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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-10-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 Issue No: 3322


  • [01] Government on economy, possible shifts in policy
  • [02] Petalotis on ministry positions, overhauls
  • [03] Alternate FM Droutsas meets with Serb FM Jeremic
  • [04] Droutsas: name issue a condition for FYROM accession to EU
  • [05] Government to cut back fleet of state vehicles
  • [06] Justice minister on big court leaderships
  • [07] Government on taxation of Church property
  • [08] PM Papandreou keeps MP seat in Attica
  • [09] Avramopoulos announces ND leadership candidacy
  • [10] SYRIZA MPs to take political oath in parliament
  • [11] Government: Siemens probe still on the cards
  • [12] New commander for National Intelligence Service
  • [13] Gov't on the situation in the port of Piraeus
  • [14] Dock workers extend strike at Piraeus port
  • [15] Economy minister holds talks with Piraeus port workers' representatives
  • [16] EBEA president holds talks with Chinese ambassador
  • [17] Labour minister meets employer groups, GSEE
  • [18] New tender for remote islands air routes
  • [19] New law on 'semi-enclosed' spaces a priority, government says
  • [20] Fast food sector less affected by the economic crisis compared to restaurants
  • [21] German listed companies' presentation in Athens
  • [22] Import price index down 2.9 pct in August
  • [23] Greece raises 2.08 billion euros in bond auctions
  • [24] Greek stocks end 0.81 pct down
  • [25] ADEX closing report
  • [26] Greek bond market closing report
  • [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [28] The Axios River Delta, one of Europe's most important wetlands
  • [29] Report on AIDS publicised in Brussels
  • [30] Conference on the Greek language in Latin America
  • [31] "Global Walk for Peace and Non Violence" team in Thessaloniki
  • [32] Fires in north Evia, Malesina
  • [33] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [34] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [35] EU Presidency expresses support for Cyprus negotiations
  • [36] House Speaker: Turkey holds key to its European perspective
  • [37] Cyprus Government announces cancellation of Nikiforos military exercise Politics

  • [01] Government on economy, possible shifts in policy

    The government was faced with a new situation, government spokesman George Petalotis said on Tuesday regarding the state of the Greek economy, adding that "there cannot be a new situation without new policies."

    "We find ourselves faced with a new situation and at this time we are at precisely that point where reality demands that we deal with the problems created by the previous government and we are preparing so that the prime minister can present the government's policy statements at the end of the week," Petalotis stated.

    Asked whether this new situation would also bring new measures, Petalotis said that the government policies would go on record and that "there cannot, of course, be a new situation without new policies."

    Regarding the size of the public deficit, the spokesman noted that the trend noted was that it was going to be very large.

    Asked whether the high deficit would affect government policy, Petalotis said that "we are implementing our policy based on what we have promised, a policy that can have several parameters and which is alive and dynamic".

    The government would uphold its pledges for the abolition of tariffs and taxes that it had promised, he added, while ruling out any prospect of a merger between the Postal Bank and ATEBank.

    [02] Petalotis on ministry positions, overhauls

    The government is seeking a radical overhaul of ministries to make the state more efficient and open the public sector to capable staff, government spokesman George Petalotis said on Tuesday regarding the announcement of new positions in public administration.

    "The general political guiding lines exist and we are trying in this unprecedented manner by Greek standards to open the entire issue so that very capable executives, from every standpoint, can man the public sector and we can have the best results in public administration," Petalotis said in response to questions about possible problems in the method chosen by the government.

    Technical issues concerning the jurisdiction of the ministries would soon be settled through the issue of the appropriate presidential decrees, he added.

    The spokesman also pointed out that Prime Minister George Papandreou had issued instructions asking ministers to record and announce which positions supervised by their ministries could be filled in a similar way.

    [03] Alternate FM Droutsas meets with Serb FM Jeremic

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas in statements made Tuesday following his meeting with Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic in Athens referred to the materialization of Greece's pledge to strongly support the European prospect of the Western Balkans by providing all possible assistance.

    Droutsas conveyed the Greek side's specific proposal on "a new Road Map for the Western Balkans" modeled after the so-called "Thessaloniki Agenda" presented in 2003 under the Greek EU Presidency.

    The alternate foreign minister stressed that the new Road Map process will be completed by 2014 coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI "proving that we have learned from our mistakes and we are ready to jointly build a future of peace and development for the entire region."

