|Friday, 23 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-12-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 2 December 2009 Issue No: 3364
 OSCE chairman Papandreou: Meeting the challenges to European security in 21st centuryThe Corfu Process needs to be taken a step further in order to meet the challenges to European security in the 21st century, OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) chairman-in-office, Greece's prime minister and foreign minister, stressed on Tuesday at the OSCE's two-day 17th ministerial conference that opened in Athens earlier in the day.
The Corfu Process, which was launched by the Greek OSCE chairmanship during an informal meeting of the Organisation's foreign ministers on the island of Corfu in June, "gave hope during a stormy year", Papandreou said, adding that it had been the commencement of a political dialogue on the future of European security.
Addressing some 45 OSCE foreign ministers and 57 international delegations, Papandreou said that the Greek chairmanship of the organisation had from the outset been guided by the principle of an "honest mediator" for achieving consensus on and promoting all three aspects of security, namely the politico-military, the economic-environmental and the human dimensions.
Outlining the international environment, with emphasis on the global financial and environmental crises and the crisis in Afghanistan, Papandreou stressed that the OSCE can play an important role in all those issues, and called on the member countries to display the political will to advance those issues.
"Much has happened this year to remind us that security in our region remains a work in progress. The global economic crisis has affected all our countries. We have worked hard to contain the aftermath of armed conflict in Georgia. Instability in Afghanistan continues to pose multi-faceted challenges for the security of our region," Papandreou said.
He also expressed hope that a spirit of cooperation will prevail at the conference and that specific decisions will be taken, and urged OSCE states to reinforce their commitment to seek solutions through the Corfu Process.
"We have to agree on important decisions in the next two days to strengthen co-operative security across the OSCE area," he stressed.
"We need to move from words to action. The new dialogue on European security can be meaningful only in so far as it is tied to concrete progress on key security challenges," said Papandreou, who passes on the 12-month OSCE chairmanship to Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
Papandreou noted that Kazakhstan is the first country of the former Soviet Union to take the OSCE helm "and this gives a new prospect to the Organisation", adding that with the help of all the OSCE members, Kazakhstan can play an important role in enhancing security in Afghanistan through a reinforcement of regional cooperation. "Kazakhstan can make the difference," he stressed.
On Georgia, Papandreou called the closure of the OSCE mission "a negative development", stressing that the OSCE's presence there is today more necessary than ever "and this can be done only if we display collective will".
Papandreou further said that the economic and environmental dimensions of security were also at the crux of the Greek chairmanship, as reflected by the forum on migration held in Athens.
Placing emphasis on the migration issue, Papandreou said that the problem has taken on serious dimensions in the last few years, and credible answers must be given at bilateral, regional and international level, and naturally in the framework of the OSCE as well.
Turning to the "positive moves" made in long-standing disputes in the wider region, Papandreou cited the Armenia-Turkey rapprochement, while he also noted the efforts being made between Armenia and Azerbaijan, such as the last week's meeting between their two presidents in Munich under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group, and the talks on the Transnistrian conflict.
 President Papoulias inaugurates OSCE ministerial conferencePresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday inaugurated the 17th Ministerial Conference of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Athens, welcoming delegates from the OSCE's 56 member countries and describing the international meeting as "an important political event and an opportunity to strengthen peaceful cooperation and promote the common goals of the member states, in order to reach tangible and substantive conclusions".
Papoulias also referred to the Fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, stressing that, after the fall, Europe experienced unprecedented security and stability, while he also spoke of the significant achievements Europe made after the Helsinki Final Act.
On the OSCE principles and resolutions concerning international legality, international co-existence, and protection of the individual freedoms and rights of the peoples, the Greek President stressed that "there is no room for complacency", adding that this was why Greece was seeking cooperation and co-existence not only with its neighbors but in the wider region, and why it was actively participating in the efforts in that direction.
"In that spirit, we initiated the Corfu Process in the framework of the Greek chairmanship-in-office of the OSCE. This Process aims at the organisation's more effective response to the security challenges in the 21st century," Papoulias said.
"Despite the progress that has been achieved, the dividing lines still remain, old disputes have not been resolved, new threats are emerging inside and outside our borders," he continued.
"Here in Athens, the cradle of democracy, it is our duty to restore confidence and strengthen the cooperation among all the member countries of the Organisation, with determination. The OSCE can proceed with a broad, substantive and strategic dialogue for joint confrontation of all the common challenges to European security," the Greek President concluded.
 PM, alternate FM hold talks on sidelines of OSCE con'f in AthensAlternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met with visiting fYRoM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki on Tuesday on the sidelines of the OSCE ministerial conference in Athens, after which Milososki also had a brief meeting with Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
Droutsas told reporters afterwards that Athens was taking advantage of every opportunity for direct contacts, with the aim of cementing a positive climate between the two sides, although he reiterated that the only process for negotiations on the outstanding "name issue" remains under UN mediation.
