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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-10-15

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

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

Thursday, 15 October 2009 Issue No: 3323

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM chairs first meeting of PASOK's new parliamentary group: 'Historic duty to change page'
  • [02] Greece's new parliament sworn in
  • [03] PM Papandreou confers with alternate FM
  • [04] Skopje urged to settle name issue with Greece
  • [05] FYROM ready to start entry talks, EU's Commission says
  • [06] Rehn calls on Turkey to assist in Cyprus solution
  • [07] Ragoussis meets with KEDKE board
  • [08] Interior minister holds talks with ombudsman
  • [09] KKE Parliamentary Group holds first meeting
  • [10] Canadian Governor General to visit Greece
  • [11] Russian FM congratulates Papandreou
  • [12] Frontex aircraft received Turkish radar warnings alleging airspace violation
  • [13] New ambassadors to Greece
  • [14] Economy minister meets Chinese ambassador
  • [15] EBEA chairman again calls for end to Piraeus port strike
  • [16] European Commission on public finances
  • [17] MIG to issue 402 mln euro convertible bond
  • [18] Unemployment at 9.6 pct in July
  • [19] Labour minister, GSEE on unemployment figures
  • [20] Government to upgrade labour inspection after fatal accidents
  • [21] Infrastructures minister visits Athens airport
  • [22] Greek IT market to grow 3.7 pct in 2009, survey
  • [23] Aegean Airlines in common flight code agreement with bmi
  • [24] Commission OKs state funding for Olympic Catering early retirement scheme
  • [25] "KOSMIMA 2009" exhibition opens in Thessaloniki
  • [26] ASE soares at new 12-month highs
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Greek bond market closing report
  • [29] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [30] Russian Navy landing ship to visit Greek ports
  • [31] Greek works of art to be auctioned by Sotheby's
  • [32] PANDORA team beefs up rescue robot
  • [33] Coppola, Egoyan at the European Film festival in Athens
  • [34] Three summoned to testify in Panagopoulos abduction case
  • [35] Thessaloniki prosecutor orders urgent investigation on quality of tap water in schools
  • [36] Man killed in iron ore mine accident
  • [37] Greece beats Luxembourg in World Soccer Cup qualifier
  • [38] Rainy on Thursday
  • [39] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [40] President Christofias hopes for progress in peace talks
  • [41] Lack of recommendations for sanctions on Turkey disappointing, says FM Politics

  • [01] PM chairs first meeting of PASOK's new parliamentary group: 'Historic duty to change page'

    Prime minister George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired the first meeting of his ruling PASOK party's new parliamentary group that emerged from the October 4 general elections in Greece, which brought PASOK to power.

    "The people asked us to assume the responsibility of changing page," Papandreou said, adding that, with "participation and joint decisions, we will confront the imperative problems the country is facing".

    "On October 4, the people entrusted us with the historic duty of moving forward and guaranteeing the major changes we committed ourselves to bringing," Papandreou said.

    He stressed that the parliamentary group will be the driving force for change in the country, while the MPs will be the guarantors for implementation of PASOK's campaign slogan "The citizen first" in the everyday governance.

    The premier warned his MPs that they will face difficulties and come under heavy pressure for political favors and even irregularities, but clarified that PASOK was determined to change page for the country, so as to wipe out such phenomena.

    "Our goal is a just state. The government will guarantee the rights of everyone, not privileges for the few. Our strategy is one of prospects and hope, of elevating the entire country and representing its rights, and we call on everyone, whether they voted for us or not, to take part in this struggle," he continued.

    "The people are not asking of us to gve a little or a lot. They are asking for only one thing: To give our best self, to put forward the best we have," Papandreou added.

    He said that beyond salvaging the economy, immediate priority will also be placed on fully changing the political landscape so as to give a substance and quality to democracy that the people will perceive and enjoy every day.

    Turning to the state institutions, Papandreou stressed that the citizens need to regain their confidence in the institutions, and pledged that his government will make every effort to restore that relationship.

    On the country's legislature, he said that parliament's role and that of the MPs has been downgraded, and pledged to upgrade them. The MPs will check the government, but also work with it, he added, and called on the deputies to voice opinions on all draft laws debated in the House.

    Papandreou referred to steps that have already been set in motion, such as full separation of party and state posts.

    "We will continue with a change of the electoral system that will strike a heavy blow against 'black' political money, ensure the protection and dignity of the MP, who will be freed from the clientele relations, and will upgrade the parliament," he said.

    Turning to the government's legislative work, the premier said that an obligatory stage of public deliberation will be established for every draft law tabled in parliament, which will also require two readings, while there will also be assessment of the effects of each bill.

    At the same time, parliament will check all the major state contracts. "We want parliament to be fully briefed on every major contract before it is signed," the premier said, stressing that this also includes the armaments programs.

