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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-02-10
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Sarkozy-Papandreou meeting in ParisPARIS (ANA-MPA / G. Milionis) -- Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou reiterated here, moments after his official meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, that the Greek government will unwaveringly implement the EU-mandated Stability Programme "to the letter".
Papandreou arrived in the French capital for talks with French leadership, as he was received by Sarkozy at the Palais d' Elysee.
 Gov't, ND clash over bill granting vote to migrants in local polls(ANA-MPA) -- Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Wednesday reassured members of a Parliamentary committee that there is "no question" of local election results being distorted as a result of the participation of legal immigrants.
According to the minister, "there is no reason for concern", since immigrants, as well as the expatriates, who will receive the right to participate in such elections total approximately 266,000 people who, scattered throughout the country, do not add up to percentages exceeding 1.5 percent in the corresponding regions.
The minister also accused main opposition New Democracy (ND) party of "condemning the bill for purely political reasons," and of not responding to the changes inserted by the government.
On his part, ND deputy Thanassis Nakos charged that provisions in the draft bill will merely open the "floodgates" of illegal immigration into the country, while repeating that the government simply wants to press forth with the bill in order to try and gain politically from the votes of would-be migrant voters.
"The most obvious proof of the government's intentions is the provision by which immigrants' participation in municipal elections will be considered as documentation towards the granting of Greek citizenship," he charged.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) deputy Athanassios Plevris referred to a massive "wave of naturalisations" if the bill is passed, while underlining his party's standing demand for a referendum on both the right of migrants to vote in local elections and the government's intention to speed up the process for granting Greek citizenship.
Both parties on the left, the Communist Party (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) expressed positive views of the draft bill.
 Parliamentary com't report outlines problems plaguing ethnic Greek communities in Turkey(ANA-MPA) -- The unreserved and continuous support to the remaining ethnic Greeks of Turkey was declared on Wednesday by members of Parliament's standing committee on Greeks abroad.
The committee stressed that its intention is to establish cooperation on a regular basis with representative organisations of ethnic Greeks originally hailing from Istanbul and the northeast Aegean islands of Imvros (Gokceada) and Tenedos (Bozcaada), and furthermore, to undertake specific initiatives to set into motion necessary interventions both in Parliament and before responsible state bodies.
The statement is included in the report with the conclusions as regards issues that concern Hellenism in Istanbul, Imvros and Tenedos, made public on Wednesday. The report also constitutes a detailed response by the committee to the problems outlined in a Jan. 20, 2010 session by representatives of relevant organisations representing ethnic Greeks in Turkey.
The representatives of ethnic Greek organisations had presented to the parliamentary committee a historical framework that led, as they charged, to the expatriation of the majority of ethnic Greeks from the neighbouring country; the result of a "systematic policy" of persecution and discriminations implemented by the Turkish governments since 1923, in violation of the Treaty of Lausanne, as they said.
Among others, non-recognition of the title and legal entity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; the banning of the operation of the Theological School in Halki since 1971; limitations concerning the presence of Christian Orthodox clergy in Turkey (as opposed to other faiths, despite recent positive steps) as well as the non-payment of compensation for property of minority institutions appropriated by the Turkish state and transferred to third parties were cited as "crucial and serious" problems.
Another problem cited by the representatives is the failure to pay restitution for ownership rights to the hundreds of confiscated properties that belonged to minority foundations, declared as "occupied" (mazbut) by the state and placed under the management of Turkey's General Directorate of Vakufs. Mainly Orthodox Monasteries are included in this category, the legal entity of which is not recognised by the Turkish, as well as churches and community buildings.
Other problems mentioned include an extensive plan for the confiscation of private properties by the state; unfair and not transparent procedures in drawing up the cadastral map of Imvros, which has led to appeals before the European Court of Human Rights; violation of the inheritance rights of expatriated ethnic Greeks who have become Greek citizens; the non-recognition of the rights of minorities over their communal cemeteries; obstacles to the community organisation of the minority and problems in the education of ethnic Greeks.
The education problems include: the abolition of the Greek education on the islands of Imvros and Tenedos since 1964 and the confiscation of school buildings; limitations in the registration of Greek students to Greek schools in Istanbul; exclusion of the children with parents of Greek nationality who live and work in Istanbul; lack of minority educators and no subsidies for minority schools by the Turkish state, among others.
The Greek parliamentary committee report concludes that the respect of fundamental human rights makes it imperative that all necessary measures will be taken to lift past injustices and lead to the restitution of the Greek communities in Istanbul, Imvros and Tenedos as dictated by the recent reports drawn up by the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the European Parliament.
The report added that the increasingly "noticeable presence" of the civil movement in Turkey in support of minority rights and the continuous information of the public is undoubtedly an important development though not adequate, in itself.
More substantive steps of progress are necessary mostly on institutional level to treat the members of the ethnic Greek minority equally with the rest of the country's citizens and have the issue disengaged from the framework of "reciprocity".
The role and contribution of the European Union toward this direction can and should be decisive. The same is in effect for the Council of Europe, the parliamentary assembly (PACE) in particular, in view of the 2008 resolution on Imvros and Tenedos and the imminent resolution on the minorities of Greece and Turkey.
 Hellenic Postbank cites conditions for Aspis Bank equity deal(ANA-MPA) -- Hellenic Postbank on Wednesday said a board decision to purchase a significant participation in Athens-b based Aspis Bankās equity capital was part of a strategy for an "autonomous expansion" of the bankās and the groupās activities via a faster implementation of its business plans.
In a statement, Hellenic Postbank stressed, however, that the main conditions for participating in a forthcoming share capital increase plan by Aspis Bank were to acquire a 30-32.9 pct equity stake from any undistributed shares, or, if the bankās main shareholders opted not to make use of their preference rights and, of course, a clarification over the share capital increase plan to determine the value of its investment.
If these conditions were met, then Hellenic Postbank will seek approval from Greek banking authorities to carry out the investment.
 Deficit shrinks 39% in Jan.(ANA-MPA) -- Greece's state budget deficit shrank by 39 pct in January to 818 million euros, after a deficit of 1.342 billion euros in January 2009, the Bank of Greece announced on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a report on the countryās finances, said regular budget revenues grew to 4.276 billion euros in the first month of the year, from 3.995 billion euros in 2009, while spending fell to 4.379 billion euros from 4.740 billion euros over the same period, respectively.
Greeceās primary budget deficit also fell to 200 million euros in January 2010 from a deficit of 452 million euros in January 2009.
 Stocks jump 2.37% on Wed.Stocks ended with spectacular gains for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, helped by speculation of a Greek bailout by the European Union. The composite index of the market ended 2.37 pct higher at 1,940.82 points, off the dayās highs of 5.02 pct. Turnover was a strong 385.646 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.84 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.73 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index jumped 3.50 pct. The Raw Materials (5.78 pct) and Banks (4.28 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecoms (0.32 pct) and Travel (0.25 pct) suffered losses.
Lanakam (20 pct), Aspis Bank (19.75 pct), Petzetakis (17.14 pct) and Altec (14.29 pct) were top gainers, while Ippotour (8.0 pct), Euroholdings (6.67 pct) and ANEK (6.21 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 172 to 26 with another 49 issues unchanged.
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