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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-24

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

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

Wednesday, 24 June 2009 Issue No: 3227

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM briefs President on EU summit on illegal migration
  • [02] Gov't on PM's briefing of president, illegal migration
  • [03] PM briefed on IKA reforms, draft bill
  • [04] FM Bakoyannis holds talks with UAE counterpart
  • [05] FM meets Vietnamese counterpart Khiem; Hanoi to open embassy in Athens
  • [06] Clinton to miss OSCE meeting
  • [07] U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Steinberg to attend OCSE Corfu meeting
  • [08] Deputy FM Valynakis discusses Swedish EU Presidency priorities
  • [09] FM calls on Skopje to enter latest round of talks with different approach
  • [10] UN mediator Nimetz meets Ambassador Vassilakis ahead of Skopje, Athens visits
  • [11] Announcement by UN on FYROM name talks
  • [12] Foreign Ministry confirms arrest of Greek journalist in Iran
  • [13] Gov't on presidential election
  • [14] Gov't on postponement of Erdogan visit
  • [15] Alavanos takes back resignation
  • [16] Police examining Revolutionaries Sect proclamation
  • [17] President Medvedev meets Patriarch of Alexandria
  • [18] Discontinuation of Eleftheros Typos newspaper, City 99.5 FM radio station, announced
  • [19] ESIEA calls media strike following closure of newspaper
  • [20] Gov't regrests on closure of newspaper
  • [21] EU Commission measures to boost economies
  • [22] EU Council of Agriculture Ministers
  • [23] Alpha Bank calls for fiscal consolidation, econ reforms
  • [24] Report: Greek banks resilient
  • [25] FinMin announces measures on pleasure boats
  • [26] Greek unemployment at 9.3 pct in Q1
  • [27] Building materials' price index down 1.3 pct in May
  • [28] Greek stocks end 1.11% up
  • [29] ADEX closing report
  • [30] Greek bond market closing report
  • [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [32] Gov't: Bring Marbles back
  • [33] BoG governor briefs President Papoulias on climatic change study
  • [34] Int'l conference on people with disabilities and mass media
  • [35] Interior Minister meets Chinese counterpart
  • [36] Illegal immigrants deported from country
  • [37] Cloudy, rainy on Wednesday
  • [38] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [39] Turkish PM statement on Cyprus issue is misleading, Kyprianou says Politics

  • [01] PM briefs President on EU summit on illegal migration

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday briefed President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on the outcome of the European Union summit in Brussels late last week where, Karamanlis said, at Greece's initiative, an in-depth discussion was held and important decisions were taken on the problem of illegal migration.

    The premier noted that the EU leaders decided to step up checks along Europe's external borders, as well as active solidarity and just distribution of the burdens, and also the signing of agreements by the EU for the readmission of illegal immigrants to the countries from where they originate or the countries from where they crossed into the EU.

    Until those agreements are signed, Karamanlis continued, it was decided that the agreements and protocols already existing between countries of origin and transit of illegal migrants -- such as Libya and Turkey -- and countries where illegal migrants arrive, such as Greece, must be applied.

    The major issue of illegal migration has now been upgraded to a major EU and European issue, Karamanlis added.

    [02] Gov't on PM's briefing of president, illegal migration

    The prime minister briefed the president of the republic on the results of the recent EU Summit meeting that focused on the issue of illegal immigration, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated, adding that most of Greece's positions which serve national interests and European security were accepted.

    Antonaros stated the government regards as important the fact that, as recorded in the summit's conclusions, countries of origin for illegal migrants or countries transited by them, like Turkey, will be obligated to implement bilateral agreements.

    As regards accusations by main opposition PASOK that the government failed in the EU Summit meeting in Brussels, Antonaros stated that they were hastily made.

    Antonaros underlined that "a common European policy should be reached allowing for the implementation of the right moves that will ease the consequences of the problem in Greece," adding that "other countries have come to realize that the problem is not only Greek."

    He also pointed out that there are "specific commitments we observe and those who submit an application for political asylum have their request examined in the first country they set their foot on."

    Alternate Interior Minister Markoyiannakis

    Alternate Interior Minister for Public Order Christos Markoyiannakis, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday on the question of deportations of Pakistani immigrants, said that no one is pleased with exercising a policy that saddens people, but sometimes this is a one-way path.

    "If we do not activate ourselves and do not implement the measures that began a few days ago, the prospects for the future will be unbelievable for our country," he said.

    Describing the magnitude of the problem facing the country from the influx of illegal immigrants, Markoyiannakis said that on Monday alone 450 people were handed over and called on all to wonder what the perpetuation of this situation will mean for the future.

    The minister also said that the documents that illegal immigrants invoke are nonexistent, they are taken away by the immigrant smugglers.