    Further, the parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee will monitor such issues as state relations with the mass media, while parliament will also ratify appointments to the Independent Authorities.

    Also, the appointment of the leadership in the justice system by the government must stop, and henceforth parliament will have a say in those appointments and will take part in the entire selection process.

    The PASOK parliamentary group on Tuesday elected its new presidium, with former minister Christos Papoutsis elected as the group's secretary, as proposed by Papandreou. Papoutsis and former minister Petros Efthymiou will also be the party's two parliamentary spokesmen.

    [02] Greece's new parliament sworn in

    Greece's new 300-member parliament that emerged from the October 4 general elections was sworn-in on Wednesday morning, in a special ceremony in the unicameral House.

    The swearing-in took place after the traditional blessing, officiated by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece.

    "I swear in the name of the Holy Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity to keep faith in my Country and in the democratic form of government, obedience to the Constitution and the laws and to discharge conscientiously my duties," the MPs pledged, with the exception of PASOK MPs Nikos Sifounakis, Maria Damanaki, Spyros Kouvelis and Maya Tsokli, and the MPs of the two Left parties, while the two Muslim deputies elected on the main opposition PASOK party's tickets in Xanthi and Rodopi took a similar oath with their hand on the Koran.

    The MPs of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), with the exception Liana Kanelli, did not take a religious oath, while the MPs of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) did not attend the religious party of the ceremony.

    The KKE and SYRIZA parliamentary groups submitted letters to the parliament presidium endorsing a political oath instead of the religious oath, which is set out in the Greek constitution.

    Ruling PASOK holds 160 seats in the new parliament, followed by main opposition New Democracy (ND) with 91 seats, the KKE with 21 seats, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) with 15 seats, and SYRIZA with 13 seats.

    [03] PM Papandreou confers with alternate FM

    Prime Minister George Papandreou conferred with Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Wednesday, in light of the prime minister's visit to Cyprus on Monday.

    "It is the first official visit of the prime minister which has a very symbolic character but is, of course, essential as well in the spirit of the government's commitments to come by the side of Cyprus again, by the side of the people of Cyprus," Droutsas said.

    He added that all issues of mutual interest between Greece and Cyprus will be discussed in Cyprus, the issue of effective cooperation and in light of the European Council in December in particular.

    He further said that it is a date of special importance since Turkey will be evaluated by the European Union on its accession course and on what it has done so far. It will be evaluated as to what degree it has implemented the commitments that it has undertaken as an accession candidate both towards the EU and the member-states, he stressed.

    On the question of the European Commission's annual progress reports on accession candidates, Droutsas said that the government has assumed its duties only a few days ago and has worked from the very beginning to improve these progress reports.

    "To a certain degree and on the most crucial points for Greece I think that we have achieved this improvement," he said, adding that Greece's will is to dynamically promote the European course, the accession course of all the countries of southeastern Europe.

    Droutsas pointed out that in this framework Greece, the Greek government and the prime minister himself has already made a very specific proposal on a milestone date in 2014.

    He stressed that in this course "it is a precondition that all countries are prepared effectively to fulfill the necessary criteria: Specifically, for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) this means a solution to the issue of the name. This is a precondition. Greece's position on this issue is known, it is clear. The national red line is clear and known. As regards the beginning of accession negotiations, I wish to stress this, it is the exclusive duty and an issue of the member-states of the European Union and, therefore, of Greece as well."

    [04] Skopje urged to settle name issue with Greece

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)

    European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn on Wednesday strongly urged the government in Skopje to settle the name dispute with Greece, after announcing that he was ready to recommend that the bloc begin accession negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Noting that the Commission considered that FYROM had made "convincing" progress in key reforms and sufficiently fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria for the start of entry talks, he pointed out that the name dispute was now the final obstacle that remained to be overcome, as a matter of urgency.

    "I trust that the Government in Skopje will take this as a very strong encouragement to finally settle the name issue," Rehn said in statements after presenting the Commission's annual enlargement report.

    He stressed that the report underlines the need to maintain good neighbourly relations, including a negotiated and mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, under the auspices of the UN.

    "Now it is indeed more essential and urgent than ever, for the sake of the country's EU future," the Commissioner added.

    [05] FYROM ready to start entry talks, EU's Commission says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Commission is ready to recommend the start of accession negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), according to the annual enlargement report issued by the EU's executive arm on Wednesday.

    Regarding the rest of the Balkans, the Commission said that Croatia was closest to joining the Community after overcoming a border dispute with Slovenia and might even conclude accession talks within the year. The picture was considerably less rosy for the other Western Balkan states, however, while the annual progress report on Turkey cited a number of problems that are still outstanding, among them the Cyprus issue.

    With respect to FYROM, the Commission said that Skopje had made "convincing" progress in terms of fulfilling the basic criteria and was ready to start accession talks. In spite of this, the name dispute with Greece remains an obstacle, with Athens stressing that this must first be resolved.

