|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 11 July 2009 Issue No: 3242
 PM Karamanlis calls for intensified efforts on economyPrime minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed on the course of the economy and the national economy and finance ministry's activities, during a visit to the ministry on Friday, where he chaired a two-hour meeting of the ministry leadership comprising minister Yiannis Papathanassiou, the deputy ministers and the secretaries general.
Karamanlis noted afterwards that the global financial crisis has impacted all countries without exception, explaining that the Greek economy was facing severe pressures, on top of its chronic structural weaknessed.
The biggest burden on the Greek economy was the state debt, the servicing of which will require 12 billion euros in 2009 alone, he pointed out.
This year will be a difficult one, the prime minister warned, but added on the upside that Greece is the only European Union member country with a positive growth rate prediction, while unemployment is anticipated at one percentage point below the eurozone average.
Karamanlis further noted the efforts being made to curb expenditures, stressing that changes and reforms were mandatory, and announced that the government will draft a new salary scale for newly-hired employees, the 'opening' of the so-called closed professions, the abolition and merger of state agencies, checks and controls on medicines, and other steps.
The premer also pointed out that the EU's Third Community Support Framework (CSF) has been completed, while more than 50 percent of the projects included in the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) have already been tendered. Further, regarding the Public and Private Sector Collaborations (SDIT) program, Karamanlis noted that the construction has begun of the first such projects, while from here on one new project will be tendered each month.
Finally, Karamanlis said he called for further intensification of efforts, so that "not a single day, not a single hour, will be wasted".
 Fiscal targets 'completely derailed', PASOK chargesThe figures released by the Bank of Greece for the first five months of 2009 revealed "a complete fiscal derailment," main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou commented on Friday.
The spokesman pointed out that Greece was already at 90 percent of the public deficit target in that time, indicating that matters had careered out of control and that the government had no hope of meeting budget targets for the year.
Commenting on the premier's statements during his visit to the finance ministry on Friday, Papaconstantinou said that the premier had "glossed over" the central bank's report and added that "he has no plan, every day we are discovering new taxes, every day we are discovering that we cannot curb spending".
 Karamanlis briefed on FYROM name issue proposalsPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred Friday with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis at Maximos Mansion, the government headquarters in Athens.
Bakoyannis stated that they discussed all pending foreign policy issues, underlining that "we have a difficult and at the same time interesting six-month period ahead."
Baakoyannis briefed Karamanlis on the new proposals tabled by UN mediator in the FYROM name dispute Matthew Nimetz and the timetable of the meetings on the issue by Greece's negotiator, ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis.
"The substantive change underlined by Nimetz is the desire for substantive negotiation emerging in Skopje," Bakoyannis said, adding that "I hope that this is real and that FYROM's leadership realizes that the solution of the name issue is for the benefit of the people of FYROM."
 Gov't spokesman on PM's schedulePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be in Madrid on Monday, July 13 for contacts with his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the leader of Spain's opposition Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy.
The PM will return to Athens later in the afternoon on the same day.
 Papandreou: new technologies can empower societySocieties needed to learn to share and use the power of the Internet in order to empower themselves for the benefit of the common good, citizens and the environment, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed on Friday.
He was speaking at an International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies in Education organised by Canada's University of Fraser Valley in collaboration with the Ionian University, on the Greek island of Corfu.
"This is a political dilemma that we must all answer, particularly teachers," he underlined, noting that Greece's current centrally controlled and top-down education system reflected "a need to control the strength and the need for change felt by young people".
Papandreou also criticised Greek schools as "concentration camps" that bore little relation to the everyday experiences of children and young people, who became bored and disaffected and saw no reason to be at school, linking this with the violent events of the previous December.
"Technology is not neutral and the Internet, also, is not neutral. It is a web but it can become a spider's web," PASOK's leader added.
