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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-05-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Thursday, 28 May 2009 Issue No: 3205

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM, PASOK leader speak to the press ahead of Euroelections
  • [02] PM stresses determination to continue reforms to rid country of burdens keeping it back
  • [03] Papandreou: PASOK slogan in Euroelections 'either we shall change or we shall sink'
  • [04] President meets with Romanian counterpart
  • [05] Romanian president addresses business forum
  • [06] PM chairs meeting of ND Euroelections committee
  • [07] Interior ministry: everything ready for June 7 polls
  • [08] Greeks and Irish most likely to vote in Euro-polls
  • [09] SYN, SYRIZA meeting with Muslim community
  • [10] Drasi party claims exclusion from media
  • [11] Proclamation plan for development aid in 2009
  • [12] Gov't unveils 136 mln euro plan for 'green' entrepreneurship
  • [13] Employment minister tours Evros region
  • [14] EIB signs 180-mln-euro funding agreements for Greek SMEs
  • [15] ECB's Papademos addresses BoG event
  • [16] Big tax evasion case discovered
  • [17] Aegean Airlines says Q1 profits 4.6 mln euros
  • [18] Intrasoft Intl in 2.75-mln-euro supply contract in Bulgaria
  • [19] Thrace Plastics reports lower Q1 results
  • [20] Alapis Group says EBITDA up 32.2 pct in Q1
  • [21] ETEM reports mixed Q1 results
  • [22] Mytilineos Group reports lower Q1 results
  • [23] Greek stocks jumped 2.69 pct on Wednesday
  • [24] ADEX closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [26] Third case of H1N1 confirmed in Greece
  • [27] Dutch Dep. Minister tours Samos illegal migrants' centre
  • [28] Deputy Interior minister on stereotypes between two genders
  • [29] Greece awarded 425 Blue Flags for beaches
  • [30] Romanian Patriarch visits Fanar
  • [31] Cloudy, rainy on Thursday
  • [32] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [33] FM: UNFICYP's role must not change
  • [34] Cypriot contingent to take part in military parade in Rome Politics

  • [01] PM, PASOK leader speak to the press ahead of Euroelections

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, speaking in an interview with the MEGA television channel on Wednesday evening, stressed his determination to continue along the path of reforms to enable the country to be rid of the burdens keeping it back. He said that a responsible and steadfast policy is required "to enable us to exit from the crisis," adding that the Euroelections were a very serious issue and noted that statements by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou that the elections had a referendum character were "slogan talk lacking a content or oversimplifying".

    On his part, main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, speaking during a televised press conference held at the Zappeion Mansion in Athens on Wednesday, stressed that the slogan and message with which PASOK will be participating in the Euroelections is "either we shall change or we shall sink." He also said that voting for the ruling New Democracy (ND) party "means voting for those who plunged Greece into a crisis long before the international crisis broke out."

    [02] PM stresses determination to continue reforms to rid country of burdens keeping it back

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, speaking in an interview with the MEGA television channel on Wednesday evening, stressed his determination to continue along the path of reforms to enable the country to be rid of the burdens keeping it back.

    Karamanlis said that a responsible and steadfast policy is required "to enable us to exit from the crisis," adding that the Euroelections are a very serious issue and noted that statements by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou that the elections had a referendum character were "slogan talk lacking a content or oversimplifying".

    He further said that the Euroelections are a serious issue because the role of the European Parliament and of the European course is important. He also said that since a government and a prime minister are not being elected, a slacker vote is usually observed "but this does not mean that the election struggle does not have a serious political content and that I do not attribute exceptional importance to it."

    The prime minister further said that he is aiming at victory and mentioned that "I do not believe that we shall have a defeat or great condemnation" and that there is no question of popular acceptance for the government to continue, stressing that he had won the Euroelections with a considerable margin in 1999 and this fact did not raise such issues.

    Karamanlis went on to say that he is not preoccupied with, or is there the possibility of his withdrawal, saying that what is more important is "how we shall push the country out of this crisis as unscathed as possible. So, I feel both vibrant and strong to continue to struggle."

    He further said that he had no intention or aim of going to the polls in autumn and criticised main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou over the slogan of "socialism or barbarism", saying that it was "unsuitable and a fault".

    Karamanlis accused the main opposition party of permanent refusal, giving as an example the constitutional revision and the issue of non-state-run universities, which PASOK refused, the environment, greater transparency in the financing of parties, the overcoming of the rigid principle of permanent status for civil servants.

    Replying to criticism over "the closure of Parliament," the prime minister said that Parliament closes every year and in the case in question the Euroelections were lying ahead and there had to be ample opportunity for election dialogue.

    He also said that all the issues that were brought to Parliament were examined and in many cases a factfinding or investigatory committee was created. There was no pending issue for one to be able to say that it was closed speedily because the writing off of something had been being attempted at the time.

    Karamanlis said that the Vatopedi issue was a serious case, stressing that it was a case that was developing for years and that theoretically or superficially it did not appear to have something reproachable.

    "Along the way we see that there were ulterior and scandalous aims and, of course, mistakes on the part of the public sector. For this reason I made my self-criticism as well. In any case, the country's prime minister must by definition assume the responsibility for whatever goes wrong," he said.

    Asked whether people who have provoked public sentiment will be included in the New Democracy party's tickets in national elections, Karamanlis said that "all are judged and assessed on a daily basis from acts, actions, their contribution, their attitude and their activities in general".