    Of the remaining SE European countries that have applied for EU membership - Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo - the European Commission said they had to speed up fundamental reforms, while in Serbia's case it also urged continued cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and a more constructive attitude on issues relating to Kosovo, which itself was advised to tackle issues of corruption, organised crime and protection of minorities.

    On Turkey's progress toward accession, the Commission stressed the need to speed up democratic reforms in a number of areas, including freedom of speech, press freedoms, religious freedoms, and the rights of women, trade unions and children. It also recommended a more restricted role for the military in the country's affairs.

    The Commission's report noted some limited progress on issues of Greek interest, such as matters linked to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the School of Theology on Halki and property issues of the Greek minority, while pointing out that problems persisted.

    It also noted Turkey's obligation to maintain good neighbour relations, pointing to violations of Greek air space and flights by Turkish military aircraft above Greek islands that had prompted official protests from Athens, as well as Ankara's stance on the issue of illegal immigration.

    The Commission cited complete lack of progress by Turkey in relation to the Cyprus issue, noting that Turkey has failed to normalise relations with the Cyprus Republic or to implement the Ankara Protocol. It urged Ankara to contribute to creating a positive climate for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue.

    Other issues referred to included Turkey's failure to lift a 'casus belli' warning against Greece that was passed by Turkish national assembly in 1995, in which it essentially threatened to go to war if Athens decided to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles. The Commission pointed out that the conclusions of the European Council of 2008 call on Turkey to commit to the principle of good neighbour relations and the peaceful resolution of differences based on the UN Charter and, if necessary, through recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

    One of the Commission's recommendations to Turkey was to re-organise its system for processing asylum applications, given the increased numbers of asylum seekers in the country, while noting Turkey's agreement to resume official talks on a readmission agreement and urging Turkey to contribute to efforts to reach an agreement with the EU border agency FRONTEX.

    [06] Rehn calls on Turkey to assist in Cyprus solution

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn on Wednesday called on Turkey to improve relations with Cyprus and assist in finding a solution to the Cyprus issue, while presenting the European Commission's annual progress report on Turkey.

    "We expect Turkey to ensure full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and to make progress towards the normalisation of relations with the Republic of Cyprus. We call on the leaders of the two communities on Cyprus to bring the settlement talks to a successful end as soon as possible and on Turkey to contribute in concrete terms to such a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue," he said.

    Rehn noted that implementation of the Additional Protocol would help create a climate of confidence that would assist in solving the Cyprus problem, while urging the leaders of the two communities on the island to adopt confidence-building measures.

    The Commissioner also stressed that the wall that continued to divide the island was "completely anachronistic" and that the situation was insupportable for an EU member-state, such as Cyprus.

    "The EU must be united and peaceful," Rehn underlined.

    [07] Ragoussis meets with KEDKE board

    Administrative reform and the immediate payment of the municipal employees' salaries by special funds (KAP) allocated annually for local authorities, dominated a meeting held on Wednesday between Interior, Decentralisation and e-Governance Minister Yiannis Ragoussis and the board of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE).

    KEDKE President, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis stated after the meeting that a response should be given by next week on whether a KEDKE and Greek Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) joint programme, concerning some 25,000 jobs for unemployed people for a period of 36 months, will be launched. Kaklamanis stated that in case of a negative response the local administration sum that was earmarked for this purpose should be released immediately.

    Referring to the atmosphere in which the meeting was held, Kaklamanis stated that "good relations are associated with good decisions".

    [08] Interior minister holds talks with ombudsman

    Interior Minister Yiannis Rangoussis met on Wednesday night with Ombudsman George Kaminis. The meeting came in the wake of a proposal made by Kaminis to the first Interministerial Council that he had been invited to by the prime minister.

    Rangoussis said that there shall be repeated and continuous cooperation between the two sides, adding that "the proposals by the ombudsman constitute the basis for the changes that we want to make in public administration."

    [09] KKE Parliamentary Group holds first meeting

    The Parliamentary Group of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) underlined that it will give "no grace period to the new government" and "will not let even one day be wasted" in a statement issued Wednesday after its first session following the Oct. 4 general elections.

    The statement stresses that "workers should take the situation into their own hands, defend their rights, block the anti-popular measures prepared, demand that their current needs be met and open the way to radical reforms and upsets".

    The KKE MPs maintained that the new PASOK government, despite its declarations to the contrary, will implement the same anti-popular policy, while New Democracy (ND) will be a pressure factor leading the government to speed up the implementation of its anti-popular measures. As regards the rest political parties of the opposition, they do not enter into a real confrontation with the dominant policy, the statement concludes.

