|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-11-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 10 November 2009 Issue No: 3345
 Papandreou: tear down last 'wall' on CyprusBERLIN (ANA-MPA - G. Milionis) Attending celebrations to mark the 20th year since the fall of the Berlin Wall on Monday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called on Europe to tear down the last remaining wall within its borders, the wall that still separated Cyprus.
"As Greeks and as Europeans we must shout out: Tear down the last wall, the one that divides Cyprus in two," Papandreou underlined in his speech.
The Greek premier underlined that a free and united Europe should put up with neither walls nor occupation forces, and promised to fight for a Europe free of any kind of "wall".
"This is the kind of Europe we want and it is not just our intention but also our promise to fight for such a Europe and for the Cyprus that we envisage," he emphasised.
Papandreou described the current day as a "historic anniversary" when Germans and European citizens stood up and demanded that the Wall be torn down, along with all walls that trapped the so many people of Europe in totalitarianism, autocracy, fixations and prejudices, opening the horizons for democracy and freedom.
These heroic actions and moments underlined the "wager of democracy, which is to daily tear down walls that keep citizens away from politics and do not put him at its centre," the Greek premier said.
 Papandreou-Clinton meeting in BerlinBERLIN (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)
Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou detailed his government's initiatives in a series of foreign policy issues during an informal meeting here with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday, on the sidelines of celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The meeting was held at the initiative of the Greek side to better present Athens' positions.
Papandreou referred both to his recent trip to Istanbul and his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as to Greece's initiative on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), stressing that "Greece is playing a leading role in the Balkans again and desires to contribute decisively to (the region's) EU accession course."
The Greek prime minister made it absolutely clear that a precondition for fYRoM's accession course is the solving of the neighbouring country's name, in accordance with "national red lines" that has been set on the part of Greece, meaning a composite name with a geographical qualifier for all uses without exception.
Papandreou also referred to his initiative for an informal acquaintance meeting with Skopje's Gruevski, which took place in Brussels recently.
The Greek prime minister further briefed Clinton on his recent trip to Cyprus, his talks with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the island's other political forces and underlined that "we must let the two communities discuss their future openly and freely, under the umbrella of the EU."
Papandreou pointed out that whatever agreement is reached must fully respect the acquis communautaire to enable it to be a workable European solution.
On the occasion of Clinton's recent meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch, the prime minister also focused on the issues of the Patriarchate.
On her part, Clinton agreed that the new Greek government is a government that takes initiatives.
 Deputy FM pessimistic on binding agreement being reached in CopenhagenDeputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis said he was pessimistic on the prospect of a legally binding agreement on the climate being achieved in the negotiations at next month's international UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (December 6-18), speaking on Monday morning at an event organised by the Institute of Energy for Southeast Europe (IENE) in Athens on the theme "Energy and Foreign Policy".
Addressing the same event, deputy energy minister Yiannis Maniatis presented the targets of the new PASOK government's energy policy, while he also criticised the preceding New Democracy (ND) government's international energy agreements.
Kouvelis noted that the Copenhagen conference begins less than a month away with "not good omens" given that the EU and the US would be arriving with fewer things in their arsenals than those necessary to achieve a legally binding agreement. "There is not enough time," he said, and opined that "the most likely scenario is that we will reach a good political agreement".
He said it was necessary to disengage development from energy demand by applying policies for more efficient use of energy.
The energy issue, he continued, touches on three pillars, namely energy security, diversification of energy sources, and confronting climate change, and added that the targets of the Greek government's policy include enrichment of the energy mix aimed at security of supply, advancing new technologies with the emphasis on renewable energy sources (RES), energy conservation in the production process and use, and reduction of the pollutants emitted.
