ANA-MPA - R. Dimakou)
Greek Parliament vice-president and vice president of the InterParliamentary Union (IPU) Executive Committee Elsa Papademetriou on Tuesday had a meeting with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem (Navi) Pillay. Papademetriou was in Geneva to attend the IPU conference on the global economic crisis.
Pillay referred to the valuable and increased financial assistance given by Greece to the UN High Commission for Human Rights and praised Greece's stance at the conference, as well as Papademetriou's work on the IPU executive committee.
They also discussed the results of the conference and the repercussions these might have on the work of the Human Rights Council.
Papademetriou stressed the closer cooperation between the IPU and the HRC, especially in terms of the HRC's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, and invited Pillay to visit Greece in order to take part in an event related to AIDS.
 Memorial service for late statesman Constantine KaramanlisThe annual memorial service for the late statesman and founder of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party Constantine Karamanlis was held on Tuesday at the Konstantinos Karamanlis Foundation in the Filothei suburb of Athens, marking the 11th anniversary of his death.
The memorial service for the former prime minister and president was attended by his nephews prime minister Costas Karamanlis and ND deputy and former minister Michalis Liapis; his brother MP Achilleas Karamanli; his close associates, ministers, ND officials and former President of the Republic Costis Stefanopoulos.
 Media work stoppage on Wed. between 10.00-14.00The Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) on Tuesday announced a four-hour work stoppage for Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time (08:00-12:00 GMT) due to a general assembly by the Union, to be held at a coastal Athens indoor arena beginning at 11 a.m.
The work stoppage will affect all affiliated media in the greater Athens area. The ANA-MPA will not disseminate news items between during the period.
The time of the work stoppage, originally announced as 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., was amended in an announcement put out by ESIEA later on Tuesday.
 FinMin: Economy resists crisisThe Greek economy is showing greater resistance to a global economic crisis compared with other Eurozone countries, according to the European Commission's latest economic forecasts, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said during a press conference in Athens focusing on joint projects between public and private sector enterprises.
"Economic growth in Greece is projected to be negative in 2009, without taking into account the positive impact from a recent package of measures taken by the government to boost building activity, the new car market and employment," Papathanassiou said.
The minister stressed that the economy would fare better than forecasts made so far because of its dynamism over the last few years and the government's plan to support the real economy and weaker sectors of the economy.
"Joint projects between public and private sector companies are the modern way of financing infrastructure projects. Since 2006, the inter-ministerial commission has approved 52 projects, budgeted at 5.7 billion euros."
Papathanassiou underlined that joint projects were not the only reforms implemented by the government.
He also underlined that the government is determined to stick to its structural reform programme, which started in 2004.
"We are determined to achieve fiscal consolidation within set timetables and not because the European Union demands it, but mainly because it is to the national interest," he said.
 Greek economy to shrink by 1% in '09, Eurobank reportThe Greek economy will shrink by 1.0 pct this year after a growth rate of 2.9 pct in 2008, Eurobank announced on Tuesday.
In a quarterly bulletin on the economy, edited by Gkikas Hardouvelis, the group's economic advisor, and Platon Monokrousos, the Greece-based bank said the economy maintained some additional resistance compared with other Eurozone economies, which could moderate the negative impact form an international financial crisis, such as community fund inflows, low dependence on exports and a continuing increase of real incomes in the country.
Eurobank said it expected the inflation rate to fall below 1.0 pct in the next 2-3 months for an average annual inflation rate of 1.1-1.2 pct this year.
The bank said an updated target of cutting the fiscal deficit to 3.7 pct of GDP was ambitious and warned that without additional fiscal measures the budget deficit could surpass 6.0 pct of GDP.
 Employment minister chairs National Social Protection CommitteeThe action plan presented by the government a few days earlier aimed to increase employment and boost social cohesion, Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said while chairing Tuesday's meeting of the National Social Protection Committee.
The global economic recession made a social protection and security network more necessary than ever, especially for the categories of citizens that would most deeply affected by its repercussions, she added.
Her claim that the government wanted to be a force for averting the worst repercussions of the global economic crisis was however disputed by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation, which accused the government of convening the committee mainly for communications and public relations purposes, for a discussion without any real content, and warned that trade unions would not participate in such meetings again.
 Most Greeks believe EU enlargement contributed to job losses, Eurobarometer revealsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Greeks appear to be more reserved as to the benefits obtained by the European Union following its successive enlargements in 2004 and 2007, compared to the rest of the Europeans, according to the Eurobarometer report publicised here on Tuesday on the issue of EU enlargement.
