|Thursday, 14 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 5 November 2010 Issue No: 3637
 PM unveils building energy efficiency programPrime minister George Papandreou on Thursday launched an environment ministry event presenting an ambitious building energy-efficiency programme entitled 'Building the Future', stressing in his opening remarks that Greek households were the least efficient energy consumers in Europe.
He noted that household energy consumption in Greece was nearly 30 percent higher than that in Spain and 50 percent higher than in Portugal, both countries that had a similar climate. Energy consumption relative to climate was nearly double or triple that of the developed Scandinavian countries, he added.
The only option for countries such as Greece was the green development model, Papandreou said.
"We are combining environmental protection with a different developmental rationale that will lead to the conservation of resources, to investments, new jobs and added value for our products," the premier said, stressing that the building construction sector could not be an exception "as it comprises an important sector of the economy and accounts for more than 50 percent of investments in Greece".
He noted that investments in the construction of new buildings were very limited in comparison with the past, and the target is to upgrade the existing infrastructure.
The 'Building the Future' programme is the biggest and most ambitions building intervention programme in all of Europe, Papandreou continued, and enables the participation of all the citizens, aiming at improving quality of life, reducing living costs, and creating new jobs.
The premier further said that the energy cost is higher for low incomes, as just 8 percent of the poor households live in buildings with insulation, against 64 percent in the higher income brackets, and the poor households pay 127 percent more for heating (cost of heating per surface unit) in relation to the higher incomes.
The 'Building the Future' program envisages energy-saving interventions on 3 million buildings throughout the country by 2020, and is expected to reduce household energy expenditure by 9 billion euros over the next decade, Environment, Energy and Climate Change minister Tina Birbili told the event.
The benefit will chiefly apply to low income households, she said, adding that the average cost of cooling and heating for a Greek family is 100 euros per year, but for poorer households in downgraded buildings the cost rises to 190 euros.
The program is based on voluntary agreements with construction material manufacturers and importers for deductions of at least 25 percent in a pre-determined number of products.
The first tenders will be issued in early 2011 and aim at 150,000 interventions on residences and business offices by the end of 2012.
At the end of the event, Papandreou noted the need to support Greek production and research through the 'Building the Future' programme, calling for incentives to create a viable market in upgrading building energy efficiency.
The prime minister invited all bodies involved in the sector to volunteer proposals and remarks about any bureaucratic obstacles that arise during the implementation of the programme and expressed satisfaction that there was a broad consensus in favour of the programme by all the associations participating in Thursday's event.
Papandreou stressed, finally, that green development was an opportunity for the economy as a whole but especially for young people.
 PM Papandreou addresses rally in PatraPrime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a rally in an indoor stadium in the city of Patra, in the Peloponnese, on Thursday evening, said that "on November 7 the citizens of our country, all of us, will vote and decide on whether our country will complete the great effort that we began last year together, at such a time, for its salvation and restructuring, or whether we shall leave this effort unfinished. Whether we shall let the toils and sacrifices that we have been doing for months to be wasted, returning to the past, to all that has led us here. Therefore, either we go orward with stability and self-evident changes or backwards with adventures."
Referring to the issue of early elections, Papandreou said that he did not have and does not have any intention of going to national elections because, as he added, his intention was "for us to continue what we began with the same passion and the same dedication."
However, he further said that "the precondition for the great effort of the country to succeed, of our people today is unity, it is dedication, it is the need for all of us to rally together towards the big target."
Papandreou also said that "I will not hesitate even for a moment to do what the conditions necessitate, if the unpatriotic effort to undermine this unity, of this struggle that our people are waging continues."
On the question of the country's course in the economic field, the prime minister stressed that "we are saving the country and we are proceeding on a stable path for a different Greece, free of supervisions, which stands on its feet firmly. With our efforts constituting internationally a surprise for those who did not believe us or had been hasty in taking our bankruptcy for granted."
Papandreou said that he has committed himself personally that with the exit from the crisis, injustices will be remedied and Greece will be a country of equality before the law, dignity and equal opportunities for every citizen.
The prime minister also underlined that "neither decisions taken in advance exist nor bluffs. There is only the decision, the vote of responsibility of every citizen on November 7."
 PM to hold discussion with young people on Internet on FridayPrime Minister George Papandreou will hold a discussion with young people on the Internet on Friday and will seek solutions with them to the problems they are facing in their studies, their work, their family, their day-to-day life, their effort to join production.
The discussion will be broadcast live from <http://government.gov.gr/live/> at 3 p.m., while citizens may put their questions by 12.00 noon on Friday through the Internet in the special place created in the facebook <http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=158543337518398> and through twitter adding to the question hashtag#GreekPmLive.
Moreover, whoever wishes can broadcast the discussion from his site or blog.
 ND: 'Sunday's message must be 'enough is enough'Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Thursday again pointed to government circles as behind snap election speculation over the recent period, charging that a campaign to blackmail voters ahead of Sunday's local government elections was underway.
ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos referred to danger-mongering practices that will be condemned by voters on Sunday, along with a condemnation of policies followed by the Papandreou government.
"The failure of the government policy led the PM to proceed with the political blackmail of snap elections in case he receives a negative message in the upcoming vote," Panagiotopoulos said.
Meanwhile, from Rhodes, ND vice-president Dimitris Avramopoulos reminded that although ND has not demanded early elections, nevertheless the party was ready if a snap poll is declared.
He also echoed statements by the party spokesman of the government cultivating the speculation and rumours of a snap poll.
 ND bashes PASOK on early election rumorsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) press spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos on Thursday accused ruling PASOK of itself circulating the rumors of early general elections in order to scare voters and halt the message they want to send in Sunday's local government elections.
In a radio interview, Panagiotopoulos said the rumors were being concocted and circulated by government offices in order to spread fear among the citizens, "because the government sees that the citizens are truly determined to send a message in Sunday's elections".
At this critical stage, he said, the most important thing is for that message to be sent on the asphyxiation faced by the people in their daily lives, the business shutdowns, unemployment, drying up of the market and over-taxation.
 SYRIZA leader in IoanninaOpposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras stated on Thursday that "this Sunday the people will have the opportunity to send back the bill to the troika and Prime Minister Papandreou's government. Let's not miss this opportunity. Each vote is critical and has power."
Speaking at the airport of the NW city of Ioannina upon his arrival, Tsipras also referred to the mail bomb scare and pointed out that the "terror-hysteria that is being created has a provocation feel and should not affect and disorient the Greek people."
 Tsipras predicts ecumenical gov'tCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras predicted on Thursday the possibility of an ecumenical government, speaking to the private radio station Real FM. "It is obvious that it is impossible for a one-party government to assume the burden of a policy rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Greek society".
Tsipras also noted that SYRIZA believes that a solution exists, although the road will not be easy because major political clashes with the large interests are mandatory. Moreover he stressed that the country's problem is not that it is borrowing, but that it doesn't have the ability to pay off the loans and is wasting the money without creating productive infrastructures.
 Police detonate parcel bomb addressed to foreign embassy, investigating five more packagesGreek Police bomb disposal experts on Thursday detonated a parcel bomb addressed to the French embassy, after being alerted by a courier service's employees in the Kallithea district of Athens of a suspicious package. examining a "suspicious" package at a courier service in the Kallithea district of Athens that is addressed to the French embassy in Greece, while they have also received calls from another courier service in Markopoulo of five more parcels addressed to embassies.
The first parcel was reported by the ACS courier office in Kallithea, and the other five by the UPS courier service in Markopoulo, where another team of bomb disposal experts was on the way.
The suspect package was detonated with a controlled explosion, and was found to have contained an explosive device hidden in a book. The device was in a package that gave the bogus sender as the Archbishop of Athens.
Police were also examining five more parcels addressed to embassies at a UPS courier service office in Markopoulo.
 Two suspects in parcel-bomb case remandedTwo men arrested in Athens on Monday in connection with a spate of parcel-bombs addressed to foreign embassies were remanded in custody and jailed on Thursday on four felonies and four misdemeanors, after appearing before an examining magistrate.
The two suspects, 22-year-old Panagiotis Argyrou and 24-year-old Gerassimos Tsakalos, who were taken under draconian security before the magistrate at the Evelpidon court complex, refused to testify.
The two face felony charges on terrorist activity, membership in a terrorist organisation, multiple counts of procurement, possession and construction of explosive materials and bombs, and multiple counts of causing explosions.
 Infrastructures minister on courier transport securityInfrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas said on Thursday that Greece has all the necessary means for checking objects, similar to those possessed by all countries in corresponding services.
The minister let it be understood that criticism on the alleged unsuitability of specific machines "is coming from some who would like us to obtain certain systems tomorrow so that they will benefit."
Reppas further said that if some countries have systems that are more advanced than those Greece disposes, "of course we as well despite the fiscal narrowness, must set them as priority issues," adding that "all must be more careful regarding such issues because a certain image is created that burdens the country and is the last thing that we must do at the moment."
 Post Commission on parcel post security for courier firmsThe Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) on Thursday issued instructions advising courier firms to show exceptional caution when accepting parcels and packages for postage. It also urged them to study tips given in an announcement by the citizens' protection ministry for recognising possible letter or parcel bombs and other suspicious mail.
EETT also pointed out that courier firms have a right to refuse to accept items if the sender refuses to agree to inspection of their contents.
The issue of parcel security will also be discussed at a meeting with international courier firms organised by EETT since mid-October, where the EETT hopes to hear the views on the issue in order to decide on regulatory or legislative measures.
 FM spokesman: Cooperation with Germany unwavering, continuous"Cooperation with Germany is unwavering. We are old partners in the EU and our cooperation on all levels is continuous and uninterrupted," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delave-kouras stated on Thursday, responding to questions concerning the latest developments as regards the parcel bomb scare.