Kouvelis also reiterated that the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline is a top priority for Greece, as are the Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline and the South Stream natural gas pipeline, while he further underlined the importance of Greek shipping's role in the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Maniatis, in turn, presented the seven targets of Greece's energy policy, comprising: Diversification of the energy sources and transport corridors; enhancement of links and infrastructures; dialogue between the producer and consumer countries of energy raw materials; transparency in the operation of the market; reduction of energy demand through measures for the conservation and more efficient use of energy, promotion of RES; and transfer of technology and knowhow.
Turning to the natural gas market, Maniatis said that 80 percent of the quantities consumed in Greece come from Russia, and the remaining 20 percent from Algeria, in liquefied form. According to projections, natgas consumption will more than double by 2015, when it is anticipated to reach 7.5 billion cubic meters annually, a quantity that will be covered both by Russia and Azerbaijan. He noted that the current natgas supply contract with Russia expires in 2016, but contains a 10-year renewal option, adding that the government aspires to its prompt renewal.
"Greece does not face an energy security problem. Greece is an open market for suppliers, an open transit country for energy pipelines, and must also become a center of distribution, not only of transit, of energy," Maniatis continued, and criticised the energy diplomacy of the preceding government, charging that in the previous years the country had followed the initiatives of others and observed the developments instead of co-determining them. "Partners and non-partners did not take us as seriously into account as we thought, or wanted," he added.
Speaking at the same event, US ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard outlined the Obama administration's energy policy, stressing inter alia that the US was committed to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and to taking part in the negotiations on the climate.
The US, he added, has a responsibility as the biggest producer of greenhouse gases.
 Government on Sunday meetings by PMGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Monday said that Prime Minister George Papandreou had a number of meetings with ministers at his offices on Sunday to further speed up the government's work. He denied that the premier had found problems in the ministers' work and stressed that the "government of one month was doing an excellent job".
"We are well aware of what we took over, what we want and what we are striving for through the new government's policy. It is natural that when we come to innovate and implement a different viewpoint on the state, the economy and citizens' daily lives that there should be some outward delays. We, however, through the choices that we are making, know that the result will be the best," Petalotis told reporters.
He also denied that the government was displeased with the coverage and criticism from the media, noting only that "the media are doing their job".
 President briefed by parliament chief on planned initiativesPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received parliament president Filippos Petsalnikos on Monday.
Petsalnikos told reporters afterwards that briefed the head of state on the initiatives that will be taken aimed at upgrading the function of the parliament so as to achieve even greater transparency in its legislative activity, for the citizens, and the efforts that will be made to improve the quality of legislation.
"We need better laws, not simply increasingly more laws," the parliament chief said, adding that he had also referred to the efforts that will be made "to enhance the role of the parliament with respect to its participation in the co-formulation of very important decisions, given that it is the primary forum of dialogue".
Petsalnikos added that these moves and initiatives are absolutely necessary in order to further improve the quality itself of the operation of Greece's parliamentary democracy.
 ND leadership race heightensThe three candidates for main opposition New Democracy's leadership - Dora Bakoyannis, Antonis Samaras and Thessaloniki prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis - stepped up their campaigns after the end of ND's conference at the weekend, in a bid to persuade as many people as possible to vote for them in the party election on November 29.
All three gave interviews that appeared in the Monday issue of the traditionally centre-right-leaning newspaper "Eleftheros Typos", which reappeared on news stands this week after a lengthy absence, with the same name but a new ownership.
From the speeches of the three contenders at ND's conference it is apparent that their campaigns will pivot around the party's ideological 'stamp' and what policy the party must follow in order to appeal to the broadest section of society.
Essentially, the argument will centre on which of the three candidates will be able to bring ND back into power and in what way. Many ND supporters believe that Dimitris Avramopoulos, the fourth candidate that dropped out of the race before the conference, will determine the winner in the tightly-run race between Bakoyannis and Samaras, depending on which candidate he decides to support.
Bakoyannis stressed that the party election involved a clear cut wager.