    Jeremic was the first foreign minister to be formally received at the foreign ministry of Greece after the new government was elected in office, highlighting the close friendly ties and cooperation shared by the two countries and the two peoples, Droutsas stated, adding that such meetings contribute to the further strengthening of relations in the sectors of economy, culture and society.

    The alternate foreign minister referred to the historic ties shared by Greece and Serbia underlining that above all they "share a vision for Europe, a vision of a neighborhood of peace, prosperity and creation within the European family. A neighborhood that will not hide or let problems drag on, regardless of how complex they might be, but on the contrary, it will face them through dialogue and diplomacy to reach consensus and viable solutions."

    He said that the EU is the most successful peace model, adding that it "can contribute considerably to peace in our region by assuming its own responsibilities".

    The Serb foreign minister underlined the special importance that the "Thessaloniki Agenda" had for his country by defining the strategic goal of Serbia's EU accession.

    "We support the 2014 goal," he said, stressing that it was a proposal put forth by the Greek PM during the SEECP session in Istanbul and pointed out that it is a new vision expressing the hope that "more Balkan countries will support this prospect".

    He agreed that the EU is the most successful peace model and expressed the hope that it will be implemented in the Balkan region putting an end to centuries-long disputes.

    Jeremic also referred to the age-long friendship shared by the two countries and his personal friendship with his interlocutor with whom they are old acquaintances.

    Responding to a question by a foreign press correspondent, as regards Serbia's EU accession course and the intensification of the efforts for Ratko Mladic's arrest, Jeremic stated that the government of Serbia will continue to cooperate with the International Court of Justice in The Hague. "Hopefully the intensification of the efforts will restart the process for Serbia's EU accession considering that the country is doing everything it has to do to meet this goal," he stressed.

    [04] Droutsas: name issue a condition for FYROM accession to EU

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Tuesday underlined that European Union accession for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was conditional on finding a solution to the name issue, following a meeting in Athens with Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic.

    He also stressed Greece and the new Greek government intend to once again acquire a leading role in southeastern Europe.

    Replying to questions about the European Commission's report on the start of accession talks with Skopje that is due to be released on Wednesday, Droutsas stressed that "Greece's position, the national red line, is crystal clear and known. The start of accession negotiations remains exclusively a matter for EU member-states, and thus of Greece".

    The minister noted that Greece could be the "steam engine" for the accession of countries in the region and that this "of course requires the necessary preparation by those countries. Specifically for FYROM, this requires a solution to the name issue."

    [05] Government to cut back fleet of state vehicles

    Interior, Decentralisation and e-Government Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Tuesday announced cutbacks in the fleet of state vehicles, as well as in their running and maintenance costs. He said that the measure aimed to drastically reduce wasteful state-sector spending and that Prime Minister George Papandreou had already been advised of his intentions.

    "The government received a mandate from the Greek people to change everything and this is what it will do, starting with the major issue of cutting back waste," he stressed.

    He said that there were currently 57,000 state-owned vehicles registered in the interior ministry's records, which cost taxpayers 350 million euros a year. Ragoussis pledged to drastically reduce this number and announced that no new cars would be purchased by the state for the next three years.

    The minister said that all state services having more than five cars at their disposal will have to immediately justify why these are necessary or else make do with just five.

    Ragoussis also announced plans to replace government vehicles using conventional technology with hybrid vehicles having engines up to 1600 cc that will be bought through leasing agreements in order to restrict costs for spare parts.

    The interior ministry also intends to impose a 30 percent reduction in fuel costs for the state fleet and will scrap 88 of the 250 cars used by state officials. For travel within the centre of Athens, only cars with 1600 cc engines will be used, while travel outside Athens will be carried out in vans by preference, as used in the prime minister's recent visit to the Olympic facilities in Elliniko.

    According to Ragoussis, a drastic reduction in the number of state vehicles and their gradual replacement by hybrid cars will also significantly ease environmental pollution and traffic problems in Athens, based on a study carried out by the National Technical University of Athens transportation department. This found that of a total of 6.5 million trips occurring daily in the Attic basin, 2.6 million trips are carried out by state vehicles.

