|Friday, 20 April 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-09-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 25 September 2010 Issue No: 3602
 Greece. Qatar sign bilateral development partnership accordNEW YORK (ANA-MPA)
Greece and Qatar signed a general framework agreement to boost development cooperation between the two countries, in the early morning hours of Friday (Greek time) in New York.
The framework cooperation agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was signed by Greece's Minister of State responsible for international investments Haris Pamboukis and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director of the state Qatar Investment Authority's (QIA) investment arm Qatar Holding, Ahmad Al-Sayed, in the presence of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
The MoU notes that the two sides are interested in the development and strengthening of the economic cooperation between the two countries in the field of investments and expresses their mutual intention to extend their cooperation for the advancement of investment plans and opportunities between Greece and the QIA, chiefly in the fields of real estate, tourism, transports, port and airport facilities, banking, financial and credit services and energy, as well as other sectors.
According to the agreement, the QIA affirms its intention to invest in Greece, even through its subsidiaries, with an overall target budget for investments of five billion dollars, and the two sides express their joint intention to cooperation in examining ways in which the QIA may take part in investment opportunities in Greece.
"This memorandum is indicative both of our own efforts and Greece's potential and the interest in our country that is being generated," Papandreou said afterwards, adding that this proves that Greece has a government "that inspires certainty and security". An investor seeks that the money he invests will not be in vain, he stressed.
Asked to comment on press speculation and criticism by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) that the Qatar investment will turn the grounds at Ellinikon where Athens' old International Airport had been located into a second "Las Vegas", Papandreou said that, if it has the will, a government can introduce conditions and a developmental model into the philosophy of green, viable development rather than "cementification".
"What we are doing will have a mutual benefit for high quality tourism and renewable energy sources, and for the development of regions, which will give a new quality of life to the cities," Papandreou said.
"It is a vote of confidence in our country," he added.
In an announcement, the KKE charged that "the governments plans to turn the Ellinikon area into a casino, marinas, luxury hotel complexes and private airports have nothing to do with the needs and aggravated problems of the people of Attica" prefecture.
Commenting on press reports, government spokesman George Petalotis said it was too early to talk about investments and noted that the two sides will try to cooperate on many levels and stressed that the introduction of a "fast track" investment policy by the government was the most significant tool to overcome hurdles in attracting investments.
He added that the government was unravelling rapidly its initiatives towards a better management of the state's real estate property to the benefit of the country in the long-term.
 Greece, Qatar to form joint committeeA memorandum of understanding signed between the governments of Greece and Qatar envisages the formation of a joint committee which will examine possible joint investment activities, State Minister Haris Pamboukis said on Friday.
In an announcement, the Greek minister said the joint committee will be co-chaired by State Minister Harris Pamboukis and Ahmad M. Al-Sayed, Secretary to the Board of Qatar Investment Authority and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Holding LLC, for the Hellenic and Qatari side respectively. The committee will review various investment projects or opportunities to assess their suitability for participation, carry out a general evaluation of investments and seek mutually beneficial partnerships.
The Qatar Investment Authority confirmed its intention to invest in Greece up to five billion US dollars. The two sides will seek investment and economic cooperation projects in the fields of: tourism, transport, infrastructure, real estate, financial services and energy.
The prospect of cooperation with a particularly significant and credible international fund reflects the results of the Greek government's efforts to regain investors' confidence, Pamboukis said.
 Gov't on major Qatar investmentA government spokesman was pressed on Friday over details of an investment agreement between Greece and Qatar, dismissing reports of a "Las Vegas-style" development and the opening of a new casino in southern coastal Athens.
Spokesman Giorgos Petalotis made the statement a day after Greek and Qatari leaders signed the deal in New York City.
In an earlier statement. the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) charged that the Qatar investment will turn the grounds at the Helliniko site -- where the runways, twin terminals, and hangers of the old Athens airport are located -- into a second "Las Vegas". According to KKE "the government's plans to turn the Helliniko area into a casino, marinas, luxury hotel complexes and private air fields have nothing to do with the needs and aggravated problems of the people."
Conversely, Petalotis pointed out that Helliniko is not included in the agreement, and pointed to mere press "scenarios", underlining that the framework of cooperation concerns development and the strengthening of the economic cooperation in specific sectors, the sector of development in particular.
He underlined that Qatar will undertake investments of five billion euros, stressing that it is among the most reliable investors worldwide, and added that "it is important for us to have the confidence of serious investors."
Petalotis said "the foundations have been laid for a viable and serious development model" and pointed out that "major changes are possible when there is a will."
 PM on contacts at UN, Washington; Qatar dealNEW YORK (ANA-MPA)
Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday briefed reporters over his whirlwind round of contacts with international leaders on the sidelines of the 65th UN General Assembly, including a brief meeting with US President Barack Obama here, and during a lightning trip to Washington D.C. for talks with US leadership.
Papandreou emphasised what he called the positive results posted by the Greek government in meeting debt-reduction and fiscal consolidation targets, which he said were highlighted in meetings ranging from US Vice-President Joe Biden to Wall Street and contacts with investors and financial analysts in the US metropolis.
Moreover, turning to a timely agreement signed in Manhattan with Qatar over investments in Greece totalling five billion euros, Papandreou emphasised, when queried about press speculation over the building of a casino in southern coastal Athens:
"A government that wants to can stipulate conditions and a development mode; whatever happens within a philosophy of green, viable development and not concrete. Whatever we do there will be mutual benefit and high-quality tourism, along with renewable sources of energy and the development of region that will add quality of life to our cities. This (agree-ment) was a vote of confidence for our country," he said.
Asked about a reference by Turkish President Abdullah Gul for the need to implement international law, the Greek prime minister said the "reference to international law is a positive development".
