|Sunday, 21 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-10-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 20 October 2009 Issue No: 3327
 PM Papandreou: Cyprus problem a priorityNICOSIA (ANA-MPA / CNA)
Greek and Cypriot leaders on Monday referred to a complete "identity of views" regarding the latest developments in the long-standing Cyprus problem, EU-Turkey ties as well as international and regional issues of particular interest to both Athens and Nicosia, following talks here between visiting Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
The two leaders first met in private before being joined by attending delegations.
On his part, Christofias expressed his congratulations to the newly elected premier of Greece, stressing that Athens is Cyprus' biggest supporter in "the struggle we are waging for a solution to the Cyprus problem, and our flawless cooperation and constant communication is necessary, as is common action."
Both sides voiced their volition to continue cooperation to promote a solution to the Cyprus problem and to utilise the milestone of December, when Turkey's EU accession course will be assessed, Christofias and Papandreou said after official talks in Nicosia.
Papandreou said his priority was to support the "tireless efforts" of Christofias for a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem in the framework of UN decisions and in full harmonisation with the (EU) acquis communautaire.
He added that both Greece and Cyprus believe that Turkey's EU course would be to their mutual benefit, and noted that he was not in favour of a special association of Turkey with the EU but supported Turkey's right to become a full member, as long as the country fulfils its obligations towards the EU and contributes towards a Cyprus settlement.
Papandreou said it was necessary to utilise the European framework in the most effective way, adding that the European Council of December was important because Turkey's EU course would be objectively assessed.
He assured that efforts would continue, with the aim of peace and cooperation among the peoples of the region, adding that the solution of the Cyprus problem should be just and viable.
The Greek premier noted that during his first official meeting with Christofias they agreed to continue their close cooperation on the Cyprus problem, intensively until December and afterwards.
"The message I have conveyed to the people of Turkey was that we want you to be a friendly country, a country which has the right to join the EU but also one which I will always be sincere with, talking about the problems which divide us and which we have to solve," he said.
Papandreou added that one of those problems is the Cyprus issue and the fact that "there is still occupation in the Republic of Cyprus", adding that this is an issue which has to be resolved.
Papandreou assured that efforts would continue, seeking peace and cooperation among the peoples of the region, adding that the solution of the Cyprus problem should be just and viable.
While congratulating Papandreou on assuming his new duties Christofias also wished him every success, while expressing gratitude because Cyprus and its political problem would be a personal priority of the new Greek Prime Minister and the Athens government.
Christofias said he had cooperated with Papandreou in the past, in trying times, adding that this cooperation would continue.
The Cypriot president said talks focused on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and relations between Turkey and the EU, and that they totally agreed on these issues.
Christofias referred to the Cyprus problem and the efforts and will of the Greek Cypriot side to reach a solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with political equality, based on UN resolutions and international and European law.
He assured that he would continue to work for a solution with the same determination, adding that he expected a similar stance on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side.
Additionally, he said Turkey has to show good will and cooperation, noting that to date Ankara has done nothing, neither in the direction of a solution nor in fulfilling its obligations towards the EU, which include the normalisation of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus and the implementation of the Ankara Protocol for opening Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft.
The Cypriot president said Cyprus and Greece support Turkey's European prospect but not unconditionally, and pointed out the need to utilise the December milestone.
"Turkey's good will and cooperation is needed for the solution of the Cyprus problem. This is the key. Unfortunately, so far, and despite verbal statements by the Turkish leadership that it supports the solution efforts, in substance, Ankara has done nothing towards this direction", he stressed.
"Turkey has undertaken obligations towards the EU and its member states concerning the Republic of Cyprus and the Cyprus issue and has to comply with these obligations, otherwise it cannot continue unhindered its accession course." he pointed out.
The Cypriot president noted that during the talks with the Greek premier they discussed their moves until the December EU Council and agreed that decisions will be made Õat the proper time, having all possibilities before us .
"Turkey, like every candidate country, has to fulfil its obligations. Our objective is not to punish Turkey, our aim is to utilise the December milestone and promote the solution of the Cyprus problem," he continued.
"Greece is once again actively -- not in words but in deeds -- at Cyprus' side. We are at your side, at the side of your persistent and tireless efforts, and from here on we will work closely together, both here and in Europe, to achieve that which the people of Cyprus so desire," Premier Papandreou said on arrival at the Presidential Mansion before entering into talks with President Christofias.
