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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-30

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Corruption a 'common enemy', Karamanlis stresses
  • [02] KKE SG meets Cyprus House President
  • [03] Report sees food agency delay in contaminated oil case
  • [04] National Bank scraps plan to sell insurance activities
  • [05] Greek PPI up 9.1% in Sept.
  • [06] Gov't: bank plan to boost growth
  • [07] Acropolis restoration works
  • [08] Greek stocks up 2.04% on Thur.

  • [01] Corruption a 'common enemy', Karamanlis stresses

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday addressed the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) organised by Transparency International (TI) in Athens, as the closely watched event this year focuses on worldwide efforts to combat corruption amid the spectre of a global credit crisis.

    "International corruption constitutes a common enemy that we are obliged to combat with a persistent effort, both on a national and international level," Karamanlis told delegates at the international conference.

    The premier said the deeper problems of the real economy are now at the forefront, while cautioning that the world is faced with a recession of unknown intensity and duration.

    "We are all responsible for the grim reality the world is faced with today ... and we need to deal with the real causes (of the recession)," he stressed.

    "Behind the explosion in prices and the credit crisis lies inadequate transparency," he said, adding that the conference's thematic sessions on natural resources, energy and climate change must generate answers, "as climate change comprises a nightmare threat for the planet's future".

    In terms of Greece, Karamanlis said the country has passed from the stage of idleness to a gradual improvement in the international anti-corruption index.

    The 13th IACC kicked off in Athens on Thursday with delegates from 135 countries taking part and speakers that included Greek Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, among others.

    Hatzigakis noted that corruption was a phenomenon that eroded political life and contaminated society, while its persecution was a political act but one that needed to be carried out with due care and caution.

    IACC Council chair Barry O' Keefe noted that the conference was an attempt to have a "positive impact on the future of the planet" and stressed the part played by corruption in the current credit crisis, while the president of TI Greece Costas Bakouris stressed the need for Greece to remain alert for high levels of corruption and find solutions for its eradication.

    The chairwoman of Transparency International Huguette Labelle, meanwhile, said that corruption affected all aspects of life and resulted in the loss of vast sums on a global scale each year that could be used to improve people's lives.

    The 13th IACC will consist of 40 working groups, beginning on Thursday and ending on November 2. The conference will focus mainly on the causes and consequences of corruption on peace and security, natural resources and energy markets, climate change, and sustainable globalisation.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] KKE SG meets Cyprus House President

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos/CNA) - Visiting General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Aleka Papariga said here Thursday that real and substantive pressure must be exerted on Turkey, taking into consideration the UN resolutions and recalling that the Cyprus problem is a problem of invasion and occupation.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Cyprus House President Marios Garoyian, Papariga also noted that Cyprus must be a united, federal state, without any guarantees. "There can not be a solution which would allow partition through the window," she emphasised.

    On his part, Garoyian said that the stance of the Turkish side does not leave any room for a successful outcome of efforts to achieve a Cyprus settlement that will be viable and functional and will really create the preconditions for the establishment of peace, stability and prosperity of all the people of Cyprus.

    He added that the Greek Cypriot side will continue with insistence and patience to be positive, constructive and creative, submitting proposals that will fully abide with the UN resolutions and the EU principles and values.

    "Our proposals and positions," Garoyian noted, "aim at the creation of all those preconditions with a view to establish a functional and viable state."

    Garoyian reiterated that the Turkish side holds the key for the achievement of progress and an agreed settlement to the Cyprus question, on the basis of international law principles, the UN resolutions and the European law.

    He said that he had a useful and substantial discussion with Papariga on developments in the Cyprus question, issues regarding Hellenism and international policy issues. Garoyian noted that he briefed Papariga on the proposals and positions of the Greek Cypriot side at the ongoing negotiations aiming to solve the Cyprus question.

    Papariga said that her visit to Cyprus aimed at "expressing our solidarity and support to efforts for a Cyprus settlement" by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and his government.

    The Greek communist leader also met with right-wing Democratic Rally (DHSY) party President Nicos Anastassiades, before winding up her visit to the island republic.

    [03] Report sees food agency delay in contaminated oil case

    The Hellenic Food Authority EFET was slow to take action in response to EU warnings about contaminated sunflower oil from the Ukraine, according to a report submitted to the General Inspector of Public Administration by a team of experts on Thursday.

    Investigating the food agency's response to the crisis, inspectors found that EFET was mobilised on May 6 instead of April 25 when the warning from the EU originally arrived.

    "The seriousness of this realisation would have been absolutely apparent if the specific foodstuff had proved dangerous for public health, something that was fortunately finally ruled out by the European Commission food safety department on May 27, 2008," the report noted.

    It claimed that EFET had ignored a document sent via the European early warning system for foods on April 25, which said that a shipment of possibly contaminated sunflower oil had been sent to Greece from the Ukraine in February 2008.

    The report further noted "great confusion" regarding which services were responsible for inspecting various kinds of foods.

    On the other hand, it said that actions to inform consumers had been satisfactory in terms of which products were being withdrawn, recalled or confiscated but confused, delayed and unclear in terms of whether the contaminant was dangerous to people's health, with little explanation from domestic agencies of the warnings being issued by the EU.