    He added that all this is evaluated and the time comes when the lists are prepared and are taken into consideration by all of the party's bodies and ultimately by the party's president.

    Karamanlis insisted on the reforms, expressed his determination to continue along this path and also referred to the social security issue and mentioned that reform regarding heavy duty and unhealthy work will forge ahead and to incentives for voluntary further stay at work.

    Lastly, Karamanlis reiterated that he is not planning new taxes, but clarified that "if we see in two, three or five months that conditions are changing we shall also discuss tax revenues."

    [03] Papandreou: PASOK slogan in Euroelections 'either we shall change or we shall sink'

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, speaking during a televised press conference held at the Zappeion Mansion in Athens on Wednesday, stressed that the slogan and message with which PASOK will be participating in the Euroelections is "either we shall change or we shall sink."

    Papandreou said that what is at stake in the Euroelections is "clear and crucial."

    "Either we shall continue along the deadlocked path of a policy of injustice and inequality, or we shall change course and we shall enter the path of green development with a redistribution of wealth," he said

    He also noted that "in the Euroelections we shall be deciding for Greece, but for the progressive turn of Europe as well, with a strong socialist majority in the European Parliament and for us to promote Greece's strong demanding voice in Europe."

    Papandreou stressed that voting for the ruling New Democracy (ND) party "means voting for those who plunged Greece into a crisis long before the international crisis broke out."

    He described the Greek crisis as a "multifaceted crisis of institutions and values, a social crisis and a political crisis, that heightened with the personal responsibility of (Prime Minister Costas) Mr. Karamanlis when Parliament closed suddenly and led to the writeoff of possible offences by ministers."

    The PASOK leader further said that voting for PASOK "means voting for hope and victory in the Euroelections, it shall be the first step that will lead to the second step, that of securing a majority in the national elections, whenever they may take place."

    Replying to a relevant question, Papandreou predicted that Karamanlis, "in the face of deadlocks, will be forced to go to early national elections long before this coming March with the election of the President of the Republic."

    Papandreou reiterated that PASOK will support Karolos Papoulias for a second tenure at the Presidency of the Republic, provided that he desires this, while on the question of whether PASOK will cause elections in the event that they will not have taken place by then, Papandreou referred to statements he had made in the past. The PASOK leader had stated that he would vote for Karolos Papaoulias after the elections, after revealing this before they take place.

    He also underlined that the country needs "a serious and reliable government and not a government that conceals truths and plans new burdens for the citizens after the Euroelections."

    PASOK, he added, is claiming the confidence of the citizens and is gaining it on a daily basis. The citizens, he noted, are realising the crucial nature of the elections and added that with participation "we are taking the situation in our hands, while with abstention we are leaving our fate in the hands of others."

    Referring to the government's criticism over the dilemma of "socialism or barbarism," Papandreou accused the government of making a double mistake. "On the one hand, they do not wish to recognise the problems of the Greek people and say that all is well and the second mistake is that the government attempted to conceal its own problems by using the ordinary ND voter as a shield, whom the party's leadership treated unfairly and in a barbaric manner."

    He also accused the prime minister of being the one seeking polarisation. "I never sought polarisation," he said and added that he was elected and heads a party that can express the indignation of the citizen. Papandreou also accused the government that after five years instead of speaking about its work it decided on polarisation.

    The PASOK leader said that this "is its only weapon to conceal lawlessness, covering up and the indigence of the Greek citizens, and this is indicative of where the government currently stands."

    "It cannot oppose the opposition," he added. "If this is the case, let it go into the opposition which is also its natural position and let it make way for Greece to pass."

    Asked about criticism of PASOK by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Papandreou said "an exchange of views is useful" and wondered whether the "progressive forces will remain on simple protest against all", expressing optimism at the same time that with the forces which desire real change "we shall find ourselves at some time". He added that the ordinary member and the voter of KKE want the policy which harms them as well, to change.

    On the question of Turkey and the stance that the Greek government must observe in December 2009, when Turkey's progress in its European Union accssion course shall be assessed, Papandrerou accused Karamanlis of "abandoning all the advantages that the country had and giving up his weapons and abandoning the veto in advance."

    He stressed that he supports Turkey's accession course with strict observance, however, of the rules and preconditions that the neighbouring country must fulfill. He said that if elections have been held in Greece by then and PASOK comes to power, the country will take its measures in the event that Turkey does not meet its commitments. "I am saying this so that all can hear, Europeans and Turks," he concluded.

    [04] President meets with Romanian counterpart

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias met on Wednesday with his Romanian counterpart Traian Basescu, who is on a state visit to Greece.

    Bilateral, regional and European issues were discussed by the two Presidents in both their bilateral meeting and also in a broader meeting afterwards that included the two countries' delegations.

    Papoulias said in statements to the press that the two countries had friendly and cordial relations, with very good prospects.

    He said they ascertained that their bilateral economic and trade relations were on the right path, noting that the discussion also focused on the field of energy "in which I believe there is room for broader cooperation".

    Regarding Southeastern Europe, Papoulias said that he and Basescu endorsed the accession of the western Balkans to the union, with particular emphasis on good neighborhood relations.

    They further discussed the EU, and Papoulias said that he stressed to Basescu the fact that it was unacceptable that Turkey continued to occupy a section of an EU member country and that Nicosia continued to be a divided European capital.