Christofias, in turn, wished Papandreou good luck in his task, and thanked him for his support. "It is balm to me. The conditions are difficult, but I believe that the abilities exist for Cyprus to be unified and for good relations with Turkey, while I am also certain that our old friendship and cooperation are a guarantee for our cooperation henceforth," he said.
Prime Minister Papandreou, who also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, arrived in Cyprus on Monday morning on his first official visit abroad in his capacity as prime minister, for talks with the Cyprus leadership and the leaders of the parties represented in the unicameral House of Representatives.
Papandreou, accompanied by a Greek government delegation, arrived at Larnaca Airport on Monday morning, where he was greeted by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou and undersecretary to the president Titos Christophides.
Papandreou signed the Book of Visitors at the Presidential Palace, and statements to the press will be made shortly afterwards.
The Greek prime minister also visited the Enclaved Tombs (the graves of Greek Cypriots killed during the anti-colonial struggle against the British in the mid-1950s) and the graves of Greek nationals killed during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
 Papandreou, Christofias address official dinnerNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA/G.Milionis)
Visiting Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has said that the settlement of the Cyprus problem constitutes a top priority for his government and reassured that he will stand by the Cyprus government decisively, with a view to achieve a comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Speaking at the official dinner hosted on Monday in his honour by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, Papandreou expressed his regret that once again he will not be able to visit the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, noting that the termination of the unacceptable division of the island constitutes a top priority for Greece.
"This is a national goal and we will do our outmost to achieve it," he underlined. Our common and firm goal is to achieve an agreed, just, functional and viable settlement in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship, based on the UN Security Council decisions, the EU principles and values and the respect of human rights and the EU acquis communautaire,'' he added.
He expressed the unwavering support of Greece to the process of the ongoing negotiations of the Cyprus problem, adding that the people of Cyprus must be left unaffected by any foreign interventions to decide on their own about the content of the settlement.
He noted that efforts to impose artificial deadlines, arbitration and from the warnings for a so called last chance for a Cyprus settlement do not offer any positive service. He also stressed that the achievement of a settlement ''does not depend only on us. We look forward that Turkey will cooperate and show good faith and political will. We hope that we will soon see tangible proof towards this direction".
He also noted that a just settlement of the Cyprus problem will be beneficial for everyone. Greece wants and supports the full accession of Turkey to the EU, Papandreou said. However its compliance with its obligations towards the EU and all EU member states is a necessary prerequisite for this, he said, adding that this involves the settlement of the Cyprus question.
He said that Cyprus and Greece will enhance their cooperation and coordination to be absolutely ready to address the challenges at the European Council in December, during which Turkey's EU course will be evaluated.
He said he will continue his efforts to improve relations between Greece and Turkey, in the framework of the respect of the international law and the fundamental EU principles. "But above all there must be a settlement of the Cyprus problem, so that our bilateral relations are fully normalized," he added
He noted that Cyprus' strategic position, its sound economy and its rich cultural heritage can contribute decisively to the development, the security and the stability of the region, and reinforce the EU role in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.
President Christofias: Turkey's EU assessment should be objective
President Demetris Christofias has assured that his government would insist that Turkey's assessment by the EU is fair and objective, and that there are no derogations.
Speaking at the official dinner President Christofias pointed out that the aim was not to punish Turkey but to encourage the country to fulfill its obligations and above all contribute to a solution of the Cyprus problem.
''However, if Turkey continues to behave arrogantly and to provocatively refuse to meet its obligations, it must be clear to everybody that it will not be able to continue its accession course unobstructed,'' he added.
President Christofias pointed out that Cyprus had the support of Greece in this effort and expressed optimism that ''with patience and insistence on principles we will succeed.''
Welcoming the Greek prime minister, President Christofias said Cyprus and Greece have always supported each other, and expressed gratitude for Papandreou's public statement that Cyprus was a priority for his government.
President Christofias noted that the Greek Cypriot side aimed at a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem, based on UN resolutions, international law and EU principles.
He added that cooperation with Greece would be close and constant, with an aim to achieve common goals.
Referring to talks with Papandreou earlier in the day, President Christofias said ''we established a natural concurrence of views on issues of common interest,'' such as the Cyprus problem and Turkey's relations with the EU.
 PM Papandreou holds talks with Cypriot party leadersNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Visiting Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou held consecutive meetings on Monday afternoon with ruling leftist AKEL party Secretary General Andros Kyprianou, Alternate Democratic Rally (DHSY) party president Averof Neofytou, Democratic Party president Marios Garoyian and Socialist EDEK party president Yiannakis Omirou.