Finally, asked about his high-level contacts in Washington and if talks touched on the long-standing Cyprus issue and the nagging fYRoM "name issue", Papandreou said the "United States has its own priorities, and they have many issues to deal with. The reaction by the American side was positive, because we are taking initiatives, making moves to find solutions, defending our interests; and this is recognised by the Americans."
 Brief Obama-Papandreou meeting; invitation extended to US presidentNEW YORK CITY (ANA-MPA)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou held a brief meeting with US President Barack Obama early Friday morning (Athens time) during a reception hosted by the American leader in honour of visiting heads of state and government, held at a Manhattan museum.
The US president reportedly referred to the difficult task facing the Greek government and positive steps taken so far.
On his part, Papandreou congratulated Obama for his opening address at the 65th UN General Assembly and particularly for his recent initiatives vis-à-vis the Middle East, agreeing that all sides must contribute in order to find a solution.
The Greek premier also extended an invitation to Obama and his family to officially visit Greece.
 Droutsas has series of meetings in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)
Greece's Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will have a series of meetings with foreign officials here on Friday, on the sidelines of the 65th UN General Assembly, and will participate in a high-level meeting on disarmament.
Later the same day, he is to attend the speech given by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias to the UN General Assembly and in the evening he will be a guest at the annual reception given by the Cypriot federation of America, where Christofias will also be a guest.
The Greek minister is to have further meetings in New York on Monday while on Tuesday he will address the UN General Assembly.
On Thursday Droutsas met his counterparts from Montenegro, Armenia and Ethiopia and attended a dinner given by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in honour of the heads of state and government and representatives of UN member-states.
Droutsas briefed those present on issues of Greek interest, especially in relation to the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
His meeting with Montenegro Foreign Minister Milan Rocen focused mainly on the Balkans and their European prospects, including the name dispute, while in talks with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian they examined ways to improve bilateral relations and the relations of both their countries with neighbouring Turkey.
With Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin they discussed the issue of piracy at sea, the situation in northeast Africa and especially in Somalia and Sudan.
 Gov't on the memorandumGovernment spokesman George Petalotis accused main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Friday of being responsible for the situation the country is in, stressing that its practices, when it was in power, made the country unreliable.
"We are in the current situation not because of the (current) government's supposed negligence but because of the state the country was left in by the preceding government of New Democracy (ND) making it totally unreliable," Petalotis stated.
"The country's lack of credibility made borrowing impossible," he said, adding that "it is indeed unheard-of to listen to ND leader Antonis Samaras say that his party would have been able to make the deficit disappear in 2011 without the sacrifices to which the Greek people were subjected."
Petalotis stated that it was an "honest and substantive discussion" commenting on the objections raised by ruling PASOK MPs before the responsible parliamentary committee as regards the irrevocable settlement of outstanding tax obligations promoted by the government.
 ND leader tours Athens commercial centerMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Friday toured the commercial center of Athens and visited many shops in the area.
Samaras was briefed on the serious problems they face by merchants and the owners of small enterprises, who particularly focused on the lack of liquidity in market, the black market and the criminality prevailing in the area.
The ND leader, in his statements, appealed to the government to realise that the economic policy it follows is wrong. "The depth of the crisis is shown here, where the heart of real market beats," said Samaras, and called on the prime minister to come and see for himself the repercussions of the recession.
"The worst of all is that the government's measures are unfair," stressed Samaras and underlined the what he sees is "the dissolution of the market, people who struggle to stay on the surface, shop owners who are at risk of shutting down".
After the end of his tour, Samaras accepted an invitation from a group of young people to sit down with them at a cafe, where he was briefed on their problems.
 LAOS leader announces proposal for Parliamentary inquiry into MemorandumPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis on Friday said his party was in favour of setting up a Parliamentary fact-finding committee on the events that forced Greece to resort to the Memorandum with the EU and IMF, announcing that he would draw up a proposal on Monday and was asking main opposition New Democracy to add its signature now.
"Why should we wait? It is a massive issue and I agree with [ND leader Antonis Samaras]. We must find out why the country ended up needing the Memorandum. But are we to concern ourselves with the seven months of procrastination by PASOK or the 5.5 years of the Karamanlis government that added 130 billion in debt," Karatzaferis said in statements to the radio station 'Ennea 9.89'.
He denied, however, that he was acting as a support for ruling PASOK and pointed out that his party was supporting 50 mayors in the upcoming elections, only one of which was backed by the ruling PASOK party.
LAOS's leader dismissed Samaras' claim that he could wipe out Greece's debt in a year, however, saying that the economist that would believe that did not exist.
 DM addresses EU defence ministers meeting in GhentDefence Minister Evangelos Venizelos addressed a two-day informal meeting of the EU Ministers of Defence that was completed on Friday in Ghent, hosted by the Belgian EU Presidency.
Venizelos underlined that the EU has not yet shaped a visible security and defence policy and referred to the problems faced by countries like Greece, which, as opposed to other EU countries, have large defence expenditures due to a regionally limited threat, as well as, a reduced sense of external security.
He also referred to the role the European Defence Agency can play and the need to implement the new EU directive on defence procurements taking under consideration the fundamental distinction within the EU concerning "seller" and "buyer" countries.
On the margins of the meeting, Venizelos conferred with his counterparts from France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Poland, Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Belgium, and discussed issues of mutual interest, as well as the "Defensys 2010", an inaugural international fefence and security exhibition to take place in Thessaloniki on Oct. 29, in the presence of several EU defence ministers.
 Ombudsman resigns after candidacy for mayor of AthensGreek Ombudsman George Kaminis on Friday tendered his resignation from the post to parliament Philippos Petsalnikos, in order to run for the mayorship of Athens in the November local government elections.
 Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister addresses Arab-Hellenic Econ ForumThe new development law, which will change the status of the past decades, will be unveiled in a few weeks, Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis said on Friday, addressing the 3rd Arab-Hellenic Economic Forum in Athens.
The new law, he added, will do away with the irrational subsidies of the past and focus on an economy of knowledge, innovation and high added value.
He further said that a Memorandum of Understanding signed just hours earlier between Greece and Qatar in New York envisaging an ambitious plan for investments in Greece proves that the PASOK government does not suffice itself simply with words.
The minister also underlined the historic ties of friendship between Greece and the Arab world, noting that in periods of tension with the West, Greece was the only channel of communication.
However, despite the very close political ties "we have very low level of economic cooperation," Chryssohoidis said.
Outlining the results of the government's economic policy, the minister noted the reduction in the deficit and the curtailment of expenditures, as well as the structural changes.
He further presented the investment opportunities arising from the liberalisation of the energy market, the denationalisations and the legislation aiming to accelerate major investments ('fast track' investment policy).
 Dep. FM addresses Arab-Greek economic forumDeputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis referred on Friday to the efforts made by the government to attract foreign investors, stressing that the "tangible results achieved justify the government policy."
He specifically referred to the agreements for major investments in the western port of Astakos, the Skaramangas Shipyards, and a memorandum of cooperation signed in New York City on Thursday by the Greek and Qatari leaders.
Before taking the podium to address the 3rd Arab-Greek economic forum, Kouvelis stated, referring to the agreement, that "it is a proof that systematic work brings results."
He stated that Qatar's interest in investing 5 billion US dollars in Greece, mainly in the sectors of tourism and real estate, is explicitly mentioned, adding that this is the second memorandum of cooperation signed after the one signed in Athens a few months ago concerning the construction of an energy centre in Astakos.
Commenting on information according to which, the Qatari side will exploit the area at Helliniko, where Athens old airport used to be located, he said that the "memorandum of cooperation includes no such reference". He added, however, that "the investors have expressed interest in Helliniko but the Greek side will set the course to be followed." He cited PM Papandreou's statement, who has stressed that the investment in Helliniko will focus on environmental protection and the creation of a metropolitan park.
Later, addressing the 3rd Arab-Greek Economic Forum, Kouvelis stated that the goal set by the government is to revive cooperation between Greece and the Arab countries and thanked the forum's sponsors, among them the Arab construction company CCC.
He also referred to the cooperation with Libya and Egypt in the sector of energy and called on the tens of Arab businessmen attending the forum to invest in Greece, stressing that the country provides access to the markets in the Black Sea, North Africa and west Europe.
In the margins of the Arab-Greek economic forum, Kouvelis had a number of contacts with government ministers from Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Syria focusing on the promotion of the economic cooperation with the Arab countries.
Kouvelis met with Libyan Infrastructure Minister Ma'tuq Muhammad Ma'tuq in a follow-up to PM Papandreou's and his own visit to Tripoli.
A Joint Ministerial Committee will meet in Tripoli in October focusing on taxation issues, investment protection and visa requirements for diplomats and businessmen.
A similar meeting will take place in Egypt at the end of the year and the issue was discussed in the meeting Kouvelis had with the Egyptian deputy commerce and industry minister placing an emphasis on energy, transport and investment cooperation.
Kouvelis will depart for Seoul on Saturday on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. He will meet with his Korean counterpart to prepare a ministerial meeting scheduled for early 2011.
 Pangalos addresses 3rd Arab-Greek economic forumGovernment Vice-President Theodoros Pangalos addressed the 3rd Arab-Greek economic forum on Friday night and referred to the "traditional , proven anf tested" Greek-Arab friendship calling to "friends and collaborators of the Arab world" to invest in Greece.
"The Greek government, despite difficulties created by reality...is determined to create a strong climate favouring investments and this cannot but concern also our friends and collaborators of the Arab world," Pangalos noted.
 Tourism minister addresses Arab-Greek economic forumCulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos underlined the strong interest of Arab countries in investing in the sector of tourism, speaking on Friday in the 3rd Arab-Greek Economic Forum held in Athens.
Geroulanos pointed out that the exchange of tourist and cultural goods creates the foundation for multilevel cooperation and underlined that the Arab entrepreneurs have expressed interest in investing in the sectors of hotels, ski resorts and marinas.
He also said that the end of cabotage in the sea cruis sector has opened the way to Arab investors and tourists.
 FinMin certain target of decreasing fiscal deficit will be achievedFinance Minister George Papaconstantinou, speaking at an event of the Economic Studies Centre headquartered in Frankfurt, expressed certainty that the target of a decrease in the fiscal deficit for 2010 and 2011 will be achieved, stressing that we might even find ourselves ahead of the target.
Papaconstantinou ruled out categorically once again the possibility of restructuring the debt.
"We did not enter this laborious procedure to be led to a restructuring of the debt. This is inconceivable, improbable and unworkable," he said.
Papaconstantinou emphasised both the struggle against tax evasion for the restoration of decades of inequalities and the implementation of reforms regarding the opening of closed professions and the restructuring of organisations (OSE etc).
Papaconstantinou also stressed that the citizens are showing great understanding for the effort being made for the adjustment of the Greek economy.
 Labour minister on planned action to protect jobs, support unemployedLabour and Social Insurance Minister Louka Katseli on Friday announced that the ministry intended to set up a series of "welfare Citizens' Service Centres" by reorganising the existing network of decentralised structures in order to help and support members of the public through "one-stop shops".
She made the announcement while speaking during a conference at the Crete Regional Authority on "A discussion about unemployment and the repercussions of the Economic Crisis".