    Basescu praised the "excellent and solid" relations between the two countries that have been consolidated at both political and economic level.

    He also said that Romania unreservedly backed Greece's positions on the FYROM name issue, stressing that the principle of good neighborhood was an obligation of all countries, regardless of whether or not they are EU members.

    The Romanian President further stressed that Cyprus, as an EU member country, has the right to absolute sovereignty over its territory.

    On Turkey's EU aspirations, Basescu said that both Greece and Romania support Ankara's accession course provided that it fully meets the criteria and abides by the European acquis.

    The two presidents further discussed EU matters, and Basescu noted that the Lisbon Agreement, which would help in the good operation of the EU and the development of discussions on the EU's enlargement with western Balkan countries, needs to be set in motion.

    Papoulias and Basescu further reviewed developments in the global financial crisis and its impact on their two peoples and the other countries, and the Romanian president stressed his conviction that the two peoples would overcome the consequences of the crisis.

    [05] Romanian president addresses business forum

    Visiting Romanian President Traian Basescu thanked Greek banks for their activation in his country, which with 16 per cent of participation, as he said, are the second biggest credit investors in his country.

    Addressing on Wednesday evening a business forum organised the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) on "Economic Cooperation betwwen Greece and Romania", Basescu said that his country had an average growth rate of 6.5 per cent in which foreign investments played the leading role.

    [06] PM chairs meeting of ND Euroelections committee

    Ruling New Democracy's (ND) election campaign committee convened on Wednesday to discuss organisational issues in the run-up to the June 7 European Parliament elections, chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis.

    ND parliamentary group secretary Yiannis Tragakis noted afterwards, in statements to the press, that some 10 days remained to the Euroelections, adding that organisational matters were discussed in the final stretch to the polls, and stressing that ND's target was to emerge the top party in the election.

    ND central committee secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, commenting on the sharp criticism drawn by the ruling party's television campaign 'spots', said that the advertisements were functional, informational and original. Their purpose, he added, was to inform the public and highlight the work accomplished by Karamanlis, the government and ND.

    The country, he continued, needs a government that knows how to and can give solutions to the problems and lead the country out of the crisis. "Costas Karamanlis knows, and can," he stressed.

    Zagoritis further urged the citizens to vote, noting the large percentage of abstention in the preceding Euroelections.

    Former minister Marietta Yiannakou, who heads the ND ticket, opined that abstention would not be large in the upcoming Euroelections, adding that Greece will have one of the largest percentages of participation among the EU member countries, while foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis called for a dialogue of substance in the debate to be held among the political party leaders.

    [07] Interior ministry: everything ready for June 7 polls

    The interior ministry on Wednesday announced that all preparations for the European Parliament elections on June 7 had been made and that people could obtain information on the process by calling the phone line 1500, at the interior ministry website www.ypes.gr and through the Internet portal www.ermis.gov.gr.

    During a press conference in Zappion, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Interior Minister Athanassios Nakos, along with executives from the company Singular Logic, said that everything was in place for the smooth running of the elections. Pavlopoulos also predicted that abstention rates would be much lower than the estimates currently appearing the media.

    The minister said that a pilot system for an alternative method for collecting and transmitting the results would be used in Thessaloniki's 2nd constituency, in 502 polling stations. The new system with the initials SRT will operate through a type of mobile phone equipped with a special programme, which will be used by judicial representatives given special codes to transmit the results to the interior ministry. This will be used at the same time as the traditional method using telegrams.

    The ministry said that there were 9,866,913 voters on the electoral register in Greece and an additional 36,758 Greeks that will were registered to vote in European Union countries. A total of 513 candidates on 27 party tickets will be running for election, while voting will take place at 20,435 polling stations around the country and 97 polling stations abroad.

    The results of the vote will be updated every 15 minutes instead of every half hour as in previous elections, Pavlopoulos announced. According to Singular Logic, about 15 percent of the total vote count (an adequate percentage to give an indication of the final result) will be announced about three hours after ballot boxes close at 19:00.

    [08] Greeks and Irish most likely to vote in Euro-polls

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)

    The Greeks and the Irish will have the highest voter turnout in the European Parliament elections, at 66 percent, according to a poll conducted by TNS Opinion on behalf of the European Parliament that was released on Wednesday.

    Average estimated participation among Europeans throughout the Community in the June 7 elections will be 49 percent, by contrast.

    Specifically, 43 percent of European citizens taking part in the poll stated that they will definitely vote in the EuroParliament elections, while 10 percent have stated that they definitely will not vote.

    In Greece, 66 percent have stated that they will definitely vote and 8 percent that they will definitely not vote.

    The next in line after Greece and Ireland is Belgium (64 percent turnout), Malta (60 percent) and Denmark (52 percent).

    The lowest estimated participation is among the Slovaks (16 percent), Czechs (24 percent) and the Romanians, Swedes and Dutch (30 percent).

    Of those that intend to abstain from the June 7 elections, 62 percent stated that they were not sufficiently well informed, 61 percent believe their vote will not make a difference and 60 percent believe that they do not understand what the role of an MEP is.

    When asked if they knew the date when the European Parliament elections will be held, the right answer was given by 49 percent of European citizens. The highest percentage of correct answers was among the Maltese (80 percent), Greeks (78 percent), Hungarians (74 percent) and Cypriots (71 percent).