He also referred to the telephone call between Prime Minister George Papandreou and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, during which they discussed issues that concern both countries as well as developments related with the parcel bomb barrage.
Delavekouras confirmed that the issue will be discussed within the framework of the EU Interior Ministers meeting next Monday, stressing that "response was immediate on our behalf", while pointing out that this phenomenon highlighted a "security void that exists and the need to create structures that will not allow such phenomena to be repeated."
"There is no evidence linking what happened in Greece with the attacks that came from Yemen. This is a phenomenon that was handled by the Greek Police swiftly and effectively," he stressed, adding that Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas had contacted all ambassadors whose embassies were the targets of the attacks.
"All foreign diplomats," he said, "expressed their appreciation for the immediate briefing they were offered, the speed and effectiveness of the Greek Police."
Referring to the relations with Germany, Delavekouras said that they remain close and "particularly, on the occasion of the economic crisis cooperation, have intensified even more. The cooperation was further reinforced following the foreign minister's visit to Germany where it was decided that relations would become even closer."
Both Greece and Germany back the creation of a permanent support mechanism to face the economic crisis and within this framework consultations will continue in view of December's European Council meeting, he said.
As regards the foreign policy, Delavekouras stated that Germany recognizes Greece's role in the Balkans, adding that "we want Germany's support in the effort to reinvigorate the European prospect of the western Balkans." He pointed out that the foreign minister will have the opportunity to discuss the issue next Monday in Berlin.
Meanwhile, German interior ministry spokesman Stefan Paris underlined the excellent cooperation shared with the Greek authorities and put an emphasis on the assistance they provided to the German authorities in neutralizing the parcel bomb sent from Greece to the Chancellery in Berlin.
In comments he made to ANA-MPA, he rejected any rumours to the contrary as being "completely unfounded" and stressed that "cooperation with the Greek authorities is excellent and this is emphatically underlined."
"On Tuesday, when the suspicious parcel was detected in the Chancellery, we enjoyed the highly professional cooperation we had with the Greek side," he said.
The German interior ministry spokesman attributed the rumours that surfaced to the "completely wrong interpretation" given to statements made by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere when he was asked if there was a warning and he responded negatively, meaning that there was no warning call and assumption of responsibility. He added that cooperation with the Greek authorities "in the specific case and in the past has been impeccable."
He clarified that the Federal Criminal Police (Bundes-kriminalamt, BKA) officials were sent to Greece to observe the investigation underway by the Greek enforcement agencies because (the investigation) is associated with the parcel bomb that arrived in the German Chancellery on Tuesday. "This practice is routine on international and European level," Paris said.
 ND leader addresses event of Constantine Karamanlis Democracy InstituteMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing an event held by the Constantine Karamanlis Democracy Institute on Thursday evening, criticised the government for its economic policy and highlighted the "social economy of the market" or "social liberalism" as the ideological base of his own economic proposal.
"Today, in Greece, everything is being paralysed, the tax-receiving state is crushing everything, without result and economic activity is being paralysed, it is not an economy, it is 'desertisation'," Samaras said, adding that "we are obliged, therefore, to disagree and show the other path."
Explaining the social economy of the market, he said "the social economy of the market does not want the 'state-nightwatchman', as extreme neoliberalism does, neither it wants the state 'producer', as state socialism does, it wants the 'state regulator', that is a guardian of both free economic activity and social cohesion."
Samaras further said that social liberalism in a country such as Greece, which is in a crisis, entails fiscal restructuring and the boosting of the economy.
""If you only make 'fiscal restructuring' then the economy is in danger of dissolution and society will be destabilised totally. If, on the other hand, you only boost the market without serious fiscal cutbacks then you will achieve a short-term increase in revenues. But with the first difficulty the deficits will get out of hand again," the ND leader said.
Samaras reiterated that "for the measures to bear fruit the market must be strengthened, with measures of a zero or low fiscal cost, so that the economy can forge ahead, to begin to produce income for the working people, profits for the businessmen, turnovers for the businesses so that the state can find something to tax."
 Ex-PM Karamanlis meets with merchants' board; comments on economyFormer premier Costas Karamanlis held a meeting with National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) board members at his office on Thursday, where he reportedly made it clear that he has no ND party leadership aspirations, while reiterating his support for the party's leadership.
According to reports, Karamanlis also dismissed the likelihood of snap elections, referring merely to bid by the ruling PASOK party to rally its supports for Sunday's local government elections.
Referring to the economy, he appeared optimistic that problems will be overcome and left open the likelihood of an extension in paying-off the public debt, stressing that this would not necessarily mean bankruptcy.
Karamanlis reportedly noted that saving crisis-plagued economy comes first, stressing that "it is too soon to speak".