It is characteristic that 80 percent of Greeks, as against 56 percent of European citizens, believe that the enlargement contributed to the loss of jobs in their country.
On the question of whether EU enlargement contributed to the downgrading of social achievements all over Europe, the Greeks again provided the most positive responses (62 pct), followed by the Slovenes (52 pct), the Hungarians (51 pct) and the Portuguese (50 pct).
Furthermore, 76 percent of Greeks, as against 65 pct of European citizens, believe that the enlargements make the way of taking decisions in the EU more difficult.
In addition, 72 percent of Greeks, compared to 51 pct of Europeans, consider that the European accession of the countries of central and eastern Europe have strengthened the feeling of insecurity among European citizens.
 Minister tours runway extension works at Thessaloniki's Macedonia AirportTransport and Communications Minister Evripides Stylianidis on Tuesday toured visited Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport to inspect works for the expansion of runway 10-28, expected to be completed in July 2011, an upgrade that will allow the airport to accommodate long-haul airplanes.
The 246-million-euro project will also solve the airport's nagging visibility problem, as early morning fog often leads to flight cancellations.
As regards the cargo terminal, Stylianidis stated that its second and third sections have been completed.
Roughly 4.3 million passengers used Macedonia Airport in 2008, while in April 2009 arrivals and departures increased 8 pct, with arrivals being increased 15 pct compared to last year.
 HK Trade Dev'p Council trade fairs, contacts in GreeceThe Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) will be holding a number of international trade fairs in the second half of 2009 to showcase what it called "rewarding opportunities" to Greek businesses.
Along those lines, Raymond Yip, the assistant executive director of HKTDC, is on a visit to Greece to highlight the importance of HKTDC trade fairs. He is expected to meet with government officials and corporate sector entities to discuss business co-operation and trade potential between Greece and Hong Kong.
"HKTDC is staging several major international trade fairs in the coming months, some of which are the largest of their kind in Asia," Yip told at a media gathering, adding: "In 2007, Greece ranked 35th in terms of outward foreign direct investment at US$31 billion (23 billion Euros). To harness the potential of Greece, we will market our fairs intensively to encourage more trade with this market."
 Greek real estate market slowed in 2008, surveyGreece's real estate development market's growth rate have slowed as signs of saturation in the market combined with the slower growth rate of mortgage lending and a negative climate prevailing because of a general economic uncertainty have led to around 200,000 unsold houses, while house prices have fallen by 10-12 pct in the period 2007/08, with larger flats hit mostly, a survey by Hellastat said on Tuesday.
The survey said a trend towards used houses and renegotiation of contract terms in commercial real estate properties were currently prevailing in the Greek market, while the country house market is also feeling pressures, with demand and prices falling as much as 30 pct in the second half of 2008.
Shopping centers have grown significantly in the last few years, with returns moving around 6-6.5 pct in 2008. However, retail shop leasing prices have fallen by 10 pct on average in the second half of 2008, with the exception of high-street shops. The rate of available shops in Athens is constantly rising. The office market is characterised by high ownership rates, with available office spaces in Athens ranging at 6.0 milloin sq.m., with rental prices are down 7-9 pct.
The return of industrial and logistics space ranged around 7.5.-8.0 pct, with the market sufferig from lack of high quality spaces.
 Industrial import price index down 3.1 pct in MarchGreek import price composite index in the industrial sector fell 3.1 pct in March, compared with the corresponding month last year, after recording a 7.6 pct increase in March 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics agency said the import price index was down 0.1 pct in March from February, after an increase of 0.5 pct recorded in March 2008.
 EuroCRIS meeting in AthensA three-day Open Working Meeting on information systems and research activities launched at the National Documentation Centre (EKT) in Athens in cooperation with euroCRIS, a European organization responsible for publicizing work on Current Research Information System (CRIS), got underway on Monday.
The event is addressed to researchers and those who are interested in research infrastructures based on information and communications technologies or are active in research and innovation management and dissemination.
A CRIS is any information tool dedicated to provide access to and disseminate research information, such as People, Projects, Organizations, Results (publications, patents and products), Facilities, and Equipment.
 Software piracy fell further in Greece, BSA reportSoftware piracy in Greece fell by 1.0 pct last year to 57 pct, for a decline of seven percentage points in the period 2005-2008, official figures by Business Software Alliance showed on Tuesday.
BSA, in its annual report, said that financial losses of the industry because of the piracy totaled 171 million euros, meaning less job opportunities and lower income for domestic IT companies.
