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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-03-02
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Samaras meets with UGS boardMain opposition ND leader Antonis Samaras on Monday had a meeting with the board of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) at his party's central offices in Rigillis Street.
ND sector head for shipping issues Yiannis Plakiotakis, in comments after the meeting, stressed that shipping was a major pillar of the Greek economy and strongly criticised the government's decision to split up the former merchant marine ministry into three separate services, which he said had led commercial shipping to a "state of disintegration".
Plakiotakis called on the government to correct "its mistake" and said the only viable solution was to once again create a ministry for commercial shipping in collaboration with the coast guard.
UGS President Thodoros Beniamis confirmed that the crux of his meeting with Samaras were the problems that had arisen in operation of the shipping ministry after it was merged with the economy ministry.
 Condolences from Parliament president for people of ChileParliament President Filippos Petsalnikos has expressed the deep condolences and the "undivided support of the Greek Parliament to the struggling people of Chile for the victims and the incalculable damage caused by the disastrous earthquake."
In a letter he addressed to the presidents of the Senate and the House of Representatives of Chile, Jovino Vasquez and Rodrigo Alvarez respectively, Petsalnikos stressed that "the Greek people who have experienced the repercussions of disastrous earthquakes in the past, are watching with special sensitivity the tragic consequences of the disaster and wish for the speedy relief of the sufferers and the reconstruction of the regions that were destroyed."
 Romanian FM in AthensŃlternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and visiting Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi discussed bilateral, regional and international issues here on Monday.
2010 marks the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, with the EU and NATO allies reiterating efforts to further promote cooperation in the sectors of trade, environmental protection and political ties.
Baconschi, who is also scheduled to meet with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, also referred to the tripartite cooperation between Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, noting that Bucharest is aiming for another meeting by the three countries' leadership in May.
The commemoration of the anniversary of Greek-Romanian diplomatic ties will be celebrated with an exhibition of historical and diplomatic documents o display in Athens and Bucharest.
After the meeting, Droutsas said Bucharest is showing a substantial interest in south Balkan developments and Athens' "Agenda 2014" initiative, while expressing his hope that all concerned countries will take necessary steps to boost their European prospects.
He also referred to Romania and Greece's mutual cooperation on transport and environmental issues in the Black Sea.
On his part, the Romanian minister expressed his country's solidarity to Greece amid the current economic crisis and implementation of its closely watched Stability Programme. As he stated, Greece is fifth in investments in Romania, whereas Bucharest foresees further development. He added that several Greek banks are active in Romania, calling for a further increase in their activities in the Romanian market.
Baconschi also referred to energy security issues and to proposed gas pipeline projects, saying they will offer sufficient supplies and "independence to the European market."
Finally, in response to a press question on the fYROM "name issue", he expressed a hope that "while the UN procedures are underway, and given that the Greek government has declared its flexibility (on the matter), we expect from the other side to discuss a mutually acceptable solution".
 Rehn: More measures to cut deficit(ANA-MPA) -- EU Commissioner Olli Rehn on Monday tersely said that additional measures must be taken by the Greek government in order to meet a Stability & Growth Programme target of cutting its double-digit budget deficit by four percentage points in 2010.
Rehn's comments came during a highly anticipated press briefing at the European Commission's offices in downtown Athens, following a whirlwind round of contacts with top Greek ministers, the Bank of Greece governor and PM George Papandreou earlier in the day.
Caption: EU Commissioner Olli Rehn at a press conference in Athens on Monday, March 1, 2010. ANA-MPA / S. PANTZARTZI
 Katseli on Skaramangas ShipyardsEconomy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, referring to the announcement by the Information Gerneral Secretariat regarding Skaramangas, according to which the Greek government hails the decision of the Abu Dhabi Mar group to invest in the Greek shipbuilding and repair sector, said that "at a difficult economic conjuncture, it is very important that a shipbuilding and repair colossus, such as Abu Dhabi Mar that has four shipbuilding yards under its ownership, trusts and invests in Greece."
