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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-09-22

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

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

Wednesday, 22 September 2010 Issue No: 3599

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM at Mllennium Development Goals summit: In an interdependent world, no problem can be dealt with in isolation
  • [02] PM Papandreou meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
  • [03] Papandreou chairs SI meeting: Worry over global increase in poverty
  • [04] Papandreou-Ahmadinejad meeting in NYC; Davutoglu cites Athens visit in Oct.
  • [05] FM meets with UN envoy on FYROM name issue in NY
  • [06] Biodiversity and energy issues dominate dep. foreign minister's contacts at UN
  • [07] Gov' t: '̀emorandum extension out of the question'
  • [08] Gov't vice-president unveils bill for downsizing public sector
  • [09] Birbili meets Turkish counterpart
  • [10] Health minister meets hospital doctors, urges them to back reforms
  • [11] Parliamentary Factfinding Committee decides unanimously to summon former prime minister Costas Karamanlis
  • [12] Parliament passes law on spatial information
  • [13] MEP Skylakakis expelled from ND EuroParliament group
  • [14] OTE head to be charged in Siemens case
  • [15] Gov't offers incentives to boost tax revenues
  • [16] T-bill auction raises 390 million euros
  • [17] FinMin on updated Memorandum, development of Budget
  • [18] Skandalidis attends informal EU Agriculture Ministers Council
  • [19] FinMin Papaconstantinou to visit Germany
  • [20] Troika experts meet Labour Minister
  • [21] Truckers march to Parliament
  • [22] Railway workers call repeated work stoppages
  • [23] Report highlights significance of sea cruise for Greece
  • [24] Development Minister meets head of Competition Commission
  • [25] Civil servants union announces nationwide strike on Oct. 7
  • [26] Stocks end up on Tuesday
  • [27] Greek bond market closing report
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [30] Spectacular show at Planetarium marking the autumn equinox
  • [31] International Day against Nuclear Testing event organised by Kazakhstan embassy
  • [32] Shoot-out leaves 2 officers, one suspect injured
  • [33] Suspected drug trafficker injured in gun battle with police
  • [34] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [35] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [36] Christofias: UNSG will ask Turkey to move from words to deeds
  • [37] President Christofias: progress in Cyprus problem no better this year Politics

  • [01] PM at Mllennium Development Goals summit: In an interdependent world, no problem can be dealt with in isolation

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA)

    Prime minister George Papandreou stressed that in today's interdependent world, no problem can be dealt with in isolation, and called for global responsibility and the humanisation of globalisation, in his address on Monday night (NY time) to the UN Millennium Development Goals summit in New York.

    "The Millennium Development Goals expressed the realisation that we are all in this together. Whatever the problem -when it hits, sooner or later it will affect us all. In our interdependent world, there is no problem that can be dealt with in isolation. No country that is immune to job losses, environmental disasters, pandemics, or the vagaries of the financial markets," Papandreou said.

    In Greece, he added, "our recent experience has given us real insight into how one small country's problems can ricochet around the world", and the country has taken "unprecedented steps" to overcome its fiscal crisis. "It is a painful process, but we are making real progress and delivering on our commitments - and we will emerge stronger. With one prerequisite: We decided to change." the premier stressed.

    "Greece is not a poor country. But did we manage our resources, our environment, our human capacity prudently? Transparently, equitably, sustainably? No, we did not. And that is what we are challenged to change. Isn't that the core challenge of our Millennium Development Goals, too? To manage our planetary resources, our human capacity, our amassed capital, our amazing technological advances, our commonwealth of knowledge in a much more responsible way? In a way that respects our natural resources, respects the rights and needs of all people, and respects the wellbeing of future generations?" he added.

    Greece is dealing with more than simply a sovereign debt crisis, and the world is not dealing simply with a financial crisis. "We in Greece - and all of us - face fundamental challenges: to revitalise our democracies, to redefine what we mean by 'quality of life', to change our consumption patterns in order to stimulate clean, green growth around the world," Papandreou continued.

    "In Greece, we have launched radical reforms to make our government more transparent, our institutions more efficient, and our economy more competitive. We are delivering these changes with our citizens, not in spite of them. But we cannot do this alone We all need to work together in our interdependent world And we need to work more closely with social partners, NGOs and the private sector in order to deliver change," he added.

    "Around the world, many of our citizens feel disempowered. They know that we have the resources to make poverty history, to wipe out illiteracy, to prevent pandemics, and to protect women and children. But we are not managing our resources and capabilities to do so. That is why our citizens question our political will to move forward as a global community. They expect - and rightly so - political leaders to do more to correct the imbalances that the current system of global governance has created. Underlying our failure to act on our good intentions is a crisis of governance. Democratic governance. Global democratic governance," the Greek premier said.

    "Our national institutions lack the capability to deal with global issues. The concentration of power, capital and media has enabled privileged elites with vested interests to capture our democratic processes," he added.