 President receives Health MinisterPresident of Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday described as a Lernean Hydra' the interests looting the Health sector, during a meeting with Health Minister Andreas Loverdos.
Papoulias acknowledged the difficulties of Loverdos' mission and wished him success because, as he noted, "it is important for the social cohesion".
"You have opened war on the Lernean Hydra. I hope your struggle will be successful," he said.
On his part the Health Minister referred to the difficulties of his work, noting that "I have some very important things to do in the framework of the government" and concluded: " Mr. President I feel that many times in Greece we are discussing as if we have overcame our problems, as if we have finished the difficult course, when in reality we are either at the beginning or half-way. What is certain is that we have not finished it, and this adds more difficulties to those we already have."
 FM to visit Germany, Abu DhabiForeign minister Dimitris Droutsas will pay a two-day working visit to Germany on November 8-9, preceded by a visit to Abu Dhabi on Nov. 5-6 for a forum on the theme "The Middle East, Energy and Security".
While in Germany, Droutsas will have talks and a working lunch with German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, while he will also address the German Foreign Policy Society on the theme "Exercising foreign policy in conditions of Economic Crisis", and will meet with Green Party co-leader Cem Ozdemir.
In Abu Dhabi, he will attend a Forum organised by the UAE in collaboration with the International Peace Institute on the theme "The Middle East, Energy and Security", while on the sidelines of the forum he is scheduled to meet with UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah.
 FM spokesman on diplomatic missions, EU budgetForeign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday referred to expenditures approved by the finance ministry, speaking during his regular weekly briefing in Athens, where he noted that "foreign policy is the criterion defining the operation of consulate and diplomatic authorities abroad."
The spokesman made the comment on the occasion of a recent meeting between Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.
"Considering that Greece is a country faced with numerous and important regional needs the criteria are purely political and not economic," Delavekouras stated adding, however, that the foreign ministry constantly evaluates the operation of its missions abroad and their effectiveness.
"The suspension of the operation of a diplomatic mission could be decided if it has fulfilled its purpose or its operation is deemed to be unnecessary in a specific conjuncture, as it was the case for certain consulates," he pointed out.
Meanwhile, referring to EU fiscal prospects in view of the changes in the 2013 EU budget, as well as, to Greece's moves ahead of the imminent developments.
Responding to a question during a press briefing, Delavekouras stated that Greece has already launched contacts to ensure, in coordination with other EU member states sharing "similar priorities" that their needs will be reflected in the EU budget.
 Athens on Greek-Albanian sea delineation; Christofias-Eroglu talksA foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday referred to the maritime and continental shelf delineation agreement between Greece and Albania, responding to a relevant question during a regular diplomatic press briefing.
Spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said Athens' positions are clear-cut, where the Albanian government will have to restart procedures for ratification -- by the country's Parliament -- considering that a previous Albanian constitutional court ruling that has been issued.
"The agreement, which has been signed by both governments, meets the provisions of the (International) Law of the Sea Treaty and will benefit the two countries. The Albanian government acknowledges its usefulness and importance in allowing the two countries to proceed, even with the exploitation of natural resources detected in their sea zones," he pointed out, adding that such a development would have an important and positive impact on Albania's EU course.
 Christofias-Eroglu talksIn an unrelated development, the Greek spokesman expressed hope that positive steps will be made during the meeting between Cypriot Republic President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, scheduled to take place at the United Nations headquarters on Nov. 18.
"The meeting could serve as a basis for such steps but we cannot say that we ignore reality. And the reality, at this moment, is that Mr. Eroglu, with his rhetoric and Turkey's support, lives in a different era, moving along the lines of a purely partition-oriented reasoning of two states and two peoples. Such a stance not only blocks the prospect of a solution but, at the same time, contravenes UN Security Council decisions. That's why it does not leave room for optimism," Delavekouras stated.
He expressed hope that Turkey will change its stance vis-?-vis the Cyprus issue, "as it states that it wishes to do," adding, however, that Eroglu's stance at the negotiating table "unfortunately, is not such that can allow for optimism."
 German border police sent by Frontex arrive in GreeceA contingent of German border police sent by Frontex, the European agency for guarding the EU's external borders, arrived in Greece on Thursday in order to assist efforts to stem the tide of illegal migrants entering the EU via the Greek-Turkish land border.
The German contingent, which according to the German interior ministry will be made up of 40 officers of Germany's federal police, will be stationed in the region of Orestiada.
The German government will also supply seven service vehicles and an additional four vehicles equipped with thermal imaging cameras.
The officers in the German mission have been specially trained for the specific task and their tour of duty in Greece is initially expected to last until the end of the year. In total, Frontex is to supply Greece with 175 specialist border police from EU member-states.
This is the first mission of the Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABIT) that were formed by Frontex in 2007.
Greece had requested assistance from the EU border policing agency some days ago in order to tackle increased pressure from illegal migration along its borders with Turkey.