The minister added that "it is transforming, in this way, the Skaramangas Shipyards into a shipbuilding base for it, not only for the building of submarines of the Greek War Navy, but also for the building of surface warships and submarines of other emerging economies as well."
 SYN leader in NicosiaNicosia (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos) -- Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras, on a visit to Nicosia with European Left chairman Lothar Bisky, said on Monday that the Cyprus issue is "first and foremost a European problem", adding that the EU cannot remain silent in the face of the division of one of its member countries, "in front of dividing walls and in front of occupation troops that blatantly impinge the European acquis".
He said the Cyprus government's efforts for a viable and just solution that will reunite the island and create conditions of co-existence of the Cypriot people "is a cause of the European Left in its entirety, because this is at the core of its humanistic ideology".
Tsipras said that the Cyprus issue is at a critical turning point, and opined that Turkey's upgraded role in the international scene, combined with the new, fragile geopolitical balances arising as a result of the global economic crisis, render extremely difficult the efforts of the Cyprus government and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
"We are here to support and encourage him to unwaveringly continue these efforts, because only in this way can a solution be found and, we hope, have reciprocation from the other side and for the Turkish government's intransigent stance to cease," he added.
Bisky, in turn, said that President Christofias briefed the European Left delegation on the negotiations process aimed at resolving the Cyprus issue. He added that the European Left parties are cooperating to support those efforts.
"President Christofias is on the correct pat for the reunification of Cyprus," he added.
 Winter sales 20% downANA-MPA/Turnover in the winter sales season dropped by around 20 pct compared with the same period in 2009, with the clothing/footwear, paper/gifts, home equipment, electric and electronic products suffering mostly, Vassilis Korkidis, president of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE), said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters after completion of the winter sales season last week, Korkidis said the sales season painted a very difficult picture for the Greek market and the retail sector in particular.
According to early estimates, with the exception of the first week of the sales period - when turnover fell by 5-7 pct -- the following weeks the situation worsened significantly, with turnover falling by more than 15 pct to around 20 pct compared with the corresponding period last year.
Korkidis said that eight in 10 retail enterprises reported disappointing figures in their sales turnover and stressed that consumers shifted more to "no name" products, while they paid mostly in cash.
The retail sector hopes that a period of discounts and a forthcoming Easter holiday period could revitalise the market.
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
European Commissioner Olli Rehn's highly anticipated contacts with the Greek government and the additional austerity measures he advised to slash Greece 's double-digit budget deficit, along with strike threats by unions mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens ' dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Additional measures to be imposed following EU Commissioner Olli Rehn's order ‚¶"
APOGEVMATINI: "Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos: Freeze of all pensions in 2010".
AVGHI: The paper banners a poetic headline metaphorically equating Greek taxpayers with death row inmates.
AVRIANI: "Rehn in Prime Minister's role - He decides and commands‚¶"
CHORA: "Olli Rehn increases rage - Calls for additional measures".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "PM George Papandreou's unprecedented populism at Cabinet meeting".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Shock (austerity) package announced on Wednesday".
ESTIA: "Establishment of EMU the biggest mistake for Europeans".
ETHNOS: "One salary less - Abolition of '14th salary' bonus (in public sector) on the horizon".
IMERISSIA: ęDramatic decisions over (additional austerity) measures".
KATHIMERINI: "Olli Rehn: "Be strong‚¶ Additional measures include abolition of 14th salary; to be announced on Wednesday".
LOGOS: "New measures sealed".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "EU's approval for new package of measures".
NIKI: "Rehn's ultimatum shocks society".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Rally - Rise up against new severe anti-social measures".
TA NEA: "Be strong! - Wednesday key day for new package of measures".
VIMA: "Third package of measures for 4.8 billion euros that will be announced on Wednesday has Brussels ' stamp of approval".
VRADYNI: "The die is cast - Rehn calls for new painful cuts in salaries, bonuses".
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