    [03] PM briefed on IKA reforms, draft bill

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed on Tuesday by Employment and Social Insurances Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, who later told reporters that reforms of the IKA pension and healthcare fund, the country's largest, dominated the meeting.

    She said a relevant draft bill is ready for tabling in the first summer Parliament session.

    Additionally, measures to combat unemployment were also discussed.

    The minister acknowledged that an increasing rate of joblessness for the first trimester of 2009 due to the economic crisis, while pointing to more encouraging news in April and May, namely, 23,000 more hirings that firings in April and 54,000 more hirings in May than firings.

    [04] FM Bakoyannis holds talks with UAE counterpart

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her United Arab Emirates (UAE) counterpart Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayid Al Nayaham, speaking after their meeting on Tuesday, said that the UAE constitutes a very attractive market for Greek businesses and Greece is an ideal place for UAE's investments, while expressing their mutual desire for deepening bilateral relations.

    The UAE's market needs quality Greek farm products and services in the sectors of tourism and shipping, that Greek businessmen can provide.

    Cooperation in the energy sector, and in renewable sources in particular, was also of interest to the two sides. They discussed the "UAE's extremely competitive candidacy to assume the headquarters of the IRENA international Organisation for renewable energy sources," as the Greek minister said, as well as the "Greek candidacy for the position of the Organisation's temporary General Director, of professor Arthouros Zervos."

    Referring to the issue, Bakoyannis said that "Greece is continuously improving its position on the energy map, upgrading its infrastructures and strengthening its bilateral cooperation with important players in the energy sector."

    The Sheikh expressed the desire "for the completion of the process for concluding two agreements, regarding the protection of investments and the avoidance of double taxation, to enable us to proceed with investments moves."

    The two ministers also examined major political issues in the wider region, such as the Palestinian question and Bakoyannis briefed her counterpart on issues of special Greek interest, such as relations with Turkey, negotiations on the issue of Cyprus and the lack of progress on the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    [05] FM meets Vietnamese counterpart Khiem; Hanoi to open embassy in Athens

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday met with her visiting Vietnamese counterpart and Deputy Premier Pham Gia Khiem at the foreign ministry, where she noted that the visit is a continuation of reciprocal visits by the countries' heads of state in June and October 2008, respectively.

    Topics up for discussion included bilateral ties, regional and international issues, the international economic crisis as well as Vietnam's ASEAN chairmanship next year and the SE Asia country's current tenure as a non-permanent UNSC member.

    On her part, Bakoyannis briefed Khiem on a variety of Greek interest issues, including Greek-Turkish relations, the illegal immigration problem, initiatives for the Cyprus issue within the OSCE presidency and even the fYRoM 'name issue'.

    Khiem noted that Vietnam has decided to open an embassy in Athens, with the process underway to complete necessary arrangements for a diplomatic mission in the Greek capital.

    [06] Clinton to miss OSCE meeting

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday officially cancelled her scheduled visit to the Ionian island of Corfu this week for an informal OSCE foreign ministers' meeting, citing her recovery from recent elbow surgery.

    Clinton announced her decision to Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis during a telephone conversation at noon on Monday, according to a foreign ministry announcement issued before a 24-hour snap media strike was declared in Greece.

    The US delegation will be led by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, according to the Greek ministry.

    [07] U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Steinberg to attend OCSE Corfu meeting

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)

    U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said here on Tuesday that he would represent his country at the informal OSCE foreign ministers' meeting, due to convene on the Ionian island of Corfu this week, instead of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who recovers from a recent elbow surgery.

    On his part, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said that Clinton, following instructions by her doctors, decided not to travel to Europe during the next days. He added that Secretary Clinton had a telephone conversation with her Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis to express her regrets for not being able to attend the Corfu meeting.

    [08] Deputy FM Valynakis discusses Swedish EU Presidency priorities

    The priorities of the Swedish European Union Presidency and issues of Greek interest were examined in talks held in Stockholm by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis, Deputy Foreign Minister Frank Belfrage and European Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmstrom in light of Sweden's assumption of the EU Presidency on July 1, 2009.

    According to a Greek foreign ministry announcement, the issue of illegal immigration, which is now a major European issue and a top priority one, was high on the agenda of talks, while Valynakis called on the Swedish Presidency to assist the Commission's task and to take practical measures proving in practice that the problem in question is not a national but a European one.

    The deputy foreign minister also stressed the need for the immediate resumption of negotiations between the EU and Turkey to conclude a Readmission Agreement and for the immedate implementation of the existing Greek-Turkish Readmission Protocol.

    As regards talks held on EU enlargement, special reference was made to the European course of Turkey and the Western Balkans and Valynakis pointed out that it is up to the candidate countries to fulfill in time and in full all the criteria and preconditions set by Europe.

