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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-31

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

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

Friday, 31 July 2009 Issue No: 3259

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM accepts Obama invitation for US visit
  • [02] Gov't on the economy
  • [03] PM Karamanlis briefed on optical fibers draft law
  • [04] Papandreou: Country needs new gov't
  • [05] Ministerial committee to convene Friday on novel inluenza
  • [06] Interview by FM GenSec on European affairs
  • [07] Judicial assistance from Italian officials regarding Siemens case
  • [08] Means and assets statements of MPs, MEPs made public
  • [09] PPC, Terna sign Rhodes power plant deal
  • [10] Sales turnover down 13.8%
  • [11] Hellenic Postbank eyes expansion
  • [12] Intesa Sanpaolo raises stake in Intralot to 5.0135 pct
  • [13] Stocks jump 3.38% on Thur.
  • [14] ADEX closing report
  • [15] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [16] Rescue operation for toddler who fell into irrigation ditch in Karditsa
  • [17] Illegals removed from 2 bldgs
  • [18] Dutch sailor airlifted to Hania hospital
  • [19] Foreign national charged with forcing companion into prostitution
  • [20] Two fires brake out in east-central Evia
  • [21] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [22] Cyprus President concerned over delays in opening Limnitis crossing point

  • [01] PM accepts Obama invitation for US visit

    The government spokesman on Thursday stated that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has accepted an invitation by US President Barack Obama to visit the United States, an invitation made during their bilateral meeting in Strasbourg recently.

    The spokesman added that details for such meetings are being decided via diplomatic channels.

    Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros made the comment when asked whether the prime minister will make a formal visit to the United States, where a decision will be made on Greece's inclusion in the visa waiver programme offered by America.

    As regards the personal data of the Greek citizens and whether they will be place at the disposal of the US agencies, Antonaros stressed that Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis made detailed observations on the issue while in Corfu last month.

    He stated that countries cooperate within the framework of international treaties and that Greece fully respects human rights and individual freedoms.

    [02] Gov't on the economy

    "There is always room for improvement and we are making all necessary efforts in this direction," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated Thursday when asked to comment on the loan flow to small and medium sized enterprises.

    He pointed out that the commissioners are doing their job and that the banks should not forget that they have a social mission to which they should respond.

    Antonaros underlined that the international crisis continues and advised against pretending that it is over.

    "We have not seen all its consequences yet but for Greece they are noticeably fewer compared to other countries governed by leaderships that share the same views with the president of main opposition PASOK party," Antonaros stressed.

    He stated that the government is monitoring the crisis and takes the necessary measures both to support the weaker incomes and for the day after the crisis.

    [03] PM Karamanlis briefed on optical fibers draft law

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed on an upcoming bill on optic fibers on Thursday by transport and communications minister Evrypides Stylianidis, who said the bill was ready to be put to public discussion.

    Stylianidis told reporters later that it was an ambitious bill that could enable Greece to make a significant "digital leap" to the front lines of Europe, "since we will be the first EU member state to use optical fiber in homes throughout the country".

    The bill provides for the connection of 52 Greek cities with optical fibers and will serve two million households, at the same time enabling an end to the isolation of the Greek periphery by ensuring equal opportunities to all citizens no matter what part of Greece they live in.

    To a question on the increase in ticket prices for the OSE railway, the minister said that the OSE modernisation and streamlining plan was progressing, noting that the new pricing and itinerary policy would enter into force on August 1.

    [04] Papandreou: Country needs new gov't

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday again reiterated his call for early elections that will lead to the "new government", this time during an address in Parliament during debate on a government draft bill eyeing reforms to the country's antiquated "heavy and hazardous" regime.

    Papandreou charged that the government has utterly failed to properly manage the economy and even engaged in "unconstitutional" practices, while he called the draft bill under discussion unacceptable and shoddily composed.

    The PASOK leader also charged that the budget deficit for the ongoing year was double than the figure during the corresponding period of 2008, reaching 18 billion euros. In pointing to PASOK's recipe for economic recovery, the opposition party leader cited an increase in public investments and what he called support of liquidity in the markets.

    Moreover, Papandreou said the government only took substantive measures against a possible outbreak of the novel influenza in the wake of his criticism.

    Minister's response

    In response to Papandreou's comments from Parliament's podium, Labour and Social Insurances Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, whose ministry tabled the relevant draft bill, referred to a "thirst for power".