Kyprianou said that there was "an absolute identity of views" with the Greek prime minister.
Asked about a new road map for Turkey's accession course, Kyprianou said that Papandreou gave very satisfactory replies to the questions that were raised. However, he added, he did not want to refer to this issue publicly.
Neofytou expressed certainty that there shall be a clear national strategy regarding Turkey's assessment.
Garoyian said on his part that all the scenarios are open on the issue of Turkey's assessment.
"What we understood from the discussion we had with Prime Minister Papandreou is that the Greek government is by the side of the Cyprus government and they shall decide what they shall do," he said.
Omirou said that December is a milestone for Turkey's accession course. He added that as far as EDEK is concerned there is no question of a new road map and stressed that if Turkey does not comply with its commitments then sanctions should be imposed on it.
 PM Papandreou briefs reporters on Cyprus visitNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)
Prime Minister George Papandreou, briefing on Monday reporters covering his official two-day visit to Cyprus, said that a "road map" for Turkey's accession course means in essence an effort to bring back a philosophy, under more difficult conditions, that will provide dynamism for the neighbouring country's course towards the Europeran Union and in whose heart lies the solution to the major problems and, among them, the issue of Cyprus.
"In this way pressure or negotiating will increase towards Turkey," he said, adding that the EU summit in December will be the starting point for the neighbouring country's assessment.
Asked whether the "road map" means an extension for Turkey to fulfill its commitments, the prime minister said "we are not talking of an extension, but of an assessment."
Papandreou further said that "we shall move on this basis taking into consideration that now there is no an EU of the 15, as was the case in Helsinki in 1999, but of the 27 resulting in bilateral or multilateral procedures for taking serious decisions being more time-consuming" and added that "we shall try to cover the time in the best way."
The prime minister pointed out that the December summit is of special importance and there Turkey will be assessed objectively and on the basis of what has been done.
"There is no doubt about the date for Turkey's assessment, while the message is clear: We are consistent on the prospect for Turkey's full accession to the EU, but Turkey must implement its commitments," he said and stressed that this prospect is in the interests of both Greece and Cyprus.
Papandreou referred to Helsinki in 1999 and said "then we had achieved two important targets: Firstly, that Turkey could hope to become a full member of the EU and, secondly, the EU's clear commitments on a framework of commitments for Turkey towards member-states."
"At that time we did not want a fictitious candidacy for Turkey, but a real right for a full accession prospect, together with all the clauses and a 'road map' that pressured Turkey," Papandreou noted, underlining that "this momentum helped us then to achieve the accession of Cyprus to the EU."
The prime minister went on to say that "this momentum has become cloudy, since both the approach of our partners and the image on the part of Turkey are cloudy" and, replying to another question, stressed that a solution to the issue of Cyprus is linked to Turkey's accession course and that "this was also the Helsinki spirit."
Papandreou concluded by saying "our negotiating is both towards the EU and Turkey and this is what is required."
On Tuesday, the Greek premier will meet separately with Cypriot European Party president Demetris Syllouris and Movement of Environmentalists leader Ioanna Panayiotou.
Papandreou will also hold talks with the Committee of Relatives of Missing Persons chairman Nicos Theodosiou and the Committee of the Turkish-occupied Municipalities chairman Alexis Galanos, after which he will be received by the primate of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos II.
Papandreou will further have another brief discussion with Marios Garoyian, in the latter's capacity as president of the House of Representatives, before addressing a special session of the House.
The Greek premier is due to leave at noon on Tuesday for his return to Greece.
The Greek delegation includes alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas, government spokesman George Petalotis, Greece's ambassador to Cyprus Vassilis Papaioannou, ruling PASOK MEP Marilena Koppa, the director of the foreign minister's diplomatic office Dimitris Paraskevopoulos, foreign ministry director general Tryfon Paraskevopoulos, and the director of the alternate foreign minister's diplomatic office Christos Panagopoulos.
 President Papoulias accepts nomination for re-electionPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias announced on Monday that he has accepted the nomination for his re-election as President of Greece.
This effectively means that Papoulias will serve a second term in the country's highest post, as both the ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) parties endorse the nomination.
Prime minister George Papandreou announced on Friday, during his presentation in parliament of his government's policy statement, that he will nominate Papoulias for a second term in the Presidency, provided Papoulias so desired.
On Saturday, ND leader and former prime minister Costas Karamanlis reaffirmed his party's steadfast backing of Papoulias for re-election to the Presidency.