Papandreou also conducted several sideline meetings with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Balazs, Albanian Foreign Minister Ilir Meta, German Deputy FM Werner Hoyer, and OSCE secretary general Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, Droutsas noted.
The Greek alternate foreign minister said such meetings provided the opportunity to discuss Greece's issues, in addition to the OSCE issues, such as the Balkans and their EU course, the Cyprus issue and EU-Turkey relations, in light of the EU summit in 10 days' time.
After a lunch break, Droutsas and Ukraine Foreign Minister Petro Poroshenko are slated to sign a MoC between the two ministries, as well as a MoC between the postal services of the two countries.
 Papandreou talks with OSCE troika partnersGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou, the current Organization of Co-operation & Security in Europe's (OSCE) chairman-in-office, met with the foreign ministers of Finland and Kazakhstan on Tuesday on the sidelines of the body's ministerial council in Athens.
Papandreou, along with Finnish FM Alexander Stubb and Kazakhstan FM Kanat Saudabayev, form the current OSCE "troika", namely, the current, previous and upcoming chairperson of the organisation's one-year rotating presidency.
The Greek premier, who also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, also had separate meetings with the two ministers.
Later in the evening the Greek PM is scheduled to meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, the current chairman of the EU's Swedish presidency, during a formal reception for visiting diplomatic delegations at the New Acropolis Museum.
 President meets briefly with Russian FM on OSCE sidelinesPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias had a brief discussion on Tuesday with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ministerial conference that opened earlier in Athens.
Papoulias expressed his condolences to Lavrov for the 39 victims of last week's bomb attack on an express train in Russia.
The two men exchanged views on bilateral and international issues, while Lavrov also conveyed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's greetings to his Greek counterpart.
 Cypriot foreign minister addresses 17th OSCE ministerialCypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou on Tuesday addressed the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) 17th Ministerial Council taking place in Athens, with foreign ministers from nearly all the 56 member-states attending.
In his speech, he said the OSCE member-states were now called on to display the political will to adopt an ambitious resolution that would take the Corfu Process one step further. He noted that Cyprus, as a Mediterranean country, was aware of the importance of making cooperation between the OSCE and the Mediterranean partners closer.
"The Corfu Process must aim to revitalise the organisation and boost its capability in order to once again re-establish the trust needed for a more effective response from its members," he said.
Kyprianou also took the opportunity to express disappointment that Cyprus' application to accede to the Open Skies Treaty continues to be blocked by Turkey.
On the sidelines of the ministerial council, the Cypriot minister will meet his counterparts from the countries of the Baltic and the Balkans, while he is to attend a luncheon given by Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos in Madrid on Wednesday.
 Kouchner praises results of OSCE Ministerial Council in AthensFrench Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Tuesday expressed high praise for the work done by Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou in organising the 17th Ministerial Council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Athens, stressing in a press conference on the sidelines of the meeting that Papandreou "did not just organise an international conference but promoted an OSCE that solves problems."
"The meeting in Athens was very useful, and what is happening here is very important," he underlined.
The French minister said that the "constructive spirit" of the Corfu Process had to be maintained, while also referring to the Medvedev proposal that first prompted this and the support given by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"We consider that the OSCE is the most appropriate forum, where we can talk about the four aspects of the proposal for peace (prevention, humanitarian, military and environmental)," Kouchner stated.
"We are not at the end of the Corfu Process. We are working on a draft resolution. Today we can say that this is a document that comes to add and not to block," he said, pointing out that all sides appeared to be speaking to each other openly now.
"The European Union, NATO, and OSCE on the one hand, and Russia and other countries on the other hand, must be able to talk in a way that is compatible," Kouchner underlined.
Replying to questions, the French minister explained that Russia did not feel comfortable but was in fact slightly hostile, due to the changes made to its borders, and that the OSCE member-states had to take the concerns of the Russian side into account.
"Because this is a neighbouring country, we must ensure that such things do not happen," he said, adding that the Medvedev proposal had to be taken seriously and that France had done this, while Medvedev had also stated that the Corfu Process should continue. He ended by thanking the Greek chairmanship of the OSCE for "its very efficient work and warm hospitality".
 Samaras receives BakoyannisNewly-elected main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras met on Tuesday with fellow candidate for the leadership, former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, at the party's headquarters in Athens.
The meeting was held at the initiative of Samaras, who wanted to underline his intention to restore the party's unity following the conclusion of the election process.
After the 40-minute meeting, Bakoyannis stressed to reporters: "We had a first political discussion on New Democracy's policy positions and our common aim, which is a modern, major centre-right party. We will work together".
To a question on whether Samaras proposed to her a specific position in the party, Bakoyannis said: "No, no proposal. I have been a soldier of the party for many years, and I will remain so".