Meanwhile, the European Commission on Thursday announced that European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom will be in Orestiada on Friday to observe RABIT operations on the Greek-Turkish border.
Commission spokesperson Michele Cercone stressed that the first RABIT teams arrived in the region on November 2 and its effect on the entry of illegal migrants was expected to be immediate.
 FM spokesman condemns incident at military cemetery in southern AlbaniaA foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday condemned an incident in neighbouring Albania this past week that witnessed the burning of wreaths laid at a military cemetery in Bobostitsa where Greek servicemen who fell on the Albanian front during WWII are buried.
"This is an unacceptable incident, one that expresses circles that are unable to comprehend the new framework of relations between Greece and Albania, as well as the symbolism of the struggle against the Axis forces," spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said during a regular press briefing.
Asked about a bilateral agreement on the upkeep of military cemeteries, the spokesman said both Athens and Tirana have expressed their satisfaction, with only the pact's implementation now pending.
 Culture minister meets Alexandria Patriarch Theodoros IICulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos met with the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II on Thursday, in the presence of Culture Secretary General Lina Mendoni and the Metropolitan of Ghana Georgios.
According to a ministry announcement, the Patriarch of Alexandria had the opportunity of presenting to the minister the multifaceted, difficult and considerable work being carried out by the Patriarchate on the African continent in the sectors of education and health.
The Patriarch of Alexandria also invited Geroulanos to visit Egypt and the minister accepted the invitation.
 Minister: new metro 'u' line contract in 2011Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas on Thursday announced that the contract for the first section of a new addition to the Athens metro - a u-shaped line linking the city's western districts with the centre and the east - will be awarded at the start of 2011.
The new line 4 will be 33 kilometres long, starting in the west Athens district of Galatsi, passing by the city centre and Evangelismos hospital, then turning via Ilioupolis in the east and wrapping round to end at Lykovrisi in the north.
The minister was speaking after a meeting at Attiko Metro headquarters concerning additions to the network.
Reppas said the tender process for the first section of the new line, from the Veikou park to Evangelismos, will have ended at the start of 2011 and the tenders for further extensions will be concluded by the middle of 2012.
These will be an extension from Veikou park to Perissos in order to link up with the ISAP overground electric railway and an extension from the Zografou area toward the districts of Vyronas and Hymettus up to the borders of Ilioupolis. The main line from the Zografou area will continue on to Lykovrisi.
The total cost of the project is estimated at 3.3 billion euros, with one billion euros in funding from the European Investment Bank. For the rest, an effort is being made to tap into funds available for boosting accessibility.
Reppas said that the new line will include 29 stations along its route and have an ultra-modern network in which trains will be driver-less and remote-operated.
Concerning other extensions to the existing metro network, the minister said that outstanding problems with lawsuits will probably be resolved by the end of the year, allowing the start of work on an extension of the line to Piraeus, while the Agia Paraskevi metro station that is currently under construction is expected to be ready in December.
 ND leader addresses maritime policy conferenceMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing the conference on "Integrated maritime policy and transport in the EU-Challenges and opportunities for Greek Shipping", organised by ND Eurodeputy George Koumoutsakos, a rapporteur for relevant reports in the European Parliament, said that "the wonderful endurance of Greek shipping in the 'beaufort' of the crisis and tough international competition, is a source of optimism and inspiration for the national effort to fight recession, inflation and unemployment effectively, to enable us to change the present and gain the future."
The ND leader said that the European maritime transport policy as an element of a unified EU maritime policy is constantly acquiring greater importance and gravity for the economic growth of Europe and its member-states and the speedier exit from the crisis.
"This is valid even more so for our country that in these difficult moments is looking forward to Greek shipping once again," he added.
Samaras believes that given that shipping is a global industry and that the various agreements and arrangements must be concluded primarily at international level, the European integrated maritime policy and the strategy for maritime transport must be utilised in the best possible way so that the leading position that the European and Greek shipping and maritime industry have at international level can be consolidated.
Fisheries and maritime affairs Commissioner Maria Damanaki referred to the repercussions of the economic crisis for shipping and wondered whether "there is light in the tunnel or probably at the bottom of the sea," speaking of uncertainty prevailing at international level that makes the accurate recovery prediction in international shipping difficult.
 Greece and Switzerland sign agreement for avoiding double taxationGreece and Switzerland on Thursday signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation, according to an announcement issued by the Swiss government.
The agreement was signed in Berne by the head of Switzerland's Federal Department of Finance Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and Greece's Ambassador to Switzerland Ioannis Mourikis.
The agreement provides for the exchange of information along the lines of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the parameters established by the Swiss Federal Council (cabinet). Switzerland has signed a number of similar agreements with several other countries.
The agreement with Greece further clarifies cooperation between the two countries on a series of issues concerning taxation of capital and income, both for legal entities and individuals. It also makes specific the way in which the two exchange information necessary for enforcing the rules of the agreement and significantly facilitates enforcement of domestic legislation in the two countries regarding taxes covered under the agreement.