    [09] FM calls on Skopje to enter latest round of talks with different approach

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday called on the leadership of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) to enter the latest round of UN-sponsored talks on the nagging "name issue" with a different approach than in the recent past.

    Bakoyannis made the statement on the occasion of the same-day re-commencement of talks in Geneva between Athens' and Skopje's representatives, Amb. Adamantios Vassilakis and Amb. Zoran Jolevski, respectively.

    UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz will again mediate the talks.

    "They (the Skopje government's leadership) have received the message from all European and NATO (member-states') governments. I trust that they will arrive with a different political rationale in this current negotiation than in the past, so that they, also, will seek out a mutually acceptable name," the Greek foreign minister said after a meeting in Athens with her visiting Vietnamese counterpart Pham Gia Khiem.

    Asked about the possibility of a meeting with her counterpart from fYRoM, Antonio Milososki, on the sidelines of an upcoming informal OSCE foreign ministers' meeting on the Ionian island of Corfu, Bakoyannis said Milososki's office has requested such a meeting.

    "I will try to meet with him," Bakoyannis said, adding that confirmed one-on-one meetings so far are with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu.

    The talks between the two south Balkan neighbours will resume in the Swiss city in the early afternoon on Monday, following a four-month suspension due to presidential elections in the one-time Yugoslav republic and European Parliament elections in Greece earlier this month.

    Nimetz is expected to arrive in Skopje on July 6, coming to Athens two days later.

    [10] UN mediator Nimetz meets Ambassador Vassilakis ahead of Skopje, Athens visits

    GENEVA (ANA)

    UN special mediator in talks on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Matthew Nimetz, met in Geneva on Monday with Greek Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis and his FYROM counterpart Zoran Jolevski. The meeting was held in the framework of visits that the American mediator is expected to make to Skopje on July 6-7 and Athens on July 8-9.

    Speaking after the meeting, Nimetz said that a number of issues were examined on which the main talks will be held in Athens and Skopje. Nimetz said that he will work in the best way with both sides to enable a mutually acceptable solution to be achieved.

    Vassilakis spoke of the meeting's preparatory nature, underlining Nimetz's desire to meet with both sides in Geneva following the four-month discontinuation of the negotiations (due to elections in FYROM), in light of his visit to the two capitals.

    On the question of FYROM's stance, Vassilakis said that he did not ascertain any change in their positions, adding that both sides will continue to work to enable an acceptable solution to be found.

    [11] Announcement by UN on FYROM name talks

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    An announcement issued by the UN Secretariat on Tuesday stressed that the UN special mediator in talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Matthew Nimetz, following his meeting in Geneva on Monday with the representatives of the two countries, said that the meeting took place in light of his upcoming visit to Skopje and Athens and that "they discussed in depth issues that have been functioning so far as a drawback in finding a mutually acceptable solution."

    The announcement also mentioned that "Mr. Nimetz will continue the discussion regarding the name, in accordance with UN resolutions," adding that the main purpose of the meeting was to prepare for the meetings in Skopje on July 6-7 and Athens on July 8-9 and "for us to see whether there is ground for achieving an agreement on this issue."

    [12] Foreign Ministry confirms arrest of Greek journalist in Iran

    Foreign ministry spokeman Grigoris Delavekouras, confirmed on Tuesday the arrest of a Greek journalist in Iran and stressed that suitable demarches are being made for a favourable end to be given to the issue soon.

    Replying to a relevant question by the press, the spokesman said that "we confirm that a Greek journalist who was working in Iran has been arrested, at the end of last week, by the Iranian Authorities. The Foreign Ministry, from the very beginning, has been in contact with his family. We have made all the suitable demarches at all levels, and we are in constant contact with the Iranian Authorities to enable a favourable end to be given to this issue soon."

    [13] Gov't on presidential election

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros cited the statements by the prime minister on Friday, when called on to comment on main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou's stance in support of a second term in office for President Karolos Papoulias.

    Antonaros added that the president is very popular and symbolizes unity, stressing that the ruling New Democracy (ND) will offer him its unreserved support for a second term provided that he wants to stay in office.

    The government spokesman accused Papandreou and PASOK of playing games involving the country's supreme institution.

    [14] Gov't on postponement of Erdogan visit

    A Greek government spokesman on Monday underlined that he has no information beyond the content of a telephone communication between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday morning, where the latter cancelled a visit to Athens scheduled for the same day due to health reasons.

    Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros was responding to a question on whether he regards the causes that led to the postponement of the Turkish premier's trip as sincere.

    Antonaros added that the "Turkish leader himself stated that he wishes to visit Athens as soon as possible to tour the New Acropolis Museum with PM Karamanlis."

    Moreover, he reminded that the government has no relation to whatever press speculation in the local press regarding the postponement, while calling for an end to whatever misinformation regarding the development.