    [06] Justice minister on big court leaderships

    Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Haris Kastanidis, speaking during his first meeting with reporters on Tuesday and attended by Deputy Minister Apostolos Katsifaras, said that the first reforms he will be carrying out include a change in the method of selecting the leaderships of the country's big courts, a change that will be done under the existing constitutional status.

    The minister also said that two General Secretariats will be created in his ministry's new structure, the first for Transparency and Human Rights and the second that will be conveyed from the Interior ministry for Equality.

    [07] Government on taxation of Church property

    Government spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday said that the government intended to carry out its pre-election pledges regarding the taxation of Church property.

    "We intend to honour the promises we made before our election," he said when asked about a statement on the issue made by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou during an interview on Sunday.

    [08] PM Papandreou keeps MP seat in Attica

    Prime minister George Papandreou, leader of the ruling PASOK party, has decided to maintain his MP seat for the Attica region.

    As such, his MP seat in the Thessaloniki A' electoral district will be taken by Thomas Rombopoulos.

    The leaders of political parties in Greece are eligible in general elections to run as candidates for parliament in two voting districts, of which they later choose one.

    [09] Avramopoulos announces ND leadership candidacy

    Dimitris Avramopoulos announced his candidacy for the post of president of the New Democracy (ND) party on Tuesday night, stressing in an announcement that "it is a historic obligation of all of us to create a new, modern, centre-Right party that will meet the spirit of the times and express with directness the expectations of the rank and file and of society."

    Avramopoulos stressed the need for "a new start for the party with hope, unity and perspective" and made special reference to his proposal on the election of an ND president by the party's social base.

    "My proposal on the election of the new President of New Democracy by our social base is the only path for us to change era. To deepen democracy and give a voice and a role to the society of citizens which is looking forward to us. It is the only way for us to secure the unity and perspective of our party. There is no stronger legality than the selection of the citizens," Avramopoulos said.

    Former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis also announced her candidacy for the post on Monday.

    [10] SYRIZA MPs to take political oath in parliament

    In a letter addressed to the caretaker Parliament president, the opposition SYRIZA MPs expressed their intention to take a political oath, and not a religious one, in the swearing-in ceremony of Greece's new 300-member unicameral legislature that emerged from the October. 4 general elections.

    In the letter, signed by SYRIZA Parliamentary Group leader Alexis Tsipras, the MPs state that they will take the following oath: "I swear on my honor and conscience to pay allegiance to my Country and the democratic form of government, abide by the Constitution and the laws, and faithfully perform the duties my office places upon me."

    They pointed out that SYRIZA is in favor of separation of Church and State, and called for the abolition of legislation and practices that obstruct the Constitution's fundamental clause on religious tolerance.

    [11] Government: Siemens probe still on the cards

    Government spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday said that the government will observe its pre-election pledges for setting up a Parliamentary probe into the Siemens case, in response to questions.

    [12] New commander for National Intelligence Service

    Ambassador Constantine Bikas is assuming the duties of commander of the National Intelligence Service (EYP) as of Tuesday, by decision of Citizen's Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis.

    By the same decision, Fotis Papageorgiou, a retired Police director, assumes the duties of A' deputy commander of EYP.

    Financial News

    [13] Gov't on the situation in the port of Piraeus

    Government spokesman George Petalotis, while referring on Tuesday to developments in the port of Piraeus, cited relevant statements made by Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli and underlined that "a dialogue on all issues including labour issues has been launched safeguarding healthy competition based on public interest terms", adding that "the dialogue will continue for the port's smooth operation".

    Petalotis stressed that "the intention is to have the dialogue completed as soon as possible to end the situation created in the port of Piraeus," expressing certainty that "developments will be positive based on the indications available".

    He also stated that the "dialogue within the government constitutes proof of a positive momentum and that developments are being discussed and decisions are being made through the responsible bodies."

    [14] Dock workers extend strike at Piraeus port

    Dock workers at Piraeus port on Tuesday decided to extend their strike for a further three days, blocking all commercial activity at the port and the Neo Ikonio container terminal.

    The 1,500 dock workers are striking to demand a 'freeze' on an agreement to lease the profitable container terminal to the Chinese firm COSCO, which installed itself in the port on October 1.

    The dock workers' union OMYLE said that its members will strike on October 14-16 and also refuse overtime work this Saturday and Sunday.