He listed 10 points related to the challenges and opportunities presented by the use of new technologies in education:
Among these he cited the creation of a "common wealth of information" and the "development and utilisation of an ocean of information". He also referred to the need to develop the ability to evaulate and adopt a critical approach to the information received, the ability to collate information from different fields and to apply knowledge.
PASOK's president called for the creation of innovation centres that did not just target markets but were also social tools and referred to the ability for collective learning as opposed to individual learning.
"Let us use technology in order to find solutions to shared problems," he said, pointing out that the new capabilities could have a major effect on developing and using each person's talents.
"Technology, as an ability giving power, can and should become an important force for democratic revolution," he stressed.
After his address, Papandreou took part in a discussion on "The Open School in Greece" and was later scheduled to meet representatives of the local tourism sector.
 PASOK leader on tourism industryMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met on the island of Corfu on Friday with local tourism industry represen-tatives.
"Beyond the international economic conjuncture, Greek tourism goes through a more permanent crisis, which is due to the government's policy, the lack of investments, planning and vision," Papandreou told reporters after the meeting.
 Antonaros dismisses reports linking politicians to kidnappers as 'unsupported'People should not allow themselves to be affected by unsupported claims, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Friday, responding to questions about reports linking members of the government and a gang of common criminals that was arrested for the kidnapping of ship-owner Periklis Panagopoulos the previous week.
"I will on no account comment on a case that is still underway and under investigation by justice. It is a success of the Greek Police, which through systematic work has succeeded in uncovering this affair that is, however, still in the stage of being fully explored," the spokesman added.
He had been asked to comment on a statement by a member of ruling New Democracy, who had complained of a "cartel of lawyers selectively leaking information".
"I am certain that citizens are not affected by either whispers, or unsupported claims or the rumours that certain people are putting about," he told reporters when asked if the reports involving political figures and the kidnappers - the latest being that of the government secretary Prof. Argyris Karras - were damaging the government's image.
Asked whether the government was satisfied with the way the tapped conversations carried out by the gang using mobile phones had been handled, Antonaros stressed that nothing should be done to prevent a full investigation of the affair.
"What is important is that plenty of light be shed on the case. All the rest that is being said is incidental to the case," he added, stressing that people should not allow themselves to be "dazzled or impressed or made to lose sight of the overall picture by certain whispers, claims and rumours."
The reports are based on claims made by members of the gang during their testimony and in conversations on their mobile phones that were recorded by the authorities, as well as known links between junior members of the government and one of the accused that was also a well-known contractor.
 PASOK spokesman on the arrest of ship owner kidnappersMain opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou pointed out that the kidnapping of ship owner Periklis Panagopoulos "is a criminal case but certain evidence points at the likelihood of involvement of political figures."
"Clear answers are needed and political will," he said, to convince that there is no involvement whatsoever of political figures.
Papaconstantinou made the comment referring to last week's arrest of a gang of common criminals in relation to Panago-poulos' abduction earlier this year.
 Head guard at Alikarnassos prison suspended from dutyJustice Minister Nikolaos Dendias on Friday ordered that the head prison guard of the Alikarnassos prison be suspended from duty while a disciplinary inquiry into his actions is carried out by a public prosecutors in Iraklio on Crete.
The minister also ordered an official internal inquiry under oath to examine reports in the media alleging that the head guard had made arrangements with an inmate at Trikala prison to ensure his transfer to the Alikarnassos prison.
 Culture Minister visits Larissa, central GreeceCulture Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday visited the city of Larissa in central Greece, accompanied by Deputy Sports Minister Yiannis Ioannidis.
In comments he made on the occasion of the Mediterranean Games to be hosted by Volos and Larissa in 2013, he pointed out that the goal for the region is to have significant gains both in sports and on a cultural level. He also underlined the need for better programming regarding the post-Mediterranean Games use of the facilities.