    According to the statement, the post of the KKE Parliamentary Group Secretary will be filled by Achilleas Kantartzis, parliamentary spokesmen will be Spyros Halvatzis and Thanassis Pafilis, while Vera Nikolaidou is proposed for the post of the Parliament Vice-President and Yiannis Giokas for Parliament Secretary.

    [10] Canadian Governor General to visit Greece

    The Governor General of Canada, Michaelle Jean, will pay an official two-day visit to Greece at end-October, at the invitation of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, it was announced on Wednesday.

    Jean, accompanied by her husband Jean-Danieal Lafond, is due to arrive in Athens on October 29.

    [11] Russian FM congratulates Papandreou

    Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has sent a telegram of congratulations to Greece's new prime minister George Papandreou, who also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, and described Greece as a "strategic partner".

    The telegram, the contents of which were made public on Wednesday by the Russian foreign ministry's press office, stressed that "the traditional friendly ties between Russia and Greece are founded on long-standing historical and cultural bonds, and are characterised by a steadfastly high developmental dynamic in all sectors of our cooperation".

    In the message, which was conveyed shortly after the elections via diplomatic channels, Lavrov stressed that "Greece is a strategic partner of Russia", adding that: "We look forward to your personal contribution to further consolidation and development of the multi-faceted and mutually beneficial Russian-Greek cooperation both in international issues and at bilateral level".

    [12] Frontex aircraft received Turkish radar warnings alleging airspace violation

    Greece's National Defence General Staff reported another instance of Turkish radar interference over the eastern Aegean islet of Farmakonisi on Wednesday.

    According to the statement issued, at 05:30 a Finnish aircraft, operating on the Greek-Turkish borders within the Frontex European Force framework for the location of illegal migrants, received two warnings from a Turkish radar while flying east of Farmakonisi at an altitude of 5,500 ft and inside the Greek national airspace.

    The warnings mentioned that the aircraft was allegedly inside the Turkish airspace and requested of the pilot to abandon the region or a tactical operation would be executed.

    The Finnish aircraft continued its mission, which it completed at 08:14. The Frontex aircraft had taken off from the SE Aegean island of Kos at 05:17.

    [13] New ambassadors to Greece

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will receive the new ambassadors of Bangladesh, Muhammad Azizul Haque, and Turkey, Mehmet Hasan Gogus, the Holy See, Mons.Luigi Gatti, and Armenia, Gagik Ghalatchian on Thurwday.

    The new envoys will present their credentials to the President.

    Financial News

    [14] Economy minister meets Chinese ambassador

    Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli held a meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Athens Luo Linquan on Wednesday.

    "We are very pleased that the honourable ambassador of China, Luo Linquan, visited the ministry today. It is the first visit to our ministry by a diplomat. We had the opportunity of discussing all the issues of our cooperation, cooperation to which both sides are looking forward to. We want to develop economic cooperation with China, to strengthen our commercial and investments relations for the mutual benefit of both countries. We believe in this friendship and cooperation and we shall both do everything possible to resolve whatever problems have been created and move ahead for constructive coooperation," Katseli said after the meeting.

    [15] EBEA chairman again calls for end to Piraeus port strike

    Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) chairman Costas Mihalos on Wednesday reiterated an appeal to the government to immediately end the dockworkers' strike at Piraeus port, stressing that Greek enterprises were completely hamstrung by the ongoing strike action, which he said was costing the public sector some three million euros a day in lost revenue.

    In a statement, he called for the "immediate implementation of all agreements, laws and court decisions to bring the port back into operation".

    Mihalos cited a 2008 Piraeus Appeals Court ruling that had found the strike then called by dock workers to be illegal and abusive and had expressly forbidden them from staging further strike action using the same methods and for the same reasons and demands.

    That court ruling had also provided for the imposition of a fine of 4,000 euros a day for future strike action along the same lines, payable by the trade unions.

    In addition to lost state revenue, the strike was also costing Piraeus Port an additional 500 million euros, while some 10,000 containers were now stuck in the port and about 1,500 containers a day were being diverted to other Mediterranean ports, he added.

    [16] European Commission on public finances

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    Greece, Latvia, Ireland, Spain and Britain are the five European Union countries that are expected to face the greatest fiscal problems as a result of the economic crisis and, consequently, they will have to take measures to increase state revenues and decrease state expenditures.

    Similar problems, but on a smaller scale, will be faced by another seven countries the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

    The Commission further stressed that Luxembourg and Greece are the two countries that will face the worse fiscal problems to the aging population.

    This is pointed out in a European Commission report on the quality of the EU member-states' public finances, publicised here on Wednesday.

    [17] MIG to issue 402 mln euro convertible bond

    Marfin Investment Group (MIG) on Wednesday announced a board decision to issue a convertible bond loan worth 402,861,139 euros, through the issuing of 84,457,262 bonds convertible to MIG's shares at a conversion price of 10 pct higher from MIG's average closing share price in the last five days before the start of trading of the bonds. The bond issue will carry a 5.0 pct annual interest for a period of five years. The issue will be offered to MIG's existing shareholders at a ratio of one bond for nine common shares of the company.

