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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-08-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 21 August 2009 Issue No: 3276


  • [01] PM briefed on foreign policy issues
  • [02] Gov't on elections, Siemens
  • [03] PASOK on economy, Siemens
  • [04] Valinakis briefs US Sen. Bond
  • [05] PASOK leader holds talks with Public Administration General Inspector
  • [06] Israeli embassy response to military exercise in Med
  • [07] Karamanlis briefed over TIF relocation plan
  • [08] Bourse continues rally on Thur.
  • [09] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [10] New University of Western Greece in Agrinio
  • [11] High seas chase leads to interception of illegal migrants
  • [12] Three wildfires reported
  • [13] Fair on Friday
  • [14] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM briefed on foreign policy issues

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday was briefed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on a series of foreign affairs issues. After the end of the meeting, Bakoyannis told reporters that the coming months entail numerous challenges in the foreign policy sector.

    She stressed that negotiation on the Cyprus problem continue between the leaders of the two communities on the island. Moreover, in reference to the still unresolved fYRoM "name issue" she noted that UN negotiator Matthew Nimetz has already met with the Greek negotiator Adamantios Vassilakis, while on Thursday he will have a meeting with the Skopje government's negotiator.

    Finally, she said Turkey's EU accession prospects were discussed.

    Asked by reporters about the ubiquitous early elections speculation, Bakoyannis said the government has the mandate to work effectively. "People do not pay attention to this speculation and discussion on this matter is totally superfluous," she said.

    [02] Gov't on elections, Siemens

    The government on Thursday again flatly dismissed press speculation concerning early elections, pointing out that a government is elected for four years in Greece, a response to a recurrent demand by the main opposition for immediate elections.

    Asked about main opposition PASOK party's demand, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reminded that the constitution is quite clear on when general elections are held and under what conditions. "PASOK, if it persists (in its demand), will be judged by Greek citizens for its behaviour ... we will not participate in such charades. We do not have the intention of allowing PASOK to drag the country into a lengthy pre-election period," he said.

    Antonaros clarified that since the two largest parties in Parliament, ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK, agree on the re-election (by Parliament) of Karolos Papoulias, "it would be a travesty and violation of the constitution for anyone to try and cause (early) elections when there is consensus for the candidate for president of the republic."

    Asked about the simmering Siemens bribery and kickbacks affair, Antonaros sharply criticised PASOK and its leadership for requesting information on alleged payouts from the German attorney representing Michalis Christoforakos, the one-time CEO of Siemens Hellas currently jailed in Munich.

    "...Mr. G.A. Papandreou, the president of PASOK, decided, for his own reasons, to become an interlocutor with a defendant ... Ask him (Papandreou) and his party why this was done and what he expects from this," the spokesman charged, adding:

    "It is unheard of for the leader of the main opposition party to begin a dialogue with a defendant ... It is unprecedented in international judicial circles. Let PASOK search elsewhere and find such an example," he concluded.

    [03] PASOK on economy, Siemens

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, referring on Thursday to the economy and invoking data provided by the Statistical Service, charged that "every day that passes with this government, is a day lost for the country."

    According to the figures he quoted, turnover of the Greek industry sector stands at -27 percent, orders are down -36 pc, while the decrease in GDP resulting from the decline in tourism is -0.5 pct.

    Asked whether PASOK is backtracking in relation to its policy commitments on the economy, the spokesman said that the crisis is making "deep reforms" even more urgent, for example in the tax system and the extravagance of the public sector, adding that "provided that these are achieved, of course, the proposals that we have made will proceed such as for education and research or for supporting the income of low-wage earners."

    Papaconstantinou termed the proposal made by PASOK on the protection of heavily indebted borrowers a structural change, which "if the government had accepted would help the vulnerable and would protect them from the crisis."

    Called on to comment on what the government spokesman had said about "a discussion by PASOK with people awaiting trial," and why PASOK does not request evidence from one-time top PASOK cadre Theodoros Tsoukatos, Papaconstantinou said "the lawyers of Mr. Christoforakos have been asked about any remittances concerning PASOK" and termed "an absurd finding" talk about discussions with people awaiting trial and wondered "what does the New Democracy party have to hide and what does it fear from the revelation?."