    "We must step up to the challenge to reform our democratic institutions with greater urgency and resolve," Papandreou urged. "We must prove that our democracies can empower our citizens, can equalize opportunities, and that the benefits of globalisation can be fairly and evenly distributed. We need new tools that will optimise the use of our resources and change financial incentives. A financial transaction tax, carbon tax, or green bonds could be used to fund education, healthcare, green infrastructure and technology in developing countries."

    "Instead of national austerity, we ought to be thinking in terms of global responsibility. Unless we join forces to face the challenges ahead, we will all remain vulnerable to new crises," the premier warned. "Either we provide direction, vision and action for a sustainable world society, or we will see more conflict, poverty, and suffering."

    Papandreou noted that the Millennium Development Goals "challenged us to develop a global governance system founded on solidarity, in order to transform the world of free markets to a world of free people".

    "Either we humanize globalisation, or globalisation will undermine humanity itself," the Greek prime minister concluded.

    [02] PM Papandreou meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)

    Prime Minister George Papandreou met with US Vice Presidsent Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday.

    Welcoming the prime minister, Biden said "I congratulate the prime minister for the excellent work he is doing in the handling of the economic crisis and God willing he will put his country on the right path again."

    Biden further said "you are on the right path, you are on the right path and we are impressed by the hard work that you are doing. Congratulations."

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Greek prime minister said that his talks with Biden covered a wide range of issues, such as the world economic crisis, the Middle East issue, the Cyprus problem as well as the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM).

    Papandreou added that he briefed the US vice president on Greece's initiatives regarding the wider region's problems and highlighted Athens's good will and positive contribution in resolving these problems.

    [03] Papandreou chairs SI meeting: Worry over global increase in poverty

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greek prime minister and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou expressed worry over the increase in poverty worldwide due to the global economic crisis, addressing a meeting of the SI presidium at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday night, while he stressed that there has been no real progress to date for an agreement on climate change.

    Papandreou noted that the main issue on the UN agenda this year is progress in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which he said are of exceptional importance for a progressive, global organisation such as the SI, given that they are linked closely with the efforts for wiping out hunger globally, the promotion of an open, multilateral and non-discriminating commerce and monetary and credit system, proper governance and ameliorating the debts of the most vulnerable countries.

    Progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals is intertwined with the international community's ability to face the economic crisis, Papandreou said, and in this respect it is important to keep in mind some of the views voiced at the SI presidium meeting last year "which have proved correct", such as that the global economic crisis was not yet over, and the very slow pace in setting up supervisory and monitoring mechanisms, and also slow pace in taking specific initiatives that could make a difference, such as a global taxation on transactions.

    As the SI conference last year had warned, the global monetary and economic crisis has indeed slowed the rate of materialisation of the MDGs, and recent data from the World Bank show that the economic crisis has obstructed the reduction in poverty, and this in turn hinders progress in achieving the MDGs, Papandreou continued.

    The crisis has also severely impacted fundamental sectors of the MDGs, including those concerning hunger, children's and mothers' health, gender equality, access to clean water and disease control and, according to estimates, it will continue to affect the long-term prospects for development even beyond the UN target date of 2015, the SI leader added, stressing the urgency of moving more quickly and in a more coordinated way to tackle the repercussions of the crisis.

    But the crisis did not affect only the progress in materialisation of the MDGs, it also has turned attention, both of the public opinion and policymakers, away from the climate change agenda, and it is unfortunate, in light of the UN conference on climate change to take place at the end of the year in Cancun, that there has been no real progress in the negotiations for a global agreement on climate change, Papandreou said, stressing, however, that the major flooding in Pakistan and China, drought and fires in Russia and ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in recent months have created an urgent need to deal with global warming.

    [04] Papandreou-Ahmadinejad meeting in NYC; Davutoglu cites Athens visit in Oct.

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou met here on Monday afternoon with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a 40-minute meeting held on the sidelines of an ongoing UN General Assembly session.

    According to reports, bilateral relations, developments in the Middle East and the controversial Iranian nuclear programme were discussed, with the Iranian leader having reiterated a decision by Tehran to resume negotiations with the international community.

    Papandreou referred to Athens' support for the all-important peace process in the Middle East and called on his interlocutor to take steps that will allow Iran to play a stabilising role in the wider region.

    Davutoglu comments

    Meanwhile, in an unrelated matter, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed his satisfaction with the course of Greek-Turkish relations, while nevertheless blaming the Greek Cypriot side, as he said, for a lack of a solution to the long-standing problem of Cyprus' division.

    In exiting the UN building in New York City, Davutoglu - who announced that he will visit Athens in October -- fielded questions by Greek reporters, noting that "we have strong governments in Greece and Turkey and with good intentions we can perform miracles If we solve the Cyprus issue, an economic horizon, an economic zone will be created in the eastern Mediterranean. The (recent) referendum in Turkey was a vote for stability; significant for Greece, too, and for increased stability in Turkey."