The minister also announced plans for a new programme to support employment, social integration and protection of real income, as well as the support of vulnerable groups.
Katseli said employment will be supported both through existing programmes of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) and the new Social Economy Fund that is to be created in the near future.
"The stabilisation of the economy and the beginning of the recovery is expected at the end of 2011. Therefore, due to the recession, until that time we expect there to be an increase in unemployment. The wager for us, therefore, is to support during this difficult period the small and medium-sized enterprises that are being tested in order to preserve jobs and, in a second phase, to increase them," she said.
 Environment minister meets Syrian Electricity minister, ambassador of AzerbaijanEnvironment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Tina Birbili held a meeting on Friday with Syrian Minister of Electricity Ahmad Kussay Kayyali and discussed prospects of cooperation between the two countries, while they confirmed their will for the further strengthening of ties in the energy sector.
The two sides agreed to activate once again the cooperation memorandum they had signed in 2003 and expressed their interest in joint initiatives on issues of renewable energy sources, the saving of energy and electric power (exchange of know-how in smart grids technologies).
The Syrian Electricity minister showed interest in the changes in the sector of electric power deregulation and in Greece's initiatives in renewable energy sources.
Birbili referred to the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative Conference that will be taking place in Athens on October 22, to which Syria has also been invited.
Earlier, Birbili had a meeting with the ambassador of Azerbaijan to Greece, Rahman Mustafayev, with whom she exchanged views on his country's role in the European Union's energy security, with the securing of different sources for the procurement of natural gas.
 International Black Sea Club 21th Assembly in KavalaÔhe 21st Assembly of the International Black Sea Club focusing on the coordination, development, organisation and execution of joint investment actions in the sectors of economy, ecology, tourism and culture opens Friday afternoon in the northeastern Greek city of Kavala, which currently holds the rotating 3-year presidency of the Club, and will be chaired by Kavala mayor Kostis Simitsis.
The Assembly, which winds up on Sunday, will be attended by 45 mayors and local officials from the Club's 27 member cities from nine countries, as well as two observers from the EU.
"I believe in the unlimited cooperation potential among our cities to the benefit of our societies and we intend during the period of our Presidency to strengthen the already undertaken actions and develop new ones," Simitsis told ANA-MPA.
The International Black Sea Club is an International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), which was founded on the 5th of December in 1992 in Odessa (Ukraine) and today it is comprised of 27 members, which are cities and municipalities from the area of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
The purpose of the Club, with the actions it develops, is the strengthening and the development of the cooperation among its members on social, economic, cultural, technological and athletic matters.
Today, the Club has the status of Observer in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation as well as Consultative status in the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, which are given only to organisations that have received world recognition. The International Black Sea Club is a member of the International Union of Local Authorities and the European Council for Small Business.
Kavala has been elected to the Presidency of the Club for the term 2009-2011.
 Health minister asks pharmacists to cut profit marginHealth Minister Andreas Loverdos on Friday asked Greek pharmacists to cut their profit margins during a meeting with pharmacists' associations at the ministry.
"We have to make concessions," the minister underlined, pointing out that the 35 percent profit margin charged by pharmacists for pharmaceuticals was a "red flag". This figure was disputed by the president of the pharmacists' association Dimitris Vagionas, however, who said their profit margin was actually around 20 percent.
The minister also noted that payment delays by the civil servants' fund OPAD were now resolved, with the gap now down to five months, and that those pharmacists still continuing action "were doing so for other reasons". He promised, in reply to pharmacists concerns that the gap would once again widen, that this would be prevented in cooperation with the finance ministry.
Loverdos further pointed out that consumption of pharmaceuticals in Greece, including the waste in this sector, was without precedent and that the country now had a record-breaking 12,500 pharmacies. He also revealed the government's intention to open up the pharmacists' profession, along with other closed professions that the EU, IMF and ECB troika want to see opened up.
 Truck owners decide to continue protestsGreek truck owners on Friday decided to continue protest action against a recent law opening the road freight market, in spite of written assurances from Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas that a number of their demands will be met.
During a meeting of truckers throughout the country held on Friday, militants carried the day and voted to continue protests by a 60 percent majority. They overruled voices objecting to further protests by stressing that "we have nothing left to lose" and rejected the minister's letter, saying it left many things unclarified and did not meet all their demands.
They have not yet revealed what form their protest action will take but it is likely that they will focus on the port of Piraeus and preventing trucks from travelling to the islands, where shortages are likely to appear more quickly and people's reactions will be more intense.
The letter sent by Reppas outlines a formula that will allow truckers to deduct a portion of the purchase cost for their truck licence from their gross turnover every year for a period of three to seven years (if truckers have no taxable profits in a given year they may transfer the right to deduct to the following year, for a period of up to seven years). There are also provisions in the case that the licence is sold or the holder goes into retirement. He said this would be included in an upcoming finance ministry bill.
The minister also promised measures that will improve terms of retirement for truck owners, to be included in a labour ministry bill, and measures that will include the road freight sector in the new development bill, giving truck owners access to National Strategic Reference Framework funds in order to carry out investments.
 Protesting truckers obstruct traffic at Piraeus portGreece's licenced truck owners made good on their threat for further protest action on Friday afternoon by converging on Piraeus port, where they prevented trucks disembarking from ships from leaving the port area.
The trucks arriving in Piraeus remain trapped within the port, unable to leave, while other trucks bound for the islands were unable to board ferries for the same reason.
Authorities have ordered stepped up security measures at Piraeus.
 GSEE president says his statements were 'distorted' by pressGeneral Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) President Yiannis Panagopoulos on Friday said he was "surprised and angry" to see that his replies during an interview with Reuters news agency had been misrepresented in the Greek press, which had portrayed him as unwilling to organise more general strikes.