 Papoulias congratulates SamarasPresident of Republic Karolos Papoulias telephoned on Tuesday newly elected New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and congratuled him on his election. Papoulias will receive Samaras at the Presidential Mansion on Tuesday, 8 December at 12.30.
 Pangalos reiterates Greek positions on fYRoMPARIS (ANA-MPA/O.Tsipira)
Vice-president of the government Theodoros Pangalos reiterated here on Tuesday Greece's positions regarding the "name issue" of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ((fYRoM) while answering questions at the Western European Union (WEU) parliamentary conference plenum.
Greece assumes the current six-month WEU presidency.
Responding specifically to a question by a fYRoM deputy, Pangalos referred firstly to the "rich and intense relations" between Greece and the neighbouring country. "I cannot speak from your side of the borders, but as regards our side we are one of the biggest investors in your country, while our trade balance is increasing," Pangalos noted.
He also said that Greece "has no objection" to fYRoM's EU entry since such development would help towards an increse of exchanges between the two countries. He nevertheless underlined that there still existed a problem regarding the name of the landlocked republic, which emerged after Yugoslavia's dissolution.
"You bare the name of a province, of a part of our country. You are not by yourselves in the region, surely you exist there, but there is also the broader region of Macedonia. The Bulgarians have around their city of Pirin a province named Macedonia. So, the problem exists because your country, which in any case is a new country, insists on baring a name that refers to a province in the broader geographical region of Macedonia," Pangalos underlined.
"So your country must add something which would characterise, in a distinct manner, your own country and not the broader region of Macedonia. If you add a adjectival qualifier, a clarifying element then we would not have any problem," Pangalos concluded.
 Environment Minister on Climate changeEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili said that the government will take an initiative against the consequences of climate change in Eastern Europe after the Copenhagen Summit, during her address on Tuesday to the 20th annual American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce's (AHCC) "The Greek Economy Conference" at a central Athens Hotel.
Birbili noted that the Mediterranean region and Greece will be affected the most by the consequences of climate change, adding that the exit from the economic crisis will be accomplished only through green growth.
The Minister outlined the targets of the government's energy policy which, she said, include backing of viable economic development confronting climate change, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent, exploitation of existing lignite reserves but with optimum practices and the least possible carbon dioxide emissions, new long-term energy planning with the emphasis on the decentralisation of energy production, and raising public awareness on the consequences of their choices to the environment.
"We are working for the gradual restructure of the energy sector with correct management of the existing conventional fuels and the integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES)," stressed Birbili.
"We are starting off with a delay, but we can cover the lost ground because we have a substantial RES and manpower potential. In a few weeks the draft bill on Renewable Energy Sources will be ready," she added.
Birbili expressed hope that a legally binding treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be achieved at this month's UN international conference on climate change in Copenhagen.
 President Papoulias on four-day visit to Czech RepublicPRAGUE (ANA-MPA/N. Megadoukas)
President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias arrived here on Tuesday evening and will begin a four-day official visit to the Czech Republic on Wednesday, accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis and a group of Greek businessmen.
President Papoulias will meet Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Wednesday morning and hold talks on bilateral, international and European issues.
The President will then be meeting Czech Prime Minister Ian Fischer, who will host a working luncheon for him.
In the evening, President Papoulias will be attending the official dinner that President Klaus will be hosting in his honour.
 Dimas: 'Green development the only viable way forward'The European Union could gain important comparative advantages by being at the forefront of a shift to a green economy, European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas said on Tuesday while addressing the 20th annual American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce's (AHCC) "Greek Economy Conference" at a central Athens Hotel.
During remarks that launched an open discussion on exploitation of energy sources and environmental protection, Dimas stressed that green enterprise and development were the only viable way forward.
"The recent economic crisis has shown the need for a new economic model that provides effective answers to the major challenges of our era, which are climate change, a dramatic reduction in raw materials, poverty, social inequality and exclusion," underlined the Commissioner, who is part of the outgoing administration at the EU's executive arm.
The attitude that protection of the environment was an obstacle to growth and prosperity was now outmoded in Europe, with all major European businesses basing their strategy on "ecological inventiveness".
Dimas stressed that Europe would gain a major economic advantage from the transition to a low-carbon-emission and low-resource-use economy that would find it at the forefront of a global and rapidly developing market for environmental technologies, services and products. Such an economy would also have clear advantages in an environment when the cost of raw materials and energy was constantly surging upward, he added.
In order to promote green development, Dimas underlined the need to make polluters pay by including the cost of pollution in prices and using market forces to reinforce production and consumption patterns that were friendlier to the environment.
In addition to the cost of carbon dioxide emission under the emission rights system, Dimas also called for the abolition of cash subsidies that currently harmed the environment. He underlined the need for "smart" environmental specifications that were both ambitious but also tried to keep the cost of compliance as low as possible.
He also pointed out the need to establish a more "complex" indicator of what constitutes progress to supplement the GDP growth index with ways of calculating the environmental and social impact of economic activity.