    The highest number of 'don't know' answers were given by the Finns (75 percent), Portuguese (60 percent) and Dutch (53 percent).

    The overall percentage of those interested in the European Parliament elections was 53 percent, while 46 percent said they were not interested. Rates of interest were highest in Ireland and Malta, at 72 percent, and lowest in Latvia, where 75 percent said they were indifferent to them. In Greece, 58 percent said that they were interested in the elections and 42 percent said they were not interested.

    TNS Opinion conducted the poll between May 4 and May 15, among people aged over 18 in the 27 EU member-states.

    [09] SYN, SYRIZA meeting with Muslim community

    The heads of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party and the Coalition of the Left (SYRIZA) alliance's Parliamentary group, of which SYN is the senior partner, on Wednesday met representatives of immigrant communities in Greece to discuss the recent violence involving Muslim migrants in Athens.

    In statements afterwards, SYN leader Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos stressed the need for religious tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others.

    The incidents started with a large demonstration by Muslims in Athens, who claimed that a police officer had ripped up the prayer book of a Muslim immigrant and thus profaned the Koran. The demonstration at some point turned violent and was followed by reprisals, in which a basement used as a makeshift mosque was set on fire during the night.

    SYRIZA was in favour of punishing the police officer responsible for his actions, which should be condemned by the Greek government, Alavanos said. He also called for measures to train and sensitise police to such issues, as well as measures to better police potential 'hotspots' like the historic centre of Athens.

    Tsipras stressed that everyone needed to become aware that the immigration problem and ways of handling it was one of the most important issues that would have to be faced in the near future, both in Greece and the European Union as a whole.

    SYN's position in favour of legalising immigrants and integrating them into society's fabric was not based only on ideology and a humanist approach but was also a rational assessment of reality, he said.

    "The longer we avoid picking up this 'hot potato', the longer we try to sweep the problem under the rug, the worst things will get," he added.

    [10] Drasi party claims exclusion from media

    In a press conference on Wednesday, the head of the newly-formed 'Drasi' party, veteran politician Stefanos Manos, alleged that his party and its positions had been excluded by the mass media. The press conference was held in view of a decision due later on Wednesday by the Council of State over the Drasi party's case against an interior ministry decision regulating the amount of time alloted to each party in the broadcast media.

    Manos was harshly critical of the interior ministry measures, saying that they were based on a "fascist logic" and supported by a "cartel of big parties" in order to gag any new force arising in the country.

    As the strongest party in Parliament, ruling New Democracy has been given 3,500 minutes of advertising time and the smallest political party in Parliament has 1,400 minutes. By contrast, the newly-formed Drasi has been accorded just two minutes in which to get its message across, Manos pointed out.

    During the press conference, Manos referred to the economic problems faced by the country and the looming social insurance crisis, stressing that the solution was not to increase taxes but to drastically cut waste. He also referred to energy issues, water shortage and reforestation.

    [11] Proclamation plan for development aid in 2009

    Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis on Wednesday presented the plan regarding the invitation for showing interest in tabling development cooperation programmes for 2009, publicising for the first time the proclamation plan to ensure the greatest possible transparency.

    Varvitsiotis pointed out in the meeting he had with agencies involved (non-governmental organisations) that "every euro that is given by the Foreign Ministry and comes from the Greek taxpayer must produce the greatest possible result to relieve our fellow men with the greatest transparency."

    The proclamation plan reaffirms the decision that "the fundings of the Foreign Ministry for development aid purposes cannot exceed 50 percent of the budget of every project so that cooperation is encouraged between the NGO's and other agencies for the finding of financing on the one hand and, on the other hand, securing the greatest distribution of the development aid funds," according to an announcement by the deputy minister.

    Moreover, the geographical targeting of the development aid is redetermined: Country-targets selected for the year 2009 are Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority, Subsaharan Africa, with special emphasis on Ethiopia, the People's Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

    Financial News

    [12] Gov't unveils 136 mln euro plan for 'green' entrepreneurship

    The government on Wednesday announced a 136-million-euro programme aimed to boost so-called "green entrepreneurship", with a deadline for proposals on July 20.

    In announcing the initiative, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis referred to the three basic sectors that the funding will be aimed at, namely, infrastructure (recycling, landfill management); transfer of heavy industries and high-pollution activity, and funding of businesses active in the recycling, renewable energy and anti-pollution sector.

    [13] Employment minister tours Evros region

    Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Fani Palli-Petralia toured the Evros region in northern Greece on Wednesday, accompanied by officials from her ministry.

    Speaking on arrival in the city of Alexandroupoli, Petralia said that the government's primary aim is to support the border region and coordinate the activities of local agencies with the government.

    The minister visited the branch office of the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) in Alexandroupoli, where she toured the Foundation's premises and talked to employees and people insured by the agency.

    According to Petralia, "IKA constitutes the umbrella of those insured and of the employees, as well as the flagship of the insurance system of our country. With the new draft law, that will be submitted for ratification immediately after the Euroelections, the modernisation of IKA will also begin."

    Petralia was due to address the main political event being organised by the ruling New Democracy party for the Euroelections in the city of Orestiada on Wednesday evening.

    [14] EIB signs 180-mln-euro funding agreements for Greek SMEs

    European Investment Bank (EIB) on Wednesday signed two partnership agreements with ATEbank and Marfin Egnatia Bank to channel low-cost funds to small- and medium-sized enterprises in Greece.