"General strikes happened and will happen, as long as the austerity policies continue," Panagopoulos stressed.
The reports were prompted by Panagopoulos statement to Reuters that GSEE had not made any decision about holding a general strike on October 7, when the civil servants' union ADEDY will be going on a nationwide strike.
Panagopoulos also stressed that his views concerning the Memorandum for the EU-IMF bailout package and on the use of general strikes had been distorted.
"My disagreement with the memorandum does not mean that I have to agree that there is an apparent alternative governmental solution," he said.
Panagopoulos stressed that the memorandum was a political plan with which he disagreed, while general strikes were a social reaction of protest, opposition and demand that [unions] would continue to use when the collective bodies decided.
"I must remind everyone that the leadership of trade unions is not elected to govern the country but to defend the rights of salaried labour. In unions we proposed alternative solutions for the economy and society that go beyond the logic of one-way streets. But, I repeat that we do not run the country," he said.
 Trade deficit down 30.7pct in first 7 months of 2010Greece's trade balance deficit dropped sharply by 30.7 percent in the first seven months of the year, resulting from a small increase in exports and an ongoing decline in imports due to a decline in consumption, according to provisional figures released on Friday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT.).
The deficit of the Trade Balance for the 7-month period from January to July 2010 amounted to 12419.7 million euros (16372.4 million dollars) in comparison with 17923.9 million euros (23945.1 million dollars) for the corresponding period of the year 2009, recording a drop of 30.7%. The corresponding change excluding oil products the deficit of the trade balance recorded a decrease of 2332.8 million euros or 16.3%.
The total value of exports-dispatches for the 7-month period from January to July 2010 amounted to 8693.2 million euros (11463.4 million dollars) in comparison with 8492.1 million euros (11448.6 million dollars) for the corresponding period of 2009, recording an increase of 2.4%. The corresponding change excluding oil products recorded an increase of 218.1 million euros or 2.8%.
The total value of imports-arrivals for the 7-month period from January to July 2010 amounted to 21112.9 million euros (27835.8 million dollars) in comparison with 26416.0 million euros (35393.7 million dollars) for the corresponding period of 2009, recording a drop of 20.1%. The corresponding change excluding oil products recorded a decrease of 2114.7 million euros or 9.6%.
The total value of imports-arrivals in July amounted to 2824.7 million euros (3596.5 million dollars) in comparison with 4215.4 million euros (5921.3 million dollars) in July 2009, recording a drop of 33.0%. The corresponding change excluding oil products recording a drop of 854.8 million euros or 24.1%.
The total value of exports-dispatches in July amounted to 1309.5 million euros (1677.2 million dollars) in comparison with 1325.2 million euros (1872.5 million dollars) in July 2009, recording a drop of 1.2%. The corrsponding change excluding oil products recorded an increase of 12.1 million euros or 1.0%.
The deficit of the trade balance in July amounted to 1515.2 million euros (1919.3 million dollars) in comparison with 2890.2 million euros (4048.8 million dollars) in July 2009 recording a drop of 47.6%. The corresponding change excluding oil products recorded a decrease of 866.9 million euros or 37.2%.
 Stocks end higher FridayGreek stocks ended mildly higher in the last trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market rose 0.82 pct to end at 1,514.26 points, for a net loss of 0.65 pct in the week. The index is down 31.05 pct so far this year. Turnover was a low 79.149 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 0.80 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.63 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 1.38 pct. The Financial Services (1.94 pct) and Food (1.86 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (3.13 pct) and Commerce (2.98 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 99 to 63 with another 53 issues unchanged. Paperpack (14.29 pct), Vivartia (13.86 pct) and VIS (10 pct) were top gainers, while Boutaris (20 pct), Q&R (14.71 pct) and Euroxx (9.91 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.43%
Personal & Household: +0.27%
Raw Materials: +1.29%
Travel & Leisure: +0.05%
Food & Beverages: +1.86%
Financial Services: +1.94%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Crown Hellas, OPAP, Follie-Follie and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.72
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.31
HBC Coca Cola: 19.10
Hellenic Petroleum: 2.92
National Bank of Greece: 8.00
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.45
Bank of Piraeus: 3.69
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 873 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with turnover a low 32 million euros of which 17 million were buy orders and the remaining 15 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 16 million euros. The Greek bond yielded 11.06 pct and the German Bund 2.33 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.42 pct, the six-month rate 1.13 pct, the three-month 0.89 pct and the one-month rate 0.65 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.89 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover shrinking to 21.504 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,171 contracts worth 14.957 million euros, with 26,092 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,635 contracts, worth 6.547 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,272), followed by Eurobank (1,000), Piraeus Bank (578), Alpha Bank (1,420), Cyprus Bank (1,234) and Hellenic Postbank (1,091).
 PM to inaugurate meeting in Delphi on dialogue for changes in third stage educationThe Education ministry will organise a dialogue and working meeting, in the framework of changes being promoted in Third Stage Education, on Sunday September 26, 2010, at 10 in the morning at the Delphi European Cultural Centre.
According to an announcement by the Education ministry, the start of the sessions will be made by Prime Minister George Papandreou, and will be attended by the leadership of the Education ministry, academics, representatives of university and technical institute administrations, representatives of educational agencies and representatives of production agencies.
Also invited to the meeting are the Science, Research and Technology Minister of Portugal, Jose Mariano Gago, the Education and Culture Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr. Andreas Dimitriou and the former president of Dublin City University, Ferdinand von Prondzynski.
