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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-19
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM chairs inter-ministerial committee on economyPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday chaired a meeting of an inter-ministerial committee on the economy, as its members were briefed by Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou on a closely watched European Commission report outlining Greece's updated Stability and Growth Programme, which was recently submitted to the EU by the government.
Papathanassiou told reporters afterwards that provisions contained in the Programme needed to be applied immediately, adding that his ministry has already begun doing so, noting that in the chapter on spending all the flexible expenditures have been listed and will be cut by 10 percent, while a 10-percent reduction of all project contracts has also been decided.
The minister said the establishment of a civil servants' payment centre was also discussed.
Regarding state revenue collection, Papathanassiou said there has been progress in carrying out the required organisational changes so as to render the ministry's mechanisms more efficient.
Asked whether he was worried about the course of the economy due to a series of recent urban terrorism strikes, press speculation over early elections and political clashes, Papathanassiou stressed that the government has submitted a programme that will be strictly applied to take the country out of the crisis with the fewest possible repercussions.
"We are here to monitor it, and to continuously implement it," Papathanassiou added.
Caption: A file photo shows the exterior of the Maximos Mansion, the prime minister's office and government headquarters, in central Athens. ANA-MPA
 Greek stocks end 1.63 pct higherGreek stocks ended a six-day decline at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, as buyers took the upper hand in the market encouraged by a recovery in international stock markets. The composite index rose 1.63 pct to end at 1,615.06 points, with turnover a low 103.1 million euros, of which 5.4 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher with the Food/Beverage (5.94 pct), Telecommunications (5.21 pct) and Financial Services (4.29 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains, while Commerce (2.55 pct), Personal/Home Products (0.84 pct) and Industrial Products (0.53 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.57 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell 0.28 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.41 pct higher. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 107 to 84 with another 63 issues unchanged.
 FM at OSCE Parliamentary AssemblyVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis) -- Greece's commitment to serve as a candid mediator, promote dialogue and improve the existing mechanisms of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) during its chairmanship of the OSCE in 2009 was stressed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday here, outlining the priorities of the Greek chairmanship and current developments at opening session of the two-day Winter Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
She said that the priorities of the Greek chairmanship, which were explicit for the three dimensions of the OSCE, included crises management and improvement of the OSCE's efficiency and performance which, she explained, entailed the organization's institutional evolution and its acquisition of a legal entity.
On crises management, Bakoyannis referred to the crisis in Georgia, which she said required that the OSCE do more, not less, there, adding that she was firmly determined that the OSCE maintain a presence in the area. She said that the recent agreement in Vienna for extending the mission of military observers there should serve as a foundation for facing the long-term issues of construction and stability in the entire region.
Bakoyannis said that the Greek chairmanship placed special importance on the role played by the OSCE in combatting terrorism, in which area its intention was to advance the implementation of the Organization's commitments, with full respect for the just state and human rights, and will also work hard for the implementation and enhancement of the OSCE's commitments on security and the policing of borders.
She further said that she looked forward to an effective dialogue at this year's Economic and Environmental Forum, which will culminate in May in Athens, where the various aspects of migration will be examined, while further emphasis will be given to the dialogue on guaranteeing the security of energy supply, as well as on enhancing the broader theme of the Just State and maintaining higher specifications for the OSCE actions regarding the monitoring of the electoral procedure.
Noting that broader discussions on European Security were commenced in 2008 and the ideas of the Russian and French presidents in favor of renewing the relevant dialogue were put on the table, Bakoyannis announced that Greece was prepared to organize meetings at any level aimed at further facilitating the dialogue.
The context of that effort, she continued, would be based on three principles: moderation in order that every invitation to dialogue would be taken seriously, consolidation of all that has been achieved, and careful preparation of a positive agenda.
She recalled that when the OSCE heads of state and government met in 1975 in Helsinki, the participating countries had already held more than 2,400 meetings in Geneva and had discussed 4,660 proposals. "Consequently, if our goal is to achieve something more than the so-called Helsinki Plus, we must not forget that we must do careful work".
In closing, Bakoyannis stressed that "the principle that security begins with the 'inherent dignity of every individual' must remain at the heart of the Organization".
"Security pre-supposes the political and military cooperation among the states, the development of a sound economic and environmental governance and protection of the fundamental human rights and freedoms," Bakoyannis added.
In later statements to reporters, Bakoyannis said Athens will make every effort to be an "honest broker", while stating that her address on Thursday was before the most "democratic portion" of the OSCE, namely, to the deputies of the organisation's 56 member-states.
She added during the Greek chairmanship in 2009, 19 elections in member-states are scheduled.
"We will do whatever we can to observe these elections up close, as well as preparations, and also to ensure that on the day of the election the highest standards of democratic processes are upheld in these countries, so that the results cannot be disputed by anyone," she said.
Finally, the Greek FM said she discussed the issue of Europe's security with a delegation of visiting US senators, who are in Vienna to attend the parliamentary assembly.
 New industrial orders' index down 8%Greece's new orders' index in the industrial sector -- measuring both the domestic and foreign markets -- fell 8.0 pct in December 2008, down from the same month in 2007, after an increase of 1.2 pct in the 2007-2006 period, the National Statistics Service announced on Thursday.
The statistical service said the new orders' index's sharp decline in December reflected a 16.3-pct drop in intermediate goods, a 9.7-pct decline in durable goods, a 3.2-pct rise in capital goods and an 1.8-pct increase in non-durable goods' orders.
The turnover index in the industrial sector was down 16.9 pct in December, compared with the same month in 2007, after an increase of 10.4 pct in December 2007.
Caption: A file photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009, shows an olive oil press in the extreme southeastern prefecture of Kalamata, in the Pidima site, Arfaron municipality. ANA-MPA / NIKITAS KOTSIARIS.
 SYRIZA opposition to OA saleRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos on Thursday reiterated his leftist formation's opposition to any privatisation of troubled national carrier Olympic Airways (OA), saying he is determined to continue the "struggle" for a state-owned and run airline. Amid ongoing negotiations to sell-off the debt-ridden carrier, Alavanos said "those who think that the OA file will be closed are mistaken". In a press conference, he outlined his party's positions against privatisation, while accusing the government of proceeding with a "sell-out" of OA based on an arbitrarily calculated debt. He also claimed that the EU position is unacceptable because it exerts pressure for the privatisation of OA while, at the same time, backs measures in support of troubled European banks, in violation of the Stability Pact and the rules of competition. He also accused main opposition PASOK of siding with the ruling New Democracy (ND) on the issue.
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