In view of the reception of the Mediterranean Games flag on Monday, the culture minister announced the financing of restoration works at the Ancient Theater of Larissa with an additional 5 million euros through the źCompetitiveness and Entrepreneurship╗ (EPAN ╔╔) programme and the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF). He underlined its importance as a monument and tourist attraction as well as its utilization during the games.
On his part, the Deputy Sports Minister observed that the post-games utilization of the projects is guaranteed and clarified that the "games' file provides that the materialization of the works will be launched in 2011-2012 but in fact they will start much earlier."
The coastal city of Volos in central Greece will be the next stop for the culture minister where he will inaugurate a new wing at the Athanasakeio Archaeological Museum.
 KKE's Papariga meets with POSPERT representativesCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Central Committee General Secretary Aleka Papariga met Friday at the party offices in Perissos, Athens with representatives of the federation of trade unions of radio and television employees (POSPERT).
In comments she made afterwards, Papariga stated that "all efforts targeting the organizational structure of the trade unionist movement of employees in the mass media, radio and television, are unacceptable" and expressed her party's support to the sector's trade unions and federation that represent employees in private and public media, regardless of the labor relations type.
 Alavanos meets with police trade unionistsRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group leader Alekos Alavanos on Friday expressed support for the Greek police that protect the rights and freedoms of Greek people as well as the country's democratic course from any efforts aimed at creating tension and destabilization caused by terrorist acts.
In comments he made after meeting with the board of the Greek police trade union (POASY) at the party's offices in parliament on Friday, he said that it is unacceptable for police to be called in to solve problems caused by failed government policies.
Alavanos stated that the problems faced by the police will be brought up for discussion in parliament through questions to the government and in the meeting he will have with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday.
 Austrian ambassador to Syros, MykonosThe Austrian Ambassador to Greece, Dr. Michael Linhart, on Friday began a visit to the Greek islands of Syros and Mykonos, scheduled for July 10-15, in order to have talks on enhancing bilateral relations in the tourist, economic and cultural sectors.
Ambassador Dr. Linhart, who is accompanied by the Austrian Honorary Consul on Syros Dr. Georg Roubalis, emphasised at the start of the visit the importance of strengthening relations with the islands and establishing stronger ties with the people of this region.
The Cyclades islands are one of the most popular travel destinations of Austrian tourists in Greece. Every year, more than 17,000 Austrians spend their holidays on the Cycladic beaches and visit historical sites in the area.
An embassy press release said that the ambassador, while on Syros, held talks aimed at strengthening cooperation between Austria and the island with Cyclades region Secretary-General Haralambos Kokkinos, Cyclades Prefect Dimitris Bailas, local police chief Nikolaos Eteridis, coast guard chief Konstantinos Daras and the islands' chief public prosecutor Efstathia Salma.
Syros is also the regional capital for the Cyclades island group, where many of the administrative headquarters are based.
Dr. Linhart has stressed the excellent cooperation with authorities on Syros, while both the ambassador and the Greek Dialogue partners have emphasised the potential for investment in the areas of environmental technology and renewable energy; two areas in which Austria possesses considerable know-how.
The ambassador also met Ermoupolis May Ioannis Dekavallas and expressed contentment with the municipality's increasing interest in cultural cooperation between Syros and Austria.
On Friday night, the Austrian ambassador and his wife will attend the performance of the 'Stars of the Vienna State Opera Ballet' at the Apollo Theatre on the island.
As part of the visit, the ambassador will also have two meetings with the Greek Orthodox Bishop Dorotheos II Polikantriotis and the Greek Catholic Bishop Franziskos Papamanolis.
On his return journey, Dr. Linhart will stop at Mykonos for a meeting with local mayor Athanassios Kusathanas-Megas to discuss the possibilities for cultural exchange and further development of the tourism industry.
 Industrial production down 7.2 pct in MayIndustrial production fell 7.2 pct in May, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistical Service said on Friday.
The statistics agency said the average industrial production index for the period January-May 2009, was down 8.7 pct compared with the corresponding period last year.