 Draft law on upgrading, independence of statistical service unveiledThe draft law that will render the national statistics service ESYE an independent body was released for public debate on Tuesday, with the deliberation slated to conclude on December 8.
According to the bill, ESYE will be upgraded from a general secretariat to a Public Law Legal Entity, with additional institutional guarantees for its independent operation, under the name Greek Statistics Authority (ESTA), which will have a president and a nine-member board of directors serving a four-year term.
The board of directors will be designated by the finance minister, and will also comprise the chairman of the ministry's Financial Experts Corps, a representative of the personnel and five representatives from the Bank of Greece, the Economic and Social Committee, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece's (GSEE) Labor Institute, the Economic and Industrial Research Foundation (IOBE), and the National Center for Social Studies.
According to finance minister George Papaconstantinou, the aim of the draft law, which he said materialised a pre-electoral pledge by the government, is the institutional upgrading of the system of production of statistical data so as to meet the dual target of scientific impartiality and thoroughness, and administrative efficiency.
 PM Papandreou on social solidarity issuePrime Minister George Papandreou, speaking Tuesday in Parliament during the discussion on the bill on social solidarity and the special contribution by big companies, stressed that "we are bringing hope again."
Papandreou said that the measure "sets the dividing line between the policies of the New Democracy party which the Greek people condemned and the government's policies of redistribution and social justice, proving that the latter is serving with consistency all that it has committed itself to.
The prime minister also said that "it is a message to all those who were saying that 'we cannot', 'it canot be done', 'they are deceiving you' and 'where will you get the money'."
Papandreou underlined that "two and a half million households will receive the additional financial backing anticipated by the draft bill, with the final expenditure exceeding one billion euros."
Lastly, he said that "we can proceed towards the future, taking care in parallel of our public finances and our growth prospect and our fellow countrymen who have a need for protection and support."
 Petalotis: Social dialogue seeks to involve whole of societyThe government is seeking to engage the whole of Greek society and forge consensus for the necessary changes, government spokesman George Petalotis said on Tuesday, in comments on the "social dialogue" announced the previous day by Prime Minister George Papandreou.
"This is the moment for major decisions and changes," the spokesman stressed, underlining that the government had a clear mandate from the Greek people for its plan to exit the crisis and that its will was "not negotiable", but still intended to put all issues concerning citizens "on the table".
"We have made our strategic choices but we seek social dialogue and participation. We want the whole of society an ally in the effort to reorder the country," he stressed, pointing out that ruling PASOK had taken over power at a time when the Greek economy was at its worst point since democracy was restored in 1974.
At the same time, he defended the government's performance during its first 50 days in power, saying that it had already achieved more than the previous New Democracy government had achieved during five years.
Petalotis announced that the government had invited all political and social forces in the country to take part in a dialogue on dealing with the long-standing problems of the country and that the prime minister would begin next week by establishing the framework and time frame in which this dialogue will take place.
He denied that the initiative was a "smokescreen" or an "alibi" but substantive and essential at this critical time.
"There is the framework (of the dialogue), our strategic choices. From there on, we want shared responsibility, the participation, proposals, ideas and views of all bodies, parties and citizens. Something that we have proved in the past," Petalotis added.
 Government confirms Papandreou-Papademos meetingGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday confirmed that a meeting had taken place between Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and European Central Bank Vice-President Lucas Papademos. He pointed out that such a meeting was held at regular intervals and would probably be repeated.
He denied that there had been an attempt to keep the meeting secret, saying that this did not arise from the fact that it was not announced, and said that it had focused on issues concerning Greece, Europe and economic policy.
 Gov't on press question regarding envoyThe government spokesman on Tuesday was asked during a regular press briefing about statements made the previous day by the US ambassador in Athens on prospects for the international, US and Greek economies, with a reporter asking whether the comments served as "suggestions".
US envoy Daniel Speckhard's address at an American-Hellenic chamber of commerce event on Monday mostly centred on positive prospects for the economy, and specifically on three axes.
The spokesman merely replied that Greek economic policy is applied by the government as defined by pre-election pledges and commitments.
 Eurogroup on Greece's 2010 budgetBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)
Finance Minister George Papaconstantionou presented here Tuesday to a Eurozone council of ministers Greece's 2010 draft state budget, which Commissioner Joaquin Almunia and Eurogroup President Jean Claude Junger termed as an "important step towards fiscal reform in the country".
At the same time the two EU officials termed as "groundless" reports in the international press that Greece was "in a state of bankruptcy".
Addresing a press conferenece at the end of an Eurogroup meeting, the two officials said they were satisfied by the fact that the Greek government committed itself to bringing down to 9.5 per cent of the GDP by the year 2010 the country's fiscal deficit.
Almunia added that the Commission was awaiting for Greece's stabilising programme, which, as he said, should be tabled as soon as possible.