 Lyceum of Aristotle in Athens to open to public as archaeological siteThe Central Archaeological Council has finally given its long-awaited go-ahead for a series of mild interventions on the site of the 4th century BC Lyceum of Aristotle, which was discovered in downtown Athens 14 years ago, thus paving the way for opening it to the public as an archaeological site.
The Lyceum, named after its 6th century BC sanctuary to Apollo Lyceus (the "wolf-god", from the word "lykos", or wolf), had long been a place of philosophical discussion and debate, and had had been the meeting place of the Athenian assembly before the stablishment of a permanent meeting area on Pnyx hill in the 5th century BC.
But the Lyceum is mostly renowned for the philosophical school founded there by Aristotle upon his return to Athens in 335 BC after being the private tutror of the then young prince Alexander of Macedon, the future Alexander the Great, since 343 BC.
After his return to Athens in 335 BC and up to his death in 322 BC, Aristotle rented some buildings in the Lyceum and established a school there where he lectured, wrote most of his philosophical treatises and dialogues, and systematically collected books that comprised the first library in European history. Since Aristotle liked to walk around the grounds as he lectured, surrounded by his students, the philosophical school he founded was called Peripatetic (from 'peripatos', which means stroll or walkabout in Greek).
Situated just outside the walls of ancient Athens, the Lyceum was brutally sacked and razed to the ground by the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 86 BC, but was later rebuilt.
The site's location remained unknown for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1996 during excavations for Athens' new Museum of Modern Art.
 Free admission to all museums, sites next MondayAdmission to all archaeological sites, historical sites, museums and monuments will be free on this coming Monday to celebrate World Tourism Day, while all sites will be open, the culture and tourism ministry announced on Friday.
World Tourism Day on September 27 was first established by the UN in 1980 and this is its 30th anniversary.
 New finds at archaeological dig in DespotikoThree new archaic-era walls have been brought to light by the archaeological dig recently completed at Mandra in Despotikos, the culture and tourism ministry said on Friday. The dig was supervised by the ministry's staff archaeologist Giannis Kouragios and sponsored by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation.
The new finds provide important information about the layout of the southern complex and the compound around the temple. The architectural elements found also yield information for classifying the material discovered and for a possible future restoration of Building A of the temple.
Another important find unearthed in the same dig was the marble head of an archaic kouros, which though eroded is considered to be an excellent example of the archaic sculpture of Paros.
 George Bizos honoured by AthensThe City of Athens on Friday bestowed the medal of honour and benefaction to human rights advocate George Bizos, Nelson Mandela's long-time legal counsel, in recognition of the Greek-South African attorney's struggle for human rights and efforts to promote and preserve Hellenism
Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis bestowed the medal to Bizos in a ceremony held at the Athens City Hall.
Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Greece's ambassador to the UK, Aristidis Sandis, municipal councillors, ambassadors and representatives of the South African embassy to Greece were among those who attended the ceremony
 ELIAMEP discussion on Israeli-Palestinian peace talksThe Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), within the framework of its Middle Eastern studies program, is organising a discussion on "The new round of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians: Is there any hope for progress?", to be held on Monday at 12:30 p.m. in the Yannos Kranidiotis amphitheater of the foreign ministry at 1 Akademias street in downtown Athens.
The speakers will be Prof. Menachem Klein from Bar-Ilan University of Tel Aviv, Prof. Yezid Sayigh from King's College London, and ELIAMEP Director General Dr. Thanos Dokos.
The discussion, which will be held in English, will be moderated by ANA-MPA managing director Nikolas Voulelis.
 Fulbright Foundation's annual 'US University Fair" in AthensThe Fulbright Foundation in Athens is organising its 16th annual "US University Fair in Athens" fair this year on October 4 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in central Athens, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Representatives from US colleges and universities will be on hand to talk to students interested in studying in US institutions of higher education.
The annual event features schools from all over the US, and aims to answer students' questions about American higher education in general, as well as inquiries about particular institutions. Candidates for SAT, TOEFL, GRE and GMAT examinations will also be able to learn more about the tests and testing dates, and bulletins of information will be available for the public.
The Fulbright Foundation in Greece awards grants to both Greek and US citizens to enable them to study, teach or conduct research in either the US or Greece. More information on the Fulbright programme in Greece is available on the Foundation's website: www.fulbright.gr
 Woman caught with 102 kilos cannabisA 34-year-old Bulgarian woman was caught transporting 102 kilos cannabis in the back seat of her car by police near Lamia, authorities said on Friday.
Police pulled the car over for a routine inspection on the Athens-Lamia national highway early on Friday morning and found the drugs, divided into 95 packages, on the back seat.
 Couple caught dealing drugs believed stolen from Albanian gangPolice on Friday reported the arrest of an Albanian couple, a man aged 47 and a woman aged 42, on charges of drug dealing. At the time of their arrest, the couple was in possession of large quantities of drugs of various kinds that police believe were stolen from another Albanian gang that had a cache in Kypseli. The arrest was made in Athens by the drugs squad on Thursday afternoon.
In addition to the drugs, which police say the couple sold to minor drug pushers and addicts in Athens' Metaxourgio district, police also found guns and police uniforms and are now investigating whether the couple may be involved in thefts and armed robberies.
Among evidence found and confiscated by the police were 6.227 kilos heroin, 20 grammes of cocaine, 927 grammes of cannabis, 71 ecstasy pills, 9.5 kilos of an unidentified chemical powder, a kalashnikov rifle and clip, 73 shells, a military knife, handcuffs, two police uniforms and four police caps, three cell phones, an electronic precision scale and a fake Bulgarian passport, ID and driving licence.
The two Albanians appeared before a public prosecutor on Friday.
 Two arrested for impersonating police, tax inspectorsTwo men aged 42 and 46 years old, respectively, have been arrested and charged for impersonating public officials such as police, tax inspectors or hygiene inspectors and blackmailing the owners of cafes, restaurants and bars in Piraeus with the threat of fines for supposed health and tax code violations.