"I insist that ND must become a modern European majority party that spans the entire center-right. Diversity is our strength. We need to come close to society and especially to young people. To speak clearly to them and propose new ideas and present new policies based on modern position on issues of today and tomorrow. That's the way we will succeed in making our party and its ideas more attractive and become again a predominant political power in Greece.
Samaras, by contrast, told the same newspaper that the crisis for the party could be overcome by adopting an unambiguous ideological and political stance.
"It is crucial for ND to recover its identity. Immediately afterward, it must once again attract its voters that did not go to vote in the elections. These are greater in number than those that chose [ruling] PASOK or the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS)," Samaras said.
The "outsider" Psomiadis has underlined that he will remain a candidate, despite of the pressures on him to bow out of the race, and he has not given any hint as to which of the front runners he will back during a second round.
"We must see how we will build the great united centre-right. How we will give ND a popular identity," he stressed.
 Alternate FM meets parliamentary committee president DamanakiAlternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met Monday with Parliament Standing Committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs President Maria Damanaki.
Droutsas expressed the foreign ministry leadership's intent to brief the parliamentary committee on developments as regards foreign affairs on a regular basis. Such a briefing is expected to take place shortly.
On her part, the committee president briefed the alternate FM on the international contacts she will have in the immediate future within the framework of her responsibilities.
 Draft bill on public sector hiring within weekInterior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Monday said that the government will unveil a draft bill within the week that will regulate hiring in the public sector.
He said that the unveiling of the bill, which will be drawn up in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP), will then be followed by a period of public debate. The minister also clarified that ASEP will henceforth be exclusively responsible for public-sector appointments.
Ragoussis declined to give details about the bill until it was approved by the cabinet but repeated that it would not scrap points given for past work experience, only the "extra" points awarded to those with work experience in the public sector versus those in the private sector.
In response to questions, the minister said that the number of permanent staff in the public sector numbered 706,336 in 2006, 724,896 in 2007 and 735,294 in 2008. Those employed on a contract basis by the public sector numbered 96,114 in 2007, 75,127 in 2008 and 73,334 in 2009.
 ERT SA President Panagopoulos resignsPublic-run ERT S.A. (Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation SA) President and Managing Director Christos Panagopoulos submitted his resignation on Monday citing an absence of communication with the responsible government ministries.
Panagopoulos' letter of resignation referred to problems faced by the public-run broadcasting company that "multiply with each day that passes by".
 Coast Guard Chief tenders resignationCoast Guard Commander Vice-Admiral Theodoros Rentzeperis tendered his resignation to Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis on Monday.
He allegedly disagreed with the reduction of authority that resulted from the merger of the ministry of merchant marine, Aegean and island policy with the ministries of economy, competitiveness and shipping, and citizen protection.
A new Coast Guard chief will be appointed by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), which will convene shortly.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's visit to the United StatesISTANBUL (ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew referred to the great progress made by the Greek Diaspora in statements he made upon his return from a two-week visit to the United States.
Addressing the faithful in the Church of the Taxiarchs in Bosporus, the Ecumenical Patriarch stated that the progress achieved by the Greek Community, its dedication to the Mother Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate were evident everywhere he went, adding that the Greek-Americans enjoy the respect of the US authorities.
Bartholomew stated that he was received with great honors by the US leadership, the academic world and major institutions.
The Ecumenical Patriarch emphasized the comments made by US Vice President Joe Biden who underlined that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been brave despite the insecurity surrounding it and the adverse conditions under which it performs its ecumenical mission and service, thus winning great respect and appreciation.
In a formal dinner hosted in the Ecumenical Patriarch's honor, US Vice President Biden quoted the ancient Greek fabulist Aesop who said "It is easy to be brave from a safe distance," and addressing Bartholomew stressed: "You have always been brave and never from a safe distance. You have stared down those who seek to erode the authority of the Church tirelessly, professing the Greek Orthodox way for millions of followers."