 ND leader addresses Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce eventMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing the conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, set as preconditions for a change in the growth model and the country's exit from the economic crisis, the widening of taxable material, the acquittal of entrepreneurship, the handling of market deficiencies and the decrease of counterproductive public expenditures.
Samaras said that the country's monetary state is very serious, but noted that this does not mean that "we are one step from bankruptcy" since, as he said, the Commission also "proclaimed that it is inconceivable for eurozone member-states to go bankrupt."
He went on to say that "we must not launch a tax raid on households and businesses," adding that "there are many, businesses and households, that are already at the limit. And if we pressure them more they will find themselves under the water. And such pressure will not bring more revenues, it will bring more 'padlocks' for businesses, it will bring more unemployment, it will bring a liquidity crisis in the market, therefore a loss of revenues, etc. Ultimately, such pressure in the market and society in conditions of crisis will cause a decrease of public revenues and an increase in cyclical expenditures. Therefore, the swelling of deficits." He also warned that "if the government resorts to the tax raid it will find us in front of it."
Samaras further said that it is essential that market deficiencies are tackled and explained that "when the cost goes up the prices also go up. However, when the cost falls, prices do not drop. It happened with oil and with the interest rates, meaning with the loan instalments, consumer, business and housing. This, among other things, means that there is a deficiency problem in our markets."
The ND leader also stressed that the budget expenditures must be reconsidered and those that do not help the economy to become more productive and have no social yield must be reduced. "We shall exit from the crisis with development and not with compression," he added and called for "competiti-veness everywhere."
 Interior minister at Hellenic American Chamber of CommerceInterior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis addressed a conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on the theme of "The time of the Greek economy" on Tuesday, conveying the government's vision for "a state of transparency and accountability" towards all who toil and "for those expecting from us to function fairly, speedily and effectively."
Ragoussis said that the Greek economy "is deep in the biggest crisis that it is facing since 1974" and stressed that "for the first time, Greece is being called on in a destabilised international economic environment to tackle a huge public deficit that, ultimately, is shouting out the end of the country's postwar growth model."
He spoke of a society delivered to the logic of "everyone for himself", a logic that prevailed since this was the example sent by the country's leadership until recently and pointed out that the new government is aiming at making the violation of rules damaging for whoever dares this.
Ragoussis further said that for this to be achieved, "as Prime Minister George Papandreou has also said, one must start from the state, a state that currently has aspects that constitute an obstacle for the development of the economy and of competitiveness."
The minister added that bureaucracy is the "number one" problem and reiterated that what is necessary is a state that is friendly towards the citizen, the professional and the business, a state that will function with transparency and meritocracy.
 Greek bank execs deflect criticismGreek banking executives on Tuesday defended the local banking system's operations, in light of a series of recent attacks by political parties, during an annual congress organised by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens.
Bank of Piraeus' chief executive, Alexandros Manos, in his speech stressed that Greek banks helped thousands of private customers and enterprises -- who had an honest relation with their bank -- with their problems and noted it was "a mistake to try to create liquidity and distribute it to people unwilling to repay their debts towards the banking system."
Manos stressed it would be better if the state repaid its debts, thus distributing more money to the domestic markets.
Eurobank's financial advisor, Gkikas Hardouvelis, said banks are easy targets in the country.
"Everyone agrees at hitting at the banks", he said, while he defended the banking system's operations, noting that compensation paid to high-ranking executives was based on a bank's profitability over a period of 3 to 4 years.
Hardouvelis said the domestic banking system was strong, as it stood the test of an international crisis and fared better compared with other European systems. Greek banks have adequate capital, no toxic assets and one of the highest profitability in the European Union. He also stressed that there was no excessive borrowing from the European Central Bank.
Attica bank chief executive Tryfon Kollintzas said the Greek banking system was in an excellent condition and stressed that even an increase in bad debt rates was slow and under full control.
 National Bank raises portfolio in Greek state bondsNational Bank on Tuesday said it has raised its portfolio in Greek state bonds by 1.8 billion euros since early November, noting that recent speculation over the stability of Greek economy, the banking system and sovereign debt were at least excessive.
The bank said it has raised in portfolio in Greek state bonds by 1.8 billion euros since early November, remaining the largest manager of state debt in the country with a portfolio worth around 18 billion euros.
 NBG board meeting on Wed.The National Bank of Greece announced on Tuesday that its board will convene the next day, with the board's agenda including issues such as the election of board members to replace executive members and the formation of a new council into a body.
 SME manufacturers chamber cancels eventAthens' small-and-medium-sized manufacturers' chamber of commerce on Tuesday announced that it will cancel its annual New Year's fuction, citing what it called the difficult juncture in the sector.
The chamber's leadership will ask for a meeting with President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister George Papandreou to brief them on the condition of SMEs in the manufacturing sector.