Finally, it specifies a procedure for mutual settlement in the case that the authorities of the two countries are unable to reach agreement on the method of resolving a tax case and it is referred to arbitration.
 Greece down 12 places in World Bank's 'Doing Business' reportGreece ranked 109th among 183 countries in World Bank's "Doing Business" report for business environment in 2011, down 12 places from last year's report.
The report, published on Thursday, showed that Singapore remained at the top of the list for the fifth consecutive year, followed by Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, the UK and the US.
Rankings are based on a series of indexes covering business environment in each country and the time and money needed to set up an enterprise. Greece fell in six out of the nine indexes for business environment, it remained unchanged in two and improved its position in one index.
More analytically, Greece's rankings fell in start-up of an enterprise (149 from 146 last year), assets recording (153 from 107), access to credit (89 from 87), investor protection (154 from 153), cross-border trade (84 from 81) and termination of operations (49 from 43). It remained unchanged in building permits (51) and tax payment (74), while it improved in contract implementation (88 from 89).
In Greece, 15 procedures were needed for business start-up, up from 5.6 on average in the OECD, while the time needed was 19 days, up from 13.8 pct in the OECD, cost was 20.7 pct of per capita income from 5.3 pct in the OECD and minimum capital was 22.3 pct of per capital income, from 15.3 pct in the OECD.
 OTE reports lower 9-month resultsHellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) on Thursday reported lower nine-month results, hit by an economic crisis in the country.
OTE said third quarter consolidated turnover fell 7.8 pct compared with the same period last year to 1.393 billion euros, while EBITDA fell 14.9 pct and net profits dropped 23.5 pct to 126.3 million euros. Nine-month turnover was down 6.5 pct to 4.152 billion euros, EBITDA fell 14.8 pct and net profits plunged 70.2 pct.
Turnover in fixed-telephony business fell 8.1 pct in the January-September period in Greece and by 7.5 pct in Romania. Mobile telephony turnover dropped 7.3 pct in Greece and 4.3 pct in other Balkan countries, while income from other businesses rose 9.7 pct in the nine-month period.
OTE said its activities in fixed-telephony in Greece were hit by non-competitive prices imposed by the market's watchdog on the group, turning consumers to alternative telephone services providers.
The ADSL market in Greece surpassed 2.4 million subscribers at the end of September, from around 2.0 million a year earlier, with OTE losing market share (44.6 pct in the third quarter from 50.8 pct in the third quarter of 2009).
Cosmote's turnover in Greece fell by 12.2 pct in the third quarter to 470.6 million euros, while in the nine-month period turnover fell 7.2 pct. In Albania, AMC's turnover fell 20.4 pct to 92.7 million euros, while in Bulgaria, Globul reported a 10.1 pct fall in turnover to 316.3 million euros. Cosmote Romania reported a 9.3 pct increase in turnover to 117.5 million euros.
The Group said mobile telephony customers totalled 21.3 million euros in the July-September period, slightly down from the previous quarter. Cosmote's customer base in Greece was 8.3 million euros, down 8.1 pct from the same period in 2009.
In Albania, AMC's customer base totalled around 2.0 million, up 16 pct, while in Bulgaria, Globul's customer base rose 8.0 pct.
In Romania, Cosmote said its customer base totalled 6.7 million in the third quarter.
OTE's management expects pressures on Group results to continue in the last quarter of 2010.
 Competition strengthens in passenger shipping sectorThe shrinking size of the domestic passenger shipping industry is strengthening competition in the market, a survey by Icap Group stated on Thursday.
The report noted that the country's numerous islands and its littoral geography created special needs for adequate and quality transportation, highlighting the immense role of passenger shipping.
Tourism, passenger and cargo traffic, combined with the cost of fares, quality of services, demographic and economic development of Greek islands, weather conditions and port infrastructure, are the main factors affecting demand for coastal shipping services.
The Hellenic Statistical Authority's figures for 2008 showed that coastal shipping traffic surpassed 18 million euros, another 26 million passengers travelled in ferry lines and another 2.0 million passengers travelled in the Greece-Italy line.
Coastal shipping companies are divided into large enterprises, mostly listed in the Athens Stock Exchange, local shareholding companies and shipping family businesses.
The passenger shipping market grew by an annual average rate of 3.0 pct in the period 2002-2008, to shrink by 7.2 pct in 2009.
The Adriatic market suffered a 15.3 pct decline, while the remaining market shrank by 2.9 pct. The coastal shipping industry held a market share of 57 pct, followed by the Adriatic Sea line with 33 pct.
Sales rose 10.5 pct in 2008, while gross earnings fell 12.8 pct as the cost of sales rose 18.8 pct. EBITDA fell 29.6 pct in 2008, while turnover was down 6.0 pct in 2009 for the three listed companies of the sector.