"The report certifies that efforts made by the Greek state to reduce Software Piracy and protecting intellectual property rights have brought results, but there is still room for further improvement," Arhontoula Papapanagiotou, a legal advisor to BSE in Greece said in a statement.
Greece has adopted a European directive on intellectual property and has introduced austere measures to combatting software piracy.
 Greek stocks end 2.06 pct higherGreek stocks surged to new year highs in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, ignoring a negative trend prevailing in other European markets late in the afternoon. The composite index rose 2.06 pct to end at 2,204.11 points, with turnover at 241.6 million euros, of which 8.9 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Raw Materials (5.33 pct), Oil (5.24 pct) and Financial Services (5.20 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecoms (1.41 pct) and Travel (0.94 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 2.16 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.40 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.01 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 171 to 57 with another 38 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +5.24%
Personal & Household: +2.40%
Raw Materials: +5.33%
Travel & Leisure: -0.94%
Food & Beverages: +2.34%
Financial Services: +5.20%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, OTE and Marfin Popular Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.58
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.70
HBC Coca Cola: 14.25
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.90
National Bank of Greece: 17.28
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.97
Bank of Piraeus: 8.44
Titan Cement Company: 18.46
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.38 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 57.934 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,517 contracts, worth 47.037 million euros with 27,426 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,802 contracts worth 10.897 million euros with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,455), followed by Eurobank (1,464), GEK (1,842), Alpha Bank (1,397), Marfin Popular Bank (2,242).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 181 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with turnover at 1.006 billion euros, of which 245 million were buy orders and the remaining 761 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 370 million euros, with the Greek bond yielding 5.21 pct and the German Bund 3.40 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.64 pct, the six-month rate 1.48 pct, the three-month rate 1.29 pct and the one-month rate 0.85 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.379
Pound sterling 0.900
Danish kroner 7.508
Swedish kroner 10.706
Japanese yen 133.96
Swiss franc 1.520
Norwegian kroner 8.821
Canadian dollar 1.599
Australian dollar 1.800
 Health ministry on alert for new flu virus, protection measures being extendedThe Health ministry is remaining on the alert with regard to the new flu virus and it is extending protection measures to shield the country in light of the summer, as well as autumn when scientists are expecting a renewed upsurge of the phenomenon internationally.
Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Tuesday that flu-protection medicines have already been ordered for up to 12 percent, to enable the total reserve to be adequate to serve 20 percent of the population in the event that the virus reaches Greece as well as of autumn. The cost of purchasing the flu-protection medicines neared five million euros.
It was also announced that thermal cameras will also be provided for the country's remaining nine international airports so that visitors coming to Greece in the summer can be checked, even with charter flights, as of the 15th of the current month onwards.
Avramopoulos stressed that "we belong to the fortunate countries, in which no case has been recorded so far," adding that he will be in Geneva on Monday, where the World Health Organisation's (WHO) conference will be held, for an assessment of the latest developments on the international scene.
It was also disclosed by the Health ministry, that the flu-protection vaccine will be available earlier this year, so as the serve the population in time, at least with regard to the classic flu virus that appears in the country every year.
 Exhibition on Athens' twin urban regeneration project opensAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Tuesday announced the opening of a permanent exhibition on the history of the Greek capital's Elaionas neighbourhood as well as the Votanikos-Ambelokipi twin urban regeneration project, an ambitious and at the same time controversial land development project whose final approval awaits a Council of State (CoS) ruling this month.
The exhibition is being held at the City of Athens' Technopolis complex and will be open daily.
Kaklamanis noted that Athenians now have the opportunity to relive the history of modern Greece's capital and be informed on prospects for the metropolis' future vis-ą-vis the largest town-planning project to ever take place in modern-day Athens.
"Yesterday (Monday), the foundations were laid for Panathinaikos' new stadium. At the same time, foundations were laid for the materialisation of dreams spanning many decades. Hoping for a positive decision from the Council of State, Athens is taking the road of regeneration, not only the regeneration of its urban fabric but also its future prospects," he said, adding:
"Before we seek to undertake this journey from the past to the future, through the exhibits we are presenting today, I would simply like to, once again, focus on the core of the philosophy behind the twin urban regeneration project. That is, beyond the upgrading of the areas of Votanikos and Ambelokipi, the regeneration project will produce the tools with which Athenians can recapture the concept of Olympic Athens and redesign a city of innovation, greenery and people- and environmentally-friendly development."
Kaklamanis, a noted radiologist who served as health minister in the first Costas Karamanlis government, emphasised that the twin regeneration project establishes a precedent for upgrading other such downgraded areas in Athens, such as the Akadimia Platonos site, "whose regeneration plan we will present in the near future."