    [15] Economy minister holds talks with Piraeus port workers' representatives

    Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli concluded a meeting on Tuesday evening with representatives of Piraeus port workers who are on strike.

    Speaking after the meeting, Katseli said "the discussion is continuing, our aim is for a solution to be found for the smooth functioning of the port. At the moment we are in the middle of the dialogue."

    [16] EBEA president holds talks with Chinese ambassador

    The business world is calling on the government for immediate decisions to be taken on the issue of the strike at the port of Piraeus, according to the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) Costas Mihalos.

    Mihalos met on Tuesday afternoon with the ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Greece Luo Linquan for a discussion on all parameters for the port of Piraeus's smooth operation, following the granting of its operation to Chinese COSCO.

    According to the chamber's president, strike action in the port has caused great damage for Greek businesses, since they can neither export goods nor import merchandise and raw materials that are necessary for their production and commercial activity.

    On his part, the ambassador told Mihalos that what the Chinese side is seeking is observance of legality and the implementation of the contract that has been signed.

    EBEA president has already sent a letter last week to the Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, requesting from her an immediate meeting with representatives of the business world for her to listen to their positions and views on a solution to the problem.

    [17] Labour minister meets employer groups, GSEE

    Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos on Tuesday had meetings with the Hellenic Federation of Enteprises (SEV) and other employer groups, as well as the leadership of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union group representing private-sector employees.

    During the meeting, SEV presented a 10-point plan of proposed measures designed to protect employment from the economic crisis and stem the tide of rising unemployment. Many of the measures, it added, coincided with the pre-election programme announced by PASOK.

    Many of these called for the temporary reduction of social insurance contributions by companies, either as an incentive to take on more staff or for those struggling to stay afloat, as well as incentives for firms to provide training programmes and keep on employees.

    Loverdos also met the head of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce Dimitris Armenakis, who asked that the government "de-criminalise" the non-payment of contributions to the insurance fund for traders and freelance workers OAEE, as well as a fairer system for calculating the pensions of those insured by more than one insurance body.

    The head of the GSEBEE group for small-scale manufacturers and craftsmen, Dimitris Asimakopoulos, urged a radical overhaul of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED).

    GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos said there would be a further meeting with the minister on Thursday to discuss the issues in light of the government's policy statements on Friday, during which the union intended to focus mainly on issues of unemployment, job lay-offs and the economy's inability to create new jobs.

    [18] New tender for remote islands air routes

    The government will announce an invitation for tenders for the 24 subsidised air routes to Greece's remote islands very soon, possibly within a week, according to the Infrastructure, Transports and Networks ministry on Tuesday.

    Infrastructure, Transports and Networks minister Dimitris Reppas stressed while briefing ministry reporters that residents served by the subsidised routes will not be left without air transport services.

    The ministry said that the tender will be called under conditions of absolute transparency, based on the EU standards and conditions, so that the servicing of the inhabitants of those regions may continue smoothly.

    Reppas and deputy minister Nikos Sifounakis held meetings on Monday night with representatives of seven airlines that had taken part in the previous tender, which was annulled due to the elections, and with the civil aviation authority.

    The minister said the bidding competition will be over by the end of the month and that the issue will have been settled before the end of the year. For problems arising in the meantime, the civil aviation authority had undertaken to make arrangements with the interested parties for solutions that would cover the needs of all sides.

    The minister did not rule out a further meeting with airlines once the civil aviation authority had presented its proposals, while also announcing future plans to change the legal framework governing the civil aviation authority so that it became an independent body.

    [19] New law on 'semi-enclosed' spaces a priority, government says

    New measures to regulate outstanding issues concerning town planning rules and iron out problems with a controversial law for semi-enclosed outdoor spaces passed by the previous government are among the first actions that the new government intends to take, government spokesman George Petalotis said on Tuesday.

    "Very soon, perhaps even by the time of the policy statement, we will bring new legislation for semi-enclosed open spaces as the first measure in a series of political actions that will ensure an end to unauthorised construction that will also be achieved through changes in the way of issuing building permits," he said.

    He also noted that the measures passed by the previous government on this issue was plagued by a host of legal and actual problems and that meant it was essentially "frozen" in practice.