    The two contracts, worth 180 million euros, were signed in Athens by EIB's vice-president Ploutarhos Sakellaris, ATEbank's governor Dimitris Miliakos and Marfin Egnatia Bank's chief executive Efthimios Bouloutas.

    The new money will be offered to small- and medium-sized enterprises in the fields of manufacturing, farming, commerce and tourism. Sakellaris said the new agreements was a strong message of supporting investments by Greek SMEs. EIB has signed funding agreements totaling 680 million euros in Greece. Under the terms of the contracts, Greek banks would offer an additional 680 million euros, raising to the total money offered to the real economy to 1.3 billion euros.

    Greek banks healthy, bankers say

    Banks which will be able to maintain their healthy capital conditions in the next two years -a period of anticipated worsening in lending quality- will be in a marked advantageous position, Takis Arapoglou, chairman of National Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.

    Addressing a seminar on the international financial crisis, organized by the Bank of Greece, Arapoglou said liquidity in the banking system has become not only sparse but more expensive and stressed that a gradual recovery of confidence in markets was helping banks reducing their dependence from European Central Bank's short-term liquidity, raising money through bond issues.

    Commenting on bank lending in Greece, Arapoglou, said demand would remain high, compared with other mature markets in Europe, despite a financial crisis, while he said that banks' asset quality was expected to be downgraded further.

    A government-sponsored program to boost liquidity in the Greek economy was not subsidization of the banking system, while it did not carry any burden for Greek taxpayers, but would create significant revenues for the state budget, Nikolaos Nanopoulos, Eurobank's chief executive, told the seminar.

    Nanopoulos said Greek banks have no exposure to high-risk investment products, nor they have been involved in speculative activities. On the contrary, they followed structured strategies combining development on solid bases, relatively low leverage, relatively limited dependence on money markets and controlled risk taking.

    [15] ECB's Papademos addresses BoG event

    European Central Bank (ECB) vice president Loucas Papademos said on Wednesday that economic activity in the Eurozone was stabilising.

    "According to initial indications received by the ECB, economic activity in the Eurozone was stabilising," he said while addressing an event organised by the Bank of Greece (central bank).

    He predicted however that this activity would remain weak until the end of 2009.

    "Gradual recovery will begin in the middle of 2010," Papademos nevertheless warned, adding that there were no margins for complaisance.

    He also insisted on the need of implementing a comprehensive strategy to exit from the "state of alert" created by the world financial crisis.

    "We must abandon the state of particularly low interest rates, affluent liquidity (provided by the ECB) and measures of fiscal support," the ECB executive said, assuring that his bank would follow a "gradual transition" to the new environment, seeking, in any case, the protection of price stability as the economy would begin to recover.

    [16] Big tax evasion case discovered

    Seven big electronic goods chainstores, as well as supermarkets selling similar goods, are involved in one of the biggest cases of tax evasion in the past decade, according to a announcement by the Finance ministry's Special Auditing Service, on Wednesday.

    Together with an international ring issuing and trafficking bogus invoices that used Greece as a crossroads, they received VAT illegally in the form of returns, amounting to 10 million euros for the second half of 2007 alone.

    As the Service explained, the exact extent of tax evasion has not yet been clarified, but according to initial assessments it amounts to a very big sum. It was pointed out that the value of the bogus invoices issued in the second half of 2007 alone totals 130 million euros.

    The process of issuing and trafficking involves 13 Greek companies, of which only the one was found to be existing during the audits. It was also mentioned that during the 2005 fiscal year the company in question had a declared turnover amounting to 50,000 euros and during the 2007 fiscal year its turnover reached 50 million euros.

    The remaining "invisible" companies also had transactions with "invisible companies" that were headquartered in European Union countries (Austria, Hungary, Latvia, Cyprus, Poland, Holland and Spain).

    [17] Aegean Airlines says Q1 profits 4.6 mln euros

    Aegean Airlines on Wednesday said revenues grew 13 pct to 111.3 million euros in the first quarter of 2009, while pre-tax, interest, depreciation and amortization earnings (EBITDA) totaled 2.7 million euros, after a loss of 4.9 million euros in the corresponding period last year. Pre-tax earnings totaled 6.4 million euros, from a loss of 5.7 million euros in 2008, while net profits totaled 4.6 million euros, from a loss of 4.4 million euros last year.

    The airline company said lower fuel prices, benefits from a fleet renewal program and lower operating costs helped in the presenting positive results for the January-March period.

    Aegean Airlines said passenger traffic totaled 1.2 million in the first half, up 9.0 pct from 2008, of which 4.0 pct in domestic flights and 20 pct in international flights.

    [18] Intrasoft Intl in 2.75-mln-euro supply contract in Bulgaria

    Intrasoft International, a subsidiary of Intracom IT Services, on Wednesday announced it has won a contract, worth 2.75 million euros with VEREO and Intracom IT Services, for the supply of a distribution and product control system to Bulgaria's Finance ministry. Intrasoft's participation in the project is 1.65 million euros. The project is expected to be completed in one year.

    [19] Thrace Plastics reports lower Q1 results

    Thrace Plastics on Wednesday reported a 21.5-pct decline in its consolidated turnover to 46.3 million euros in the first quarter of the year, down from 59 million euros in the corresponding period in 2008, while consolidated pre-tax profits fell 18.4 pct to 1.7 million euros, from 2.1 million euros last year.