The city of Athens is the largest and most populous municipality in the greater Athens and Piraeus area, which includes numerous municipalities in an indistinguishable urban landscape.
 32nd Book Festival begins on ThursdayGreece's 32nd Book Festival, held annually in Athens between May 14-25, begins on Thursday and is for the first time organised jointly by the two biggest publishers' unions in the country, the Association of Publishers-Book Sellers of Athens and the Publishers-Booksellers Association.
More than 200 publishers will have stalls in this year's fair, which will not be held on Dionysiou Areopagitou street as in previous years but on Ermou Street in the central Athens district of Keramikos, beginning near the Thission train station and heading down toward Gazi.
In addition to the book fair, there will be parallel events like art exhibitions, music events and poetry readings at the Athens municipality's Technopolis centre. The official inauguration will be carried out on May 15 by Culture Minister Antonis Samaras.
 Locust infestation on RhodesCorrects headline and text throughout, replacing incorrect 'grasshopper' with corrected 'locust'. Corrected version follows:
The southeastern part of the Dodecanese island of Rhodes, southeastern Aegean, is facing a serious locust infestation that began a few days ago, leading local authorities to resort to pesticide spaying that was not as effective as anticipated, however.
The biggest problem was recorded in the greater area of the Archangelos municipality. In recent years, a similar problem was recorded in other regions of the island at roughly the same season of the year.
 Powerful explosion at bank in ArgyroupolisThe two-man crew of a police cruiser came face-to-face with at least four armed suspects in the early morning hours Tuesday outside a bank in the southern Athens district of Argyroupolis, a half hour before a powerful explosive device was detonated at the bank.
According to initial reports, the four suspects, all wearing motorcycle helmets, surprised and threatened the two officers with handguns, later fleeing aboard two motorcycles.
The incident took place at roughly 3:30 a.m. outside a Eurobank branch on the corner of Vouliagmensi Avenue and Geroulanou street. The blast was recorded at 4:07 a.m. (2.07 GMT).
Earlier, an unidentified caller contacted an Athens daily newspaper to warn of the bomb blast, the modus operandi of several extreme left-wing and self-styled "anti-state" urban terror gangs that have plagued the greater Athens for the past few years.
A bomb squad unit was dispatched to the scene along with a crime scene and counter-terrorism unit, while the thoroughfare in front of the back was opened to traffic two hours later.
A Greek Police (ELAS) announcement later said that the crew of a police patrol car belonging to the southeastern Attica division found itself face-to-face at about 3:30 a.m. with two men outside the Eurobank branch. The two men were wearing helmets and were mounting a large motorcycle.
One of the two suspects immediately pulled out a handgun with which he threatened the police officers as his partner floored the gas pedal and the two sped off on the motorcycle, while two more men on a second motorcycle, who had not been perceived by the police, sped off with the first pair.
The police officers immediately investigated the scene and saw that the glass fronting of the bank had been broken and a black sack had been set down in the entryway.
Approximately four minutes later, a telephone call was made to Eleftherotypia daily by an unidentified caller who warned that an explosion would take place in half an hour.
The area was immediately cordoned off, and therefore no passer-by was at risk, the announcement continued.
It said that the explosion was powerful and caused extensive damage to the bank as well as to six parked cars.
The Police Counter-Terrorism Squad was investigating the incident.
 Arson attacks against PPC building, carsArson attacks targetting two Public Power Corporation (PPC) buildings took place almost simultaneously shortly after midnight Monday in Athens' northern suburb of Alsoupolis and southern suburb of Aghios Dimitrios.
In the Alsoupolis incident, unidentified persons threw molotov cocktails (home-made fire-bombs) at three PPC cars parked outside the power corporation's building on the corner of Roumelis and Kapodistriou streets.
In the Aghios Dimitrios incident, the perpetrators broke the glass fronting of the PPC building in Panagouli Square and threw molotov cocktails into the entrance, causing a fire.
The fires were both put out by the Fire Brigade, while police were searching for the perpetrators.
 Municipal employee arrested for the murder of nursery school cook on IosA 37-year-old municipal employee was arrested on Tuesday for the May 4 murder of a 59-year-old woman employed as a cook at a nursery school on the island of Ios, Cyclades complex in the central Aegean.
The suspect, who was working in the municipality's accounts department, was illegally withholding the victim's wage raises and when the woman filed an application with the municipality requesting detailed figures concerning her payments the culprit killed her fearing that his fraud would be revealed.
