|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-12-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 17 December 2009 Issue No: 3377
 Papandreou: SI hopes to bridge differences in CopenhagenCOPENHAGEN (ANA-MPA - G. Milionis)
The Socialist International hopes to act as a catalyst for developments at a difficult moment in the Copenhagen climate talks, Greek Prime Minister and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou said on Wednesday.
Presenting the SI's final proposals for averting climate change during a press conference, Papandreou pointed out that the SI's membership bridged the traditional groups currently ranged against each other at the UN climate summit, since it included both rich, developed countries and some of the poorest developing countries in the world.
"We agree on a common course and for this precise reason we can generate the necessary trust that is lacking these days between the member-states that have gathered in Copenhagen to discuss this major issue of climate change," the Greek premier stressed.
He also noted that the proposals put forward by the SI covered issues such as biodiversity, food safety, inequality and poverty, as well as the funding of efforts to carry out the transition from an economy powered by fossil fuels that generated carbon dioxide to a green economy - especially for the poorer countries that needed to set up the necessary technological conditions and education system.
Expressing hope that the proposals made by the socialists would be able to bridge the gap between the rich and poor countries in Copenhagen, Papandreou stressed that it "is absolutely essential that we leave Denmark with a binding decision".
"The citizens of the entire planet demand that we provide answers for the greatest issue that humanity has ever faced," he emphasised.
Referring to Greece, Papandreou said that Athens supported the decisions of the European Union and had decided to be among the front-runners of green development.
"Europe has sent a very clear and very positive message by raising the bar from 20 percent to 30 percent for the reduction of gas emissions and also by devoting significant sums for the assistance of developing countries, so that by upgrading their know-how and technology they can enter into green development. In other words, Europe is in the lead and I believe it will exert a lot of pressure on America and the other countries, so that they will contribute to the common effort," he said.
Papandreou also stressed the need to follow the initiatives at Copenhagen with initiatives that specifically targeted the Mediterranean region, which would be one of the hardest hit by the consequences of climate change based on reports from Lebanon, Palestine and other countries in the area.
"We are here and determined to do everything we can to help in a great, historic decision for humanity," he added, noting that Copenhagen was not the "end of the line" but had to be the base on which the entire world would take the next steps in order to avoid disaster.
"But this means that Copenhagen must succeed," he underlined.
Addressing a later press conference at the end of a SI environment committee meeting here, on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference, he proposed the imposition of a "carbon tax" or "green house emission tax".
Papandreou added that the revenues from such taxes should be redistributed in support of "green development".
He also referred to the establishment of a "green bond" which will reduce debts of developing countries, adding that reforestation, the proliferation of renewable energy sources and a change in the educational system are absolutely necessary.
Papandreou also insisted on the need for a "more democratic and representative world governance, for just and viable solutions."
"Green development should be accompanied by the fight against inequalities," he noted.
Responding to questions, the Greek premier said Europe was in the lead as regards the tackling of climate change, and that he is expecting the United States to come to the conference with more important proposals.
"I hope that President (Barack) Obama is ready for such a thing," he said, adding that China has already proceeded to important changes in its policies regarding the environment.
 Papandreou in Copenhagen for climate summitCOPENHAGEN (ANA-MPA - G. Milionis)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou arrived in Copenhagen on Wednesday morning, where along with some 120 other world leaders he will take part in the United Nations climate summit.
Papandreou, in his capacity as Socialist International president, on Wednesday chaired a meeting of socialist leaders in the Danish capital that began at around 15:00 Athens time and finalised the proposals on climate change put together by the Social International Commission for a Sustainable World Society, co-chaired by Ricardo Lagos and Goran Persson.
Papandreou is scheduled to address the UN climate summit on Thursday, after which he will have a number of bilateral meetings with foreign leaders. On Thursday evening, he is to attend a gala dinner for the visiting heads of state and government given by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
Kaklamanis at climate summit
The delivery of a joint Cities Act - Copenhagen Climate Communiqué to government leaders on Wednesday marked the conclusion of proceedings of the "Climate Summit for Mayors", held within the context of the UN Climate Change Conference in the Danish capital.