    Asked directly about Cyprus, the Turkish FM referred to steps taken in the past by Ankara, saying Turkey can take more steps in the future "if our friends, the Greek Cypriots, follow Greece's example and learn from the past, saying 'yes' this time to peace"

    [05] FM meets with UN envoy on FYROM name issue in NY

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas reiterated the Greek government's positions on resolving the FYROM name issue during a meeting in New York on Monday night with the UN's special representative on the issue Matthew Nimetz, who said in reply to press questions later that "now is not the time for final proposals".

    Droutsas told reporters that he expressed Greece's appreciation for the UN process and Nimetz's role, stressing that Greece fully backs the process.

    He said he also reiterated Greece's well known, clear, consistent, credible and honest position on the FYROM name issue: First of all, that the Greek government has the political will for a solution and, second, that the framework for this solution -- the solution that Greece can accept -- is "the well-known red line of a geographical qualifier for every use, erga omnes".

    Droutsas further said that he also repeated to Nimetz "Greece's invitation to the Skopje leadership to come to the UN negotiating table in the same constructive manner and spirit".

    Reiterating Greece's sincere and well-known political will, Droutsas remarked "if only the other side's will were as sincere" but "unfortunately, to date, there has been no move in that direction by the Skopje side".

    "I think it is telling that Mr. Gruevski (FYROM prime minister) has so far opted not to be present here at the UN General Assembly, where there was potential for a direct meeting with the Greek prime minister," Droutsas added.

    Nimetz told reporters that the Greek foreign minister presented his government's "positions and actions" and that they exchanged views on the name issue.

    To another question, the UN envoy stressed that the dialogue between the Greek and FYROM prime ministers and relations between the two countries are at a different level now that what they were a few years ago, but stressed that "now is not the time for final proposals".

    [06] Biodiversity and energy issues dominate dep. foreign minister's contacts at UN

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis on Tuesday outlined Greece's positions on issues of biodiversity and vital areas of environmental policy, energy policy and economic cooperation during a series of meetings and discussions held at the United Nations as part of the Summit on the Millenium Development Goals 2010.

    Kouvelis underlined the need for immediate measures to protect biodiversity on the planet and Greece's concern over the huge pressures on European ecosystems. He stressed that Greece has a unique and rare ecosystem, especially in Europe, that must be protected.

    With Greece chairing the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation, Kouvelis will on Tuesday present the goals and priorities of the Greek chair, pivoting especially on green growth, during a dinner given by Greece. This will also be attended by Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and several BSEC member-states will be represented by their foreign minister.

    A main goal of the Greek chair is to lay the foundations for adopting a joint framework of action at the Thessaloniki Forum on November 26 and chiefly at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico in December so that BSEC countries adopt a shared course on dealing with exceptionallly important global issues, such as climate change.

    Also on the deputy minister's schedule on Tuesday is a meeting with U.S. Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Richard Morningstar.

    On Monday Kouvelis met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko and held talks on cooperation in the energy sector, especially in energy conservation and promoting renewable energy sources, and exchange of knowhow between scientific bodies.

    The minister took part in a high-level meeting held on Monday at the Natural History Museum in Manhattan on "Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Climate Change: Local solutions for achieving the Millenium Goals" and will represent Greece at another high-level meeting on biodiversity at the United Nations on Wednesday.

    [07] Gov' t: '̀emorandum extension out of the question'

    Extension of the memorandum after 2013 is out of the question. We have specific targets that we observe strictly. No new memorandum is on the way, government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis stressed on Tuesday in response to repeated press questions.

    He also underlining that "our goal is to be in the international (borrowing) markets as soon as possible, even before the memorandum ends."

    He pointed out that Tuesday's T-bill auction went "extremely well", yielding 3.98 pct and was 6.25 times oversubscribed -- compared to 3.85 pct in the previous auction. He also stressed that it was worth noting that 72 pct of the investors were foreign, "which means that our country's credibility is regained step-by-step."

    Responding to a question on whether there is a change in the government policy, Petalotis stated that the government meets all the goals it has set to get the country out of the crisis.

    On the occasion of a relevant reference made by PM George Papandreou at the New York Stock Exchange, Petalotis said "we are determined to utilise the state-owned real estate ... past dysfunctions will cease."

    On the liberalisation of the road freight market, Petalotis underlined that the government is determined to have the relevant legislation passed because it guarantees social justice. He also said the government engaged in exhaustive dialogue with truck owners, adding that despite their protests, traffic and market supplies are adequate.

    [08] Gov't vice-president unveils bill for downsizing public sector

    Government Vice-President Theodoros Pangalos on Tuesday briefed the appropriate Parliamentary committee on an upcoming draft bill that he said would be a first step toward tidying up public-sector finances, through the merger and abolition of several state agencies. The bill is due to be tabled in Parliament soon by the interior ministry.

    "The answer to the public's outcry over 'where did the money go' is that 'we were appointing you to the public sector all these years'," Pangalos told MPs.

    The government vice-president stressed the government was determined to continue the effort to "trim the fat" and cut down public-sector running costs, announcing that a second package of cost-cutting measures was on the way.

    "We are all responsible for the enlargement of the public sector, even the small parties of the Left that have not been in government but follow the same practices within the local authorities they control," Pangalos added.

    Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis, who is responsible for the draft bill, confirmed that this was a first phase and that the government committee will continue its work. He clarified that the second phase of abolitions and mergers will be carried out through a new bill and not based on the powers given under the present draft bill.

    Concerning those working in the abolished or merged agencies, Ragoussis stressed that their jobs will be protected, with the exception of those hired at Agrogi, who had not been hired in accordance with proper procedure.

    Main opposition New Democracy's former minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos agreed with the need to merge or abolish unnecessary state bodies but objected to the abolition of specific agencies, such as the Institute of Migration Policy, or the reasons given by the government for laying off 269 people working at Agrogi.

    [09] Birbili meets Turkish counterpart

    ANKARA (ANA-MPA/A. Arabatzis)

    Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili met here on Tuesday with Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Y1ld1z.

    Speaking to reporters, Birbili underlined the importance of bilateral cooperation in the sectors of energy, natural gas and Renewable Energy Sources (RES).

    Responding to a question on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline and the transport of petrol through the Bosporus Straits, the Turkish minister stated that "the large number of oil tankers crossing the straits is a heavy load and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is an alternative solution in order to bypass the straits."

    On cooperation in the sectors of electricity and natural gas as provided by the Cooperation Memorandum signed by the two ministers on May 14, Yildiz pointed out that "we have stated that we are ready to gradually launch the export of electricity."

    [10] Health minister meets hospital doctors, urges them to back reforms

    In a meeting with the hospital doctors' nationwide union federation OEMGE, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Tuesday asked doctors to back efforts to resolve problems in the health sector, stressing that "all solutions require good cooperation at a difficult time for the country".

    The minister underlined that health-sector spending will be cut and that he intends to reduce prices across the board.

    On delays in hospital appointments, he stressed that his surprise visits to hospitals in recent days had revealed where the problems arose and that steps would be taken in collaboration with the finance ministry to ensure that necessary hiring was carried out as soon as possible.

    Doctors are currently opposed to rumoured plans for hospital mergers - an issue that the minister said had not yet been discussed - and also to the prospect of 24-hour hospitals, stressing that this could only happen if there is immediate progress on hiring new staff and additional money is given to pay for their extra work hours.

    [11] Parliamentary Factfinding Committee decides unanimously to summon former prime minister Costas Karamanlis

    The Parliamentary Factfinding Committee probing the possible penal responsibilities of five New Democracy (ND) party former ministers, in relation to the Vatopedi Monastery and Vistonida lake scandal, has decided unanimously to summon former prime minister Costas Karamanlis.

    The relevant letter that will be addressed to the former prime minister informs him that the Committee "judged unanimously that it would be useful for you to contribute with your testimony as well in the probing of this affair. For this reason, we are at your disposal, to determine jointly, the most suitable way for this contribution of yours."

    [12] Parliament passes law on spatial information

    Parliament on Monday night passed an environment ministry bill harmonising Greek legislation concerning the way information about land and real estate is recorded with that of the European Union. The new law incorporates the European directive INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community) into Greek law and amends a previous 1986 law setting up the organisation for a Greek cadastre or land registry.

    "With this bill we are radically changing the way that the public sector produces, acquires and disseminates uniform and high-quality digital spatial information," stressed Environment Minister Tina Birbili during her speech in Parliament, saying it was fundamental for meeting environmental, developmental, economic and administrative targets.

    "We cannot manage the environment, the challenges of sustainable development in our country, our cities and our forests, if we do not possess reliable spatial information at any given time and all human activity that concerns this," she added.

    The new law sets up a "National Infrastructure of Spatial Information" that will give spatial information to the public without charge and be responsible for such data, which will be shared by all public administration bodies.

    [13] MEP Skylakakis expelled from ND EuroParliament group

    Euro MP Theodoros Skylakakis, elected with main opposition New Democracy (ND), was expelled from the party's European parliament group on Tuesday following a decision by ND leader Antonis Samaras.

    Skylakakis will also be referred to the party's Ethics Committee, which is to decide whether he will be expelled from ND altogether.

    The MEPs expulsion came in the wake of his comments during a radio interview early on Tuesday, when he departed from the official ND line with regard to the memorandum for the EU-IMF loans to Greece.

    According to sources, Skylakakis may also be asked to resign his seat in the European Parliament.

    [14] OTE head to be charged in Siemens case

    The president of the parliamentary committee assigned with the investigation of the Siemens bribery case suggested on Tuesday that the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) President and CEO Panagiotis Vourloumis and OTE board members should face felony charges on breach of faith stemming from alleged over-charging on contracts signed by the telephony utility between 2003 and 2007.

    Parliamentary Committee President Sifis Valirakis addressed a letter to special examiners Maria Nikolakea, Ioannis Fiorakis and Nikolaos Pipiliga and Supreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes stressing that enough evidence has emerged proving that the accused are guilty.