The two were arrested by Piraeus Security police on Wednesday after they had defrauded nine shop owners in this fashion, assisted by unidentified accomplices that are now being sought.
At the time of their arrest, the pair had on them a fake hygiene inspector's ID, a number of passports and documents, official stamps and certificates, a book of receipts, 370 euros, seven cell phones, four cameras and a security guard uniform.
 Two arrests in Mallia, CreteTwo British tourists, aged 20 and 25, were arrested in Mallia, a popular sea resort on the southern Aegean island of Crete, police said on Friday.
The 20-year-old was arrested for unprovoked attack when he climbed on the hood of a police patrol car and began dancing, mocking police officers who were conducting routine checks.
The second Briton was arrested on Thursday morning for indecent exposure when he was spotted walking in the street without any clothes on.
 Wildfire breaks out on Mt. PaggeoA wildfire erupted in a forested area on Mount Paggeo of northern Greece shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Firefighters from Serres prefecture rushed to the area, where strong winds are reported.
 Rainy on SaturdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 18C and 29C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with southerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 26C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 23C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime Minister George Papandreou's statements over alternatives to avoid another VAT increase, continuing efforts to boost VAT revenue collection as well as speculation over developments in the domestic banking system, an investment memorandum signed with Qatar and main opposition New Democracy (ND) Antonis Samaras' criticism of Papandreou mostly dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Tax bureau gets tougher in order to fill empty state coffers".
APOGEVMATINI: "Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras throws down the gauntlet to PM Papandreou -- parliamentary committee for Memorandum".
AVGHI: "Prime Minister signed memorandum with Qatar regarding investments (in Greece)".
CHORA: "Samaras demands committee of inquiry for Memorandum".
ELEFTHEROS: "Samaras to George (Papandreou): Stop playing deaf - Listen to ND and your economists friends' proposals and change policy".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Green growth a ... gambling table - Instead of a Metropolitan park ... former Athens airport will turn into gambling metropolis".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Banking environment changes".
ESTIA: "Lessons to politicians by economist Daniel Mitchell on unified tax factors".
ETHNOS: "Heating oil on fire - New bomb against households' budget".
IMERISSIA: "Resounding message to banks - Papandreou: One state-owned bank and 2-3 private ones".
KATHIMERINI: "Development law without money - Only 500 million euros to be given for direct subsidies of investments in 2011".
LOGOS: "Samaras sharply attacks Papandreou: Committee of inquiry on how we were led to Memorandum".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Bank of Greece's recipe for crisis".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Now it's time to punish plutocracy, ruling PASOK, ND robbing the people".
TA NEA: "The Emir of Qatar brings five billion dollars for investments".
TO VIMA: "Finance ministry's raids to collect VAT debts".
VRADYNI: "Tax amnesty for the period 2000-2004".
 President Christofias calls on Turkish leadership to meet himNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has repeated his call to the Turkish leadership to meet him, parallel to the negotiating process for a solution of the Cyprus problem, so that he can share with them his vision for a solution, which would serve the interests of the Cypriots, Turkey and Greece, as well as peace and security in the region.
In his speech before the UN General Assembly in New York, President Christofias referred to his set of proposals, which ''will benefit all sides and can create the necessary political climate that will push forward the entire process,'' adding that ''unfortunately the new Turkish Cypriot leader and the Turkish leadership have rejected these proposals.''
President Christofias noted that this year, Cyprus celebrates 50 years of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus and 50 years of participation as a full member of the UN, adding that in 2004, the Republic joined the EU.
He referred to the history of the Republic up to 1974, when Turkey invaded the island and occupied its northern third. ''The people of Cyprus have suffered enough. It is time to overcome the problems, to achieve reconciliation between the two communities and to reunite our country and our people for the sake of peace and of the future generations,'' the president pointed out.
President Christofias expressed the appreciation of the people of Cyprus to the UN Secretary General, the Security Council and the UN as a whole for their continued and unwavering interest in Cyprus.
He furthermore referred to efforts over the years to solve the Cyprus problem and the historic compromise for the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus into a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, defined not as numerical equality but as effective participation of both communities in all organs of government.
The president pointed out that the united federal state would be one, with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality, would respect fundamental human rights and basic freedoms in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions, and the principles and values of the EU.
He said that since his election in 2008 he has been actively engaged with the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community in a Cypriot-owned process within the framework of the Good Offices Mission of the UN Secretary General, in order to reach a mutually acceptable, agreed solution on the constitutional and other internal aspects of the problem.
''Two years into the process, and despite the difficulties, some progress, although not such as anticipated, has been achieved on certain issues. At the outset of this process, we agreed with the Secretary General that there would not artificial deadlines or outside interventions in the form of arbitration or submission of ready-made solutions,'' he said.
President Christofias noted that ''we have worked through the summer and we have, in the last few weeks, further intensified our meetings,'' adding that, ''in order to achieve results soon, I have submitted a package consisting of three proposals.''
''First, I have suggested linking the negotiation of the chapters of property, territorial adjustments and settlers, in order to give impetus to the process. I have also proposed that when we are close to reaching an agreement on the internal aspects of the problem, we could hold an international conference under the auspices of the Secretary-General and with the participation of the Permanent Members of the Security Council, the Guarantor Powers, the EU, the Republic of Cyprus and the two communities to discuss the international aspects of the problem. The third element of my proposal concerns Famagusta,'' he said.
President Christofias pointed out that ''the set of my proposals will benefit all sides and can create the necessary political climate that will push forward the entire process,'' adding that ''unfortunately the new Turkish Cypriot leader and the Turkish leadership have rejected these proposals.''