The woman was found dead on the nursery kitchen floor with her skull fractured after being hit repeatedly in the head with a hammer.
 Foreign national arrested for the killing of an off-duty deputy police sergeantA 26-year-old Albanian national, who came illegally to Greece early this year, was arrested for the shooting death of a 36-year-old deputy police sergeant on March 5 in the process of an armed robbery in the Bank of Cyprus in the district of Nikea, Athens.
The off-duty police officer, who happened to be in the vicinity, was killed when he chased after the robber who passed running in front of him. The robber shot him four times.
The suspect was arrested in downtown Athens following a police investigation. During questioning he admitted that he had joined a criminal gang of Albanian nationals and since January 8 they had committed a total of 12 armed robberies in banks in Athens and Piraeus. On the day he was chased by the victim he had acted alone.
 Commission con'f in Athens on dopingThe European Commission will organise a two-day conference in Athens on Wednesday and Thursday on the subject of sports doping, following a proposal by the European Parliament.
Professional team executives and EU member-states' national agencies against doping, as well as officials of EU authorised laboratories, the Council of Europe, WADA and other sports experts will participate in the conference.
The conference is held within the framework of a Union-wide effort to combat doping and is part of the "Pierre de Coubertin" action plan, which was presented EU's "White Paper".
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis; Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos; Sports Deputy Minister Yiannis Ioannidis, Greece's best-known basketball coach; Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros, the former head of Greece's weightlifting federation, and Greek MEP Manolis Mavromatis, a noted broadcaster in the SE Europe country, will be among the speakers on the Greek side.
 Cloudy, rainy on WednesdayCloudy and rainy weather, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 32C. Fair in Athens, with variable 2-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 31C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 29C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe June 7 European Parliament elections, reactions to the government's decision to adjourn the parliament, and Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos' call for immediate change of the political scenery dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: «Epidemic of suicide groups on the Internet".
APOGEVMATINI: "Second wave of reforms on the way".
AVGHI: "Left, now, in Greece and Europe for the needs of the many".
AVRIANI: "Parliament is covering up the scandals for 150 years - Enough with the hypocrisy of parliament's adjournment, from which all parties benefit because most of their high-ranking cadres were involved".
ELEFTHEROS: "Enough with the lies, politics need purification".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Back-door for 150 thousand contract employees".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Poll result: 65 percent believe that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis adjourned the parliament session to cover up the scandals".
ESTIA: "State Budget at stake - Major deviations in revenues and deficit".
ETHNOS: "Former President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos outburst of rage - First public intervention on the crisis of the political system".
KATHIMERINI: "Polarisation at the extremes - Ruling New Democracy calls for unity and main opposition PASOK attempts to contain 'leakage' of voters".
LOGOS: "Political clash at the extremes ahead of the Euroelections".
NIKI: "Red alert in construction, industries and exports - Economic indicators are sinking ".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Peoples' struggle against the EU of the capital".
TA NEA: "ND deputy Yannis Manolis 'burns' former FinMin George Alogoskoufis in his testimony on the 'Germanos' affair".
TO VIMA: "Industrialists demand a new political scenery - Daskalopoulos accused the government, parties ".
VRADYNI: "Reforms in secondary education".
 Stephanou: support to Turkey's EU course is not a carte blancheNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus supports the prospect of TurkeyŌs full EU membership, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said, but clarified that this support "does not constitute a carte blanche".
The spokesman said Tuesday that Turkey has to meet its EU obligations and make the necessary steps towards solving the Cyprus problem.
Invited to comment on statements made Monday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy on Turkey's EU bid and asked whether those statements could harm the ongoing Cyprus talks, the spokesman noted that in Europe there are different approaches as regards Turkey's European course.
"Our position", Stephanou said, ''is that we support the prospect of Turkey's full EU membership, but this is not a carte blanche".
He explained that Turkey has to fulfill its EU obligations, meet the Copenhagen criteria "and of course solve the Cyprus problem and fulfill the obligations it has undertaken through the additional protocol of the Ankara Agreement".
The spokesman said that in December the EU will assess Turkey's European course and pointed out that time until December is important.
"It is an important time until then, and this was stated by the Cypriot President at the meeting he held here with the Greek Prime Minister who paid an official visit. These issues, just because we want them to contribute to the efforts for a solution, shall be dealt with in full coordination and consultation with Greece and our European partners, so that to achieve our goals and protect the vital interests of our country", he concluded.
UN-led peace talks are underway between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, with a view to finding a negotiated settlement that will reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
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