The Presidential election is due in parliament in March.
 Interior minister unveils draft bill for reducing state fleet of carsInterior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Monday unveiled a draft bill that seeks to substantially reduce the fleet of state-owned passenger vehicles in a bid to cut costs and state-sector CO2 emissions.
The measures chiefly seek to reduce the number of state-issued vehicles provided for the use of officials, ranging from mayors and metropolitans to the president and prime minister.
The draft bill has been posted on the web-page www.opengov.gr/ypes/ - for which there is a link at the ministry's website www.ypes.gr - where it will remain for a week for public dialogue until October 26.
It will then undergo further processing to incorporate suggested improvements, observations and proposals made by people that post comments on the site before being tabled in Parliament.
The bill sets a new maximum engine size for the cars used by senior government and state officials, such as the president, prime minister, supreme court judges etc, is 1,600cc and those for the use of state services are a maximum of 1,400cc, while specifying that older-technology vehicles should be replaced by new-technology hybrid or electric cars.
Exempted from the last rule are vehicles used by the fire brigade, police patrol cars, ambulances and coast guard passenger vehicles used in the course of each service's work (but not those issued for the personal use of officials within these services). Here the law justifies conventional cars of up to 2,000cc and four-wheel drive or diesel-powered cars of up to 3,000cc.
Older-technology four-wheel drive cars of up to 2,500cc can also be justified by state services situated in mountainous or rough terrain.
All other state cars not falling into the above categories will gradually be withdrawn from circulation over the coming year and replaced by low-emission vehicles that have hybrid or electric engines. When this is not possible, they can be replaced by conventional technology cars whose emissions do not exceed 150-160 gr/km for 1,600cc vehicles and 140-150 gr/km for 1,400cc vehicles.
The draft bill additional specifies that each individual that qualifies for a state vehicle for their exclusive personal use can only use one such vehicle, while new state vehicles can be supplied through leasing agreements.
The vehicles that are not for the personal use of officials but for use by state services must be supplied with a order showing that they are on official business when out on the road, while they will only be permitted on the road during working hours and days, except with the permission of the appropriate authority for the needs of their services, they must not carry persons or goods unrelated to their task and must not go on the road when restrictions have been imposed due to high atmospheric pollution.
In addition to the above, the bill restricts the maximum fuel allowance for state-owned vehicles by 30 percent, with the exception of cars used by the defence ministry (military vehicles), Citizens' Protection ministry (police, fire brigade and coast guard), health and social solidarity (ambulances), environment ministry, state-sector technical services and garbage-collection vehicles.
The draft bill was posted on the ministry site on Monday and has already attracted lively interest and dozens of comments.
 Education ministry leadership meets teacher union federationEducation Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and deputy education ministers Evi Theofilopoulou and Yiannis Panaretos on Monday met the leadership of Greece' primary school teachers' union federation DOE.
After the meeting, Diamantopoulou underlined the importance of kindergarten and primary school education for the government, saying that the main focus of government policy would be all-day schools.
The government's aim is that in four years there will be all-day schools throughout Greece with the terms and conditions that we all want," she said.
Regarding unfilled teaching posts in state schools, the minister said that filling these was now a major issue.
"It is now mid-October and these [unfilled posts] are more than 5,000. We are making great efforts and our first priority is to announce within the week the schedule for filling these gaps," Diamantopoulos said.
Regarding the issue of detaching teachers to other posts, which Diamantopoulou had earlier cited as one of the problems that must be solved, she said that the matter would be dealt with "rationally, based on merit and for the benefit of the public interest and teachers," promising there would be agreement on how management and teachers should operate.
DOE president Dimitris Bratis noted that the demands for which primary-school teachers had gone on strike three years ago were still not met, citing both teachers' demands for higher pay and the demand for more spending on education in general.
He warned that his union would not give the new administration a "period of grace" and demanded the immediate suspension of a circular issued by the previous ministry leadership that he said effectively abolished mandatory pre-school education.
The unionist said that the ministry had promised to reply to the teachers' financial demands by November 27, just before a meeting by the presidents of local teacher unions.
 Karamanlis addresses first meeting of new ND parliamentary groupMain opposition New Democracy (ND) outgoing leader and former prime minister Costas Karamanlis described the outcome of the recent general elections as "painful", but added that "we respect the choice of the citizens and commit ourselves to live up to our new responsibilities in exercising opposition", speaking on Monday at the first meeting of the new ND parliamentary group.