    [15] Alavanos takes back resignation

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos on Monday afternoon reversed his decision to resign from Parliament, following a week of intense wrangling within the small leftist formation in the wake of a poor showing by SYRIZA in this month's European Parliament election.

    The head of the largest party in the leftist grouping, Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alexis Tsipras, expressed satisfaction at Alavanos' decision, while at the same time he disagreed with the latter's points regarding the Euro-election results and Synaspismos' role within the framework of SYRIZA, raising a number of questions.

    Alavanos withdrew his resignation during the SYRIZA secretariat meeting on Monday, and in a statement, assumed "full responsibility" for developments that took place between September 2007 and June 2009 that led to SYRIZA's failure in the Euro-elections, as he said.

    SYRIZA's measly 4.7 percent of the vote in the Euro-elections fell far short of opinion poll estimates in the months ahead of the election, with pollsters' estimates all dramatically off the mark, as it turned out. SYRIZA also managed to send only one MEP to the European Parliament.

    [16] Police examining Revolutionaries Sect proclamation

    The proclamation by the Revolutionaries Sect group with which the organisation assumes responsibility for the slaying of policeman Antonis-Nektarios Savvas, 41, in the Athens district of Ano Patissia last week, is in the hands of the Antiterrorist Squad since Monday night. The proclamation was written on a computer and is included in a CD sent by the group to the newspaper "Ta Nea" on Monday morning.

    According to what has been revealed, the seven-page text threatens everyone and, as Antiterrorist Service officers noted, an effort is being made to make an ideogical apprach to matters.

    "We shall strike all the dominant apparatuses, institutional agencies and proxy persons," the proclamation said, among other things.

    Furthermore, according to police sources, extensive reference is also made to other groups of the so-called "urban guerrilla struggle."

    The text is being examined by special analysts, while investigations are continuing to detect those responsible for the killing.

    [17] President Medvedev meets Patriarch of Alexandria

    CAIRO (ANA-MPA/N.Katsikas)

    Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Thodoros II welcomed on Tuesday Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the historic monastery of Saint George in Cairo.

    The Russian president, who is currently on an officil visit to Egypt, said that his country "supports the work done by the Alexandria Patriarchate," expressing also his satisfaction for the support offered by Egypt to the Orthodox Church of Africa.

    President Medvedev extended an invitation to Patriarch Theodoros to visit Moscow.

    Speaking both in Greek and in Russian, Patriarch Theodoros referred to the work by the Patriarchate and the harmonious coexistence of Christians and Muslims, underlining at the same time the Egyptian state's and President Hosni Mubarak's support for the Orthodox Church.

    Present at the meeting were Greek Ambassador to Egypt Ioannis Alexios Zepos, Russian Ambassador in Cairo Igor Bogdanov and other officials.

    [18] Discontinuation of Eleftheros Typos newspaper, City 99.5 FM radio station, announced

    Discontinuation of the publication of major Athens daily Eleftheros Typos newspaper and broadcast of the radio station City 99.5 FM was announced at noon on Monday, due to losses.

    According to an announcement, the general assemblies of shareholders of the IDRYMA TYPOU (Press Foundation) S.A., which publishes the newspapers 'Eleftheros Typos' and its Sunday edition 'Typos Tis Kyriakis", and of the "CITY S.A. Radio Enterprises', held on Friday, June 19, "unanimously decided the discontinuation of the two companies and to place them in the process of liquidation".

    The announcement explained that "this development is the result of a permanent decision of Theodoros and Gianna Angelopoulos to permanently withdraw from all business activity in the Mass Media sector", adding that "the continuous losses led to this decision".

    "When three years ago the responsibility for 'Eleftheros Typos' was undertaken, the goal was not only to salvage a historic (newspaper) title. The goal was also to contribute to seeking a new type, and at the same time broader, public discussion, and indeed in a phase of changes that characterises our era," the announcement said.

    The announcement further said that "in the entire 'Eleftheros Typos' venture, substantial financial resources were invested", but "mainly and foremost, substantial human resources were mobilised, both in the newspaper and the radio station".

    "The effort was bit successful," the announcement added.

    "The information model prevalent in our country, the continuing accumulation of losses combined with the negative prospects of the branch, together with the conviction that it is incomprehensible that a news medium operates with large losses, and with this continuing long-term -- without leading to misinterpretations -- contributed to the realisation of the necessity of the above decisions," the announcement continued.

    The announcement further said that "the companies will fully meet their obligations to the staff and all their collaborators", and extended a "big thank you" to all those people for their efforts.

    According to press sources, the final edition of Eleftheros Typos newspaper will appear on Tuesday, while the radio station discontinued broadcasts on Monday.