    Semi-enclosed spaces are additions to buildings like balconies and porches that are not considered a part of the building's indoor area (which affects tax calculations) and appear as open-air spaces in the plans. It has been standard practice by builders in Greece for several years to then illegally close them entirely by adding windows, effectively increasing the size of apartments and houses without registering the change with town planning authorities.

    [20] Fast food sector less affected by the economic crisis compared to restaurants

    The fast food sector in Greece, supplied mainly by large domestic food industries, has been less affected by the economic crisis compared to the restaurant sector. The fast food sector with revenues that exceeded the 730-million-euro mark in 2008 is expected, however, to experience the negative effects on the ongoing economic crisis in terms of consumption reduction.

    Based on figures published by Icap Group, market research company, the fast food sector in Greece followed an upward course in the period 1992-2008 with 15.2 pct annual growth rate being one of the country's faster developing sectors.

    More specifically, last year the burger-based fast food chains controlled 36.5 pct of the market, followed by the snack-sandwich category (29.5 pct), the pizza category (23.9 pct) and the ethnic food-souvlaki category with 7.8 pct.

    In response to the economic crisis that laid a burden on the Greek households and resulted to a decline in the tourism sector, the fast food chains have turn to other markets while, at the same time, they seek to expand franchising in an effort to share the investment cost in a period of general decline in investment activity.

    The major fast food chains focus on expanding their businesses to cafeterias of companies and education institutions by providing catering services being aware of the fact that this trend is reinforced by the outsourcing practice.

    The increased activities in the sector are mainly due to its popularity among the youth, the children's menus offered and the hosting of children parties and events or to the fact that it constitutes an affordable option for family outings.

    The sector is gradually acquiring stronger industrial characteristics as the fast food chains are being supported by industrial-size catering plants, while many of them have adopted a vertical structure in their production process in an effort to cut cost.

    [21] German listed companies' presentation in Athens

    The Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Monday successfully completed the presentation of three German-listed companies, for the first time in Athens. The three companies, Systaic AG, BayWa AG and Wacker Chemie AG (all with significant activities in renewable energy sources, farm products and specialized chemical products in Germany and worldwide.

    Systaic AG is a designer and manufacturer of photovoltaic systems for buildings and vehicles, BayWa AG was founded in 1923 and specializes on farm and energy equipment, while Wacker Chemie AG was founded in 1914 and is leader in specialized chemical products.

    The presentation was organized by Reuschel & Co, a German bank based in Munich recently merged with Donner Bank. The presentation was made at the Hellenic Association of Institutional Investors' premises.

    [22] Import price index down 2.9 pct in August

    Greece's import price index in the industrial sector fell 2.9 pct in August, compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 10.6 pct recorded in August 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the import price index was up 1.7 pct in August from July, after a decline of 2.0 pct recorded in the corresponding period last year.

    [23] Greece raises 2.08 billion euros in bond auctions

    The Greek government has accepted 2.08 billion euros out of a total of 8.295 billion euros in bids for two bond auctions held on Tuesday, both of which were greatly oversubscribed.

    According to a finance ministry announcement, in the auction for the 52-week bonds the subscriptions exceeded the target amount by 4.44 times and the yield came in at 0.91 percent.

    The ministry said that bids of 3.5 billion euros were submitted for an initial target sum of 800 million euros, with 1.04 billion euros finally accepted.

    In the auction for the 26-week bonds, the target amount was 5.99 times oversubscribed with bids of 4.795 billion euros for the target sum of 800 million euros, of which 1.04 billion euros were accepted.

    [24] Greek stocks end 0.81 pct down

    Greek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, as investors took early profits reversing Monday's rally. The composite index of the market fell 0.81 pct to end at 2,807.89 points, with turnover a strong 351.1 million euros, of which 15.9 million euros were block trades.