Karamanlis welcomed as "an exceptionally positive development" the agreement reached among the four candidates for the party leadership on the procedure for election of the next leader by the party's rank and file, noting that it will strengthen the new leadership and lend unity and cohesion to the party.
He stressed that the only choice for everyone "is the course to a high level of mutual respect, and dedication to the values and principles of the party", warning that there was not even the slightest room for personal clashes and antagonism.
The objective, he continued, is to forge unity rather than the introversion arising from bitterness. The process for the election of the next leader can elevate and compose the wealth of ideas in the party, and stressed the need for "unity, cohesion and solidarity".
Karamanlis defended his choices during his term as prime minister, and stressed that the frankness with which he described the problems resulting from the global financial crisis and his responsible stance throughout the campaign period comprise an important legacy to the country's political life but also to ND.
The party has suffered a "temporary, heavy, defeat", but it also has an important legacy of credibility with the positions it maintained for dealing with the crisis, Karamanlis said, adding that ND's positions and proposals will be vindicated, in the long-term, when the new PASOK government is forced to abandon its "pleasing proposals"; and take the required measures.
"At the end of the day, reality will impose itself, and we will be identified with the reality," the ND leader anticipated.
 KKE leader addresses party eventCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, addressing a party event at a hotel in downtown Athens on Monday evening, said that the party was against the parties that serve capital and added that it was neither anti-New Democracy (ND - main opposition) nor anti-PASOK (ruling party)."
Papariga was responding to criticism directed at her party regarding its opposition actions during the first days of the new government and in the wake of statements by Prime Minister George Papandreou in Parliament that KKE "is an extremist party" and that in a few days time it announced mobilisations that it had not done during the five and a half years that ND had been in power.
The Secretary General added that her party was fully vindicated in its predictions as to the measures that the new government would be taking against working people.
 Eurozone finance ministers convene in LuxembourgBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Eurozone finance ministers are convening in Luxembourg on Monday evening, while milk producers are holding a protest gathering.
The ministerial session is not taking place at the headquarters of the European Union's Council in Luxembourg, but in a tower in the city's suburbs.
As regards Greece, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou met with Economic Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, as well as with the president and vice president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet and Loukas Papadimos.
 Gov't presents priorities on social insurance, labour marketsCombatting social insurance contribution evasion and limiting overspending in the health sector would be the government's priorities, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos and deputy minister G. Koutroumanis said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, the minister said the government was also examining re-introducing a list of pharmaceutical products to social insurance and pension funds. Loverdos said the ministry would immediately form two commissions to organizing a social dialogue on a rapid payment of pensions and reforming a regulatory framework on labour relations.
The minister said the ministry would emphasize on the operation of a Labour Inspectors' Agency and guaranteeing interventions in the labour market, saying that stage programs would be limited to the private sector and in particular in vocational training programs.
Deputy minister G. Koutroumanis said the government would need at least 1.2 billion euros by the end of the year to timely pay pensions and noted that contributions revenues were low so far this year.
 Batzeli addresses EU Agriculture and Fisheries CouncilLuxembourg (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The two-day EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting that opened here on Monday focused on the crisis in the dairy sector with an emphasis on the implementation of extraordinary measures and the establishment of an extraordinary fiscal file to be distributed to the EU member states to help them deal with the sector's problems.
Addressing the council meeting, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Katerina Batzeli stressed that short-term measures aimed at dealing with the crisis are welcomed. She pointed out, at the same time, that radical measures are necessary to proceed with the restructuring and viable development of dairy production and the directly associated sectors like grain production.
Batzeli stressed that the crisis cannot be dealt with by adopting measures such as the quota trading scheme that sent out conflicting messages of both production support and abandonment. She underlined that the criteria for the distribution of funds should correspond to the special problems faced by each region to have a well-balanced outcome.
She also backed initiatives aimed at transparent market transactions, promotion of contract farming and animal husbandry, reinforcement of collective agencies and country of origin labelling for products in order to boost the negotiating position of producers.
On the sidelines of the meeting, she met with European Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel for Agriculture and Rural Development, while she also exchanged views with the board of the European farming co-operatives union confederation COPA-COGECA and her counterparts from France, Spain, Italy and Germany.
 WFER IV opens in AthensDeputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis opened the World Forum on Energy Regulation IV (WFER IV) in Athens pointing out that "the combination of the country's energy sources does not leave room for the use of lignite while nuclear energy does not constitute an alternative solution for us."