    [19] ESIEA calls media strike following closure of newspaper

    The Athens Union of Journalists (ESIEA) on Monday called a 24-hour strike beginning at 5:00 the same day until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, in protest of the closure of newspapers.

    The strike call came on the heels of a surprise announcement just hours earlier of the immediate closure of Athens daily 'Eleftheros Typos' newspaper and its sister radio station City 99.5 FM.

    [20] Gov't regrests on closure of newspaper

    The government on Monday expressed its regret for the discontinuation of the Athens daily 'Eleftheros Typos' newspaper announced earlier in the day.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros expressed the government's, and his personal, regret over any news medium that ceases operation.

    "Much more so when it is a newspaper with a big, histrocial tradition and road. Every voice of information contributes to and reinforces the quality of democracy in our country," Antonaros said.

    To a relevant question, the spokesman said that he does not comment on business decisions, adding that polyphony in Greece was ensured.

    Financial News

    [21] EU Commission measures to boost economies

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    The European Commission on Tuesday said that after announcing measures to boost their economies, member-states must now consider fiscal consolidation and drafting strategies to exiting the crisis.

    In a report on the quality of public finances in the EU this year, the Commission expressed its concern over a worsening fiscal condition in member-states and stressed widening fiscal deficits and public debts across Europe, oversized spending by governments to support their financial sectors, increasing spending on social benefits and pensions and slower growth rates. The Commission said it was necessary to draft an exit strategy from the crisis, through reforms in the pension system and actions to achieve fiscal consolidation. These measures must be implemented when economic growth returned to the EU and consumer confidence was restored.

    Greece's general government deficit reached 5% of GDP in 2008 against an official target of 1.6% of GDP included in the December

    2007 update of the stability programme, the European Commission said in its report on member-states' finances.

    The deviation of almost 3 percentage points of GDP reflects both revenue shortfalls and expenditure overruns. Total revenue was almost 1 percentage point of GDP less than budgeted, due to the lower than- expected yield of the revenue-enhancing measures implemented in 2008. Expenditure overruns in turn, amounted at around 2% of GDP, reflecting primary current expenditure slippages and higher-than-estimated debt-servicing payments.

    As the impact on the Greek economy of the global economic downturn has been limited the government did not implement any fiscal stimulus and financial sector rescue operations in 2008. The debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 97% in 2008, due both to the rise in general government deficit and the slowdown in GDP growth. Stock-flow adjustment remained sizeable, reaching the highest level of the recent years.

    Despite the worse-than-expected budgetary outturn in 2008, the deficit target for 2009 remains unchanged at 3.7% of GDP (including a deficit reducing one-off measures of 0.5% of GDP), as set in the January 2009 update of the stability programme. On account of a less favourable growth scenario and a prudent assessment of the revenue enhancing measures, consistent with past outcomes, the Commission services project a deficit of just above 5% of GDP in 2009. Overall, the fiscal stance is foreseen to be mildly restrictive in 2009. Given the lack of room for fiscal manoeuvre and in view of the large economic imbalances, the Greek government has not adopted a short-term stimulus package in response to the economic slowdown, in line with the EERP.

    However, a number of fiscal consolidation measures have been undertaken by the Greek authorities. More specifically, the revenue-to-GDP ratio is projected to grow by 1 percentage point of GDP in 2009, on the back of a revenue-enhancing package presented in the stability programme. This package includes higher excise duties on tobacco and alcohol products, an increase in the advance payment rate for enterprises and the introduction of a tax on dividends, capital gains and stock options. On the revenue side, the authorities have also proceeded with the settlement of past years' tax obligations, including the collection of delinquent obligations to the state.

    Moreover, in March, an additional one-off supplementary tax contribution was decided to be imposed on taxpayers with an annual income above 60.000 euro. Total expenditure in turn, is estimated to decrease by about of a percentage point of GDP in 2009, stemming from a wide spending-constraining set of measures, including limitations for public sector employment growth, cuts in the public sector's high-level officials' remuneration and a 10% cut in current expenditure. In addition, the Greek government announced a public wages freeze for 2009 and the intensification of efforts to contain primary expenditure.

    Under no-policy-change assumption, the Commission services' project the 2010 deficit at 5% of GDP. This compares with the revised official target of 2.9% of GDP, from 3.2% of GDP set in the stability programme. The 2010 target is not underpinned with concrete measures.

    The Commission services' spring 2009 forecast projects the debt-to-GDP ratio to exceed 103% in 2009 and rise further to 108% in 2010. These projections are higher than the official targets for both years, due to a less favourable growth projection and more realistic deficit estimations.

    Apart from the rising deficit and declining GDP, a sizeable stock-flow adjustment contributes to the strong rise in the debt ratio. Additional financial transactions within the framework of the financial sector support package may also put further upward pressure to the debt-to-GDP ratio.