 PMI falls to 47.3 in Nov.Greece's seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 47.3 points in November, its lowest recording in six months, reflecting a moderate worsening of conditions in the Greek manufacturing sector.
The purchasing managers' index, after a brief rebound in August, remained below the 50 points threshold since October 2008. Greek manufacturers cut production in November, as a result of a further decline in new orders volume, particularly from foreign markets. Employment also fell in the month, falling steadily every month since May 2008. Inventories declined more rapidly in November.
The PMI records business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Petzetakis reports lower nine-month resultsA.G. Petzetakis reported a 27-pct decline in its nine-month sales to 25.4 million euros, down from 35 million euros last year, adding that said gross earnings fell 5.0 pct to 3.4 million euros and EBITDA ended at a loss of 86,000 euros, from a loss of 677,000 euros in the corresponding period in 2008.
Pre-tax losses fell 59 pct to 2.8 million euros, while after tax losses dropped 56 pct to 3.1 million euros.
Consolidated sales fell 30 pct to 88.4 million euros, gross earnings eased 18 pct to 17.7 million, EBITDA fell 72 pct to 7.0 million euros and pre-tax losses dropped 43 pct to 5.6 million euros.
After-tax losses fell 38 pct to 6.5 million euros.
 Fast food sector in Greece growing steadily, reportThe local fast food sector grew by an average rate of 15.2 pct in the period from 1992 to 2008, a report by Icap stated on Tuesday.
The report said that the local fast food market continued growing after 2000, but at a gradually slower rate compared with the 1992-2000 period. The market grew 8.6 pct in 2008, up from the previous year, reflecting the positive performance of the snack-sandwich and pizza categories.
The fast food market is the basis for four main categories: burgers, pizza, snack/sandwich and souvlaki, with market shares of 36.5 pct, 23.9 pct, 29.5 pct and 7.8 pct, respectively, in 2008.
Most fast food chains develop their networks in larger cities, with an expansion in smaller cities recorded in the last few years, and with the burger category leading the way, followed by pizza and snack/sandwich.
Assets grew 1.3 pct in 2007, compared with the previous year, sales rose 6.2 pct and EBITDA fell 21.9 pct in the same year.
 Deputy minister rules out city road tolls, environmental taxesDeputy Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis on Tuesday said that the government was not considering the imposition of "environmental" taxes or of introducing road tolls for those driving into city centres, in statements at a Stat Bank event on Greek commerce and green development.
The deputy minister dismissed schemes like the London road tolls as "ineffective and socially unjust" measures that allowed those with more money greater transport freedom.
"The only solution is to improve public transport and discourage private cars from entering the city centre," he added.
 Stocks jump 7.15% on Tues.Stocks staged a spectacular recovery at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market 7.15 pct higher to end at 2,425.09 points. Turnover was a moderate 302 million euros, of which 14.1 million euros were block trades.
All sectors moved upwards, with the Technology (15.9 pct), Constructions (11.98 pct), Banks (9.85 pct), Raw Materials (9.71 pct), Financial Services (8.25 pct) and Media (8.05 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 8.29 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 6.30 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 6.32 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 203 to 28 with another 26 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +4.87%
Personal & Household: +2.63%
Raw Materials: +9.71%
Travel & Leisure: +5.77%
Food & Beverages: +3.32%
Financial Services: +3.01%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Bank of Cyprus and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 9.84
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.76
HBC Coca Cola: 15.20
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.30
National Bank of Greece: 21.48
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.00
Bank of Piraeus: 10.71
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.88 percent in the Athens Derivatives Exchange, with turnover rising to 129.576 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 16,904 contracts worth 104.122 million euros, with 26,841 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 28,355 contracts worth 25.454 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,971), followed by Eurobank (1,757), OTE (2,377), PPC (2,240), Piraeus Bank (1,208), GEK (1,253), Alpha Bank (2,046), Marfin Popular Bank (3,366), Cyprus Bank (2,297) and ATEbank (2,521).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 175 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, supported by positive comments made by international financial institutions over the prospects of the Greek state debt.
Turnover rose to 2.585 billion euros, of which 1.365 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.220 billion euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.370 billion euros, yielding 4.88 pct, while the German Bund yielded 3.13 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.23 pct, the six-month rate was 0.66 pct, the three-month rate 0.71 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.519
Pound sterling 0.917
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 10.501
Japanese yen 132.07
Swiss franc 1.52
Norwegian kroner 8.548
Canadian dollar 1.588
Australian dollar 1.648
 EU Council of Justice, Internal AffairsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The amendment of the visa regulation for the Western Balkan countries, the Stockholm programme on issues of freedom, security and justice and the joint European asylum system were the main issues examined here by the European Union's Council of Justice and Internal Affairs. Greece was represented by Deputy Citizen's Protection Minister Spyros Vouyias.
The Council agreed that Montenegro, Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) fulfill all the criteria for the abolition of visas. However, for Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina the appeals for the abolition of the visa obligation for crossing the borders were not accepted and the Council urged the two countries to intensify their efforts to enable this possibility to be given to them in the future.