 Stocks end 1.27% downStocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, in a highly volatile session which pushed the market 1.63 pct higher early in the day. The composite index fell 1.27 pct to end at 1,497.75 points, with turnover rising to 115.987 million euros. Market sentiment was undermined by a surge in Greek bond spreads.
The Big Cap index fell 1.59 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.94 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.26 pct. The Commerce (1.42 pct) and Telecommunications (1.40 pct) sectors scored gains, while Travel (2.94 pct), Oil (2.25 pct) and Banks (1.96 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 93 to 65 with another 52 issues unchanged. Avenir (19.05 pct), Ilyda (13.04 pct) and Compucon (10 pct) were top gainers, while Euroline (19.18 pct), Elinoil (10 pct) and Akritas (9.88 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.25%
Personal & Household: -1.87%
Raw Materials: -0.85%
Travel & Leisure: -2.94%
Food & Beverages: unchanged
Financial Services: -2.23%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.55
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.93
HBC Coca Cola: 19.10
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.41
National Bank of Greece: 7.38
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.10
Bank of Piraeus: 3.31
 Greek bond market closing reportGreek bond spreads remained under pressure for one more session in the Greek electronic secondary bond market, with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rising to 888 basis points on Thursday, from 843 bps on Wednesday. The Greek bond yielded 11.29 pct and the German Bund 2.41 pct. This jump in the Greek bond spread reflects market worries based on talk of early general elections in the country. Turnover in the market rose to 164 million euros of which 118 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 46 million euros were buy orders. The three-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 52 million euros. (ANA-MPA)
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.54 pct, the six-month rate 1.27 pct, the three-month 1.047 pct and the one-month rate was 0.84 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -3.67 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,828 contracts. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,493 contracts, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,944), followed by Eurobank (1,660), MIG (2,035), OTE (1,199), Piraeus Bank (1,811), Alpha Bank (2,394), Marfin Popular Bank (663), Cyprus Bank (592), Hellenic Postbank (589) and ATEbank (1,126).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.435
Pound sterling 0.882
Danish kroner 7.514
Swedish kroner 9.329
Japanese yen 116.07
Swiss franc 1.389
Norwegian kroner 8.213
Canadian dollar 1.438
Australian dollar 1.416
 Greek Air Force to celebrate patron saint from Nov. 5-8The Greek Air Force has organised a series of events spanning four days, from November 5-8, in order to mark the feast of its patron saint, the Archangel Michael. The events begin on Friday and end with the official celebration at Dekelia airforce base on Monday.
On that day, 112 military officers from nine Air Force units will receives medals of merit for exceptional acts including self-sacrifice.
On Sunday at 12:30 there will be an air show by F-16 Block 52+ planes at Tanagra air base.
During the four days, airports throughout Greece will be open to the public between 9:00 and 17:00 daily, except on Sunday when they open after 13:00. School pupils will be able to visit Air Force units, where they will be able to view various exhibitions.
Aircraft will be parked at different air bases in order to enrich their standing displays, while there will also be photographic exhibitions at various units.
As every year, the Air Force will hold a nationwide essay competition, inviting students in the final year of high school to submit essays on a given theme. The three best essays will receive a symbolic cash prize and their authors will be offered the opportunity to fly in an Air Force plane.
The events will include a memorial service and the laying of wreaths at the Fallen Airmen Monument at Dekelia air base on November 6, with the public allowed to visit from noon until 17:00.
There will also be events involving flying clubs and aviational sports clubs at various air force bases anround the country.
 Employee injured, suspect arrested in Tax Bureau hold-up in ExarchiaA Tax Bureau (DOY) security guard was lightly injured by two gunmen who held up DOY office in the Exarchia district in central Athens on Thursday morning, and a suspect has been arrested.
Police two gunmen ran into the DOY office at 10:55 a.m. and at gunpoint grabbed an as yet unknown amount of money. The gunmen opened fire as they were fleeing, injuring the security guard in the legs.
Police who rushed to the scene, assisted by passers-by, arrested a man who is believed to be one of the two hold-up men, while a search is ongoing for the second man.
 Fair on FridayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 8C and 25C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 25C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 22C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceSpeculation of snap elections, a Financial Crime Squad's order for the opening of 2,000 doctors' bank deposits and the parcel bombs case aftermath, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Plan for double elections".
AVGHI: "No money for Health".
ELEFTHEROS: "Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos proclaimed war on prime minister George Papandreou's 'friends'."
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Police still seeking two parcel bombs in courier offices".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Venizelos targets government vice president Theodoros Pangalos".
ESTIA: "Final blow to economy".
ETHNOS: "Tax Bureau sends 'letters of terror'."
IMERISSIA: "National Bank of Greece returns to the state 350 million euros (received from the state's bank liquidity package)".
KATHIMERINI: "The simplification of procedures for founding business enterprises was a blank letter".
LOGOS: "Finance Ministry's financial crime squad opens doctors' bank accounts".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Liquidity injection totaling 600 billion euros to markets".