    [22] EU Council of Agriculture Ministers

    New regions in the country will be included in the underprivileged regions category, where increased subsidies and economic incentives will be provided, after the European Union's Council of Agriculture Ministers accepted a proposal by Greece, on the reassessment of underprivileged regions on the basis of new biophysical critreria.

    Deputy Agricultural Development and Food Minister Costas Kiltidis participated in the council's meeting which decided that the new reassessment for these regions will be financed with EU funds.

    Kiltidis called for the taking of measures for European milk production (such as the doubling of state subsidies), while also proposing the preservation and improvement of trade models with the aim of promoting the quality and diversity of farm products.

    [23] Alpha Bank calls for fiscal consolidation, econ reforms

    Alpha Bank chairman Yiannis Kostopoulos on Tuesday urged efforts to effectively deal with the Greek economy's structural weaknesses and to improve its international competitiveness amid the ongoing global financial crisis.

    Addressing a regular general shareholders' meeting, the Greek banker said the main task would be an effective reduction of fiscal deficits and public debt to lighten the burden on the cost of money, both for the public and the private sectors of the economy.

    Kostopoulos also urged additional interventions towards a more effective functioning of markets, strengthening competition and promoting reforms in the civil service sector.

    In 2009, due to the adverse economic environment, the banking sector is expected to decline and risks to increase, Kostopoulos said, adding that under these circumstances, Alpha Bank implemented stricter credit criteria and took measures to control operating costs, while it was promoting actions to support its net interest margin.

    The bank will not pay a dividend for 2008 because of its participation in a state-sponsored programme to boost liquidity in the Greek economy.

    Alpha Bank chief executive Demetrios Matzounis, addressing the same meeting, said a timely evaluation of credit risk and effective measures to deal with the problem were the bank's main concern, along with actions to boost its competitive advantage.

    [24] Report: Greek banks resilient

    The Greek banking sector has the ability to overcome even the most extreme crisis, the Bank of Greece said in its first report on financial stability, published on Tuesday. The central bank, however, stressed that vigilance was needed since "uncertainty over the course of global and European economies remained at high level despite the emergence of some encouraging signs".

    The "stress test" on the Greek banking system, based on a sample of nine banks accounting for 80 pct of the system's assets, offered encouraging results, the Bank of Greece announced. The aim of the test, conducted in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was to evaluate the "resistance" of the Greek banking system.

    The test evaluated the effects of an extremely negative macro-economic scenario for Greece calling for the shrinking of the GDP by an accumulated 3.0 pct over the next two years, combined with an increase of lending interest rates by 4.0 pct. Under this scenario, Greek banks' delayed loans would grow from 5.0 pct in 2008 to 12.7 pct at the end of 2010.

    The central bank noted that the percentage of bad loans grew to around 6.0 pct in the first quarter of 2009, while the system's net interest margin fell by 0.5 pct due to a higher cost of raising capital compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, and a slowing down of the credit expansion growth rate.

    The stress test also showed that the average rate of bad loans in emerging markets - where Greek banks have established activities -- could triple by the end of 2010 under the most extreme negative scenario, while in some cases it would rise 10 fold.

    The test was based on the hypothesis that pre-tax profits would fall by 15 pct this year, rising by 10 pct in 2010.

    [25] FinMin announces measures on pleasure boats

    Economy and Finance Minister Yannis Papathanassiou announced on Monday that his ministry will take measures to combat the widespread tax evasion in the pleasure boats sector.

    "It's a sector that that is malfunctioning and the current provisions are not being followed" said Papathanassiou. The measures will include a new corporate legal status to encourage the owners to sail under the Greek flag.

    The measures will not affect sailboats up to 12 meters and pleasure boats up to 10 meters in length.

    [26] Greek unemployment at 9.3 pct in Q1

    Greek unemployment jumped to 9.3 pct in the first quarter of 2009, from 8.3 pct in the same period last year, the National Statistical Service said on Monday.

    The statistics agency said the number of unemployed people totaled 462,343 in the first three months of 2009, from 406,547 last year. The unemployment rate among women totaled 13 pct, while among men the unemployment rate was 6.8 pct. The 15-29 age group recorded the highest unemployment rate (18.5 pct), followed by the 30-44 age group (8.5 pct). The percentage of new unemployed totaled 29.2 pct in the January-March, while long-term unemployement rate was 41.3 pct.

    Southern Aegean (16.9 pct), Western Macedonia (14.4 pct) and Ionian Islands (14.1 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates. The statistics agency said the number of employed people in the country totaled 4,485,758 in the first quarter of 2009.

    [27] Building materials' price index down 1.3 pct in May

    Greece's building materials' price index fell by 1.3 pct in May, compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 6.6 pct in May 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.