One-hundred mayors, among them Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, signed the Cities Act, which calls on national governments to participate in and closely collaborate on the implementation of measures to counter climate change.
Kaklamanis noted the importance of joint initiatives and actions that cities have undertaken in order to fight the phenomenon.
"We represent 100 cities, some developed, others less so, some underdeveloped, others more affluent, such as Los Angeles and Paris, but also other, much poorer cities. Nevertheless, we managed to find a common point of reference. We agreed that must forget all that objectively divides us, the difficulties that is, and see what problems we share. We drafted a joint document and took a decision, agreeing that we can only put pressure on governments if we are united," Kaklamanis said.
During the course of Wednesday proceedings, Kaklamanis met with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who participated in the climate summit for mayors and expressed support for actions proposed by cities and collaboration among them.
 President briefed on dialogue for social insurance reformPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received Labour and Social Solidarity Minister Andreas Loverdos, who briefed him on the progress of dialogue for reforming Greece's social insurance and pension system.
Emerging from the meeting, Loverdos said that the president had asked to be kept informed at all stages of the process.
"Greek citizens and the Greek state have no other road except that of solving the social insurance problem, which the prime minister has termed a national issue," Loverdos underlined, stressing that the government's efforts had great support from the Greek Parliament, the Greek people.
 Gov't: New organised crime unit within coast guardCitizen's Protection Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis on Wednesday announced the establishment of a ïrganised crime unit within the Hellenic Coast Guard.
Speaking at a press conference, he stressed that the new unit will have a multifaceted role and will be responsible for combating all forms of organised crime. The new unit's offices will be in the greater Athens area and in major seaports.
Meanwhile, a draft law re-defining the coast guard's mission will be ready in January and be tabled in Parliament for approval in February, Chryssochoidis said, adding that the coordination of the efforts against illegal fuel trading and smuggling has been assigned to his ministry, following a decision by the prime minister.
In again touching on the pressing problem of illegal migration targeting Greece, Chryssochoidis stated that he was pleased with the contacts he had this week in Athens with a Frontex delegation, stressing that the goal is none other than to "seal" Greece's external borders.
Finally, he said a draft law on political asylum will soon unveil new guidelines for eligibility.
 Minister: novel flu pandemic not overHealth Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou on Wednesday announced that it was clear that the novel influenza A (H1N1) pandemic is not over, "we remain vigilant, yet the problem is still here," she said.
Xenoyiannakopoulou announced that in the next 20 days 60 new beds will be available in 20 hospital ICUs across the country while 13 physicians and 211 nurses have already been appointed. An additional 400 will be hired in the first 10 days of January, she said, pointing out that more ICU beds will be available in early February.
Hellenic Center for Infectious Diseases Control (KEELPNO) President Giorgos Saroglou stated that "we are at the peak of the pandemic which will last between 4 and 5 weeks", adding that the situation will be reassessed in the beginning of February when it will be clear if there will be a new novel influenza outbreak.
Saroglou stated that novel influenza-related complications are becoming more serious as time passes and underlined that 20 pct of the 52 deaths in Greece were recorded in healthy young people with no underlying illnesses. He also stated that the number of people vaccinated so far is estimated to 319,000.
 KKE's Papariga lashes out at GSEECommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga accused the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) on Wednesday of being an organization of "employers and strike breakers".
Papariga made the comment in response to an appeal made by the umbrella trade union to its members calling on them to disregard the calls for a nationwide strike scheduled for Thursday.
The KKE general secretary stated that GSEE's stance is unprecedented in the history of the trade unionist movement.
 Papariga meets with film sector union repsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga, speaking on Wednesday, described as "dangerous the effort to sidestep and substitute sector unions by, let's say, institutional bodies that represent private interests and the government policy, supporting the commercialisation of artistic work."
Papariga made the comments after meeting with representatives of film sector unions, and pointed out that such an effort "will not safeguard quality and will end the spontaneous and substantive artistic creation."