    PASOK's spokesman termed what was said by the government spokesman on "irresponsibility by PASOK" in leading the country to elections in March, provided that it agrees with the person for President of the Republic, "last year's bitter grapes," adding that PASOK has explained to the citizens that the country wants a change in course and "wants from them to decide if the country will continue to proceed as it is doing today, or if they will give PASOK the opportunity to make the changes that the country needs."

    [04] Valinakis briefs US Sen. Bond

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and visiting US Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo) discussed bilateral and international issues during a meeting in Athens on Thursday, with the emphasis on the rapid completion of the process allowing Greece to be included in the visa waiver program.

    According to reports, the very good climate prevailing in Greek-US relations and the excellent level of cooperation was confirmed during the meeting.

    Valinakis pointed out to the veteran Missouri lawmaker the need for an immediate conclusion of the process, thereby allowing Greek citizens to visit America without much of the usual visa issuance procedure.

    Additionally, the Greek official briefed the US senator Athens' positions on several foreign policy matters as well as the increasingly menacing problem issue of illegal immigration via neighbouring countries.

    Sen. Bond was also received by main opposition PASOK president and former foreign minister George Papandreou.

    [05] PASOK leader holds talks with Public Administration General Inspector

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, welcoming Public Administration General Inspector Leandros Rakintzis in his office in Parliament on Thursday, said that "I attribute great importance to the functioning of Public Administration and, for us, transparency and a law-abiding state is a top priority."

    He further said that Rakintzis's work for Public Administration was very useful, that is also reflected in a relevant report about which the PASOK leader has been informed.

    During the briefing he was given by Rakintzis, Papandreou reiterated his steadfast positions that, in order to be able to provide for the country, a government must build on what it has received and not destroy and accused the government of downgrading everything positive that it had received from the governments of PASOK.

    Papandreou also said that the phenomena of corruption, untransparency and lawlessness are obstructing the country's growth, consolidating the feeling of injustice and exceeding the most morbid imagination.

    [06] Israeli embassy response to military exercise in Med

    The Israeli embassy in Athens on Thursday issued a written response to a series of critical reports and references in local media scrutinising an aeronautical military exercise in the eastern Mediterranean -- southeast of the Greek isle of Kastellorizo -- by Turkey, Israel and the United States.

    The exercise, cited as a "search and rescue" maneuver and code-named "Reliant Mermaid", was due to end on Friday.

    "In response to publications which have appeared in the Greek media concerning Israel's participation in a search and rescue exercise along with the armed forces of the United States and Turkey in the Aegean, the Embassy of Israel in Athens would like to state the following:

    "Israel is not in any way part of the differences between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean and considers both countries important partners and allies in promoting cooperation and stability in the wider area of the Mediterranean.

    "With regard to the search and rescue exercise and references to it on the Israeli Defense Ministry website, the Israeli Government assured Greek authorities that it had no ill intention and removed the controversial references.

    "The insinuations that Israel is aiding another country in claims against Greece are a far cry from reality. Attempts by some media outlets to portray Israel as acting against Greece in any way distort reality and do not do justice to Israel's stance towards Greece and to Greek - Israeli relations.

    "The Government of Israel considers Greece an important partner in the region and its aim is for the already excellent bilateral relations to continue developing in a positive manner in all fields with mutual friendship and respect," the press release reads.

    Financial News

    [07] Karamanlis briefed over TIF relocation plan

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Thursday with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Stavros Kalafatis, with the latter afterwards saying that he briefed the premier on efforts to move entire Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) site to a new location.

    The minister said a committee was established to coordinate the process, adding that it's a project of major importance for the northern Greek city and the wider region.

    Kalafatis said the area where TIF's facilities and pavilions are located today, in downtown Thessaloniki, will be transformed into a metropolitan park, adding that the new location will be in west or northwestern Thessaloniki.

    [08] Bourse continues rally on Thur.

    Stocks prices continued their rally this week on Thursday at the Athens Stock Exchange, with the composite index of the market closing up 2.09 pct to end at 2,399.40 points. Turnover was a low 188.1 million euros, of which 8.9 million were block trades.