 Finance minister Papaconstantinou at ECOFIN, Eurogroup meetingsFinance minister George Papaconstantinou will represent Greece at Monday's meeting of the Eurogroup and Tuesday's meeting of the EU economy and finance ministers (ECOFIN) in Brussels.
Papaconstantinou will outline, during both meetings, the Greek government's intended measures to reduce the state deficit, as contained in the draft 2010 State Budget unveiled last week
The ECOFIN ministers will discuss the European Commission's economic forecasts for the autumn, which were released last week, and according to which the EU economy has reached a turning point after having gone through the deepest and longest-lasting recession in its history, with an improvement in the economic and credit situation having emerged in recent months as a result of the fiscal and monetary measures taken.
The ECOFIN ministers will further review the outcome of the October 29-30 EU informal summit, with the focus on climate change, the economic and credit situation, and employment.
 Gov't on economy, presence at EcofinThe government spokesman on Monday stated that the minister of finance has a "difficult mission" in the upcoming Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings, responding to a press question on whether the government can restore, in his words, the country's credibility within the EU.
Spokesman Giorgos Petalotis expressed the government's optimism, stressing that it was reflected in the draft budget presented. "Through the policy followed we will prove that we are reliable partners," he said.
Petalotis stated it is a "difficult mission to convince EU partners again that the country is not hiding the truth, tries to change its economic policy and is in the process of creating a steady fiscal and economic environment, considering that the picture created under the New Democracy government was completely different."
Responding to a relevant question, he underlined that the government will meet all its pre-election pledges, adding that Greek society and economy face a number of problems that will have to be dealt with by displaying a measure of responsibility.
 Gov't outlines tourism targetsLONDON (ANA-MPA)
Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou outlined the key-points of the government's new policy on tourism, speaking here on Monday within the framework of the World Travel Market (WTM) international travel trade show.
The deputy minister underlined the necessity for slashing red tape, development of what she called "green tourism", a national strategic marketing planning and the upgrading of the available tourist product. "Filling the legislative voids will help in curbing bureaucracy," Gerekou said, stressing that within this framework, dysfunctions in Greece's cavernous public administration will be dealt with "drastically" to attract foreign investors.
As regards green development, the main goal is to support investment plans that will contribute to saving in energy and resources, utilisation of renewable energy sources (RES) and a reduction of waste.
Based on available figures, Greece had a 1.6-pct share in the global tourist market in 2008 with 50 pct of visitors coming from five European countries. Moreover, 50 pct of all international arrivals are recorded in the period between July through September, while four airports received roughly eight million tourists annually.
Inaugurating the Greek pavilion at the WTM exhibition, Gerekou underlined that Greece can offer quality tourism services despite the economic crisis.
A total of 37 companies and local administration agencies active in the tourism sector participate in the 800-sqm Greek pavilion.
 Gov't, passenger shipping reps meetThe government's goal is to revive the economy by supporting business activity and promoting competitiveness and in the shipping sector, along with creating new jobs and protecting employees and consumers, Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Luca Katseli said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters after a series of successive meetings with five unions and confederations of enterprises from the commercial shipping, coastal shipping and maritime tourism sectors, the minister said the government's priority was to ensure the smooth operation of the market and to restore full operations in the port of Piraeus, currently in danger because of a strike action by port workers.
 Court to rule on Piraeus dockworkers strikeA ruling on the legality of an ongoing strike action called by the Federation of Port Workers of Greece (OMYLE) and the Association of Dockworkers of the Piraeus Port Authority SA (PPA SA) will be issued by a Piraeus Court late on Monday evening or early Tuesday.
The country's chambers of commerce and 48 businesses have filled a class action lawsuit against the 1,500 striking dockworkers in the port of Piraeus, claiming that their financial interests are being hurt. The dock workers union is opposing implementation of a contract giving Chinese multinational Cosco concession of the Piraeus container port -- one of the biggest direct foreign investments in Greece over the recent period.