"Our planning gives a priority to the replacement of old lignite stations with new units of pure high output coal and with new natural gas stations starting from the southern part of the mainland's electricity network. Our goal is to maximize performance, upgrade consumer service quality and improve the energy system's profitability," Maniatis stated and stressed that "the quality of the environment is a precondition for our life and the country's development."
He underlined that the establishment of an independent ministry of environment, energy and climate change focusing on the protection and management of the natural environment is a proof of the government's policy orientation.
"The policy on the environment and transport, and the new energy planning constitute the three key-points that will lead us to a 'green economy' as the basis of a viable, sustainable development. Such an economy will provide security in energy supply and at the same time make Greece competitive in new services and products. Boosting environmentally-friendly industry and green entrepreneurship will create new green job positions," the deputy minister stressed.
European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice President Plutarchos Sakellaris stressed that the "world has entered the first stages of an energy revolution" underlining that the "restructuring of energy systems is imperative." Referring to the EIB role in the effort to meet the energy security challenge, he stated that the financial institution will allocate loans of 13 billion euros this year. He also referred to the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) within the framework of which the EIB cooperates with the European Commission and other European investment programmes for the establishment of the Marguerite Fund, a 2020 European equity fund for energy, climate change and infrastructure. Other initiatives include the Mediterranean Solar Plan (MSP).
European Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs underlined the need for independent regulatory authorities pointing out that "new technologies on energy transport have meaning only if there are well-regulated markets to absorb such technologies."
European Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Meglena Kuneva focused on ways that will make European consumers assume an active role in the efforts aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions, while she also presented the conclusions reached in the 2nd Citizens' Energy Forum held recently in London.
The WFER IV in Athens takes place on Oct. 19-21 and is hosted by the Regulatory Authority for Energy of Greece (RAE) in cooperation with the Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER).
 EIB: Greece funding at 1.3 bln eurosEuropean Investment Bank has become a partner of the Greek government in an effort to boost the country's economy amid the international economic crisis, EIB vice-president Plutarhos Sakellaris said Monday.
Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Sakellaris said EIB continued to fund all sectors of the Greek economy, noting that total funds in the nine-month period from January to September have totaled 1.3 billion euros, while funding agreements worth 300 million euros were expected to be signed by the end of the year.
EIB's vice-president said emphasis would be given to the sectors of energy, tourism and urban reconstruction, along with the shipping sector.
Sakellaris said the European Investment Bank also focused on supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises, with funds allocated to the sector accounting for 53 pct of total funds in the country.
 Tourism prospects dim, reportThe number of tourist arrivals in Greece for the summer of 2009 was greater than expected, although a grim outlook was projected for next summer, according to early figures found in a report by GfK Retail and Technology, released on Monday.
The report said that during this year's tourist season (January-August 2009), Greece ranked fourth among top travel destinations for UK citizens, with a decline of 20 pct, and with Zakynthos and Crete suffering the most. In terms of Russian citizens, Crete accounted for 40.7 pct of total holiday packages. Regarding Germany, the second most significant tourism market for Greece, holiday packages were down 4.4 pct, while 13 pct of Italian tourists preferred Greece as their holiday destination.
The report stressed that countries such as Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt offer almost the same tourism product but at more attractive prices, with Turkey benefiting mostly from all inclusive packages.
Conversely, Greece gets higher marks for a stable political climate and sense of security, which are ranked as very significant factors when choosing a holiday destination.
Along those lines, tourism suffered in December 2008 due to violent street protests in Athens, with German bookings down 19 pct in December and 13 pct in January 2009. Those two months are the most significant booking months in Germany.
 Greek current accounts deficit down 23.4% in Jan-AugGreece's current accounts deficit shrank by 23.4 pct to 16.7 billion euros in the January-August period, compared with the corresponding period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Monday. The central bank, in a report, said this development reflected mainly a big reduction of the trade deficit and -to a lesser extent- a decline in the incomes deficit, while both the services and current transfers surpluses recorded a big decline in the eight-month period.
The trade deficit fell by 9.460 billion euros in the January-August period, reflecting mainly a lower deficit in goods -except fuels and ships- by 5.363 billion euros, while excluding fuel and ships, import payments fell by 6.941 billion euros, while export receipts fell by 1.578 billion euros.