    Financial News

    [15] Gov't offers incentives to boost tax revenues

    Greek government spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday said a government initiative, offering taxpayers and enterprises the opportunity to voluntary close pending tax cases was "a last chance for a fresh start".

    Speaking to reporters, Petalotis said the government was immediately acting after Prime Minister George Papandreou announced swift action to resolving tax transactions with enterprises. "Citizens and tax authorities are leaving the past behind, building a relation of mutual trust," he said.

    The Finance ministry has put for consultation with all interested parties, a draft law envisaging this voluntary close of pending tax cases. The draft law covers all pending tax cases of enterprises and self-employed citizens for the period 2000-2009, including tax cases pending in administrative courts and rescheduling of outstanding tax debt to the public sector.

    The Finance ministry announced four large changes in the process of decision-making in tax cases and a reorganization of tax services, including stricter penalties to tax evaders.

    The draft law will offer generous discounts to taxpayers and full payment in 12 monthly tranches. The government expects this initiative to boost budget revenus by more than 3 billion euros.

    [16] T-bill auction raises 390 million euros

    Greece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a three-month Treasury bills issue raising 390 million euros from the market.

    The issue, yielding 3.98 pct, was 6.25 times oversubscribed with bids submitted totaling 1.874 billion euros.

    The Public Debt Management Organisation, in an announcement, said the auction was made through the market's primary dealers with settlement date set for Friday, 24 September 2010. The organization accepted bids totaling 300 million euros with an additional 90 million euros from non-competitive bids. The issue did not include any commission.

    [17] FinMin on updated Memorandum, development of Budget

    The briefing of the Parliamentary Economy Committee by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday included assurances that there shall be no transfer of food and public utilities (DEKO) invoices to the higher VAT rate and a promise on the tabling of a bill on the reshaping of the tax receiving system in October.

    Papaconstantinou appeared optimistic over the achievement of the targets of monetary adjustment that have been set by the end of the year and reassured that there shall be no new negotiating of the Memorandum, but its adjustment every three months.

    In the same framwork of fiscal transparency and control, the new Budget will include for the first time an appendix on the course of public utilities and all ministries will be obliged to make a register on the assumption of commitments, to avoid the phenomenon of their accumulation without fiscal coverage.

    [18] Skandalidis attends informal EU Agriculture Ministers Council

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Agricultural Development and Food Minister Costas Skandalidis, who respresented Greece at the European Union's informal Council of Agriculture Ministers on Tuesday, expressed support for an increase in the resources of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

    The minister backed the undiminishing support for agriculturure with adequate resources and with additional measures that utilise these resources productively.

    "We do not want to subsidise farmers who are being led to the 'exit'. But to support farmers who are becoming more productive, more competitive," he said.

    Skandalidis further noted that a continuation is necessary of direct subsidies that stabilise income and adapt to developmental needs, so that productive activity in the countryside will continue.

    He also called for incentives to be provided for young farmers who constitute the future of modern agriculture.

    [19] FinMin Papaconstantinou to visit Germany

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou will leave on Wednesday, September 22, for Germany and will be meeting German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble in Berlin on the same day.

    On Thursday, he will address the "Economist's Euro Zone Dialogue- 'The domino effect: how the euro crisis impacts Europe'."

    Papaconstantinou will then be going to Frankfurt,where he will be meeting European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet.

    [20] Troika experts meet Labour Minister

    A delegation of troika experts on Tuesday met with the political leadership of the Labour ministry and discussed developments in a government program to reform the pension system and prospects of changing labour relations.

    The troika experts expressed their satisfaction with changes currently underway in the pension system, while problems still remained in efforts to upgrade business labour agreements compared with sectoral agreements.

    Meanwhile, Labour Minister Louka Kateseli met with representatives of GSEE -Greece's largest trade union umbrella. Speaking to reporters after the meeting Katseli said the challenge of growth must be conquered along with safeguarding social rights, while GSEE's president, Yiannis Panagopoulos, asked for the protection of workers, unemployed and low-pension earners and demanded that the government respect the institution of collective labor agreements.

    [21] Truckers march to Parliament

    Truck owners from across Greece on Tuesday held a protest march to Parliament in downtown Athens to deliver a petition requesting the withdrawal of the draft law liberalizing road freight transport in the country set to be voted on Wednesday.

    Tension briefly flared outside the parliament when the protesters arrived at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier to hold a sit-in demonstration. Minor scuffles occurred when police tried to push the marchers away and prevent them from approaching the parliament building.

    The protesters have expressed their intention to spend the night outside the parliament in an effort to convince the government to withdraw the proposed legislation.

    In a meeting held ahead of the march, they decided to continue and escalate mobilizations even after the new law is passed by Parliament, while sector trade unionists accused Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas of breaking his promises.

    Meanwhile, the minister stated in an interview on Tuesday that there will be no five-year transitional period in the implementation of the controversial legislation and rejected proposals by protesting truck owners, who want to retain 35 pct of the value of their licences. He also rejected fears expressed by truckers as regards the competition with large multinationals if the sector of road freight transport is opened up.

