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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-07-27

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece, Bulgaria sign agreements during PM's visit
  • [02] Franchise colleges receive operating licenses
  • [03] Software piracy up significantly in H1
  • [04] Recession may be less severe
  • [05] Textile production down

  • [01] Greece, Bulgaria sign agreements during PM's visit

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA) Greek and Bulgarian ministers on Tuesday signed a number of bilateral agreements for cooperation in various issues, in the presence of Prime Minister George Papandreou and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, after the founding meeting of a Greece-Bulgaria Cooperation Council held in Sofia.

    Among the agreements signed was a Joint Declaration for exchanging information and knowhow relating to water resources, signed by Greek Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili with Bulgarian Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova.

    The joint declaration reaffirms the two countries' desire to take action to protect river water resources by taking the necessary coordinated action for rationalised management and protection of their joint water heritage.

    The two countries share several rivers that run through northern Greece such as the Evros, Ardas, Strymonas and Nestos.

    Agreement on culture and education

    A bilateral agreement on culture and education was the second signed in the presence of the two premiers after the Council meeting, by Greek Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Bulgarian Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov.

    The agreement calls for the foundation of a Bulgarian Cultural Foundation in Athens, equivalent to its Greek counterpart in Sofia, the joint organisation of an archaeological exhibition on relations between Greece and Bulgaria from early antiquity until the Roman era, Greek participation in the study, preservation and promotion of various Bulgarian archaeological finds and the translation of Greek and Bulgarian academic publications on historic monuments in the two countries.

    The agreement also outlines various joint activities and events relating to more modern culture, such as evenings dedicated to Greek and Bulgarian writers with an influence in both countries, poetry evenings, culture exchanges between the two countries' national theatres, state orchestras and others.

    Agreement on tourism issues

    Geroulanos also signed an agreement with Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traycho Traykov that seeks to promote cooperation between the two countries in various tourism-related activities, including the organisation of joint tourism packages of Chinese, Japanese and U.S. tourists, exchange of knowhow, promotion of various kinds of specialist tourist products, exchange of information, especially concerning investments, and joint organisations of events such as famtrips, conferences, festivals, exhibitions and cultural weeks.

    [02] Franchise colleges receive operating licenses

    Operating licenses have been granted to 30 of the 40 Post-Lyceum Educational Centres (Colleges) based in Greece that filed applications, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou announced in a press conference on Tuesday.

    The minister stressed that the sector will henceforth operate on the basis of specific rules, while the National Accreditation Centre for Continuing Vocational Training (EKEPIS) that recommended the licensing will continue to monitor the sector.

    The licensed colleges will only be allowed to offer courses in departments for which they have signed contracts with foreign universities they represent as franchises.

    [03] Software piracy up significantly in H1

    Software piracy rose significantly in Greece in the first half 2010, Business Software Alliance (BSA) said on Tuesday. Reports over the use of illegal software by Greek enterprises jumped 60 pct in the January-June period, compared with 2009, with Greek enterprises spending 1.0 million euros for the purchase of the necessary software licenses.

    BSA, in a report, said it was necessary to adopt policies to protecting copyrights in the country, since Greece ranked third in the EU in software piracy with a percentage of 58 pct, worth 173 million euros.

    "Enterprises can and must deal with the piracy problem in Greece," Kostas Samaras, a representative of BSA in Greece said. "Part of dealing with the problem is to be aware that bad use of software can have many forms," he added.

    BSA receives around 4,000 reports for use of illegal software in Europe, Middle East and Africa each year.

    [04] Recession may be less severe

    There were several encouraging signs that the economic recession in Greece will probably be less severe than initial forecasts, economy ministry officials and troika experts agreed during a meeting on Tuesday.

    The meeting at the economy, competitiveness and shipping ministry focused on developments in the inflation rate and absorption of EU community funds. Speaking to ANA-MPA, a top ministry official said troika experts underlined the fact that prices remained high despite an economic recession in the country, with ministry officials noting that excluding the tax burden on prices, the inflation rate fell to 1.19 pct in June from 1.93 pct in January and stressed that prices were falling in some sectors, such as food, while in the hotel-restaurant sector prices continued moving upwards.

    Economy ministry officials presented a package of measures aimed at containing/reducing prices, such as lower prices on pharmaceutical products, improvements in commercial real estate, a freeze in school fees, stricter control of intra-group transactions and a new regulatory framework on competition.

    The ministry stressed that its aim was to achieve a 15 pct absorption rate of EU funds by the end of the year (currently at 8.4 pct). Greek authorities have applied to the EU to approve handouts totaling 800 million euros, with another 1.3 billion euros scheduled for October and 660 million euros in December. Troika experts noted delays in promoting specific operational programs (environment, administrative reform, transport-infrastructure).

    [05] Textile production down

    The Greek textile industry recorded an 18.8 pct decline in its production volume in the first five months of 2010, after reporting reduced losses in 2009 equal to 16.5 pct of its revenues.

    Production volumes fell 21 pct in May, according to data released by Hellenic Statistical Authority, and were down 54.5 pct compared with May 2005.

    Last year was one of the worst years for the Greek textiles industry, although the sector managed to reduce its losses.

    The report, compiled by ANA-MPA based on the balance sheets of the 65 largest textile industries with sales of more than 3.0 million euros and total sales of 691.1 million euros, showed that 53.8 pct of total companies in the sector reported net profits of 15.6 million euros, while the 30 remaining reported net losses of 129.8 million euros. Compared with 2008, net results improved by 13 pct. Revenues were down 4 pct and gross earnings fell 21 pct, while EBITDA were down 26 pct and operating earnings (EBIT) fell 3.0 pct, reflecting reduced amortizations. Gross earnings margins fell to 3.8 pct in 2009, from 4.7 pct in 2010.

    The 35 profitable enterprises reported net sales of 379.2 million euros, while sales by the 30 loss-making totalled 311.9 million euros. Total sales fell 4.0 pct.

    (Photo by EPA/A. Bradshaw)


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