    Consolidated after tax and minorities earnings totaled 1.2 million euros, down 18.4 pct from 2008, while consolidated EBITDA fell 9.6 pct to 5.8 million euros.

    The company said its first quarter results were in line with expectations.

    [20] Alapis Group says EBITDA up 32.2 pct in Q1

    Alapis Group on Wednesday reported a 13.2 pct increase in its consolidated turnover to 235.6 million euros in the first quarter of 2009, from 208.1 million euros last year and said pre-tax, interest, depreciation and amortization earnings (EBITDA) jumped 31.5 pct to 75.8 million euros and EBITDA margin rose to 32.2 pct from 27.7 pct last year.

    After tax and minorities earnings rose 8.5 pct to 34.1 million euros. The healthcare sector reported a 24.6 pct increase in turnover to 210.6 million euros and an EBITDA of 74.9 million euros (up 59.2 pct). Other activities reported a 40.8 pct decline in turnover and a 60.8 pct drop in EBITDA compared with the corresponding period in 2008.

    [21] ETEM reports mixed Q1 results

    ETEM on Wednesday said its consolidated sales fell 42.8 pct to 24.3 million euros in the first three months of 2009, while parent sales also fell by 48.1 pct to 13.7 million euros.

    Consolidated pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) fell to 1.05 million euros in the January-March period, from 3.3 million euros last year, while consolidated after tax and minorities earnings rose to 3.2 million euros from 300,000 euros in 2008. Consolidated earnings per share rose to 0.1051 euros per share, from 0.0090 euros in 2008.

    Parent after tax earnings rose to 3.0 million euros, or 0.1004 euros per share in the first quarter, from 1.4 million or 0.0450 euros per share in 2008.

    [22] Mytilineos Group reports lower Q1 results

    Mytilineos Group on Wednesday reported a 32 pct decline in its first quarter consolidated turnover to 154 million euros, from 227 million euros in the corresponding period last year, reflecting delays in project progress by METKA and the suspension of operations of Sometra in Romania.

    Pre-tax, interest, depreciation and amortization earnings (EBITDA) totaled 21.1 million euros in the January-March period, from 25.7 million euros last year, reflecting a sharp drop in aluminium prices in international markets, high electricity energy prices and a general economic slowdown.

    METKA, a subsidiary of Mytilineos Group, reported a sharp drop in turnover to 50.1 million euros from 87.9 million euros in 2008, while EBITDA fell to 8.5 million euros, from 16.5 million euros last year.

    Mytilineos Group said 2009 would be a landmark year in the energy sector, with an energy production unit, with a power capacity of 334 MW, expected to begin operations in June. The group has set a target of producing energy power more than 1,800 MW by 2013.

    [23] Greek stocks jumped 2.69 pct on Wednesday

    Greek stocks resumed their upward trend in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with the composite index of the market rising 2.69 pct to end at 2,294.82 points. Turnover was a low 207.3 million euros, of which 6.3 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the Insurance (10.92 pct), Health (6.24 pct), Utilities (4.31 pct) and Financial Services (4.28 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (2.05 pct) and Personal/Home Products (0.46 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.63 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.86 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.94 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 195 to 39 with another 43 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +10.92%

    Industrials: +3.46%

    Commercial: +0.55%

    Construction: +4.23%

    Media: +4.07%

    Oil & Gas: +3.75%

    Personal & Household: -0.46%

    Raw Materials: +4.16%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.05%

    Technology: +2.31%

    Telecoms: +2.05%

    Banks: +3.45%

    Food & Beverages: +1.87%

    Health: +1.87%

    Utilities: +4.31%

    Chemicals: +3.03%

    Financial Services: +4.28%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, Bank of Cyprus, and PPC.

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

    Alpha Bank: 8.60

    ATEbank: 1.76

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.90

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.35

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.51

    National Bank of Greece: 18.70

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.80

    Intralot: 5.19

    OPAP: 22.00

    OTE: 11.95

    Bank of Piraeus: 8.00

    Titan Cement Company: 19.44

    [24] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.17 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 66.104 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 9,064 contracts worth 52.978 million euros, with 29,576 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,476 contracts, worth 13.126 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (3,030), followed by MIG (923), OTE (877), PPC (1,870), National Bank (2,065), Alpha Bank (1,258) and ATEbank (575).

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.401

    Pound sterling 0.877

    Danish kroner 7.503

    Swedish kroner 10.739

    Japanese yen 133.54

    Swiss franc 1.525

    Norwegian kroner 8.942

    Canadian dollar 1.566

    Australian dollar 1.791

    General News

    [26] Third case of H1N1 confirmed in Greece

    Two new cases of swine flu were confirmed in Greece on Tuesday and Wednesday, involving two friends who recently returned from Edinburgh earlier in the week, while a third friend traveling with them tested negative for the H1N1 virus.

    A Health Ministry announcement on Tuesday night said that a second case of the 'new flu' had been confirmed by the Pasteur Institute in a 21-year-old Greek man who returned two days earlier from Edinburgh, and would be following treatment at his home in Athens in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the EU.

    The third case was confirmed on Wednesday morning by the Reference Center in Thessaloniki, in another 21-year-old man, who is a friend of the second case and with whom had returned two days earlier from Edinburgh.