    [18] Unemployment at 9.6 pct in July

    Unemployment in Greece was running at 9.6 percent in July 2009 against 7.0 percent in July 2008 and 8.6 percent in the preceding month of June 2009, according to figures released on Wednesday by the national statistics service ESYE.

    According to a survey on the active population conducted by ESYE, the number of unemployed in July 2009 stood at 476,707 against 347,935 in July 2008.

    The highest unemployment rates were recorded in western Macedonia (12.3 percent), central Macedonia (11.3 percent) and Epirus (10.6 percent), while the lowest rates were in the Ionian Islands complex (3.0 percent), the northern Aegean (5.4 percent) and Crete (6.7 percent).

    By age group, the highest unemployment rates were among the 15-24 year bracket (23.9 percent) and the 25-34 year bracket (12.6 percent).

    Further, unemployment was higher among women (13.8 percent) than men (6.6 percent).

    [19] Labour minister, GSEE on unemployment figures

    Commenting on the rising unemployment figures reported by Greece's National Statistics Service on Wednesday, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos described the situation as "tragic" and one "that demands we devote all our strength to getting the country back on its feet."

    The announcement that unemployment had risen to 9.6 percent in July, up from 7 percent in July 2008 and before the tourist season had ended, indicated an "explosive" rise in unemployment according to the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE).

    According to GSEE, "real unemployment rates are more than 15 percent, while at the end of the tourist period the situation will become dire".

    Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation stated that workers and society were now "paying the cost of an anti-developmental and anti-labour policy, which attempted to solve the problem of unemployment with hiring through Stage programmes, four-day weeks and fully flexible labour relations".

    [20] Government to upgrade labour inspection after fatal accidents

    Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday announced that the government intended to take steps to upgrade the Labour Inspection Body and increase workplace inspections in order to prevent labour accidents.

    He said the specific measures will be included in the government policy statements that will be announced on Saturday, while inspections had already been stepped up, especially to high-risk work spaces.

    Referring to recent workplace accidents that left one dead and two seriously injured, Loverdos said the government would ensure that the law was upheld in relation to the injured workers' treatment and recovery and that the family of the deceased received all legal compensation as quickly as possible.

    [21] Infrastructures minister visits Athens airport

    Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas and Deputy Minister Nikos Sifounakis visited the administration offices and storage spaces of Olympic Air at Athens international airport on Wednesday, on the occasion of a liquidator entering the company to evaluate its assets.

    The purpose of the visit was to issue instructions on safeguarding the company's assets that belong to the Hellenic state and whose value is estimated in millions of euros.

    "Our effort is to secure and safeguard "Olympic's" property so that at some time the aircraft and the spare parts can be used with appropriate maintenance and safekeeping to yield a relevant profit for the Hellenic state," Reppas said, adding "we shall do all that we can to ensure that there shall not even be the slightest margin for part of the Greek property of the Hellenic state being lost."

    [22] Greek IT market to grow 3.7 pct in 2009, survey

    The Greek IT market grew 5.4 pct in 2008, compared with 2007, to 2.4 billion euros, a survey by Hellastat said on Wednesday. The survey said it expected the IT market to grow by 3.7 pct this year to 2.5 billion euros.

    Hellastat said the domestic software market was characterised by growing trends becoming the most dynamic section of the wider IT market in Greece, particularly in the last four years, with Greek software companies' activities based on using foreign companies' platforms, such as Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, etc.

    Demand for these products is related with corporate investments in technology, the survey said, adding that the Greek software market was divided into three categories: software tools, systems software and application software, with the latter accounting for 58 pct of the total market.

    Hellastat said its survey was conducted on a sample of 23,154 enterprises.

    [23] Aegean Airlines in common flight code agreement with bmi

    Aegean Airlines on Wednesday announced a cooperation agreement with bmi, a subsidiary of Lufthansa and a member of Star Alliance, under which the two companies can share common flight codes, offering significant privileges to their passengers.

    The agreement, which will be enacted on October 25 with Aegean Airlines' relocation to Healthrow airport in London, will enable the Greek carrier to offer six new connections through London to Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Aberdeen and Dublin. At the same time, bmi will offer their passengers additional flights through Athens to Thessaloniki, Heraclio, Chania and Rhodes.

    Dimitris Gerogiannis, Aegean Airlines' chief executive, commenting on the agreement said: "We are very happy for this new significant cooperation which enables us to expand our network with six new destinations in the UK and Ireland, taking advantage from bmi's expertize". Dominic Paul, bmi's managing director said: "In bmi we are thrilled with our cooperation with Aegean Airlines. We look forward to offering to our customers the opportunity to travel from Heathrow to Athens and to more Greek destinations in the future".