    The statistics agency, said that the composite index was up 0.2 pct in May from April 2009, after an increase of 1.3 pct in the corresponding period in 2008.

    [28] Greek stocks end 1.11% up

    Greek stocks ended higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, recovering after Monday's sharp sell-off. The composite index rose 1.11 pct to end at 2,167.25 points, with turnover a low 173.8 million euros, of which 3.8 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved upwards, with the Utilities (4.39 pct), Health (3.97 pct) and Telecommunications (3.04 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (2.74 pct), Financial Services (1.85 pct) and Media (1.80 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 1.12 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.85 pct up and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.14 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 104 to 98 with another 50 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.74%

    Industrials: -0.79%

    Commercial: -0.61%

    Construction: +0.04%

    Media: -1.80%

    Oil & Gas: +0.85%

    Personal & Household: +1.55%

    Raw Materials: +1.37%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.79%

    Technology: -0.02%

    Telecoms: +3.04%

    Banks: +0.99%

    Food & Beverages: -0.89%

    Health: +3.97%

    Utilities: +4.39%

    Chemicals: -0.88%

    Financial Services: -1.85%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Alpha Bank and Bank of Cyprus.

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

    Alpha Bank: 7.70

    ATEbank: 1.56

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.20

    HBC Coca Cola: 13.59

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.80

    National Bank of Greece: 17.90

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.19

    Intralot: 4.20

    OPAP: 20.80

    OTE: 11.52

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.20

    Titan Cement Company: 18.73

    [29] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -3.18 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 74.910 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,756 contracts worth 62.625 million euros, with 21,157 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,153 contracts worth 12.285 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,082), followed by Eurobank (768), MIG (591), OTE (799), PPC (627), Piraeus Bank (1,207), Alpha Bank (1,050), Marfin Popular Bank (1,469), Cyprus Bank (2,382) and ATEbank (511).

    [30] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 795 million euros on Tuesday, of which 370 million were buy orders and the remaining 425 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 310 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 189 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.35 pct and the German Bund 3.46 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.65 pct, the six-month rate was 1.47 pct, the three-month rate 1.26 pct and the one-month rate 0.96 pct.

    [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.409

    Pound sterling 0.864

    Danish kroner 7.503

    Swedish kroner 11.191

    Japanese yen 134.56

    Swiss franc 1.515

    Norwegian kroner 9.171

    Canadian dollar 1.623

    Australian dollar 1.788

    General News

    [32] Gov't: Bring Marbles back

    The Greek government on Monday pointed directly to regurgitated excuses and a continued negative stance by British Museum officials regarding the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, with a government spokesman stressing that "all excuses used by those who invented different pretenses to keep integral parts of this unique monument outside Greece have failed."

    "They should return them," spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said, referring to the Marbles during the first week of operation for the New Acropolis Museum at the foot of the Acropolis.

    "They (Marbles) should be brought back to Greece to the place they belong. It is unacceptable for a monument to be broken into pieces. I am certain that those who will visit the Museum will not have the slightest doubt that this has to be done and I am certain that in the end it (return of the Marbles) will."

    He also spoke of "desperate efforts by those who have done wrong, to defend their positions."

    Antonaros also expressed certainty that the Museum itself will play a decisive role in demolishing "obsolete positions, ones that will be impossible to defend anymore."

    [33] BoG governor briefs President Papoulias on climatic change study

    Bank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos visited President Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday and briefed him on the Bank's initiatives regarding the central bank's study on the economic and social repercusions of climatic change.

    According to an announcement by the Bank of Greece, the governor informed the president that it is the first time in Greece that authoritative scientists of different orientations on the climate, environment, energy, the economy and society are cooperating on the study of this important problem.

    The study began on 1/3/2009 and is expected to be completed in two years.

    [34] Int'l conference on people with disabilities and mass media

    The keynote speakers at the 4th International Conference on "People with Disabilities and Mass Media - From traditional mass media to network communities" underlined on Monday that the mass media can play a dynamic role in eliminating the stereotypes and prejudices, while contributing to greater tolerance toward social diversity.

    Addressing the two-day conference at the Secretariat General of Information - Secretariat General of Communication Media Center, Deputy Health Minister Marios Salmas stressed that the objective that has been set out is to ensure that people with disabilities will have equal opportunities with the rest of the citizens.

    Secretary-General of Communication Margarita Papada-Chimona pointed out that "we support an open society, accessible to all and with equal opportunities for all."

    The conference will focus on the legal framework concerning people with disabilities and the Media; people with disabilities and Corporate Social Responsibility, disability and advertisement; people with disabilities from traditional mass media to network communities and disability: the children innovate and create their means of communication.

    Sponsors of communication are public-run ERT radio and television, Prisma +, NET 105.8 and ANA-MPA.