    A third young man traveling with the previous two has tested negative, according to a ministry announcement.

    Health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos has called a meeting of the committee of experts that has been set up at the ministry for 11:00 Wednesday, after which he will make statements to the press.

    The first case of the H1N1 virus, in a 19-year-old Greek student recently returned from the United States, was confirmed on May 18 by the Pasteur Institute in Athens after carrying out a second round of tests to confirm the first results.

    All three cases were light, and the ministry reiterated that there was no cause for alarm.

    [27] Dutch Dep. Minister tours Samos illegal migrants' centre

    The Netherlands' Deputy Justice Minister for immigration issues, Nebahat Albayrak, on Wednesday visited an illegal migrants' reception centre on the eastern Aegean island of Samos.

    "Certainly many problems exist, but we also have many possibilities for cooperation, not only on a bilateral basis, but also within the framework of the European Union between member-states," Albayrak told reporters.

    The Dutch official is heading up an eight-member delegation focusing on the problems that illegal immigration is having on Samos, which lies on a major migrant-smuggling route operating from the opposite Turkish coast.

    "I wanted to see the situation here with my own eyes. I believe that many efforts are being made by the EU. What, however, must be understood a little bit more is the fact that the southern borders of Spain and France have been closed, making it difficult for illegal migrants to enter and this resulted in a tremendous increase in pressure on Greece," the Dutch minister, who held talks on Tuesday in Athens with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, emphasised.

    "The problem is not a Greek problem, it is a European problem, because if one illegally enters Greece one also illegally enters the European Union and the Netherlands," Albayrak added.

    She also said the EU should enhance cooperation with the would-be migrants' countries of origin, whereas efforts should be made for the signing of new agreements for their repatriation.

    On his part, the president of Athens-based Institute of Immigration Policy, Alexandros Zavos, who accompanied the Dutch delegation, said that cooperation was necessary, otherwise, the problem will intensify for all entire Europe.

    [28] Deputy Interior minister on stereotypes between two genders

    Deputy Interior Minister Christos Zois addressed the Czech European Union's session in Prague on the theme of "New ways of overcoming stereotypes between the two genders," saying that the Greek Interior Ministry's vision is achieving equal participation and representation for all citizens, both men and women, in family, social and political life and in decision-making centres.

    Zois referred to Greece's policies, actions and initiatives to promote equality and handle stereotypes that are being implemented in the framework of the directives of the European Course Charter on equality between men and women 2006-2010 and the goals of the European Treaty on Equality.

    Focusing on the interior ministry's work, Zois said that the creation of the National Committee on Equality constitutes the state's permanent dialogue rostrum with Social Partners and the Society of citizens, as well as the effort to combat stereotypes through education and the elimination of structural causes perpetuating inequalities due to gender.

    He also spoke of the sensitisation of teachers through the training of 8,250 teachers and of a series of programmes in the direction of tackling stereotypes.

    [29] Greece awarded 425 Blue Flags for beaches

    Greece was awarded 'Blue Flags' for 425 beaches and eight marinas this year, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature announced on Wednesday.

    With 425 beaches awarded the international eco-label by the independent, non-profit organisation Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), Greece placed second among 39 countries.

    The FEE this year awarded Blue Flats to a total of 2,699 beaches and 639.

    Blue Flags were awarded to 430 beaches and 8 marinas in Greece in 2008.

    The Blue Flags are awarded on a basis of 29 criteria including cleanliness of the coast and the sea, organisation, information, safety, and protection of the coastal environment.

    [30] Romanian Patriarch visits Fanar

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Romanian Patriarch Daniel on Wednesday began an official visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul.

    He was received in Istanbul airport's VIP lounge by a delegation of metropolitans, after which a mass was held at the Patriarchal Church of Aghios Georgios, followed by an exchange of speeches in the throne room.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I later gave a dinner for Patriarch Daniel and his entourage, while on Wednesday evening both Patriarchs will attend a mass at the Church of Aghia Paraskevi.

    They will also jointly hold a mass in Fanar on Thursday and another in Cappadocia, in the Aghios Theodoros Church on Sunday.

    Weather Forecast

    [31] Cloudy, rainy on Thursday

    Cloudy and rainy weather, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 30C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northeasterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 29C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 17C to 25C.

    [32] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The changes in successive insurance, the fiscal deficit, the new tax collecting measures and the SIEMENS case dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.

    APOGEVMATINI: "23,902 job opportunities in public sector"

    AVGHI: "Synaspismos leader Alexis Tsipras in an all-channel TV press conference called on ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK to state their positions on the IMF's recommendations before the European Parliament elections".

    AVRIANI: "Leakage (of votes) from PASOK to Ecologists changes the political balances".

    CHORA: "Former SIEMENS commercial manager Franz Richter said in his testimony: «We gave money to Greek lobbies".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Abstention is leading - Voters' tendency terrifies the two mainstream parties".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government closes 255 small public utilities organisations - Better late than never, the extravagant state takes measures at last".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The state of the country's economy is only the tip of the pre-election parties' clash".

    ESTIA: "Bold cutbacks in state spending is the solution to reduce the deficit".

    ETHNOS: "Government is 'cooking up' taxes, which it is 'serving' as reforms".

    KATHIMERINI: "Low percentages for ND and PASOK - The gap closes to 4.5 percent - Ecologists-Greens reached 8.5%".