    [24] Commission OKs state funding for Olympic Catering early retirement scheme

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthouraki)

    The European Commission on Wednesday announced that it will not raise objections to the Greek government's plans to partially finance a voluntary early retirement scheme for Olympic Catering Plc staff that will cost 29 million euros in total.

    An announcement by the European Commission said the proposed measure was not contrary to public interest and could be considered compatible with Community directives for the common market. It notes that the cost concerns Olympic Catering staff eligible for early retirement that enjoy terms of employment and salaries established when the company was still owned by the state.

    [25] "KOSMIMA 2009" exhibition opens in Thessaloniki

    Over 100 exhibitors from Greece and another eight countries, among them Belgium, Turkey, Hong Kong and India, will participate in the "KOSMIMA 2009" trade fair beginning on Saturday. The city's 24th international exhibition of jewellery, clocks and watches, precious stones, machinery and equipment will run until Oct. 19.

    The exhibition will be held at the Thessaloniki international exhibition centre and is open for sector professionals only. Exhibits will include gold, platinum, white gold and silver jewellery, clocks and watches, jewellery shop equipment and fittings, machinery, software, equipment, precious and semi-precious stones.

    The jewellery design competition for children held in parallel with the exhibition has reportedly attracted great interest.

    [26] ASE soares at new 12-month highs

    Greek stocks soared to new 12-month highs in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, following a rally in world equity markets. The composite index jumped 3.17 pct to end at 2,896.91 points, with turnover soaring to 437.9 million euros, of which 27.3 million euros were block trades.

    All sectors moved upwards with the exception of the Media sector which ended 0.31 pct lower. Banks (4.76 pct), Industrial Products (4.28 pct), Constructions (3.76 pct), Chemicals (3.50 pct), Financial Services (3.40 pct) and Raw Materials (3.0 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 3.69 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.59 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index ended 2.53 pct up. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 181 to 34 with another 53 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.11%

    Industrials: +4.28%

    Commercial: +0.28%

    Construction: +3.76%

    Media: -0.31%

    Oil & Gas: +1.60%

    Personal & Household: +1.97%

    Raw Materials: +3.00%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.28%

    Technology: +2.14%

    Telecoms: +0.90%

    Banks: +4.76%

    Food & Beverages: +1.20%

    Health: +1.79%

    Utilities: +0.84%

    Chemicals: +3.50%

    Financial Services: +3.40%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Eurobank and OTE.

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

    Alpha Bank: 13.90

    ATEbank: 2.14

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.61

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.10

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.54

    National Bank of Greece: 27.75

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 12.00

    Intralot: 5.05

    OPAP: 18.54

    OTE: 12.36

    Bank of Piraeus: 13.17

    Titan: 26.20

    [27] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.26 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising significantly to 109.606 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 10,755 contracts worth 82.564 million euros, with 24,396 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 25,727 contracts worth 27.042 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (3,708), followed by Eurobank (1,093), MIG (1,696), PPC (1,614), Piraeus Bank (1,887), National Bank (3,076), Alpha Bank (1,132), Marfin Popular Bank (2,107), Cyprus Bank (2,006), Hellenic Postbank (1,435) and ATEbank (2,791).

    [28] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German state bonds widened slightly to 131 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with turnover at 1.852 billion euros, of which 1.001 billion were buy orders and the remaining 851 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.496 billion euros, yielding 4.52 pct, while the German 10-year bund yielded 3.21 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were 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.

    [29] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.5

    Pound sterling 0.937

    Danish kroner 7.503

    Swedish kroner 10.385

    Japanese yen 134.46

    Swiss franc 1.528

    Norwegian kroner 8.350

    Canadian dollar 1.543

    Australian dollar 1.645

    General News

    [30] Russian Navy landing ship to visit Greek ports

    The Black Sea Russian Fleet large landing ship LAS "Tsezar Kunikov" will be visiting the Greek ports of Corfu in the Ionian Sea on Oct. 14-18, Pilos in southern Greece on Oct. 19-21 and Piraeus on Oct. 22-24 within the framework of the promotion of cooperation between the Russian and the Greek Navy.

    During the visit to Corfu, its crew will participate in the "Russian Week in Corfu" annual festival events and in a football game between the sailors of the Black Sea Russian Fleet and a local football team. The ship will be open for the public on Thursday, Oct. 15 and Friday, Oct.16 (10:00-12:00).

    The "Tsezar Kunikov" will be in Pilos, southern Greece, on Oct. 19 and take part in the events scheduled for Oct. 20 to mark the 182th anniversary of the naval Battle of Navarino fought on October 20, 1827 during the Greek War of Independence.