As regards the "swift" agreement with the United States, Vouyias reminded that it had been requested from the US for reasons of tackling terrorism, that the US Finance Ministry be provided with monetary exchange data with the aim of preventing the funding of terrorism.
The deputy minister stressed that Greece has expressed its reservations at times for reasons of protecting personal data and individual rights and that Greece's position at the Council remained the same.
 Greek navy chief received by Alexandria PatriarchALEXANDRIA (ANA-MPA / N. Katsikas)
The Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II on Tuesday received visiting Hellenic Navy chief of staff Vice-Adm. Georgios Karamalikis, who is on an official visit to Egypt this week.
Karamalikis arrived in the country at the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart, Vice-Adm. Moheb Memish.
In greeting the top Greek naval officer, Theodoros expressed the Patriarchate's gratitude for the support and assistance offered over several years by the Hellenic Navy, and especially for the former's missionary and humanitarian work throughout the African continent.
 Greek tanker thwarts piracy attempt with hoses, flaresA Greek-flag tanker thwarted a piracy attempt when its 24-member crew hosed down and threw flares at armed pirates in a speedboat that opened fire on them as the tanker was sailing 550 nautical miles southeast of Oman, it was made known on Tuesday.
The Piraeus-registered "Sikinos" was en route from Sudan to China when it was approached at dawn Tuesday by the speedboat carrying the armed pirates, who opened fire against the tanker.
The Greek captain of the Sikinos, which belongs to the Piraeus-based Cyclades Maritime shipping company, was prepared for the attack and had arrayed the crew members on deck with water hoses and flares, thus repelling the pirates and forcing them to abandon the attack and retreat.
According to the Greek Harbor Corps, the tanker was continuing its journey, while its 8 Greek and 16 foreign crew members were all safe and well.
 Pierre Cardin charity fashion show held in Athens for HIV orphansA fashion show by French designer Pierre Cardin was held on Monday evening at the French Embassy in Athens on the occasion of the International Day against AIDS. The charity event which was organised under the auspices of the French Embassy in Greece and the Athens Municipality in coordination with the organisation "Greek Action for Africa" and the consulate of Ivory Coast, aimed to collect money for the acquisition of medicine for HIV orhpans in Africa.
French envoy Christophe Farnaud in his opening speech called the event "a night of the constellation of beauty and love" adding who important it was for him to contribute in a charity event and to host in the embassy's premises the fashion show of such a great maitre of the haute couture and also of such an important person.
Pierre Cardin who was due to be present at the show felt unwell while waiting in Paris airport to get on board the plane for Athens and was represented by his firm public relations responsible Jean -Pascal Hesse and his assistant Maryse Gaspard.
Hesse conveyed Pierre Cardin's wishes for the event's success and referred to Cardin's passion for charity and creation and said that Cardin promised to come to Athens next year for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of his fashion firm.
 Trade unionist reports acid attack on her carA trade unionist for a Central Macedonia cleaners' and guards union on Tuesday filed a report to police in Toumba, Thessaloniki saying that her car had been the target of an acid attack and extensively damaged by unknown perpetrators.
No one witnessed the attack on the parked car, while the culprits remain unidentified and are still at large. Police are now conducting an investigation to discover whether the attack was an attempt to intimidate the victim due to her activities as a trade unionist.
This was a suspected motive in a high-profile attack, again using acid, on Bulgarian trade unionist Konstantina Kuneva in December 2008 but in that case the acid was flung on the woman herself and left her seriously disfigured and disabled. That case is still unsolved and the perpetrators remain at large.
 Fire at electricity sub-station in central AthensThere was an explosion and fire at the junction of two busy roads in the Athens district of Ambelokipi on Tuesday, caused by a short circuit in an underground electricity sub-station. The fire was put out by the fire brigade but caused damage to a parked car.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 18C. Rainy in Athens, with southerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 16C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 15C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAntonis Samaras' election as main opposition New Democracy's (ND) 7th president, his first meetings and his plans for radical changes in the party, the economy and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou's attendance at the Eurogroup and Ecofin meetings, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "ND and open party with strong unity".
APOGEVMATINI: "The president's people".
AVGHI: "Social security, labour and tax policy issue on Brussels' altar".
AVRIANI: "Which measures Antonis (Samaras) is planning to take immediately".
CHORA: "Samaras' plans for radical changes in ND - New era with new ideas and staff for a major centre-right party".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis plays Samaras man-to-man".
ELEFTHEROS: "US envoy Daniel Speckhard's recommendations on the Greek economy - He proposed abolition of tenured work in the public sector".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Order for radical changes in ND - Changes in opposition policy and in staff".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The Funds' image is gloomy - Social security: Two ministers sound alarm bell and intimate at new measures
ESTIA: "Rally round ND - Rapid developments in the fourth quarter".