    Reppas stressed that those who wish can preserve their self-employed status until 2023 if they think that this way they will be more competitive.

    The bill, sponsored by the ministry of infrastructure, transport and networks, seeks to open up the currently closed road freight market that is open only to licensed "public use" trucks. The last government licences were issued in the 1970s and opening this market is among Greece's obligations to the EU.

    ND response

    Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy (ND) sector head for transport Stavros Kalafatis on Tuesday said that the mistaken handling of the affair by PASOK's government "has succeeded in converting a major reform into a major problem for the people and society."

    [22] Railway workers call repeated work stoppages

    Workers in the Greek railway OSE have announced repeated work stoppages to be launched on Wednesday in protest to the measures promoted by the government to restructure and reform Greece's debt-ridden railway organisation, whose accumulated debts have run to 10 billion euros.

    A 5-hour work stoppage has been announced for noon on Wednesday with the participation of all OSE workers. The OSE engine drivers will hold a 5-hour work stoppage on Thursday.

    Commuters are advised to contact the OSE information service to avoid any inconvenience.

    [23] Report highlights significance of sea cruise for Greece

    A report by G.P. Wild (International) Limited, Business Research and Economic Advisors, which was presented during a European Cruise Council (ECC) in Brussels, highlighted the contribution of the sea cruise industry to each country's tourism sector and to the European economic as a whole.

    Regarding Greece, the report showed that direct expenses of the sea cruise industry for 2009 totaled 598 million euros (4.3 pct of European total expenses), with 503,000 passengers boarding (10.4 pct), while 4,973,000 people selected Greece as their travel destination (20.9 pct).

    Andreas Stylianopoulos, an executive in Navigator travel organization, representative of Royal Caribbean International in Greece and member of ECC, said that Greece clearly must focus on the sea cruise sector, before it was too late and stressed that the official handling of the cabotage issue was not the right one, with the industry lowering its expectations over its benefits.

    More than 4.9 million Europeans made reservations for sea cruise last year, a figure 12.1 pct compared with 2008, accounting for 29 pct of all sea cruise passengers worldwide. The majority of sea cruises visiting ports in the Mediterranean and the Baltics.

    [24] Development Minister meets head of Competition Commission

    Development Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Tuesday held a two-hour meeting with the head of the Greece's independent Competition Commission Dimitrios Kyritsakis to discuss ways in which the independent authority could cooperate with the ministry preventing skewed or incorrect pricing policies in all market sectors.

    Chrysohoidis stressed during the meeting that the ministry wanted to see legislation on competition enforced, urged members of the commission to do their utmost to ensure free competition and said his goal was to see a reduction of prices on the market.

    [25] Civil servants union announces nationwide strike on Oct. 7

    The civil servants' union ADEDY on Tuesday announced a 24-hour nationwide strike on October 7 to protest against the dictates of the memorandum signed with the European Union, the IMF and the European Central Bank for the loans to Greece.

    The union federation wants all measures that have resulted in wage cuts, pension cuts, loss of pension entitlements and poverty in Greek society to be reversed. The strike will additionally take place on the eve of a hearing before the Council of State of ADEDY's civil suit against the memorandum, which is scheduled for October 8.

    On the day of the strike, ADEDY urged all workers to attend protest rallies that are to be organised against the measures taken as a result of the memorandum.

    [26] Stocks end up on Tuesday

    Greek stocks ended higher on Tuesday, recovering after a seven-day decline in the Athens Stock Exchange, helped by renewed buying interest for National Bank's shares -which was traded at a new readjusted price of 7.51 pct (it ended at 8.0 euros, with a gain of 6.52 pct).

    Turnover was an improved 122.860 million euros. The Big Cap index rose 1.65 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.64 pct and the Small Cap index fell 0.08 pct. The Media (8.16 pct), Health (5.26 pct) and Banks (3.18 pct) were top gainers, while Commerce (4.69 pct) and Chemicals (2.12 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 86 to 82 with another 49 issues unchanged. Lambrakis Press (12.64 pct), Hellenic Fish Farms (11.11 pct) and Trastor (10 pct) were top gainers, while Tzirakian (10.64 pc), FG Europe (9.09 pct) and Teletypos (8.64 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: -0.16%

    Commercial: -4.69%

    Construction: +0.18%

    Media: +8.16%

    Oil & Gas: -0.03%

    Personal & Household: -0.17%

    Raw Materials: +1.48%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.24%

    Technology: +1.77%

    Telecoms: -1.79%

    Banks: +3.18%

    Food & Beverages: -1.52%

    Health: +5.26%

    Utilities: -1.24%

    Chemicals: -2.12%

    Financial Services: -0.10%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and Eurobank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.80

    ATEbank: 0.98

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.14

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.55

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.70

    National Bank of Greece: 8.00

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.40

    OPAP: 11.15

    OTE: 5.50

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.69

    Titan: 14.45

    [27] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was 98 million euros on Tuesday, of which 84 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 14 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 13 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 907 basis points, from 911 bps on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.31 pct and the German Bund 2.44 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate was 1.42 pct, the six-month rate was 1.13 pct, the three-month 0.89 pct and the one-month rate 0.65 pct.