 CPI up 1.2 pct in October 2009The Consumer Price Index (CPI) marked a 1.2 percent increase in October 2009, against the corresponding month of 2008, according to figures released on Monday by the national statistics service ESYE. A year earlier, the annual rate of change of the CPI was 3.9%.
The CPI in October 2009, as compared to September 2009, increased by 0.5%. A year earlier, the monthly rate of change of the CPI was 0.0%.
In the twelve-month period November 08-October 09 the average rate of change of the CPI was 1.2%. A year earlier, the corresponding rate of change of the CPI was 4.4%.
The Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) in October 2009, as compared to October 2008, increased by 1.2%. A year earlier, the annual rate of change of the HICP was 4.0%.
The HICP in October 2009, as compared to September 2009, increased by 0.5%. A year earlier, the monthly rate of change of the HICP was 0.0%.
In the twelve month period November 08-October 09 the annual average rate of change of the HICP was 1.4%. A year earlier, the annual average rate of change of the HICP was 4.5%.
The Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices is compiled by the National Statistical Service of Greece, in parallel to the national Consumer Price Index. The Harmonized Indices of Consumer Prices (HICPs) are calculated in each Member - State of the European Union for the purposes of European Comparisons, as required under the Article 121 of the Treaty of Amsterdam. The HICPs are designed for international comparison of consumer price inflation.
 Alpha Bank says 9-month profits down 39.3%Alpha Bank on Monday said its nine-month net profits totaled 344.7 million euros, down 39.3 pct compared with the corresponding period in 2008, reflecting a continuing worsening of business conditions in Greece and Southeastern Europe.
Net commission revenues fell 18.9 pct to 286.5 million euros, reflecting lower volumes in investment banking and portfolio management, while results from financial transactions improved to 161.3 million euros. Operating costs grew 2.9 pct to 869.4 million euros, or a cost to revenue rate of 48.3 pct, while personnel spending fell by 4.7 pct to 416.1 million euros.
Capital under management totaled 46.6 billion euros at the end of the nine-month period from January to September, while saving deposits totaled 41.9 billion euros (-0.6 pct). Saving deposits in Greece totaled 35.3 billion euros, almost unchanged from last year, while in Southeastern Europe, saving deposits fell 2.2 pct to 6.1 billion euros.
Lending pre-write offs grew 4.0 pct to 52.6 billion euros, with new loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises along with mortgage loans in Greece totaling 1.565 billion euros and 250 billion euros, respectively.
Commenting on the results, Yiannis Kostopoulos, the bank's chairman, said that in "an environment of increased uncertainty", Alpha Bank showed adaptability and was responding dynamically and successfully to the crisis. He added that a share capital increase scheme announced by the bank would offer a significant head start to Alpha Bank, which was developing into a benchmark band in Southeastern Europe.
Alpha Bank also said its shareholders were seeking to sell up to 9.0 million shares through a book-building procedure, with the money raised to be used for participation in an equity capital increase plan.
The bank said it has established a strong presence in Southeastern Europe, with pre-tax profits in the region totaling 48.6 million euros in the January-September period this year.
In Cyprus, the bank operates a branch network of 37 units. Pre-tax profits totaled 59.6 million euros, down 25.9 pct from last year, saving deposits totaled 3.4 billion euros and loans totaled 4.5 billion euros.
In Romania, the bank's network totals 200 branches. Its loan portfolio grew 6.5 pct to 4.3 billion euros, with pre-tax profits down 10.1 pct to 43 million euros.
In Bulgaria, the bank's network totals 120 branches. Saving deposits grew 39 pct, while new loans grew by 3.0 pct in the nine-month period.
In Serbia, Alpha Bank operates a network of 167 branches with a market share of 6.4 pct in loans. Operating revenue fell 30.5 pct in the nine-month period.