    The Russian Navy vessel senior officers will meet with Greek Navy officials during its visit to the port of Piraeus on Oct. 22. The ship's commander will lay a wreath at the Russian Sailors' Monument in the Cemetery of the Resurrection in the district of Keratsini. The ship will be open for the public on Friday, Oct. 23 (14:00-16:00, Pier 11).

    [31] Greek works of art to be auctioned by Sotheby's

    Works of famous Greek artists works will be in auction on November 9 in Sotheby's autumn "Greek sale" auction in London.

    According to a Sotheby's announcement, the recently-found painting by Nikolaos Gyzis will be auctioned and is expected to reach 230,000-350,000 euros. Works by painters Spyros Vassiliou, Yannis Spyropoulos, George Iakovidis, George Bouzianis and Nikos Hatzikyriakos-Ghikas will also be auctioned.

    The 173 works of art, most of them dated from the 19th and 20th century, are expected to bring in approximately 4 million pounds.

    [32] PANDORA team beefs up rescue robot

    A team of researchers from Thessaloniki University's Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering department on Wednesday announced further improvements to a search-and-rescue robot capable of remotely locating survivors of natural disasters without the assistance of human operators.

    It is an improvement on a previous design developed as part of the PANDORA project, having improved motor skills and sensors that give it a more accurate sense of space.

    "The robot can locate survivors with great accuracy and safety because it has artificial intelligence algorithms that give it greater and better navigation and movement capabilities," said Prof. Loukas Petrou, who is in charge of the project.

    Among others, it has been equipped with sensors that detect levels of carbon dioxide, temperature, sounds and can recognise faces and movements.

    The team has also developed a second robot possessing an arm capable for reaching victims and moving in a complex environment.

    The PANDORA team was awarded at the international Robocup Rescue 2009 competition held in Austria during the summer.

    [33] Coppola, Egoyan at the European Film festival in Athens

    World-renowned filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola (USA) and Atom Egoyan (Canada) will be in Athens for the Panorama of European Cinema festival to take place on Oct. 22 - Nov. 1, hosted by the Municipality of Athens.

    Coppola will attend the premiere in Athens of his film "Tetro" on Nov. 1 and during his stay in Athens will give a "master class" at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation.

    Canadian film director Atom Egoyan will also join audiences in Athens and watch his new movie titled "Chloe", starring Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson.

    [34] Three summoned to testify in Panagopoulos abduction case

    Another three people were summoned Wednesday to testify before the examining magistrate in Athens assigned to the abduction case of shipowner Pericles Panagopoulos, which is attributed to organized crime.

    The examining judge, using evidence extracted from recorded discussions between the gang members, issued indictments against the three accusing them of participation in a criminal organisation.

    The examining magistrate also called five of the 17 suspects that are currently in custody in relation to the Panagopoulos abduction case to provide additional testimony concerning violations of the legislation on explosives.

    The charges filed concern two attempted bomb attacks in the district of Glyfada, greater Athens and in the western Greek city of Arta in April 2009.

    One of the accused made use of his right not to speak, while the remaining four will testify on Friday and next Wednesday.

    [35] Thessaloniki prosecutor orders urgent investigation on quality of tap water in schools

    A Thessaloniki First Instance Court Prosecutor launched an urgent preliminary investigation on the quality of tap water in primary schools of seven outlying municipalities of Thessaloniki following studies carried out by the city's Aristotle University (AUTH) School of Medicine and the local Technological Educational Institute (TEI) Chemistry Laboratory.

    Based on the findings of the studies, the samples of tap water collected from 32 schools in the municipalities of Halastra, Axios, Ehedoros, Lagada, Thermaikos, Agios Athanassios and Vasilika were tainted by high levels of arsenic, nitrate ions and manganese.

    The findings of the study made public on Oct. 12 showed that levels of arsenic were higher than 10 g/l in five schools, concentrations of manganese were higher than 50 g/l in eight schools, while nitrate ion concentrations were higher than 50 mg/l in two schools in Lagada.

    [36] Man killed in iron ore mine accident

    One man was killed and another injured in an accident occurring in an iron ore mine in the region of Mavres Petres in Stratoniki, in the northern prefecture of Halkidiki, on Wednesday.

    The accident took place when parts of a shaft caved in during efforts to support it, resulting in a 44-year-old man losing his life and a 49-year-old being injured, both of whom were of Greek descent.

    The injured man had fingers on his right hand mutilated and was taken in an ambulance to the Papanikolaou hospital in Thessaloniki for treatment.

    Soccer

    [37] Greece beats Luxembourg in World Soccer Cup qualifier

    Greece beat Luxembourg 2-1 in a World Soccer Cup European qualifying Group Two match played at the Athens Olympic Stadium on Wednesday evening. Torosidis 30' and Gekas 33' scored for Greece, while Avraam Papadopoulos scored an own goal in injury time.