 Tsipras addresses SYRIZA's parliamentary groupRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras called on the government on Wednesday to "publicly state what kind of promises it has made to the European partners."
In comments he made after SYRIZA's parliamentary group meeting, Tsipras described the political party leaders' meeting on transparency and corruption held on Tuesday as "useful, mainly because it gave a boost to people's expectations for changes to institutions aimed at greater transparency and less corruption."
Tsipras also accused the government of breaking its election campaign pledges, underlining that "boosting low incomes can be a tool that can be used to deal with the crisis."
 ANA-MPA takes part in 24-hour media strike on ThursdayThe ANA-MPA will not be transmitting/broadcasting any news or other services from 6:00 a.m. on Thursday to 6:00 a.m. on Friday due to a 24-hour media-wide strike that has been called by the Athens Union of Journalists (ESIEA).
We regret any inconvenience caused to our subscribers.
News service will resume at 6:01 a.m. on Friday.
 FinMin defends measures during press contacts in LondonLONDON (ANA-MPA)
Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou arrived here on Wednesday ahead of his meeting the next day with Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, as meetings with the British media's top economic periodicals took place on Wednesday.
Among others, Papaconstantinou reiterated that Athens' recently announced package of measures to slash a double-digit budget deficit and soaring public debt is more "aggressive" than the initiatives implemented by the Irish government. He also dismissed a press question citing a lukewarm response by financial centres to the proposed Greek measures, saying the current government enjoys a comfortable Parliament majority and was granted a mandate by voters to undertake significant reforms.
 Standard & Poor's downgrades Greece's credit ratingsStandard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Wednesday that it had lowered its long-term sovereign credit ratings on Greece to 'BBB+' from 'A-'.
"The downgrade reflects our opinion that the measures the Greek authorities have recently announced to reduce the high fiscal deficit are unlikely, on their own, to lead to a sustainable reduction in the public debt burden," Standard & Poor's said.
"Moreover, we believe that the government's efforts to reform the public finances face domestic obstacles that would likely require sustained efforts over a number of years to overcome," it added.
S&P also threatened to cut Greece's rating again, keeping the country on CreditWatch negative.
The Greek government announced last Monday a series of measures and bold reforms in the country with the aim to restoring confidence in the economy and calm markets' fears over the country's ballooning debt and fiscal deficit.
 Economy minister and bank association discuss draft legislation on market liquidity, household overborrowingFollowing a meeting with the Hellenic Bank Association presidency on Wednesday, Economy Minister Louka Katseli told reporters that there might be minor modifications to two bills currently going through Parliament, one concerned with boosting liquidity in markets and the second with overborrowing by households. She underlined, however, that any changes would be minor and would not alter their basic philosophy.
She said the meeting with the bank association came within the framework of meetings with all market factors and formed part of the effort to stimulate the economy.
The minister also clarified that the meeting had not discussed a third draft bill being prepared by the ministry on transparency in banking transactions.
 Gov't nixes tollway extension projects, Kastelli airportThe government on Wednesday announced that it was canceling a pair of major infrastructure projects, namely, new highways, in the greater Athens area.
Speaking on Wednesday, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Dimitris Reppas called the projects to extend the Attiki Odos tollway "phantom works", citing what he called an incompatibility with the new town planning framework in the greater Athens area and the lack of environmental impact studies.
He added that the projects would be re-negotiated.
The government also axed the envisioned Kastelli airport in Irakleio prefecture of Crete, citing problems with radio beacon signals for the specific site as well as local opposition. Reppas said the project will be up for re-tendering in the summer of 2010.
Finally, the ministry said toll booths will be functioning on the Egnatia motorway, which crosses the breadth of northern Greece, by the summer.
 Eurostat: Nov. inflation in Greece at 2.1 pctInflation in Greece climbed to 2.1 percent in November 2009 from 1.2 percent in the preceding month of October, according to figures released on Wednesday by the EU statistics service EUROSTAT in Brussels.
Inflation in the eurozone rose to 0.5 percent in November from -0.1 percent in the preceding month of October, while in November 2008 it was running at 2.1 percent.
