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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-10-01
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM answers citizens' questionsPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday appeared at a nationally televised "town hall-type" meeting where he answered citizens' queries about his five and a half years in power, as well as fielding questions about future policies, while at the same time he repeated his harsh criticism of rival PASOK and what he called its vagueness.
Karamanlis spoke in the upper and middle-class east Athens district of Ilioupolis, hours before his address in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, traditionally the next-to-last stop by party leaders before last campaign rally in Athens.
In turning his criticism against main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, the former foreign minister, Karamanlis again charged that the former "is keeping his cards hidden ... This is unprecedented in our election history."
The Greek premier underlined that his main political rival has "disappeared" over the recent period, charging that Papandreou has avoided answering "difficult questions" in the economic sector, shunned face-to-face press interviews and rejected a second face-to-face debate with him.
In stepping up his criticism of the foreign minister regarding so-called "national issues", Karamanlis pointed directly to Papandreou's comments over a re-evaluation of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project, before listing off a series of incidents that occurred during previous PASOK governments, namely, the Imia incident, the Madrid agreement with Ankara, the Ocalan affair and what he called "pressure on the Greek Cypriots" regarding the Annan peace plan. "They said one thing in public, and discussed other things in a Greek-Turkish dialogue".
Along those lines, and in response to questions from the audience, Karamanlis again called on neighbouring Turkey to honour its signature on a 2001 migrant re-admission protocol and to "stop covering up for modern-day slave traders (migrant smugglers), while emphasising that the "wall of violence on Cyprus" must fall and the Turkish occupation must cease". Regarding Ankara's high-profile European ambition, Karamanlis uttered Greece's leitmotif of "full compliance, full accession".
He also referred to a spate of recent Turkish military provocations in the eastern Aegean, noting that "violations, provocations, threats do not change the status quo in the Aegean. Our rights are enshrined by international law, and we will not retreat from those rights, we will not give anything away."
Turning to domestic issues and the local political situation, Karamanlis again called on his party's supporters to "rally" around the party ahead of Sunday's snap elections, "so that not one vote is wasted; not one vote is gifted ... the victory is in our hands."
Speaking hours before flying to Thessaloniki, Karamanlis, long elected to Parliament from the city's first election district, he reminded of a series of major projects currently underway in Greece's second-largest municipality, i.e. a new metro, airport expansion and an underwater highway along the seawall.
 EFG Bank Group issues 250-mln-euro bond loan(ANA-MPA) -- EFG Bank European Financial Group SA on Thursday announced the successful offering of a 250-mln-euro bond loan, by EFG Ora Funding Limited III, through a private placement.
The bond issue, maturing in 2014, carries Eurobank‚s guarantee. The bond issue will be accompanied by securities - issued by EFG Bank Group - exchangeable with the bank‚s shares.
The exchangeable securities will have a five-year duration and will carry an annual coupon ranging from 1.70 pct to 1.95 pct. The issuer has the right to repay all exchangeable securities prematurely in their nominal price after three years. The new money will be used to fund companies controlled by European Financial Group EFG (Luxembourg).
 Greek PMI falls to 48.5 points in Sept.(ANA-MPA) -- Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 48.5 points in September, reversing August's recovery trend, as operating conditions continued worsening in the manufacturing sector.
The seasonally adjusted PMI - a composite index designed to offer a comprehensive picture of the manufacturing sector's performance -- fell below to 50-point threshold. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
The Purchasing Managers' Index, compiled by Markit, however fell at a rate slower that the average rate of the last 10 months. New orders fell in September, reflecting mainly a weak domestic market, as demand from abroad rose for the first time in 12 months.
 Private OA's maiden flight(ANA-MPA) -- Olympic Air (OA), the revamped former state-run carrier, formally launched its operations on Thursday as part of the Athens-based Marfin Investment Group (MIG).
The first official flight by Olympic Air, conducted by an Airbus 320, took off from Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) at 7:45 a.m. and arrived in Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport at 8:15 a.m., symbolically retracing the route of the very first flight carried out more than half a century ago by Aristotle Onassis' Olympic Airways (OA).
The airbus, piloted by captain Sotiris Kalogirou, Olympic Air's flight operations director, carried MIG group chief Andreas Vgenopoulos, the airline's senior executives and reporters on the new airline's maiden flight.
Before the flight departed, a traditional blessing took place, officiated by Metropolitan Nikolaos.
Addressing a brief ceremony, Vgenopoulos called the day "historic and moving", noting that it was a unique achievement in the sector of air transports that the new airline was set up, fully operational and flying in just a few short months, and expressed appreciation for the immense support of the public, 'which gives us the strength to push forward with our work".
Vgenopoulos also stressed, however, that: "We are not the owners of the name 'Olympic', but only its managers. The name belongs to the Greek people".
During a similar ceremony upon arrival at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport, Vgenopoulos announced that MIG possesses an internationally registered trademark for the title "Macedonian Airlines", which was previously OA's charter unit.
"We have received the codes, and no one else can fly with this name," he stressed.
Vgenopoulos said an OA subsidiary, named Macedonian Airlines, will be set up and headquartered in Thessaloniki for the purpose of soon serving the business and tourism needs of the region.
According to sources, the first flights to be carried out by Macedonian Airlines will be to Germany and Amsterdam.
The flight was greeted on arrival by several local officials.
Caption: Pilot Christos Kalogirou amongst crew members of the maiden flight of Olympic Air on Thursday, 1 Oct. 2009. ANA-MPA / N. ARVANITIDIS
 IMF: Slight GDP drop in 09-10(ŃÕŃ-MPA) -- The Greek economy will remain in recession this year and in 2010, with the country‚s Gross Domestic Product expected to shrink 0.8 pct in 2009 and 0.1 pct next year, the International Monetary Fund announced on Thursday.
In its quarterly report, entitled ‚Global Economy Outlook‚, which was unveiled on Thursday, the IMF said the Greek economy grew by 4.0 pct and 2.9 pct in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The report said Greek inflation was projected at 1.1 pct this year and 1.7 pct in 2010, after reaching 3.0 pct and 4.2 pct in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
The country‚s fiscal deficit is expected to reach 6.4 pct of GDP this year, rising more to 7.1 pct in 2010, while the unemployment rate will rise to 9.5 pct of the workforce in 2009 and to 10.5 pct in 2010. The unemployment rate was 8.3 pct in 2007 and 7.6 pct in 2008.
IMF‚s report said that government economic stimulus programs and higher demand in Asia helped the global economy exiting from its worst recession after World War ……. The International Monetary Fund revised downwards its estimates for this year‚s global economic growth, but significantly revised upwards its forecast for 2010. Global GDP will shrink by 1.1 pct in 2009, to rise by 3.1 pct in 2010 (July‚s estimates were -0.8 pct and +2.5 pct, respectively).
Eurozone‚s GDP will shrink by 4.2 pct this year, to rise by 0.3 pct in 2010, the US economy is expected to shrink by 2.7 pct in 2009, rising to 1.5 pct next year, while the Japanese economy was projected to shrink by 5.4 pct in 2009, rising to 1.7 pct in 2010.
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