    Greece came second in the Group behind Switzerland (that drew 0-0 at home with Israel) and will wait for October 19 when four pairs will be drawn to participate in playoffs to take place on November 14 and 18 to enable another four teams to reach the World Soccer Cup finals in South Africa.

    Weather Forecast

    [38] Rainy on Thursday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 4-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 27C. Cloudy and rainy in Athens, with southerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 9C to 14C.

    [39] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The government's plan for huge cutbacks in state expenditures, the Piraeus port dockworkers' strike and the turmoil in main opposition New Democracy ahead of the November 7 election for a new leader, dominated the headlines on Wednesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Plea to Costas Karamanlis to remain at ND's helm for at least 2-3 months".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Candidates for ND's leadership and high ranking cadres call on former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to remain at the party's helm until the election of a new leader by the party's grass roots".

    AVGHI: "Government's credibility shipwrecked in Piraeus port".

    AVRIANI: "ND's leadership candidates Antonis Samaras and Dimitris Avramopoulos discuss the possibility of dual leadership in order to exclude Dora Bakoyannis from the leadership race".

    CHORA: "ND in a political coma - Need for changes in persons and structure in a worn out product is mandatory".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Explosion in ND's grass roots".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Government focuses on veto on FYROM's accession to EU".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Compromise after Dora's retreat".

    ESTIA: "Government without contender - Ground free for New Democracy".

    ETHNOS: "Tightening the reins in the state - George Papandreou passes all expenditures through the sieve".

    KATHIMERINI: "ND'S would-be leaders close to agreement - Karamanlis' role is the catalyst".

    LOGOS: "The burning issues for the government - In search of 200 million euros".

    NIKI: "The bourgeoisie prefer George - They're abandoning the ND conservative party".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party labour union call for struggle".

    TA NEA: "No more limousines for the government - The prime minister will have a 1600cc car".

    TO VIMA: "Beijing calls Athens ....Chinese prime minister will ask that the agreement on Piraeus port is abided by.

    VRADYNI: "Now it's the people's turn to decide - Karamanlis the guarantee, he remains until the ballots".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [40] President Christofias hopes for progress in peace talks

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    There is hope for progress on the issue of the executive power, President of the Republic Demetris Christofias said here Wednesday, pointing out that if the contrary were true, there would be no talks.

    Speaking on arrival at the Presidential Palace, after his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the context of the UN-led direct negotiations, the president said ''there is certainly hope for progress. Otherwise, we would not be talking" when asked if there was any apparent progress on the issue of the executive.

    He was also asked whether there are compromise proposals on the negotiating table.

    ''We have tabled our own revised proposal which does not change the substance of our proposal. There was a reaction and we will analyse both our positions tomorrow (Thursday),'' Christofias said.

    President Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat will continue their discussion on the issue of the executive on Thursday, during their second scheduled meeting of the week in the framework of the second round of negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem.

    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem which will reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    [41] Lack of recommendations for sanctions on Turkey disappointing, says FM

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou said on Wednesday that Cyprus is disappointed by the fact that the EU Progress Report on Turkey does not include recommendations for sanctions, as Ankara refuses to fulfill its obligations towards the Republic of Cyprus.

    ''We are disappointed by the fact that, given the findings of the Commission, one would expect that it would proceed with recommendations for some measures to be taken in December. We believe that this should have come as a natural progression, following the positions described in the Commission report,'' Kyprianou said speaking to the press prior to departure for Austria.

    Turkey, which seeks EU membership, occupies since 1974 Cyprus northern part and 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.

    Two reports released Wednesday by the Commission, the annual progress report and the EU document on enlargement strategy for 2009-2010, note, inter alia, Turkey's refusal to extend its Customs Union to cover the Republic of Cyprus, but refrain from making any recommendations for sanctions against Turkey.

    Acknowledging that the wording of the final document has improved compared to the draft documents leaked to the press earlier, Kyprianou said that the EU progress report ''records in a clear way Turkey's obligations as well as the fact that it has not fulfilled these obligations.''

    The Cypriot FM added that there are references to the documents with which Nicosia does not agree, such as the reference that Turkey supports the ongoing UN-led negotiations for a Cyprus settlement.

    Kyprianou described this reference as ''superficial because they do not make an in-depth study of the positions of the Turkish side which, verbally, may be supporting the process but in essence it does not support the stated objective for a federal solution but instead it refers to a two-state solution and a confederation of two states.''

    According to Kyprianou, one of the positive elements is the fact that the report refers to Turkey's obligation to contribute to a solution of the Cyprus problem, instead of an obligation to help create a good climate at the UN-led talks on Cyprus.

    Concluding, Kyprianou said that the Commission report is a tool aimed at describing the facts, pointing out that the final decision regarding the assessment of Turkey's accession negotiations will be taken by the European Council in December.

    ''There we will present our positions. We believe that we can have a common position. That will be our goal, to have a common position on the issue,'' Kyprianou added.

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