    [28] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.02 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 37.176 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,396 contracts worth 30.166 million euros, with 24,139 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,613 contracts, worth 7.010 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,599), followed by Eurobank (1,002), MIG (941), OTE (619), Piraeus Bank (1,152), Alpha Bank (1,954), Marfin Popular Bank (369), Cyprus Bank (638) and Hellenic Postbank (194).

    [29] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.322

    Pound sterling 0.852

    Danish kroner 7.508

    Swedish kroner 9.219

    Japanese yen 112.95

    Swiss franc 1.326

    Norwegian kroner 7.992

    Canadian dollar 1.364

    Australian dollar 1.396

    General News

    [30] Spectacular show at Planetarium marking the autumn equinox

    The Digital Planetarium in Athens is organising a special event to celebrate the autumnal equinox on Thursday that marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

    Original music and images from space will be screened on the digital dome of the Planetarium.

    The 3D virtual reality simulators of the planetarium will offer viewers an exceptional show that will cover the screen-dome with stars, galaxies, planets, clouds of stars and constellations, to the backdrop of musical improvisations by pianist and composer Ariadne MacKinnon-Andrew and planetarium composer Tasos Katsaris.

    The 40minute show will start at 8:00 p.m., and entrance to the public is free.

    [31] International Day against Nuclear Testing event organised by Kazakhstan embassy

    On the occasion of the International Day against Nuclear Testing, the embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Athens organised an event at a downtown hotel on Tuesday evening, in an effort to sensitise citizens against nuclear weapons, in the presence of ambassador Sergei Nurtayev.

    The International Day against Nuclear Testing was established, at the initiative of the government of Kazakhstan, at the 64th session of the UN General Assembly with the unanimous ratification of resolution 64/35 on December 2, 2009.

    [32] Shoot-out leaves 2 officers, one suspect injured

    A shoot-out between alleged drug smugglers and police early Tuesday on the Athens-Lamia highway, at the Tragana site, resulted in the injury of three people.

    According to police, an Athens-area narcotics unit, acting on a tip, attempted to stop a vehicle with two Albanian nationals aboard. The driver apparently attempted to flee while the co-driver fired at officers with an assault rifle.

    Police returned fired and rammed the suspects' vehicle with another patrol car.

    Two police officers were slightly injured, while the driver of the vehicle sustained a severe gunshot wound to the abdominal area. He was transferred to a nearby hospital and his accomplice was arrested.

    In the car, authorities found and confiscated 110 kilos of cannabis.

    [33] Suspected drug trafficker injured in gun battle with police

    An Albanian man charged with drug trafficking was rushed to Lamia hospital on Tuesday after being shot twice in the abdomen during an exchange of fire with police carrying out a raid. A second Albanian national has also been placed under arrest.

    The incident occurred at the 130th kilometre of the Athens-Lamia national highway at around 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday, near the Tanagra toll posts. Officers of the Attica drug squad were cooperating with police in Fthiotida for the arrest of the two suspected drug smugglers, aged 44 and 20 years old, respectively.

    The rain was organised based on a tip-off that a large quantity of drugs was being moved by an Albanian drug-trafficking ring from the Greek-Albanian border via Ioannina and Grevena. Acting on this information, police officers went to the area and spotted a Cherokee jeep that had been reported stolen earlier the same day in Athens at Samarina, Grevena.

    They followed the vehicle and set up a roadblock at Tanagra to catch the suspects but the driver tried to break through the police blockade, slightly injuring a police officer in the process. He then opened fire against police with a Kalashnikov rifle, who returned fire and shot him in the stomach. Also slightly injured by the exchange of gunfire was a drugs squad officer. Both injured police officers were taken to the 401 military hospital for first aid.

    In the vehicle being driven by the two suspects, police found 108 kilos of unprocessed cannabis and they also confiscated the Kalashnikov rifle, a clip of ammunition, a bullet casing and two cell phones, as well as the stolen car.

    The injured man is now in hospital under guard and his suspected accomplice will be taken before a Lamia public prosecutor on Wednesday.

    Weather Forecast

    [34] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 30C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 28C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 26C.

    [35] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The truck owners' strike, the outstanding tax cases closure, successive insurance and Prime Minister's George Papandreou's meetings in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and Millennium Development Goals summit, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Parliament reveals politicians' assets".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Everything changing in universities from new academic year".

    AVGHI: "State property for sale - Prime Minister preannounced in his speech at Wall Street, the sale of State property equal to the public debt".

    CHORA: "Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras won points from the comparison with the PM".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Bonus to ministers, MPs and mayors' pensions".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Successive insurance - Who gains, who loses".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Who gain, who lose with the new successive social security system".

    ESTIA: "Bold measures needed".

    ETHNOS: "Circular on successive insurance - The new system will be applied as of January 2011".

    IMERISSIA: "Fitch ratings Group warns Greece: Economy is hanging by a thread".