    [35] Interior Minister meets Chinese counterpart

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos met on Monday with his visiting Chinese counterpart Yin Weimin and discussed issues concerning the public administration, e-governance and the cooperation between the two countries on the latter sectors.

    After the meeting, Pavlopoulos said that "we decided not only to continue but also to intensify our cooperation and to revise the agreement we have signed, if necessary, in order to be able to exchange information, especially on issues concerning e-governance and the citizen's access to public administration.

    From his part, the Chinese official expressed his satisfaction and referred to the two countries' close relations and their ancient civilizations that bind them, as well as to the excellent foundations that were set in recent years between Greece and China.

    He also announced that he invited Pavlopoulos to visit China.

    [36] Illegal immigrants deported from country

    Twenty-five Afghan illegal immigrants were deported from Greece on Tuesday with a special charter flight departing from Athens airport. It is the second mass deportation of illegal immigrants in a few days, after 55 Pakistanis were deported on June 10.

    The deportations are taking place at the European Union's expense and the deportees are accompanied by a strong police force. Those deported were provided with travel documents by the authorities of their countries of origin, following an appeal made by the Greek authorities and the EU.

    Weather Forecast

    [37] Cloudy, rainy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and possible local showers, and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 30C. Cloudy in Athens with possible local showers, with southwesterly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 19C to 29C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 25C.

    [38] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The grand inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum on Saturday evening in Athens, the Greek people's resounding demand for the Parthenon Marbles' repatriation and speculation of early general elections dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The demand for the Parthenon Marbles' repatriation is international - Foreign newspapers and media support Greece's demand".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Open letter to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles".

    AVRIANI: "Danger of collapse of the political system - Opinion poll indicates that the majority of the people reject both mainstream political parties (ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK)".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "The Marbles call the Marbles - International demand for Parthenon Marbles repatriation".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Symbol of self-confidence - International admiration for the New Acropolis Museum".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Citizens may 'finger' tax evaders" - Economy Ministry, in its official website, calls on the citizens to become snitches".

    ESTIA: "The new Museum is the golden opportunity for Athens to become an international centre of attraction".

    ETHNOS: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' two 'emergency exits' - Government members' recommendations for early elections and government reshuffle are contradictory".

    TA NEA: "Here's the theft! The 'amputated' frieze causes shock".

    VRADYNI: "The Marbles' silent protest - Emotion and awe before the 'amputated' Parthenon frieze".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [39] Turkish PM statement on Cyprus issue is misleading, Kyprianou says

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou has described as "unfair and misleading" the statement by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claiming that the Greek Cypriot side puts obstacles in the process to solve the Cyprus problem.

    Invited Tuesday to comment on Erdogan statement after a lunch hosted by the Czech Embassy in Cyprus for the Ambassadors of the EU member states in the presence of President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, Kyprianou said that "it is both unfair and misleading".

    He expressed the belief that "it is clear which side is constructive, who is submitting proposals that serve the well-understood interest of both sides on the island, constructive proposals which are in compliance with the desired form of the solution, a bizonal, bicommunal federation, supported by the United Nations and the European Union".

    He noted that "on the contrary, unfortunately, proposals submitted by the other side tend more towards a confederal solution resulting in causing even more discussions and time consuming procedures".

    Kypianou said that "our EU partners know these things, so Erdogan can make as many remarks and speeches as he wants", adding that "our partners are informed, they know what the approaches of both sides are" and will not give faith to such a form of propaganda.

    "We expected Erdogan to be more consistent with his statements that he supports the process to solve the Cyprus problem", he noted.

    Asked about the visit of the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to Cyprus on Wednesday and whether the common lunch with the leaders of the two communities has been settled, the foreign minister said that the lunch was included in the program of the visit.

    "Barring the unexpected, this lunch will take place", he said.

    Replying to a question as to the reasons of Barroso visit, Kyprianou said that "Barroso is coming to Cyprus, firstly, visiting an EU member state", saying that "we have European issues to discuss".

    "Secondly", he added, he is visiting the island "as Head of the Monitoring Group for Cyprus of the European Commission, led by him, after our request".

    He added that the meeting with the Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat and discussion on Cyprus would take place in this framework.

    Asked whether there is a possibility the announcement of the opening of Limnitis crossing point to coincide with Barroso visit, Kyprianou said that "everything depends on how constructive the other side will be".

    "As you know, every time it makes out new arguments and new demands which complicate the opening of the crossing point", the minister said.

    For the past 45 years, Greek Cypriot residents in the area of Limnitis, on the northwest, have to travel to Paphos, on the western coast, and Limassol, on the south, in order to reach the capital Nicosia. Opening a crossing point at Limnitis would make this journey far shorter. In the recent past, several crossing points to and from the island's northern Turkish occupied areas have opened to facilitate the movement of people.

    Cyprus President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.

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