In Albania, the bank has 47 branches with pre-tax profits at 7.9 million euros, loans up 31.7 pct to 535 million euros and saving deposits down 10.8 pct to 385 million euros.
In fYRoM, the bank operates a branch network of 25 units. Loans fell 15 pct to 131 million euros and saving deposits fell 32 pct to 60 million euros.
 Exports, imports decline in SeptemberThe value of Greek exports dropped by 22.8 percent in September 2009 against the corresponding month in 2008, according to figures released on Monday by the national statistics service ESYE on Greece's trade transactions.
According to the same report, the value of imports to Greece fell by 27.4 percent in the same period.
 Manufacturing production down 10.5% in Sept╠anufacturing production fell 10.5 pct in September, compared with the same month last year, for a decline of 11.7 pct in the period from January to September this year on average, the National Statistical Service said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed the decline in the manufacturing production to a fall in textiles, clothing, oil an coal, electronic computers, electronics and optical products.
 Construction down 40.6% in Aug.┬uilding activity dropped 40.6 pct (volume) in August this year, compared with the corresponding month in 2008, while the number of permits issued fell 12.8 pct in the same period, the National Statistical Service said on Monday.
The statistics service said Northern Aegean (65.9 pct), Attica (57.6 pct) and Western Macedonia (56 pct) recorded the highest percentage declines in building volume in August, while Crete (39.1 pct) recorded the highest increases.
In the eight-month period from January to August, the volume of private building activity fell 29.8 pct, and permits issued fell by 15.8 pct.
 Container traffic up 10.2% in ThessalonikiThe Thessaloniki Port Authority on Monday said container traffic rose 10.2 pct in the January-September period, compared with the corresponding period last year, while noting that October's traffic grew by around the same rate.
Figures released by the port authority said container traffic totaled 192,243 TEUs in the nine-month period this year, from 174,429 in 2008, while cargo traffic fell by 34.13 pct in the same period.
Thessaloniki Port said total cargo volume was down 10.7 pct in the January-September period to 10,499,423 tons, from 11,758,741 tons last year. The number of commercial ships that reached Thessaloniki fell to 1,434 in the nine-month period from 1,753 last year (down 18.2 pct), while the number of passengers eased slightly (1.64 pct).
Stergios Brozos, head of cargo activities in the port, said container traffic in October grew by 10-12 pct compared with the same month last year.
 Stocks end 0.48% lowerGreek stocks ended slightly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, ignoring a rally of prices in international markets. The composite index fell 0.48 pct to end at 2,688.49 points, with turnover soaring to 418 million euros, boosted by the transaction of a block trade in Alpha Bank (around 9.0 million shares as part of a private placement).
The FTSE 20 index fell 0.78 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.31 pct and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.28 pct.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.44%
Personal & Household: +2.20%
Raw Materials: +0.57%
Travel & Leisure: -1.04%
Food & Beverages: +0.20%
Financial Services: -0.19%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, National Bank, DEH and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 11.60
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.40
HBC Coca Cola: 17.25
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.35
National Bank of Greece: 25.61
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.90
Bank of Piraeus: 11.96
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 3.381 billion euros on Monday, of which 1.871 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.510 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 2.930 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 137 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.70 pct and the German Bund 3.22 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.23 pct, the six-month rate 1.04 pct, the three-month rate 0.72 pct and the one-month rate 0.42 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.510
Pound sterling 0.900
Danish kroner 7.500
Swedish kroner 10.382
Japanese yen 135.89
Swiss franc 1.522
Norwegian kroner 8.486
Canadian dollar 1.605
Australian dollar 1.627
 Health ministry on H1N1 vaccinesThe health ministry on Monday announced that the greater part of the population would be able to receive the vaccination to protect against the H1N1 novel influenza virus by mid December, urging doctors to help the general public overcome fears and prejudices concerning the safety of the vaccine.
The vaccination is voluntary but experts recommend that it be administered to large numbers in order to benefit the whole community and arrest the course of the epidemic.