    Sector indices moved mostly upwards with Constructions (4.77 pct), Telecoms (4.39 pct) and Raw Materials (4.13 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day. Foods-Beverages (1.37 pct) was the biggest sector loser of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index was up by 2.54 pct up, the FTSE 40 index gained 1.75 pct and the FTSE 80 picked up 1.51 percent.

    From the stocks moved, 158 ended up, 59 declined and 38 remained unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.28%

    Industrials: +2.92%

    Commercial: +3.67%

    Construction: +4.77%

    Media: +0.93%

    Oil & Gas: +0.62%

    Personal & Household: +2.03%

    Raw Materials: +4.13%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.02%

    Technology: +1.13%

    Telecoms: +4.39%

    Banks: +2.92%

    Food & Beverages: -1.37%

    Health: +1.39%

    Utilities: -0.56%

    Chemicals: +3.33%

    Financial Services: +2.82%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 10.04

    ATEbank: 1.62

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.64

    HBC Coca Cola: 15.90

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.26

    National Bank of Greece: 21.84

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 9.55

    Intralot: 4.38

    OPAP: 16.14

    OTE: 10.47

    Bank of Piraeus: 9.40

    Titan: 21.93

    [09] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.435

    Pound sterling 0.870

    Danish kroner 7.503

    Swedish kroner 10.279

    Japanese yen 135.18

    Swiss franc 1.529

    Norwegian kroner 8.664

    Canadian dollar 1.572

    Australian dollar 1.726

    General News

    [10] New University of Western Greece in Agrinio

    A new University of Western Greece will be established in the city of Agrinio as a fully independent educational foundation, according to an amendment tabled in Parliament.

    The amendment notes that the possibility will also be provided for choosing the seats of new schools, departments and other branches in other cities in the region.

    [11] High seas chase leads to interception of illegal migrants

    The coast guard detained a total of 43 illegal immigrants -- 34 men and nine women -- following the early morning high seas chase of a speedboat that attempted to land the illegals on a beach in central Greece.

    According to authorities, the speedboat was spotted just after midnight on Thursday headed for Aghiokambos, on the Aegean coast of Larissa prefecture. Patrol boats followed the vessel as it veered back into the Aegean, where the migrant smuggler pilot offloaded the illegals off the northern end of Skopelos island.

    The illegals hail from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia, reports state. Additionally, police said a ring composed of Iraqi nationals reportedly waited to ferry the illegals inland with trucks after they had disembarked on the mainland.

    The migrant smuggler fled the scene and a search was ongoing in the specific sea region.

    [12] Three wildfires reported

    Another wildfire was reported near Marathon lake, northeast of Athens, hours after another two wildfires were reported in two different parts of the country on Thursday.

    Earlier, a fire was first in a forested area at the Hionata site on the island of Cephallonia. Four fire engines, fire-fighters and three fire-fighting aircraft were dispatched to the scene.

    The other fire was reported near the town of Megara, in industrial western Attica prefecture. Fourteen fire trucks and up to five aircraft were battling the blaze in the early afternoon.

    Planes and up to 10 vehicles were dispatched to the Marathon district blaze.

    Weather Forecast

    [13] Fair on Friday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 17C and 36C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 4-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 24C to 32C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 23C to 32C.

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

    Government and main opposition PASOK deliberations ahead of the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), the Siemens bribery and kickbacks affair and former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos' sudden admission to a Munich hospital mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Munich court overrules Christoforakos' plea".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis keeps his mouth firmly shut on decisions".

    AVGHI: "Deeper in recession - Messages from industrial sector negative".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Let's see who did not take money from Siemens".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Israel questions our sovereignty over Aegean".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Agriculture ministry: You're turning Mt. Hymettus into a concrete forest".

    ESTIA: "Cockfighting for Siemens".

    ETHNOS: "Student transfers between colleges a mess".

    KATHIMERINI: "Economy sinks into recession - After tourism and shipping, 26.8% drop in industrial index".

    LOGOS: "Leftist parties also involved in Siemens bribery case".

    NIKI: "New school year to begin without teachers"

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Ready to clash with antipopular policy".

    TA NEA: "Vaccination for new flu in five stages".

    VIMA: "Political heat - Parties get prepared as if in pre-election period".

    VRADYNI: "Israelis 'baptise' Kastellorizo as 'Turkish'."

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

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