    All sectors moved lower. The Insurance (5.26 pct), Health (4.37 pct), Technology (3.47 pct), Raw Materials (3.19 pct) and Financial Services (2.62 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 0.73 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.81 pct down and the FTSE 80 index dropped 2.33 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 144 to 80 with another 56 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -5.26%

    Industrials: -1.46%

    Commercial: -0.75%

    Construction: -0.50%

    Media: -1.77%

    Oil & Gas: -1.91%

    Personal & Household: -0.72%

    Raw Materials: -3.19%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.38%

    Technology: -3.47%

    Telecoms: -1.53%

    Banks: -0.37%

    Food & Beverages: -1.38%

    Health: -4.37%

    Utilities: -0.31%

    Chemicals: -0.92%

    Financial Services: -2.62%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Postbank and Atebank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 13.44

    ATEbank: 2.01

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.50

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.90

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.43

    National Bank of Greece: 26.42

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 11.15

    Intralot: 4.82

    OPAP: 18.40

    OTE: 12.25

    Bank of Piraeus: 12.72

    Titan: 25.20

    [25] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.03 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover an improved 70.702 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,558 contracts worth 48.959 million euros, with 24,553 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 31,041 contracts worth 21.743 million euros, with investment interest focusing on ATEbank's contracts (8,688), followed by MIG (1,396), OTE (1,616), PPC (1,833), National Bank (1,527), Alpha Bank (1,093), Intracom (1,495), Marfin Popular Bank (2,698), Intralot (1,532), Cyprus Bank (2,715) and Hellenic Postbank (3,121).

    [26] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.602 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.318 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.284 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.541 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 130 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.47 pct and the German Bund 3.17 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.24 pct, the six-month rate 1.02 pct, the three-month rate 0.74 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.

    [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.498

    Pound sterling 0.948

    Danish kroner 7.503

    Swedish kroner 10.421

    Japanese yen 134.08

    Swiss franc 1.529

    Norwegian kroner 8.394

    Canadian dollar 1.543

    Australian dollar 1.647

    General News

    [28] The Axios River Delta, one of Europe's most important wetlands

    The Axios River Delta, one of Greece's, and Europe's most important wetlands, is situated on the western shoreline of the Thermaic Gulf, just five kilometers from Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city and port.

    The diverse ecosystem, a protected coastal wetland of small lagoons, sandflats and alluvial forests comprises the deltas of the Axios and Aliakmonas rivers, the estuaries of the Gallikos and Loudias rivers, the Kalochori lagoon, the Nea Agathoupoli marsh and the Alyki Kitros coastal lagoon, which is surrounded by dunes, saltpans and saltmarsh.

    The Axios, which Homer described as a broad, deep river, is an internationally recognized wetland, protected under the Ramsar Convention. It has a wealth of fauna and flora, and is home to more than 270 bird species, 60 of them rare and/or threatened, which find shelter in the wetland. It is also an important habitat to wild horses and water buffalos, as well as species threatened with extinction, such as the European ground squirrel, the European otter and Hermann's tortoise.

    The complex ecosystem of deltas, estuaries, marshes, lagoons and saltpans has a total surface area of 320 square kilometers, over which 500 species and subspecies of plants are found, include the rate Sea daffodil, some of which change colors during the year, creating a diverse scenery.

    Due to its immense ecological significance, as the natural habitat of many species of wild animals and birds, it is also included in the "Natura 2000" network of protected regions of Europe, in addition to the Ramsar.

    [29] Report on AIDS publicised in Brussels


    A report by the Health Consumer Powerhouse studies company, publicised here on Tuesday, stresses the need for living conditions and treatment for people infected with the HIV/AIDS virus to improve in Greece.

    An evalution scale concerning the quality of prevention methods, citizens' access to the health care system and patients' rights ranks Greece in first to last place, after Romania, among 29 countries (EU, Norway, Switzerland). Topping the rankings are Luxembourg, Malta and Switzerland.

    As regards Greece, the report points out that, apart from prevention methods, immigrants' access to therapy must improve.

    Lastly, it noted that the number of people living with the AIDS virus in Europe at the end of 2007 was estimated at about 800,000, increasing by 8 percent compared to 2006. The number of deaths from the virus decreased spectacularly since the '90s, when special methods to tackle it began being implemented.

    [30] Conference on the Greek language in Latin America

    Greek-speaking education in Latin America will be the focus of a conference scheduled to take place in Montevideo, Uruguay on Oct. 16-18.

    The event, hosted by the Buenos Aires-based Education Coordinator in Latin America, will allow the drawing up of common policy for the promotion and dissemination of the Greek language and culture in the region.

    The conference is sponsored by the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Latin America Region and the "Maria Tsakos" Foundation.

    Invited to address the proceedings are distinguished Greek scholars from universities and research centers in Latin America.