 Air traffic controllers' strike put offThe air traffic controllers in Greece called off their 24-hour strike announced for Saturday.
A court issued a decision following an appeal filed by the Civil Aviation Authority ruling that the announced strike was illegal and undue.
 Greek exports down 15 pct in MayThe value of import-arrivals in Greece dropped by 38.2 percent to 3.304 billion euros in May, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistical Service said on Friday.
The statistics agency said the value of export-arrivals fell 15 pct in May to 1.333 billion euros, from 1.569 billion euros in May 2008.
 Greek stocks end 2.53 pct lowerGreek stocks ended sharply lower in the last trading session of a negative week in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market fell 2.53 pct to end at 2,106.13 points, losing 4.74 pct in the week. Turnover was an improved 201.3 million euros, of which 35.6 million were block trades.
All sectors moved lower, with the Travel (5.22 pct), Financial Services (4.79 pct), Utilities (4.20 pct), Personal/Home Products (4.17 pct) and Technology (3.36 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE 20 index fell 2.57 pct, the FTSE 40 index dropped 2.79 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 3.31 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 183 to 38 with another 38 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.90%
Personal & Household: -4.17%
Raw Materials: -2.99%
Travel & Leisure: -5.22%
Food & Beverages: -0.92%
Financial Services: -4.79%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Hellenic Cables and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.30
HBC Coca Cola: 14.79
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.08
National Bank of Greece: 16.38
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.11
Bank of Piraeus: 7.02
Titan Cement Company: 18.81
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 500 million euros on Friday, with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds at 173 basis points. The Greek bond yielded 5.01 pct and the German Bund 3.28 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.43 pct, the six-month rate 1.23 pct, the three-month rate 1.07 pct and the one-month rate 0.63 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.70 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising slightly to 47.030 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,128 contracts worth 37.782 million euros, with 26.643 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,528 contracts worth 9.248 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,136), followed by OTE (668), PPC (550), OPAP (704), Alpha Bank (874), Hellenic Postbank (1,303).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.401
Pound sterling 0.864
Danish kroner 7.506
Swedish kroner 11.090
Japanese yen 129.24
Swiss franc 1.526
Norwegian kroner 9.156
Canadian dollar 1.634
Australian dollar 1.808
 Prespa Lake programme in EU's top 5The 'LIFE-Nature' Programme 2002-2007 developed by the Society for the Protection of Prespa and WWF Hellas, designed to protect and preserve bird species in the Mikri Prespa Lake of northern Greece, has been named as one of the top five environmental programmes carried out in the EU during 2007-2008.
Its results were presented during a press conference on Friday at the village of Pyli in the Prespes Lake region, attended by the local mayor and officials from regional authorities, the agriculture ministry and the environment ministry.
Organisers reported an increase in the bird population around the lake and the construction of a dam to regulate the water level, covering the irrigation needs of farmers and livestock breeders in the area while at the same time restoring some 100 hectares of wetlands that provided a habitat for large populations for fish and birds.
According to spokeswoman Marianna Vlassi in statements to the ANA-MPA, the Society for the Protection of Prespa was continuing to fund actions designed to ensure integrated management of the wetlands - even though the programme was officially completed - but she stressed the need for financial support and specialised staff from the state.
 Town planning department employee arrested for taking bribesA Katerini town planning department employee was placed under arrest by Internal Affairs department officers on Friday, accused of taking bribes. The man was caught in the act of accepting 5,000 euros from the owner of a restaurant in order to facilitate the issue of a licence for changes to his premises. The restaurant owner had earlier reported him for demanding a bribe and Internal Affairs police moved in while the transaction, carried out with marked notes, was taking place.
The employee will now appear before a public prosecutor in order to be charged.
 Drug arrest at Thessaloniki's 'Macedonia' airportA 39-year-old Romanian man was apprehended at Thessaloniki's 'Macedonia' airport on Friday with nearly 3.5 kilos of heroin in his luggage. The man is believed to be working for an international drug-trafficking ring and was about to board a flight for London stopping at Athens.