    LOGOS: "Government promises a solution for the successive insurance issue by the end of the year".

    NIKI: "Government hides the new measures in the drawer in order to avoid the cost ahead of the Euroelections".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The youth's vote in Euroelections is red - Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga addressed on Tuesday a youth rally in Athens".

    TA NEA: "Sweep operation for illegal migrants, drug addicts, after the Euroelections".

    TO VIMA: "Lukewarm voting terrifies the parties - The ups and downs in the opinion polls".

    VRADYNI: "Everything will change in successive insurance with a new draft law to be tabled in parliament in October".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [33] FM: UNFICYP's role must not change

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Given the current situation in Cyprus the role of the UN peace-keeping force on the island (UNFICYP) must continue as it is, and only if a solution is found that could change, and this should be reflected in the resolution of the UN Security Council, Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou said here on Wednesday.

    Kyprianou said that all draft resolutions are the subject of consultations, and noted that "our goal is to have objective and fair" resolutions "both legally and politically".

    "We believe that the peace-keeping force has fulfilled an important assignment in Cyprus both as regards security and politics and has yet a very important role to play to resolve the Cyprus problem", the foreign minister said, suggesting that there should be no alteration of the role or the size of the Force, as long as the Cyprus problem is still pending.

    He also said that as long as negotiations on the Cyprus question are going on, the resolution must not contain a wording that can lead to misinterpretations or question the presence of UNFICYP in Cyprus before a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    "If the goal is to adapt the role of UNFICYP after the settlement, which is rational, because if you solve the Cyprus problem needs for the presence of UNFICYP will change, then there must be a clear reference that we are talking about this issue" he said.

    He also noted that the UN will make an evaluation of all peacekeeping missions for both administrative and financial purposes as well as to determine their effectiveness.

    However, he noted, the issue of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus must be addressed in view of the particular circumstances that exist.

    As he pointed out, the Cypriot government considers UNFICYP's presence as indispensable "contrary with Turkey, the Permanent Representative of which made representations recently to change UNFICYP's role."

    Kyprianou also pointed out that the Republic of Cyprus pays beyond 1/3 of the cost of the peace-keeping force and covers with the Greek government more than half of the cost. He also said that Cyprus is ready to discuss the financial dimension of the issue.

    Responding to a question, Kyprianou said that "nothing needs to change and we believe that given the current situation in Cyprus the role of UNFICYP must continue as it is and only if a solution is found it will be able to change this, and this must be reflected in the resolution."

    Asked if there is an attempt by the US and Britain to impose unofficial timetables regarding the negotiations on the Cyprus question, Kyprianou said it would not be right to give interpretations on existing approaches and to comment on the attitude of other countries, at least at this point.

    He noted that each country speaks for its own policy and noted that there is an agreed procedure which does not provide for any timetables and should be respected.

    "Beyond that we make all the necessary representations to the UN and the Security Council members," he concluded.

    US Ambassador: No attempt to change UNFICYP terms

    US Ambassador in Nicosia Frank Urbancic has said that the US do not intend to change the terms of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

    In statements Wednesday, Urbancic also said that the US will not seek to set any deadlines regarding the ongoing direct negotiations process which began September 2008 between President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat with a view to reunify Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.

    Replying to questions after a meeting he held here with President of the Social Democrats Movement EDEK, Yiannakis Omirou, Urbancic said that the US do not attempt to change the UNFICYP terms.

    Asked whether he believes that the framework of the UNFICYP's mandate has to remain the same, he replied: "If the question is does UNFICYP somehow influence the basis of the existence of the state, the answer to that is no. There is no attempt by the US or anybody else that I know to change those terms".

    When asked whether the US will ask the UN Security Council to change the terms of the UNFICYP mandate and thus put pressure on the Greek

    Cypriot side to accept deadlines and arbitrations at the Cyprus talks, Urbancic said "it is just not the fact. UNFICYP renewal comes up every six months and that six months period is about to elapse".

    The US, he noted, "as a prominent member of the UN Security Council has an interest in making sure that all peace-keeping operations are carried forward in the most efficient manner possible".

    Urbancic added that "there is a discussion in New York now, as part of the UNFICYP renewal resolution, to have the Secretary General look on how UNFICYP can be more efficient. That's the only discussion at least I am aware of that has any significance".

    The US diplomat expressed the view that the UNFICYP's mandate, as currently written, and the UNFICYP force levels, as currently are, will be renewed, "if not this month it will be slightly into June, that they will be renewed".

    He went on to add that "I am not aware of any effort to limit those or change the mandate".

    Replying to questions, he said that "there are no deadlines and we are not applying deadlines".

    UNFICYP, one of the longest serving UN peace missions, arrived on the island in March 1964 after intercommunal fighting broke out. Its mandate is renewed every six moths.

    The Cyprus government has lodged a strong demarche with the United Nations in connection with moves by Britain and the US to link

    UNFICYP's presence with progress in the ongoing direct negotiations, which are held since September 2008, under UN auspices.

    [34] Cypriot contingent to take part in military parade in Rome

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus National Guard contingent with the flag of the Republic will participate in the military parade to be held on Tuesday 2 of June 2009, in Rome, on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the Italian Republic.

    According to an announcement issued here Wednesday, the Cypriot contingent will take part in the parade at the official invitation of the Head of the Italian Armed Forces.

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