    [31] "Global Walk for Peace and Non Violence" team in Thessaloniki

    The team of the "Global Walk for Peace and Non Violence" will be in Thessaloniki on Oct. 28-29.

    The team comprises the presidents of Chile, Croatia and Timor, Nobel Peace laureates, artists, literary people and representatives of organizations such as Amnesty International, Red Cross and Greenpeace.

    The global walk began in New Zealand on Oct. 2, the anniversary of Gandhi's birthday, declared as International Day of Non-Violence by the UN, and after passing through six continents and 100 countries will end up in Argentina on Jan. 2, 2010.

    [32] Fires in north Evia, Malesina

    A fire broke out at 16:30 on Tuesday in a pine forest in the Lihada region of north Evia. Thirteen fire engines manned by 39 firemen, two teams of fire-fighters on foot, six water-bombing aircraft and one helicopter have been sent to put out the flames.

    The fire brigade said that the fire was not near inhabited areas and that no homes were at risk.

    Fire fighters had earlier managed to put out another fire that had broken out at 3:00 in a residential area in Theologos, Malesina. Fanned by strong winds, this had reached right up to the yards of homes in the area before it was put out by firemen and local residents.

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 24C. Cloudy in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 15C.

    [34] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis' announcement that she will be candidate in the November 7 main opposition New Democracy elections for a new leader, and the government's first measures dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Employment and Social Security minister Andreas Loverdos advances changes in successive insurance, based on former Health Minister Fani Petralia's plans".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Dora announced her candidacy for ND's leadership".

    AVGHI: "Government backs Cosco and demands end of dockworkers' strike at Piraeus container terminal".

    AVRIANI: "Dora announced her candidacy for ND's helm".

    CHORA: "ND cadres accuse Karamanlis of being indifferent and absent".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Uprise: Leave now, Mr. Costas Karamanlis".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Cut downs in state limousines - Proposals for curtailment of expenses will be presented on Tuesday to prime minister".

    ESTIA: "Succession problematic - All candidates share the blame".

    ETHNOS: "Hide and seek in ND, meanwhile Karamanlis is becoming the black sheep".

    KATHIMERINI: ęThe handling of the strike in Piraeus port brings the first rifts in the new government".

    LOGOS: "Government pledges the development of the Olympic facilities".

    NIKI: "Civil war in ND brings reversals in the country's political map".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Fortification of the working classes' struggle and united front".

    TA NEA: "15 billion euros tax hunt until Christmas! Government at a loss over the black hole".

    TO VIMA: "New structure of state to be ready in six months".

    VRADYNI: "At the razor's edge - Only Costas Karamanlis can preserve ND's unity".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [35] EU Presidency expresses support for Cyprus negotiations


    The EU Swedish Presidency, represented by Swedish Minister for European Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom, has expressed support to the UN-led negotiations aiming to solve the political problem of Cyprus.

    Malmstrom also noted that it is too premature to judge what will happen in December when Turkey's EU accession course will be evaluated by the European Council.

    On his part Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou stressed that Turkey has to fully implement and comply with its obligations to Brussels and that if by December, there is no compliance "then it will not be business as usual but there will have to be repercussions," pointing out that this is a European obligation.

    In statements after a meeting Tuesday with Malmstrom, prior to a working lunch, Kyprianou said they would have the opportunity to discuss bilateral issues, noting that even though relations between Cyprus and Sweden go well back in the past, there is always room for improvement, especially in the economy-technology area and tourism.

    Kyprianou noted that they would have the opportunity to discuss European issues. We've just had the referendum in Ireland, we have Poland signing the Lisbon Treaty, so we have to see how we can proceed from now," he noted, adding that they would talk about the ongoing negotiations on the Cyprus issue.

    On her part Malmstrom expressed the support of the Presidency to the negotiations aiming to solve the Cyprus problem, noting that President Christofias gave her a view on the state of play.

    "We had the possibility to discuss other matters today. I met with the Minister of Interior this morning where we discussed migration and asylum, an issue that I know is very high on the agenda for Cyprus and where we have excellent cooperation between my colleagues, the Minister of Migration (of Sweden) and my Cyprus colleague and I am sure that today we will discuss the Lisbon Treaty, relations with Turkey but also maybe briefly about the incoming Summit of October where we will also discuss climate issues," she noted.