The vaccination programme begins on November 16 for priority groups, such as healthcare professionals and those with serious health problems, and on November 23 for those in high-risk groups for complications.
Vaccination of the healthy adult population aged 18 to 45 begins on December 1, followed by children and teenagers aged four to 17 years of age and healthy adults over 50 on December 17.
The ministry announced that information regarding the new vaccine and the vaccination programme can be obtained at the special telephone line 1135 operated by the Hellenic Centre for Infectious Diseases Control (HCIDC). A new phone line linked to the Greek national drugs agency will also be announced soon.
Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou and Deputy Minister Fofi Gennimata urged doctors and nursing staff to have the vaccine, as well as to reassure the public regarding its safety.
According to estimates, about 2 percent of the population has so far fallen ill with clear H1N1 symptoms, while about 20 percent have gone through a bout of H1N1 at home with only mild symptoms.
 Barometer poll on discrimination in EUBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
Six percent of Greeks considered themselves to have been the victims of some form of discriminatory behaviour related to their age, gender, disabilities, religious beliefs or sexual orientation during the past year, according to the findings of a Eurobarometer poll released here on Monday.
This was the lowest level recorded in any of the 27 European Union member-states, where 16 percent of citizens on average stated that they were subjected to discriminatory treatment for one of the above reasons.
By contrast, a greater percentage of Greeks than Europeans believe that discriminatory behaviour is very or quite widespread in their country.
Specifically, 71 percent of Greeks versus 61 percent of Europeans consider that discrimination due to ethnic origins is widespread in their country, while 60 percent of Greeks versus 58 percent of EU citizens consider that age-related discrimination is widespread.
Similarly, 63 percent of Greeks versus 53 percent of EU citizens on average state that discrimination due to disability is very or quite widespread in their country, while 64 percent of Greeks versus 47 percent of EU citizens believe there is widespread discrimination due to sexual orientation. This was the second-highest percentage in the EU after Cyprus, where the equivalent rate was 66 percent.
Some 49 percent of Greeks compared with 40 percent of EU citizens consider that there is widespread discrimination due to gender, while 51 percent of Greeks versus 39 percent of Europeans believe there is widespread discrimination due to religious beliefs.
The Eurobarometer found that 80 percent of Greeks, the second highest percentage in any EU country, consider that the economic recessions will lead to more age-related discrimination on the labour market and express fears about an increase in youth unemployment in many EU countries. The same belief is held by 64 percent of EU27 citizens on average.
At the same time, 83 percent of Greeks are worried that the recession will lead to more discrimination on ethnic grounds in the labour market. This is the highest percentage of any country in the EU, where this belief is held by 57 percent on average.
Another 77 percent of Greeks believe the recession will lead to greater discrimination of disabled people in the labour market, compared to 56 percent of Europeans on average.
Greece also has the highest percentage of citizens (66 percent versus 43 percent in the EU) that believe the recession will result in greater gender-related discrimination in the labour market, as well as discrimination on religious grounds (63 percent versus 42 percent of Europeans).
Finally 61 percent of Greeks and 37 percent of Europeans on average believe that the recession will result in more discrimination due to sexual orientation in the labour market.
 Tribute event for Yiannis Ritsos in BucharestBUCHAREST (ANA-MPA/I. Radus)
A tribute event marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet Yiannis Ritsos, who lived for a short period of time in Romania, will take place at the George Enescu Memorial Museum in Bucharest on Tuesday, hosted by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HFC).
Noted Greek singer Aliki Kagialoglou will give a concert and interpret Ritsos' poems from the collections "Romiossini" and "Epitaph" within the framework of the "2009 Year of Yiannis Ritsos - 100 years since his birth" events.
Actress Adela Marculescu will read poems by Ritsos translated into Romanian.
The Yiannis Ritsos Anthology published by the publishing house "Omonia" and translated by Modern Greek professor Tudor Dinu will also be presented.