    "Whoever listened to PASOK's leader understood one thing: That neither he nor you (PASOK MPs) are interested in the country or its citizens -- only a thirst for power.

    "Mr. Papandreou accused us of populism in our efforts to support employment. You are the ones exercising a populist policy when you ignore institutions, beginning with the president of the republic institution and continuing to issues involving employment and joblessness," she said, reminding that the oft-criticised "Stage" employment programmes were inaugurated when PASOK was in government.

    On his part, ruling New Democracy rapporteur Panos Panayiotopoulos called Papandreou's letter to the premier last week over the issue of "new flu" prevention measures "unacceptable in tone and content".

    FinMin responds to PASOK leader

    Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou on Thursday accused the main opposition party of not being able to formulate responsible proposals regarding the country's economy, while responding to criticism by PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    "Mr. Papandreou confirmed once again that his party either it cannot or it does not want to have any contact with reality. He confirmed that he cannot exercise concrete and responsible criticism," the minister said in a statement.

    [05] Ministerial committee to convene Friday on novel inluenza

    Health Minister Dimitris Avramomopoulos will present on Friday morning a National Action Plan for handling the novel influenza at an interministerial committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Ministers of Interior Prokopolis Pavlopoulos, Economy and Finance Yiannis Papathanassiou, Defence Evangelos Meimarakis and Education Aris Spiliotopoulos will be taking part in the meeting.

    According to Health Minister Avramopoulos, the National Plan wiil then be sent to the president of the republic and the political parties' leaderships.

    [06] Interview by FM GenSec on European affairs

    Foreign Ministry general secretary on European affairs Dimitris Katsoudas on Thursday referred to developments concerning the Barcelona Process and the Union for the Mediterranean (BP:UfM), which focuses on projects and programmes promoting the region's development, and Greece's role.

    In an interview with ANA-MPA, he pointed out that Greece has already submitted three project proposals to be implemented within the framework of the BP:UfM.

    The proposals concern the Sea Corridors in SE Mediterranean including the link of Mediterranean seaports, the Utilization of Solar Energy to meet the rising air conditioning needs of buildings in the Mediterranean region and Water Management, aimed at creating a network of cooperation, coordination and dialogue at state level to promote sustainable development.

    The establishment of an Observatory for Transports in eastern Mediterranean is also being promoted while a Euro-Mediterranean Transport Ministers' Summit is planned to take place before the end of 2009.

    "Greece is among the 5 countries, out of a total of 43, to occupy the position of UfM Secretariat alternate general secretary, a body mainly responsible for the materialization of actions within the UfM framework," Katsoudas stated.

    On the EU Presidency currently held by Sweden, he pointed out that its role in setting the UfM in operation will be very important.

    "Greece participates actively in all stages of the establishment and implementation of the UfM and cooperates closely with the Swedish EU presidency and the UfM presidency held jointly by France and Egypt aimed at the acceleration of relevant procedures," he added.

    [07] Judicial assistance from Italian officials regarding Siemens case

    An Athens prosecutor is expected to request judicial assistance from Italian authorities regarding an ongoing and extremely high-profile investigation into the Siemens bribery and kickbacks case.

    The request will reportedly be made by 4th Athens special magistrate Nikos Zagorianos.

    [08] Means and assets statements of MPs, MEPs made public

    The means and assets statements for the economic year 2007 submitted by the 298 Parliament deputies -- two of the 300 MPs passed away while in office -- and the 24 Greek MEPs were made public on Thursday. Financial facts of former MPs and political party treasurers were also publicised.

    The information included in the statements was checked by special auditors and subsequently by a special control committee chaired by Parliament vice-president Anastasios Nerantzis and comprising members of the judiciary and vice-presidents of the Council of State, Supreme Court and Court of Audit.

    Financial News

    [09] PPC, Terna sign Rhodes power plant deal

    Public Power Corp. SA (PPC) and Terna SA on Thursday signed a contract for the supply and installation of an electricity production energy unit, with a capacity of 115.4 MW, at Plaka-Steni in the island of Rhodes. The plant will reportedly use low-sulphur diesel as fuel.

    The contract was signed by PPC chairman and chief-executive Panagiotis Athanassopoulos and Terna chief executive Georgios Peristeris.

    Commenting on the project, the PPC chief said the project would contribute to the economic development and prosperity of the popular tourist destination, fully covering the island's needs for electricity power in the long-term, in a reliable, economic and environment-friendly manner.