    Asked about statements made earlier by the House President that Cyprus must no longer show tolerance towards Turkey, Kyprianou said "Turkey has undertaken obligations towards the EU. Obligations also concern Cyprus. Turkey has to fully implement and comply with its obligations. It's not optional or something that they can choose not to do. At the same time, if by December there is no compliance, then it will not be business as usual but there will have to be repercussions."

    "We believe that it has to be a European decision because it is a European obligation and what this is going to be is something we shall discuss with all our partners in the EU, the Presidency of course, and to be decided in December, taking into account all the relevant circumstances at that particular time," Kyprianou stressed.

    The Swedish Minister noted that the report on Turkey's accession is going to be published tomorrow by the European Commission. "So I will read it and we will discuss it of course and as usual, as we always do in December we will have a general discussion of the state of play concerning the candidate countries. And I think it is too premature to tell about the outcome of these discussions."

    She added that the presidency must study the report carefully "and then of course in discussions with the Commission and with different member states we will see how to proceed in the discussions in December."

    Replying to questions about possible repercussions on Turkey, if it does not meet its obligations, Malmstrom said they must discuss with all the member states about the European Commission report.

    She noted that the Commission is doing this exercise every year and they are evaluating according to a very clear and transparent system.

    "It has been our aim from the very beginning that if possible, if Turkey fulfills the criteria, we shall move towards opening one chapter and that chapter most likely to be opened is the environmental chapter, providing that all the technical criteria are met and we will know that when we discuss the report tomorrow."

    Malmstrom noted that the Presidency is in constant dialogue not only with member states but also with Turkey. "There are fulfillments to be made. But it is too premature to judge anything - we are still at the beginning of October - what we will happen in December," she concluded.

    Turkey, which aspires to become an EU member, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member since May 2004.

    President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

    [36] House Speaker: Turkey holds key to its European perspective


    Turkey cannot escape unscathed from the December landmark, President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian stated here today, adding that Ankara itself holds the key to its European perspective and the continuation of its accession negotiations with Brussels.

    Speaking after a meeting with the Swedish Minister of European Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom, on an official visit to Cyprus, Garoyian noted that the period of tolerance from Cyprus is over and Turkey must pay the price for everything that has not been implemented.

    ''Since 2004 Turkey has had before it a road map which it has not respected," he added, and as such it bears sole responsibility for the situation it finds itself in and for bringing the EU into a difficult position.

    Garoyian said that the meeting with the Swedish minister focused on recent developments in the Cyprus problem and the current UN-led negotiations as well on the evaluation of Turkey's accession process by the EU in December.

    ''I have outlined with clarity our views to the Swedish Minister, saying that the Greek Cypriots are the first who are seeking a solution, which must be viable, functional, and should secure human rights and political freedoms of the people of Cyprus, without Turkish guarantees or rights of intervention," Garoyian said in his remarks to the press after the meeting.

    Garoyian also stated that he condemned Turkish policy and Ankara's positions, which, in his words, lead to confederation and to a two-state solution.

    With regard to the evaluation of Turkey's accession course, the House Speaker noted that he reiterated "clearly and explicitly that Turkey has to fulfill its obligations towards the EU and the Republic of Cyprus, undertaken since 2004'', which Turkey has not yet met, ignoring the EU and disregarding its principles.

    He added that he expressed the view that Cyprus is not an obstacle in Turkey's European perspective, provided that Turkey starts behaving as a modern European state which respects the principles, the values, the acquis communautaire and the EU member states.

    He said that he sought solidarity from the Swedish minister as he had done from other EU officials, pointing out that Turkey's policies offend not only Cyprus but also the EU itself.

    Turkey, which seeks EU membership, occupies since 1974 Cyprus' northern part, refuses to comply with numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of its troops from Cyprus. Ankara does not recognise the government of Cyprus and has so far refused to meet its EU obligations towards the Union and Cyprus, by normalising relations with Nicosia and opening its ports and airports to Cypriot flagged vessels and aircraft.

    [37] Cyprus Government announces cancellation of Nikiforos military exercise


    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has announced the cancellation of the National Guard annual military exercise, under the code-name "Nikiforos", after Turkey has announced the cancellation of "Toros" military exercise.

    According to a written statement, the proposal to cancel the military exercises was submitted by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias to the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon during the meeting they held in New York last September, in the framework of the UN General Assembly.

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