    KATHIMERINI: "Bureaucracy and delay in VAT rebates hampers investments".

    LOGOS: "Truck owners' mobilisations' at the razor's edge".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Who will be included in the outstanding tax closure process".

    NIKI: "End to tenure in public sector".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "New struggle and power to reverse the antisocial policy".

    TA NEA: "Chaos on highways and the market".

    TO VIMA: "Parliament members...'collectors' of real estate".

    VRADYNI: "Attica in state of siege - Clash between government and truck owners escalates".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [36] Christofias: UNSG will ask Turkey to move from words to deeds

    UNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon assured Cyprus President Demetris Christofias that during the meetings he will have with the Turkish political leadership he will ask that Turkey makes concrete steps to contribute to efforts for a Cyprus settlement.

    In statements after a meeting he had at the UN headquarters with Ban, Christofias said that the UN Secretary General was interested in listening to his views.

    "I told him very frankly our position regarding Turkey's stance, the communicative game by Turkey and Mr. Eroglu (the Turkish Cypriot leader) and their effort to play a blame game, something which we consider unacceptable and which proves that Turkey is not ready to move towards a settlement of the Cyprus problem right now," he noted.

    Christofias expressed his sincere intention to continue the dialogue aiming to solve the Cyprus problem, noting however that the dialogue must be substantive and that there should not be any proposals that will result to a setback of the talks.

    He noted that he informed Ban that the proposals of the Turkish side on the issue of properties constitute a setback even from the provisions of the Annan plan.

    Christofias reiterated to Ban his proposals for linking the issue of properties with the issue of territory, with a view to facilitate the process.

    As he noted he also underlined "our good will to move forward towards a settlement of the Cyprus problem the soonest possible because it is the people who are suffering and not Turkey. I told him that we have already made acts of good will towards the Turkish Cypriot community for which we do not regret," he noted, underlining that "we have no intention of making any concessions for foreigners, including Turkey."

    He said that the UN Secretary General did not make any hint for a change in the process or regarding any exertion of pressure on the Greek Cypriot side.

    "The UN Secretary General has pledged that he will meet the Turkish leadership and that he will ask them to translate their words into deeds. This was my request to the Secretary General and he replied affirmatively," he added.

    Christofias replied negatively to a question whether they discussed about changing the process of the negotiations or about the possibility of organizing an International Conference on Cyprus.

    Responding to another question, Christofias said that Turkey's role to efforts for a settlement is a decisive one and that is why that UN Secretary General and others, including the EU, must direct their efforts towards Turkey.

    Christofias also expressed satisfaction over a European Parliament resolution approved on Tuesday by which MEPs deplored Turkey's failure to implement the additional protocol to the EC-Turkey Association Agreement which guarantees access to Turkish airports and harbours for all EU member states, including Cyprus, and called on Ankara to apply the protocol in full, without delay or discrimination.

    The Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

    [37] President Christofias: progress in Cyprus problem no better this year

    UNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias stated on Monday that things do not fare better than last year as far as progress in the Cyprus problem is concerned.

    On Monday, President Christofias hosted a luncheon for the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to brief them about the latest developments in the UN led negotiations for a Cyprus settlement, a process which began in September 2008 between President Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.

    President Chrisofias told the ambassadors that Turkey's positions and those presented by Dervis Eroglu (Turkish Cypriot leader) at the talks and their refusal to accept his constructive proposal do not leave much room for optimism about the prospect of a solution by the end of the year.

    The proposals provide for linking the property issue with the territorial issue, the opening of the Turkish occupied Famagusta port in exchange for opening more EU accession chapters for Turkey and the convening of an international conference once agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus question is in sight.

    The president said that he reiterated his position on the subject of an international conference on the Cyprus problem that more progress needs to be achieved on the internal aspects of the problem before convening such a meeting, adding that the ambassadors showed understanding on that point and stressed the need to maintain the Cypriot ownership of the talks whilst at the same time accepting the position that no solution should be imposed by outsiders.

    "Certain people may have a different opinion as far as Turkey's readiness to see a solution emerge by the end of the year", he pointed out, adding that he has made it clear that Turkey's own actions do not follow up on its rhetoric, which serves only communication purposes and aims to avoid taking real responsibility for its role in the Cyprus problem.

    The president also informed them of his wish to have the opportunity to talk face to face with the Turkish leaders, adding that this is not an alternative to the ongoing talks. Talks will continue under the aegis of the UN S.G., he said, noting however that he would like to meet with Turkey's leaders so that he can communicate to them his vision for the solution of the Cyprus problem, which also concerns Turkey and affects its interests.

    There is no reason for anyone to object to this request, he said, stressing that a refusal would be unacceptable considering that the Republic of Cyprus is a member of the UN since its establishment, is also a full member of the EU, adding at the same time that a non permanent member of the UN Security Council does not have the right to ignore the Republic of Cyprus.

    On Monday President Christofias also met with Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, Illinois State Minister of Finance and US Senate candidate Alexis Giannoulias, and attended a reception hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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