The services surplus fell by 3.655 billion euros, reflecting lower net revenues from transport and travel services. Tourism revenues fell 14 pct compared with 2008, while gross receipts from transport services (commercial shipping) fell by 31.4 pct. The incomes deficit shrank by 334 million euros, while the current transfers' surplus shrank by 1.080 billion euros and the capital transfers balance showed a surplus of 1.534 billion euros.
The financial transactions balance showed a net capital inflow of 1.7 billion euros in the January-August period, with capital inflows from foreign investors totaling 2.280 billion euros. The investment portfolio category recorded a net capital inflow of 21.1 billion euros in the eight-month period, reflecting strong interest for Greek bond and state bills by foreign investors, while in the other investments category net outflows totaled 6.8 billion euros.
 Piraeus Bank doesn't examine share capital increase planPiraeus Bank on Monday said it was not examining any share capital increase plans as the bank enjoyed strong capital levels.
In an announcement, Alexandros Manos, the bank's chief executive, said "Piraeus Bank was not examining a share capital increase plan since it enjoyed a strong capital adequacy ratio, with its equity Tier I rate at 8.2 pct - excluding the preferred stocks held by the Greek state worth 370 million euros and its Tier II capital -- up from 7.4 pct in December 2008."
Manos said Piraeus Bank's tangible equity to tangible assets rate surpassed 5.7 pct currently from 5.0 pct in December 2008 and stressed that organic profitability and a careful management of risks allowed the bank to grow safely and without the need to seek for additional capital.
 Stocks end 1.22 pct higherGreek stocks ended higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday with the composite index of the market rising 1.22 pct to end at 2,864.63 points. Turnover was a reduced 289.2 million euros, of which 35.7 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Telecommunications (2.28 pct), Industrial Products (2.10 pct), Banks (1.83 pct) and Raw Materials (1.60 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Financial Services (1.51 pct), Media (0.85 pct) and Travel (0.78 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.34 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.70 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.27 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 113 to 100 with another 50 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.42%
Personal & Household: +0.86%
Raw Materials: +1.60%
Travel & Leisure: -0.78%
Food & Beverages: +1.32%
Financial Services: -1.51%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 13.71
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.94
HBC Coca Cola: 18.81
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.35
National Bank of Greece: 27.01
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 12.31
Bank of Piraeus: 12.98
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.53 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a moderate 89.305 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap totaled 8,500 contracts worth 64.786 million euros with 25,238 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 22,754 contracts worth 24.519 million euros, with investment interest focusing on MIG's contracts (5,435), followed by Eurobank (1,011), OTE (1,749), Piraeus Bank (921), National Bank (2,953), Alpha Bank (5,059), Marfin Popular Bank (1,024) and ATEbank (1,113).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market soared to 3.632 billion euros on Monday, of which 1.899 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.733 billion were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 3.232 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 137 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 4.66 pct and the German Bund 3.29 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.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.503
Pound sterling 0.921
Danish kroner 7.503
Swedish kroner 10.481
Japanese yen 136.75
Swiss franc 1.525
Norwegian kroner 8.419
Canadian dollar 1.556
Australian dollar 1.633
 Environment minister meets environmental organizationsEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili had her first official meeting with representatives of ten environmentalist organizations on Monday.
The delegation comprised representatives of WWF, Greenpeace, Arcturos and the Ornithological Society, who presented a comprehensive proposal for the establishment of an institutional framework for the protection of biodiversity.
Birbili assured them that she will study their proposal and described the meeting as a "symbolic gesture". She also underlined that "the ministry's doors will be open to environmentalist organizations" and stated that "they submitted specific proposals for legislative regulations."
"We will examine them and announce our moves shortly," the minister stated.
Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art participating with two exhibitions in Teloglio Foundation tribute to Miro
The Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art is participating with two exhibitions that shed light on the personality and work of noted Catalan artist Joan Miro (1893-1983) in a tribute to the painter titled "Miro of Majorca) organised by the Thessaloniki Aristotle University's (AUTH) Teloglio Foundation of Art.
The two exhibitions, titled "Miro and Surrealism" and "The Studio at Majorca in the Photographs of Francesc Catala-Roca", open their doors to the public on Monday and will run through January 31.
The latter exhibition presents photographs by Miro's close friend, Catala-Roca, who photographed the artist throughout the last 25 years of his career when he lived in Maîorca.
"Through these photographs, we have the ability to see not only Miro's works, but also they way he worked, as very few people had the opportunity to visit the studio," according to the exhibition's curator Marios Eleftheriadis.