Making a special reference to his proposal on Famagusta, a ghost-town since 1974, President Christofias said his proposal, if accepted, would have benefits for all sides.
''In addition to the return of the fenced city to its rightful inhabitants under UN control, my proposal includes the restoration of the medieval part of the city where our Turkish Cypriot compatriots live, as well as the opening of the port of Famagusta to external trade under EU supervision, a measure directly aimed at benefiting the Turkish Cypriots. Such a development would also benefit Turkey's accession negotiations with the EU and would provide an excellent example of harmonious coexistence and cooperation between the two communities,'' he said.
President Christofias also proposed from the podium of the General Assembly that the National Guard and the Turkish Army cancel again this Autumn their annual military exercises.
''Turkey's leadership has been assuring the international community that it wants a solution of the problem by the end of 2010. We are still waiting for their words to be transformed into action. The same expectation was repeatedly voiced by the European Council as well as in a recent resolution of the European Parliament. The EU calls upon Turkey to work on the basis of UN Resolutions and to meet its obligations towards the EU and the Republic of Cyprus, which Turkey still fails to recognise,'' he said.
He added that ''Turkey must respect the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and must contribute to the achievement of an agreement which will reunite Cyprus and its people.''
''Our vision is a reunited Cyprus, common homeland of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, without any foreign troops or settlers and with the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its people,'' he said and reiterated his commitment to do his outmost in this direction.
''From this podium, I repeat my call to the Turkish leadership to meet me, parallel to the negotiating process, so that I can share with them my vision for a solution of the Cyprus problem, which would serve the interests of the Cypriots, of Turkey, of Greece as well as of peace and security in the region,'' he said.
Furthermore, President Christofias referred to the challenges faced by the world and also welcomed the re-launching of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, adding that Cyprus, together with Greece, has proposed the creation of a humanitarian sea corridor to the people of Gaza utilizing Cyprus' proximity to the area and its good relations with all sides.
''The challenges faced by the international community, are increasing. Climate change, poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to basic health care, terrorism, wars, the threat of further nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, the economic crisis and political instability in many regions of the world require that we undertake a renewed and more effective effort to protect humanity's achievements. The future is in our hands. We will only succeed if we achieve a more just distribution and better redistribution of the world's natural resources and wealth,'' he pointed out.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third territory. Cyprus UN-led talks are underway between the leaders of the two communities of Cyprus, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
 Christofias expresses readiness for a solution the soonest possibleUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has expressed his readiness to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem the soonest possible.
"I am absolutely ready for a solution the soonest possible", President Christofias stressed Friday, speaking at a press conference to UN correspondents in New York.
President Christofias said that the Greek Cypriot side is the one that seeks a solution the soonest possible, in order to put an end to the Turkish occupation of 37% of Cyprus' territory and thus reunify the island.
"When Turkish leaders state that they wish a solution by the end of the year, I say that I wish a solution yesterday", he pointed out.
President Christofias described the parameters of the solution by saying that it should be based on the UN Security Council's resolutions, the High Level agreements and the European principles.
Referring to the negotiations with former leader of the Turkish Cypriots Mehmet Ali Talat, he said that they reached convergences on the chapters of governance, economy and European Union and that they agreed for the establishment of a federal state with a single sovereignty, citizenship and international personality.
"We need a just and viable solution, and for that solution I work intensively the last two years", he stressed underlining that in order to accomplish that solution the Turkish leadership must decide that it sincerely wants a solution.
He said with Talat they reached convergences, but the differences remain and that with good will the two sides can reach convergences on the property issue that is now under discussion with current Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
Referring to the property chapter, he reiterated the position of the Greek Cypriot side that Greek Cypriot refugees, who wish to exercise their right to return to their properties in the Turkish occupied areas, can do that, while those who do not wish to return they will receive compensation or they will exchange their properties.
Christofias said that the Turkish Cypriot side insists the issue of property to be solved only by the compensation of the owner of the property. He also reiterated his proposal for linking the issue of property with the issues of territory and settlers, and expressed his regret for the fact that the other side has rejected this proposal.
Referring to the Kosovo issue in connection to the Cyprus problem, he said that they are two different issues, stressing that the Cyprus problem is an issue of occupation of an independent country by an other country and violation of human rights.
The president reiterated his invitation towards the Turkish leadership to meet with him, saying that a solution in Cyprus would be to the benefit of Turkey and be helpful for all regional issues.
He warned that ''Turkish leaders who make efforts to modernise their country and enter the EU will not acceed the EU without a prior solution of the Cyprus problem''.
Replying to a question if there is a possibility to impose timetables or if there is a plan B on behalf of the UN, the President expressed his appreciation for UNSG's work, saying that he never exerted any pressure.
The UNSG, he said, supports the Cyprus talks which are of Cypriot ownership and he does not impose any timetables.
Concluding, he said that when the UNSG refers to an international conference on Cyprus, he shares the same positions as the Republic of Cyprus, that it could be convened when the two sides are close to a solution.
In July, the Cypriot President announced three proposals on the Cyprus issue. The first suggests the linking of the discussion of three of the chapters of the Cyprus problem, those dealing with property, territory and immigration, for easing the resolution of the thorny chapter of properties and for expediting the dialogue.
The second proposal urges Turkey to apply UN Security Council resolution 550, which calls for the transfer of the fenced off area of Varosha, in Famagusta, to the administration of the United Nations. Part of this proposal is the opening of the port of Famagusta under EU auspices to benefit the Turkish Cypriots.
The third proposal is to convene an international conference when within range of an agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third territory. Cyprus UN - led talks are underway between the leaders of the two communities of Cyprus, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
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