The drugs, weighing 3.350 kilogrames were hidden in a special compartment in his suitcase.
The Romanian will now be led before a public prosecutor to be charged.
Authorities are also looking into the possibility that the suspect might belong to the same outfit as a 20-year-old Romanian arrested at the same airport last June with roughly 4.5 kilos of heroin in his suitcase, after arriving on a flight from Istanbul in order to catch a connecting flight to London.
 Customs officers intercept 10.760 kilos heroin at EvrosCustoms officials at a border crossing in Evros, on the extreme northeastern border of Greece, on Friday arrested a 21-year-old Lithuanian man attempting to smuggle 10.760 kilos of heroin into the country. Authorities believe the drugs were destined for markets in Athens.
The man was on a bus travelling from Istanbul to Athens and the drugs were discovered by customs officers during a routine check of his luggage. It was split into five packages hidden in a suitcase with a specially constructed compartment in the suitcase lining. The suitcase had also been filled with sticks of cinnamon in an attempt to confuse trained sniffer dogs.
Under interrogation, the Lithuanian said that he had received the order to transport the suitcase via the Internet and was to deliver it to an unknown individual that would approach him in Athens and give him 500 euros in payment.
The 21-year-old, who will appear before a public prosecutor to be charged, is the second Lithuanian caught at same customs post attempting to smuggle heroin into Greece, using exactly the same method.
 Police find guns, cannabis field during raids on CretePolice in Hania on Friday reported the discovery of a cannabis plantation and weapons in two raids carried out in the Sfakia region on the island of Crete.
During a raid on a house in Sfakia, police found four pistols, an assault weapon and a large number of bullets owned by two brothers aged 62 and 60 years old, who were placed under arrest.
The second raid was on a field containing 1250 cannabis plants that had been spotted by a police helicopter in a nearby gorge. Police went down into the gorge on Friday and uprooted the plants but failed to catch two Albanian men that were camped on a rise above the field in order to keep an eye on it. When they spotted the police approaching, the two men set fire to their tent and started running further into the gorge in order to escape arrest.
 Fire at old Appeals Court building on Sokratous StA fire broke out at around 2:00 a.m. on Saturday on one of the floors of the former Appeals Court building on Sokratous Street, near Omonia in central Athens. For some time now, the vacant building has acted as a refuge for dozens of homeless illegal immigrants who have squatted on the premises, resisting several attempts by authorities and police to drive them out on the grounds that the building is unfit for use and presents a hazard to public health.
 Spokesman: solution depends on positions of both sidesNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
If the positions which the two communities submit at the negotiations on a political settlement in Cyprus are based on the agreed basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, "then we could, with hard work, come to an agreement," Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Friday.
Invited to comment on Turkish Cypriot press reports that a solution is possible by the end of the year, Stephanou noted that this is not the first time that such positions have been expressed.
"This does not depend only on the Greek Cypriot side. This depends on both sides, in the sense that there are no timetables and there is also the provision that the settlement will be put for approval at simultaneous and separate referenda," Stephanou stressed.
He noted that this is provided by the agreement between the two communities and with the UN Secretary General and by a UN resolution, that the solution must be mutually acceptable and agreed and that it must be put to separate and simultaneous referenda.
Stephanou said that for the time being no one can tell where the negotiating process stands and what the prospects are to reach an agreed settlement. It is clear, he added, that if the positions submitted at the negotiating table are not in line with the basis of a solution, then it will be difficult to reach an agreed settlement.
He noted that "there is no timetable before us, despite the fact that we have said that we want a settlement the soonest possible, because time does not work in favour of a settlement and the reunification of Cyprus, in the framework of a bicommunal, bizonal federation."
"The lapse of time works in favour of division," Stephanou pointed out, noting that "this is why we are working very intensively to reach a settlement."
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.
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