The "Miro and Surrealism" exhibition also includes paintings by other surrealists such as Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Klee, Francis Picabia, Andre Masson, Victor Brauner, Roberto Matta and Man Ray, curated by Denys Zacharopoulos.
The Teloglio tribute "Miro of Majorca" contains more than 400 works by the artist, the largest exhibition of Miro ever hosted in Greece, and is a collaboration between the Foundation and the Pilar i Joan Miro of Majorca Foundation.
The exhibition includes a significant number of Miro's works and documents featuring paintings, sculptures, drawings, etchings, sketches, etc. dating back to 1908 (his only salvaged early landscape painting) until his death in 1983. The exhibition mainly presents the mature Miro in Maîorca and the works he created in the studio designed by his architect friend Josep Lluis Sert in 1956.
The Teloglio tribute, which further features a faithful reproduction of Miro's studio presented in miniature in the garden of the Foundation, will run through February 5.
 Dep. infrastructure, transports and networks minister attends events on Ai StratisDeputy Infrastructure, Transports and Networks Minister Nikos Sifounakis attended events held on the island of Ai Stratis near Lesvos, northeast Aegean, marking its liberation from the Ottoman Turks.
Sifounakis, who represented the government in the celebrations, arrived on the island on Sunday morning on board a Coast Guard boat braving the adverse weather conditions in the region and returned to Athens later in the afternoon on the same day.
 Greek lecturer of finance receives award for research in UKThe 2009 Alumni Prize from the Committee for Departments of Accounting and Finance (CDAF) was awarded to Dr Panagiotis Andrikopoulos for his research paper on Seasoned Equity Offerings in the UK.
Andrikopoulos - who is of Greek descent - is one of the principal lecturers at De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester, UK, Department of Finance, and has received recognition for his research which revealed that over-optimistic executives in the stock market dissipate the money of share-holders.
He based his research on a sample of seasoned equity offerings in the London Stock Exchange for the period 1988 to 1998 and studied the link between the underperformance of the stock market and the activities of these companies.
Dr Andrikopoulos is also a member of the Athens Institute for Education and Research.
 Police sergeant arrested over incident in Athens' Omonia SquareA police sergeant was arrested by crime prevention squad members in Omonia Square downtown Athens at dawn Monday following an incident with a woman from Somalia during which he fired his service gun. The incident was reported to police by a cabdriver who was an eyewitness.
The 41-year-old police officer resisted arrest and even tried to assault his colleagues but they managed to immobilize him and take him to the local police station.
A body search revealed a wig, a beret and the service gun he had fired. Reportedly, the police officer under arrest had been involved in numerous incidents in the past with prostitutes of foreign nationality and had many disciplinary violations in his file.
 Attica police bust gang of robbersThe Attica Police on Monday announced the arrest of members of a gang that used explosives and bulldozers to rob armoured security vans used to transfer money, among other criminal acts they committed across Greece in the past eight months.
Three individuals, two men aged 33 and 44, and a 24-year-old woman, are in custody while other four people are still wanted.
Police found in their possession roughly 74 kilos of cannabis, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a large number of cartridges, a bullet-proof vest and a precision scale.
 Young woman found murdered in AthensA 25 year-old woman of foreign nationality was found murdered in a basement apartment in the Athens district of Kypseli on Monday morning.
The body of the young woman had stab wounds.
Attica Police are investigating the case.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and westerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 25C. Cloudy in Athens, with westerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 22C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 18C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceParliament's vote of confidence on the new government's policy statement, changes in the economy, the new taxation system and its plans for exiting the crisis, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Policy statement: The measures for labour and pensions".
APOGEVMATINI: "Prime Minister George Papandreou in parliament: Give us your help in order to avoid bankruptcy".
AVRIANI: "If things are as bad as Papandreou says......main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader and former prime minister Costas Karamanlis must remain in ND's helm".
CHORA: "Yes, Prime Minister. Karamanlis offers his assistance and support to Papandreou".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Karamanlis' stance during the prime minister's policy statement was interpreted as a request to be nominated for President of the Republic".
ELEFTHEROS: "Karamanlis to government: We will support you in the good and the bad times".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: «7 reversals in labour, social security - The government face-to-face with its responsibilities and commitments".
ESTIA: "New Democracy: Its ideology excels that of ruling PASO".
ETHNOS: "The difficult part starts now.....Parliament: 'Blast' of new measures in policy statement".
TA NEA: "End to the 'golden boys' -Government brings storm of changes".
VRADYNI: "Tax storm to cover deficit, debt and other commitments to Brussels".
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