Inflation throughout the entire EU rose to 1.0 percent in November from 0.5 percent in October, while in November 2008 it was running at 2.8 percent.
The lowest inflatin rates in November were in Ireland (-2.8 percent), Esthonia (-2.1 percent) and Latvia (-1.4 percent), while the highest rates were in Hungary (5.2 percent), Romania (4.6 percent) and Poland (3.8 percent).
November 2009 inflation against the preceding month of October 2009 declined in 11 member countries, remained unchaged in three (3) member states, and increased in 23 member states.
 Stocks end 2.40% upStocks rebounded on Wednesday by 2.40 percent, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange above the 2,200 level to 2,222.14 points, with turnover a moderate 271.6 million euros.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Banks (4.66 pct), Telecoms (3.75 pct) and Constructions (3.12 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel-Recreation (2.15 pct) and Foods-Beverages (0.61 pct) were biggest losers.
The FTSE 20 index was up by 3.19 pct, the FTSE 40 index increased by 1.10 pct and the FTSE 80 index posted gains of 0.57 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 118 to 65 while another 44 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.70%
Personal & Household: +0.09%
Raw Materials: +2.59%
Travel & Leisure: -2.15%
Food & Beverages: -0.61%
Financial Services: +2.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.55
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.24
HBC Coca Cola: 16.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.30
National Bank of Greece: 18.26
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.95
Bank of Piraeus: 8.25
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.38 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining an improved 150.225 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 22,098 contracts, worth 123.687 million euros, with 19,727 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 53,488 contracts worth 26.542 million euros, with investment interest focusing on MIG's contracts (7,168) followed by National Bank (7,014), Ellaktor (5,987), Piraeus Bank (4,203), OTE (3,869), Alpha Bank (3,275), Intracom (2,912), Marfin Popular Bank (2,855) and Hellenic Postbank (2,678).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrunk to 234 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 5.55 pct and the German Bund 3.21 pct. Turnover was 1.327 billion euros, of which 692 million were buy orders and the remaining 635 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 490 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.23 pct, the six-month rate 0.66 pct, the three-month 0.71 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.467
Pound sterling 0.896
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 10.504
Japanese yen 131.65
Swiss franc 1.524
Norwegian kroner 8.436
Canadian dollar 1.555
Australian dollar 1.630
 Culture ministry to cut tourism organisation bureaus abroadCulture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou on Wednesday announced plans for an in-depth study, through which the ministry will decide which of the 29 offices currently maintained abroad by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) will close.
In a meeting with reporters, Gerekou noted that markets vital to Greek tourism would not be left without an GNTO office but that there might be mergers where two or more such offices served a single region.
She said the measure was decided in an effort to cut spending and the high cost of running such offices, on which GNTO had spent 15 million euros on running costs and salaries in 2009 without including advertising and promotional costs. The estimated costs in 2010 are seen to rise to 17 million euros, while there are also outstanding debts of 8 million euros for the construction of GNTO pavilions over the last two years.
Gerekou stressed that she was determined to put an end to the wanton spending of the past administration without jeopardising the promotion of Greece as a tourist destination.
 Monitoring system for public works announcedInfrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas announced on Wednesday the adoption of a system designed to monitor projects, studies and services underlining that it will be updated on the internet every three months.
The monitoring system will be in operation in 2010 and constitutes an important step toward more transparent transactions, Reppas stated.
The minister also announced that a draft law for the enactment of a new system regulating studies and tenders for public works will be tabled in parliament next year after all consultation phases are completed.
The first phase of the consultation will be completed on Jan. 29, 2010, the second by the end of March and the third at the end of May.
 Foreigners make up 8.1 pct of Greece's population, Eurostat saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
Foreign nationals made up 8.1 percent of the population in Greece in 2008, according to figures released by Eurostat on Wednesday.
The European statistics agency said that 906,000 foreign nationals (8.1 percent of the total population) are resident in Greece. By contrast, foreign nationals account for 30.78 million people in the 27 EU member-states, corresponding to 6.2 percent of the overall population.