 Sparta and Sopron sign sister-city agreementA 43-member delegation from the western Hungarian town of Sopron visited Sparta over the weekend, during which the two cities were twinned in a special ceremony.
During the ceremony, Sopron mayor Dr. Tamas Fodor and the acting mayor of Sparta signed a sister-city agreement which makes the two cities eligible for applying for EU funding for their joint projects. As part of the ceremony high-school students of Sparta performed Greek folk dances wearing traditional folk costumes.
The Sopron delegation, led by mayor Fodor, comprised by members of the City Council, representatives of city organizations, and locally based companies.
Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary in Athens, Jozsef Toth, also attended the ceremony.
The cooperation between the two cities was initiated 13 years ago by the soccer teams of the two cities, and since then the relations have expanded to student exchanges, joint business presentations, a cooperation between the water management authorities, cultural programs, etc.
The sister-city cooperation has an important role in the well developing Hungarian-Greek relations which has a special focus on working together in the framework of the European Union, according to the Sopron officials.
 Trial for death of pupil Grigoropoulos to take place in AmfissaThe Supreme Court decided on Monday that the trial of policemen E. Korkoneas and V. Saraliotis, related to the killing of 15-year-old pupil Alexis Grigoropoulos in the Athens district of Exarchia last December, will take place in the city of Amfissa, central Greece.
The decision stressed that it is permissible for a case to be referred to another similar court in the case of serious reasons concerning public security and order.
It was added that "such reasons exist in the case in question since the events that followed the fatal wounding of the pupil in Athens , Thessaloniki and other cities are known".
It was further revealed that the Evia Police Department stressed in a document that announcements on the Internet urge mobilisations, similar to those of last December, outside the courthouse and the city of Halkida during the hearing of the case.
 Athens hosts 2nd 'Great Recycling Fest'The 2nd City of Athens "Great Recycling Fest", organised by the municipality and the national collective reciprocal alternative packaging management System Reciprocal Recycling, continues at central Syntagma Square with increased participation by local students and citizens.
More than 73,500 citizens, the majority Athens-area pupils, have visited Syntagma Square and recycled 417,237 packaging items during the first week of the event.
 Armed robbery in ThessalonikiTwo unidentified individuals made off with 78,000 euros after robbing a private company employee in the Harilaou district of east Thessaloniki on Monday.
The culprits were reportedly waiting for the 40-year-old at the company's main entrance and snatched the bag with the cash at gunpoint.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 23C. Cloudy and rainy in Athens, with southerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 14C to 18C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceMain opposition New Democracy's (ND) Extraordinary Congress and the election race for the party's leadership, the Piraeus port dockworkers' strike, the changes in social security, and EU pressure for immediate measures to curtail the fiscal deficit, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "ND's Congress was useful and fruitful".
APOGEVMATINI: "7 changes in social security - Government considers raising the retirement age and the minimum working years required for retirement".
AVRIANI: "Possibility of general elections in March is open in the event of rapid worsening of the economy's situation, which will severely damage the government".
CHORA: "Two parties in a single package - Congress full of backstabbing, undermining and abysmal hypocrisy, with 500 members absent".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Ruling PASOK and ND need ...Uri Geller to teach PASOK how to govern and ND how to rebuild the party".
ELEFTHEROS: "The speeches and attitudes in ND's Congress indicated that Dora Bakoyannis' and Antonis Samaras' political philosophies are completely different".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Demand for unity in ND".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Government opens social security issue - Operation: Brussels appeasement".
ESTIA: "Election of new leader in ND: Recourse to party's grass roots a sui generis form of populism".
ETHNOS: "ND's Congress impressions a draw - The election of the new leader will be judged on the points".
TA NEA: "Tough battle over the leadership- Scenery of rift in ND ahead of elections".
VRADYNI: "Return to society - ND rediscovers its roots and its democratic values".
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