    He said that was implementing a five-year business plan to invest 2.9 billion euros in power production on various Greek islands.

    [10] Sales turnover down 13.8%

    Greece's retail turnover index dropped 13.8 pct in May, after an increase in the corresponding month last year, the National Statistical Service annnounced on Thursday.

    The statistics agency, in a report, attributed the major drop of the retail sales turnover to a 3.3-pct decrease in food sales, a 37.3-pct plunge in fuel sales and a 16.1-pct fall in other stores' sales. The agency said the retail sales volume index fell 14.5 pct in the five-month period from January to May 2009, compared with the same period last year.

    [11] Hellenic Postbank eyes expansion

    Hellenic Postbank on Thursday announced a plan to set up three new subsidiaries with activities in real estate, leasing, communications services, strategic planning and management of environmental and sustainable development projects.

    The bank is promoting an image of an "alternative bank" in Greece, seeking to gain market shares in retail and other banking services.

    [12] Intesa Sanpaolo raises stake in Intralot to 5.0135 pct

    Intralot on Thursday announced that Intesa Sanpaolo SPA raised its equity stake in the company to 5.0135 percent from 4.988 pct to a total of 7,969,605 voting rights shares.

    Intesa Sanpaolo acted as treasurer for a number of customers none of them owning more than 5.0 pct in the Greek company.

    [13] Stocks jump 3.38% on Thur.

    Greek stocks surged in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, pushing the composite index of the market back above the 2,300 level. The index rose 3.38 pct to end at 2,353.09 points, with turnover remaining a disappointing 164.1 million euros, of which 4.3 million euros were block trades.

    All sectors moved upwards, with the Chemicals (4.49 pct), Raw Materials (4.27 pct), Industrial Products (4.26 pct), Food/Beverage (4.23 pct), Banks (4.23 pct) and Constructions (3.67 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 3.75 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 1.75 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 2.27 pct higher. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 190 to 47 with another 25 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.32%

    Industrials: +4.26%

    Commercial: +2.05%

    Construction: +3.67%

    Media: +1.91%

    Oil & Gas: +2.39%

    Personal & Household: +2.13%

    Raw Materials: +4.27%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.49%

    Technology: +2.30%

    Telecoms: +1.43%

    Banks: +4.23%

    Food & Beverages: +4.23%

    Health: +0.57%

    Utilities: +2.20%

    Chemicals: +4.49%

    Financial Services: +2.92%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 9.47

    ATEbank: 1.68

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.23

    HBC Coca Cola: 15.87

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.49

    National Bank of Greece: 19.83

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 9.17

    Intralot: 4.48

    OPAP: 17.20

    OTE: 10.64

    Bank of Piraeus: 8.35

    Titan: 21.16

    [14] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.37 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 70.824 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,269 contracts worth 49.534 million euros, with 22,622 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,990 contracts worth 21.290 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,733), followed by Eurobank (681), OTE (1,515), Piraeus Bank (1,493), GEK (1,729), Alpha Bank (837), Marfin Popular Bank (1,639) and Intralot (388).

    [15] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.416

    Pound sterling 0.859

    Danish kroner 7.504

    Swedish kroner 10.535

    Japanese yen 134.96

    Swiss franc 1.543

    Norwegian kroner 8.819

    Canadian dollar 1.536

    Australian dollar 1.717

    General News

    [16] Rescue operation for toddler who fell into irrigation ditch in Karditsa

    A rescue operation was still underway Thursday morning for a 4-year-old Roma boy who fell into an irrigation ditch sluice in the Roma camp in Mavrikas, Karditsa prefecture, the previous night.

    The boy fell into the sluice at 9:00 Wednesday night, and was carried away by swift-moving 2-meter-deep waters.

    The Fire Brigade and EMAK emergency rescue teams immediately rushed to the scene.

    The process of terminating water supply to the irrigation ditch has already commenced, but some eight hours are required for the process.

    [17] Illegals removed from 2 bldgs

    Dozens of foreign nationals, most reportedly Third World migrants, living in squalid conditions were evacuated from two old buildings in downtown Athens on Thursday during a police raid and the dispatch of special cleaning crews, given that the dilapidated buildings were declared a public health risk.

    Police raided the pair of buildings -- one near Koumoundourou Square and the other off Omonia square -- arrested a total 86 illegal migrants, 56 in the first building and 30 in the second one.

    One man was charged with attempting to attack a police officer with a switchblade, before he was quickly disarmed. He will face a court on Friday while the rest of the illegal migrants will reportedly be deported.