Of the foreign nationals living in Greece, 63.7 percent are Albanians, 2.5 percent are Ukrainians and 1.9 percent are Georgians. Throughout the EU, the largest groups of foreign nationals are from Turkey (7.9 percent), Morocco (5.6 percent) and Romania (5.4 percent).
Of the 27 EU member-states, Greece has the fourth-highest percentage of foreigners from non-EU countries (6.7 percent of the population) after Latvia (17.9 percent), Estonia (16.5 percent) and Spain (7 percent). Foreign nationals from other EU countries correspond to 1.4 percent of the Greek population.
In the 27 EU member-states as a whole, foreign nationals from non-EU countries number 19.5 million or 3.9 percent of the total population, while foreign nationals from other EU countries number 11.3 million and account for 2.3 percent of the overall population.
The EU countries with the highest percentage of foreign nationals relative to their total population are Luxembourg (42.6 percent), Latvia (18 percent), Estonia (17 percent), Cyprus (16 percent), Ireland (13 percent) and Spain (12 percent).
 President Papoulias receives first Greek woman to climb HimalayasPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received at the Presidential Mansion in Athens on Wednesday the first Greek woman mountain climber to scale the summit of Cho Oyu on the Himalayas, the world's sixth highest peak with an altitude of 8,201 meters.
Tassia Iliopoulou is regarded as a pioneer in the women's mountain climbing movement, being one of few women in the world to have completed a similar attempt.
 2nd festival of Albanian-language cinema at Greek Film ArchiveThe Greek Film Archive Foundation will again host a festival in Athens focusing on Albanian-language cinema, which begins on Thursday and continues until Sunday.
Twenty feature-length and short films, along with five animated works, will be shown in the foundation's new state-of-the-art Kerameikos district centre. Many of the films have reportedly never been shown outside the neighbouring country, while others were censored and yet others carry some type of international distinction.
Two of the movies that will be shown date to the late 1950s, namely, the short film "FemijeteSaj (Her Children)" (1957) and the feature-length "Tana" (1958) by director Kristaq Dhamo, with the female protagonist, noted Albanian actress Tinka Kurti, scheduled to appear at the screening.
The first such festival in Athens occurred two years ago.
 Taxi holiday bonus Dec.18-Jan.7By decision of Infrastructures, Transport and Networks minister Dimitris Reppas, a holiday bonus of one (1) euro for taxi drivers will be in effect from December 18, 2009 up to and including January 7, 2010.
The bonus will be paid by taxi customers for each ride.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's measures on the economy and EU Commission's reservations, and the political leaders' meeting chaired by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on corruption and transparency in public life, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Peace over Piraeus port - Dockworkers and Piraeus Port Authority shake hands".
APOGEVMATINI: "At last, the political leaders agreed on something, the battle against corruption".
AVGHI: "Meeting off the point".
AVRIANI: "Political leaders unanimously agreed on the establishment of three examining committees".
CHORA: "They agreed to become honest".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Ruling PASOK's guillotine takes the first head - Dinos Rovlias (deputy interior minister) finished".
ELEFTHEROS: "Main opposition ND leader Antonis Samaras' resounding message to government".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They forced Mr. Clean to resign - Government ousts Dinos Rovlias".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou's overture to Germany to secure their support".
ESTIA: "The government's measures are shallow".
ETHNOS: "Period of agony extended till January - Brussels awaiting specification of the measures".
IMERISSIA: "Markets skeptical - First impressions on the loan are lukewarm".
KATHIMERINI: "Consensus against corruption - Papandreou, Samaras agree on 11 essential directions".
LOGOS: "Consensus of optimism".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Markets skeptical and EU leery".
NIKI: "Greece in a tunnel".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The battle against corruption will not improve the people's lives".
TA NEA: "Stop to bonuses, meanwhile the markets are coercing for new measures".
TO VIMA: "The first small steps towards consensus".
VRADYNI: "The 'favours'....were Dinos Rovlias' fall - Prime Minister George Papandreou faces the first crisis of reliability ".
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