    [04] National Bank scraps plan to sell insurance activities

    National Bank on Thursday announced that it was cancelling a procedure to find an international insurance group as a strategic partner for its insurance activities, in the wake of a crisis in international financial markets.

    In an announcement, National Bank said it believed in the growth prospects of insurance activities, in Greece, southeastern Europe and Turkey, and noted that it would support the implementation of National Insurance's business plan with the promotion of bankassurance.

    "National Insurance with its prestige, credibility and its leading position in the market, is in an advantageous position to exploiting opportunities arising today because of financial developments, offering the necessary guarantees to its customers," the statement read.

    [05] Greek PPI up 9.1% in Sept.

    Greece's Producer Price Index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) jumped 9.1 pct in September, after increases of 4.0 pct and 3.6 pct in the same months in 2007 and 2006, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    The statistics service said the PPI was down 0.8 pct in September from August 2008 and attributed the 9.1 pct increase of the index to an 18.9 pct jump in energy goods prices, an 8.5 pct rise in intermediate goods, a 4.4 pct rise in durable goods prices and a 2.5 pct increase in capital goods prices.

    [06] Gov't: bank plan to boost growth

    A draft bill to boost liquidity in the domestic banking system is not aimed at supporting banks but supporting and strengthening the Greek economy, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis emphasised on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said banks were the "vehicle" to boosting liquidity in the market and said implementation of a 28-bln-euro plan was "very significant", since the plan would support growth, small- and medium-sized enterprises and employment amid a very difficult international economic situation.

    The plan, Alogoskoufis said, was fully compatible with decisions taken in the Eurozone and its main points are:

    - state participation in banks' equity capital through the purchase of preferred stock, while a representative of the state will participate in banks' board with the right to veto profit distribution decisions. Banks' managers will not be allowed to compensation exceeding the pay of Bank of Greece's governor, while bonuses will be scraped. Alogoskoufis said that during the implementation of the plan, banks will not be allowed to distribute more than 35 pct of profits to shareholders, while an Implementation Supervision Council will be set up, chaired by the FinMin and Bank of Greece's governor.

    - the state will offer guarantees for medium-term borrowing by banks,

    - special bonds will be issued.

    Alogoskoufis said the plan will not burden the state budget, while it will benefit taxpayers since the state will collect approximately 500 million euros in commissions.

    Our aim, he added, is to limit unfavourable effects from an international credit crisis on the Greek economy, to benefit small- and medium-sized enterprises and to boost public works.

    Alogoskoufis reiterated that the government has made a political commitment of guaranteeing all savings deposits in the country.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Alogoskoufis.

    [07] Acropolis restoration works

    Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Thursday inspected works for the restoration of the Athens Acropolis, after which he praised the effort underway.

    "The work to preserve and highlight the monuments provides a unique experience for visitors to the Sacred Rock, since a more comprehensive image of the Acropolis is formed that allows the monuments to be better recognised and understood," he said.

    Liapis reported that work was continuing at a brisk pace, with the greater part of the restoration expected to be complete in three months time. According to experts, about 1,000 pieces of marble have been placed in their proper position since work started in the year 2000.

    At the Propylaia, the entrance to the Acropolis, the scaffolding is expected to be removed in about a month's time, providing visitors of a unique experience of a roofed space in one of the most impressive monuments of antiquity.

    The restoration work included the cleaning of the roof of the Erechtheion temple supported by the Caryatids using a new laser technique that combined the use of ultraviolet and infra-red light.

    The minister was also briefed on the installation of a network of seismic sensors to check and monitor the behaviour of the buildings during earthquakes, as well as the installation of a fibre optics in the walls.

    In the much larger Parthenon building, the placement of some 209 missing stones is expected to be completed in early 2009, while restorers are nearing completion of repair work to the north aspect of the building, which was the largest restoration programme carried out on the Acropolis.

    As part of the whole project, the Acropolis Monument Preservation Service has undertaken to install a virtual reality room at the new Acropolis Museum, using funds given by the Information Society, which will give 3D tours of the history of the buildings and their restoration. This new digital display will be the first of its kind in an archaeological museum.

    Caption: Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis (second from left) on Thursday paid a visit to the Athens Acropolis to inspect restoration work underway on the monuments, due to be completed in roughly three months time. ANA-MPA / C. Lambropoulou

    [08] Greek stocks up 2.04% on Thur.

    Greek stocks continued moving higher for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, following a recovery trend prevailing in international markets. The composite index ended at 2,009.99 points, up 2.04 pct, with turnover a low 238 million euros, of which 4.5 million were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the Food/Beverage (6.88 pct), Oils (4.40 pct), Telecoms (3.27 pct), Utilities (3.26 pct), Banks (2.35 pct) and Financial Services (2.26 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (2.90 pct), Personal/Home Products (2.17 pct) and Insurance (1.81 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 1.94 pct, the FTSE 40 index was down 0.06 pct and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.02 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 163 to 72 with another 51 issues unchanged.


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