    A police search of the first building on Sachtouri Street revealed a number of knives and a total of 40 grams of heroin, while a personal computer used to make fake passports was discovered in the second building on Verantzerou Street.

    The owners of the buildings will also face charges for undeclared income as they allegedly charged 5-7 euros a day per occupant in buildings lacking electricity and running water.

    [18] Dutch sailor airlifted to Hania hospital

    A 46-year-old Dutch sailor airlifted to Çania hospital on Wednesday with symptoms indicating that he had suffered a thrombosis in his left leg was released 24 hours later.

    [19] Foreign national charged with forcing companion into prostitution

    A 33-year-old Romanian national was arrested on the eastern Aegean island of Kos on Thursday on charges of allegedly holding his 19-year-old girlfriend, also a Romanian, against her will and forcing her into prostitution.

    The case was unveiled when the young woman, who has a four-month-old baby with the accused, managed to break escape their home to contact police.

    The suspect faces domestic violence charges while he is also accused of forcing the woman to prostitution and false imprisonment.

    [20] Two fires brake out in east-central Evia

    Two fires broke out on Thursday afternoon in east-central Evia, with large fighting forces battling the blazes.

    The two fires broke out almost simoultaneously in Avlonari and Lofiskos, south of the town of Kymi.

    Two airplanes, two helicopters, 21 firefighters with 7 fire engines and two teams on foot are fighting the blaze in Avlonari, while in Lofiskos three airplanes, one helicopter 21 firefighters with 7 fire engines are participating in the firefighting effort.

    [21] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The spread of virus A/H1N1, speculation of early general elections and the economy dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "3.5 billion euros distributed through Theseus 1 programme".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Main opposition PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos disputes PASOK leader George Papandreou's strategy on current political issues".

    AVGHI: "Clash between PASOK and government over the new flu".

    AVRIANI: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' plan to reverse the political climate and avoid early general elections".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "It is only a flu - Scientists are calm over the spread of the new virus".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Parliament Vice President Dimitris Sourlas speaks to the newspaper ".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "ICUs in the country need immediate upgrading".

    ESTIA: "Greek economy was slightly affected by the global financial crisis".

    ETHNOS: "Shocking testimony on espionage - 30-year-old Muslim was arrested 'in action' on Samothrace island".

    KATHIMERINI: "Clash among PASOK high ranking cadres".

    NIKI: "Karamanlis prepares for elections but is afraid to take the risk".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Rally on Thursday for public health and security in the workplace".

    TA NEA: "3,000 euros additional taxes (per household) to 'arrive' in September ".

    TO VIMA: "The economy collapsing - State economy out of control".

    VRADYNI: "Get serious at last- Market's call of agony to government and political parties".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [22] Cyprus President concerned over delays in opening Limnitis crossing point

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on Thursday expressed concern that there may be delays in the implementation of the agreement reached between him and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat concerning the opening of Limnitis crossing point, on the northwest of Cyprus.

    Christofias's statements came after his 39th meeting with Talat, in the framework of UN-led direct negotiations aiming at a settlement of the Cyprus problem, during which the two leaders continued their discussion on the issues relating to aliens, immigration, asylum and citizenship.

    Christofias said they will conclude their discussion on these issues next week, but that does not mean that they will reach an agreement on them.

    He also said that during their next meeting on August 6 they will also discuss ways to move forward during the second phase of the talks.

    Asked if during the meeting they discussed on the number of Turkish settlers that will remain on the island, Christofias said they did not discuss it.

    Invited to say if they talked about the issue of the opening of Liminits crossing point he said that they did not discuss it, noting that his agreement with Talat on this issue is still to be implemented.

    He noted that he is worried that there will be delays which will create problems for the people who live there and generally.

    "I want to believe that both the UN, the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides will contribute with a view to speed up the process", he added.

    On June 26th, during their 34th meeting in the framework of the direct negotiations, Christofias and Talat reached an agreement on the opening of Limnitis crossing point.

    The agreement the leaders of the island's two communities have reached provides that in emergency cases fire engines and ambulances can cross to and from Cyprus' northern Turkish occupied areas to the southern part of the country, which is under the control of the Republic of Cyprus.

    The opening of Limnitis will facilitate movement between the island's northern Turkish occupied areas and the southern government controlled part of the country.

    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 has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Direct negotiations between Christofias and Talat began in September 2008.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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