NIKI: "Pensions can be saved".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) will not change but you can (bring change) by voting for KKE-backed ticket in local government elections".
TA NEA: "Doctors without frontiers in...tax evasion".
TO VIMA: "The list of doctors who looted the largest Greek social security fund (IKA)".
VRADYNI: "Full speed ahead to an ecumenical government'.
 Syrian President thanks Cyprus for supportNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of Syria Bashar al Assad has expressed gratitude to the Government of Cyprus for its stance on the need to return the Golan Heights to Syria, noting that Cyprus maintains a different stance than that of the EU, although it is a member state of the Union.
Speaking after talks Thursday in Nicosia with President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, Al Assad pointed out the significance of
Cyprus' geographical position and the fact that it is able to convey to the EU the issues of the region thus giving ''the opportunity to other EU members to understand in depth the importance of the problems of the region and the opportunity to the EU to play the role we continuously seek, so European proposals are successful in practice.''
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Al Assad said he was briefed on President Christofias' initiative. ''In our national issues we follow the same method, without looking at the details, and I think trust is a fundamental precondition for the successful outcome of these initiatives,'' he noted.
President Christofias said this was the first visit of a Syrian President to Cyprus and thanked Al Assad for the great interest he showed in the initiative on the Cyprus problem and the details of the issue.
He pointed out that Cyprus warmly supports the comprehensive settlement of problems in the Middle East and considers the Arab Peace Initiative as the cornerstone for peace in the region.
''In order to achieve permanent peace in the Middle East, there must be respect and acceptance of relevant Security Council resolutions by all sides, and indeed there can be no solution of the Middle East question without the return of the occupied Golan Heights to the country they belong,'' he said.
Speaking through an interpreter, Al Assad referred to the good relations between Cyprus and Syria, based on common interests, friendship and mutual support.
He added that Cyprus, due to its geographical position, ''is related to the many complicated problems of our region, because Cyprus feels the consequences from the existence of such issues,'' and noted that Cyprus is capable to convey those issues to the EU.
Al Assad said Cyprus and Syria fully agree on the necessity for peace to prevail and that the only way to do this was to sign a peace pact, so that the region is restored to its natural state.
''I wish to thank the Cypriot Government for its stance on the Golan issue, because Cyprus is a member of the EU and the EU does not vote in favour of the return of the Heights,'' he said.
Al Assad also said that President Christofias' visit to Syria enhanced bilateral relations, and referred to the importance of cooperation in the sectors of trade, services, banking, tourism, investments and renewable energy sources.
President Christofias said Cyprus and Syria were guided by fundamental principles and values, such as international law and UN resolutions, adding that ''we have a joint goal to promote the peaceful solution of differences between states.''
He said he briefed Al Assad on the Cyprus problem and the latest developments, and that the Syrian President showed a great interest in his initiative towards a solution.
''I reiterated our commitment to a just, viable and functional solution that will reunify the state, the people, the institutions and the economy, based on the principles of international law, in the context of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with political equality, as described in relevant UN Security Council resolutions, for a single state with a single sovereignty, a single international identity and a single citizenship, which will guarantee the full respect of the human rights of all its citizens,'' President Christofias said.
He assured Al Assad that, despite the frail progress in talks with the Turkish Cypriot side for a Cyprus settlement, ''we will continue to negotiate with goodwill and proposals that will promote the process.''
President Christofias also said he elaborated on the package of proposals he had recently submitted at the talks and explained that unfortunately the Turkish side dismissed it.
''We hope that with the help and support of friendly countries, Turkey will show the necessary political will and will contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem,'' he added.
Regarding bilateral relations, President Christofias said they discussed ways to enhance cooperation and utilise Cyprus' geographical position.
''We agreed to work towards promoting closer business cooperation and mutual investments in our countries in the sectors of tourism, construction, energy, transport, education, services, and telecommunications, as well as other fields of the public and private sector,'' he said.
He added that the signing of five agreements earlier and the commitment of the two sides to conclude negotiations the soonest possible on pending agreements, was a significant step in that direction.
President Christofias said they also discussed the Palestinian and Middle East issues, and reiterated Cyprus' position that ''we support efforts to solve the Middle East problem, based on the principles of international law and the respect of UN resolutions.''
''We are in favour of the establishment of an independent, viable and territorially continuous Palestinian state. We stand against settlements in the occupied territories in the West Bank, the erection of a dividing wall and any other actions that violate the rights of the Palestinian people and obstruct the struggle to achieve independence,'' President Christofias said.
He added that ''we support the comprehensive settlement of problems in the Middle East and consider the Arab Peace Initiative to be the cornerstone for peace in the region.''
After the talks, President Christofias decorated Al Assad with the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III, and Al Assad decorated President Christofias with the National Order of Ummayya with the Grand Sash.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias is engaged in peace talks with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community to reunite the country.
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