ETHNOS: "Agreements and....arguments between leaders - What George (prime minister Papandreou) and Antonis (new ND leader) discussed in their first meeting".
IMERISSIA: "Package of measures before the EU imposes them".
KATHIMERINI: "Clear mandate, difficult task - Antonis Samaras after his election is called on to unite ND - He met with the prime minister".
LOGOS: "Antonis Samaras' first actions".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Optimism that the companies that were listed on Athens Stock Exchange this year will bring 6 billion euros profit".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government, following capital's demand, advances policy for even more inexpensive workers".
TA NEA: "George's overture for consent, meanwhile the dialogue on pensions, taxes and state begins".
TO VIMA: "Papandreou and Samaras' first meeting: Good start...".
VRADYNI: "Samaras' first actions: 750,000 voters-members sent their message for major changes".
 Leaders continue discussion on the issue of settlersNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have continued discussion on the issue of settlers during their meeting held on Tuesday, in the framework of the direct negotiations, aimed to find a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Speaking after the meeting, UN Secretary General's Special Advisor for Cyprus Alexander Downer, said that "the leaders discussed at some length today (Tuesday) the question of citizenship, aliens, immigration and asylum".
In addition, Downer said that the leaders discussed and decided the dates for their next meetings.
"The next meeting of the leaders will, of course, be this Thursday, but beyond that, the leaders will meet again on Wednesday, the 9th, that's next week. They will then meet on Monday, the 14th of December and they will meet again on the 21st of December. And then, of course, we will be into the break at the end of the year", he said.
Downer also said that Christofias and Talat during their next meeting on Tuesday, will continue their discussion on citizenship issues.
On Wednesday, their representatives, George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami, will be discussing the property question, Downer concluded.
President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat began peace talks in September 2008, under UN auspices to find a mutually acceptable solution on Cyprus problem. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Spokesman: Illegal regime's actions should make us enhance solution's effortsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The action of the Turkish occupation regime not to allow Bishop of Karpasia, Christoforos, to hold a church service at the Turkish occupied monastery of Apostolos Andreas, must make us enhance efforts for a Cyprus settlement, said Tuesday Government Spokesman, Stefanos Stefanou.
"We are under occupation and freedom does not exist here", Stephanou told the reporters, invited to comment on the action of the Turkish
Cypriot regime Monday, to prevent Bishop of Karpasia Christoforos from holding the annual church service to mark Saint Andrews's day.
Stephanou added that it was not the first time the occupation regime behaved that way. He also said that every time actions like this happen, the occupation regime shows its real face.
"These actions of the occupation regime should strengthen our belief that we should continue trying to solve the Cyprus problem, because as long as there is occupation, occupying forces and as long as the occupation does not allow the Republic of Cyprus to effectively exercise its sovereignty throughout the whole country, we will have actions like this as well as many other negative and unacceptable actions", said Stephanou.
Asked whether such actions affect the climate of the negotiation process for a solution in Cyprus, Stephanou pointed out that any action that does not produce the best feelings affects the process.
"Our aim is to enhance our willingness and desire to continue the struggle to find a solution," the spokesman concluded.
 Turkey has to open its ports to Cyprus, Rothe saysNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Turkey has to fulfill its obligations, as the Ankara Protocol describes, and open its ports to Cyprus, Coordinator on the Cyprus problem of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, Mechtild Rothe, said here Tuesday.
In statements, after being received by the President of the Cyprus Republic, Demetris Christofias, at the Presidential Palace, Rothe said she was ''delighted to have, again, a meeting with President Christofias and, again to hear that he is committed to a solution of the Cyprus problem.''
Rothe added ''there are some barriers to be overcome and, after 35 years of division, it is clear that this is the case, but I see there is a strong will to move them and I will go back tomorrow (Wednesday) with a lot of optimism.''
''I am very optimistic,'' Rothe said, ''it is possible to find a solution for this wonderful island and it is the first time the two leaders have committed themselves to a solution and that is a very special situation.''
''Sometimes,'' Rothe said, ''I have the feeling that all the people are thinking only about difficulties, but I think it is important to seize the chance which is there and, I think, it is possible and I am very happy to help.''
Replying to a question about Turkey's evaluation this month, Rothe said ''it is important that there is a change in Turkey concerning the unity of Cyprus.''
As Rothe said, ''there is another point, that Turkey's wish to join the EU and I say and I always said Turkey has to fulfill its obligations and therefore Turkey has to open its ports, for example, because it belongs to the Ankara Protocol and this is clear.''
''I think the European Union must make it clear to Turkey to do that,'' Rothe said, adding ''there are two things'' for her and ''at the top of the agenda is the solution of the Cyprus problem and the second is what is Turkey doing to find its way into the European Union,'' which is something that ''it will last for 4-10 years or more.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and has so far refused to comply with its EU obligations towards Nicosia.
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