|Tuesday, 21 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Karamanlis message warmly praises Bulgaria's EU entrySOFIA (ANA-MPA / B. Borisov)
Bulgaria's formal accession into the "European family" was termed as a major de-velopment not just for Bulgaria and the wider region but for the European Union itself, in a message by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, and aired on the Bulgarian state television on Monday.
"It is a great joy and satisfaction for me to express my warmest congratulations and best wishes on behalf of the Greek people regarding Bulgaria's accession into the European Union," Karamanlis stressed, adding that Bulgaria's accession in a United Europe is a reward for the efforts made by the Bulgarian people and government to meet the European principles and standards.
"We share your great joy for many reasons. As a country in the same region, we are pleased over the strengthening of the EU's Balkan dimension," the Greek premier stated, pointing out that Bulgaria's accession sends an encouraging message to western Balkan countries regarding the important and positive results stemming from the reforms, which are necessary for their harmonisation with European crite-ria and prerequisites.
After highlighting Athens' firm support for Bulgaria's European prospects, the prime minister reminded that the Greek Parlia-ment was among the first to ratify Bulgaria's and Romania's EU Accession treaties in a special session, held in the presence of the presidents of the two countries, Georgi Parvanov and Traian Basescu, respectively.
Karamanlis added that new horizons are being opened for a broader and more dynamic cooperation amongst the countries in the region, stressing that as neighboring countries "we share many issues of mutual interest, and now these issues will be better discussed within the framework of the European Union, where our united voices will be stronger."
"We are looking forward to the new era of friendship and cooperation for us within the framework of the European Union", he concluded.
 Parliament president addresses messages to Romanian and Bulgarian counterparts on EU accessionParliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda on Tuesday ad-dressed messages of congratulations to her Romanian and Bulgarian counterparts on the occasion of their countries' accession to the European Union as of January 1 this year.
In her messages to Romanian Parliament President Bogdam Olteanu, Romanian Senate President Nicolae Vacaroiu and Bulgarian National Assembly President Georgi Pirinski, she said "I am convinced that in the framework of our European family, that is governed by principles and values, the close ties of friendship between our countries will be strengthened even further for the benefit of our peoples."
Psarouda also mentioned in her message to Pirinski that she looked forward to her forthcoming visit to his country.
 Local authorities celebrate Bulgaria's EU accessionLocal authorities of the three border prefectures from Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey celebrated on Tuesday Bulgaria's accession to the European Union at the Greek-Bulgarian border in the northern region of Evros, sending messages of coopera-tion in all directions.
The EU's flag was hoisted at the Bulgarian customs office in Ormenio, on the borders with Greece, while the celebrations also included local dances by cultural societies.
Evros Prefect Nikos Zambounidis said it is also an important moment for Evros, since from now on there will be a different level of cooperation with Bulgaria.
 Thessaloniki mayor hails EU accession in Greece's 'back yard'Thessaloniki Mayor Vasilis Papageorgopoulos on Tuesday referred to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania into the European Union as an utterly positive development for northern Greece.
Papageorgopoulos was re-elected to a new four-year term in October.
The mayor of Thessaloniki -- the second largest city in Greece and the largest metropolis in Macedonia province -- stressed that the development translates into a huge challenge for Thessaloniki and the wider region, given the immense trade and business prospects entailed.
He also underlined that the latest EU expansion is a major opportunity for entrepreneurs in the wider region.
 Top KKE delegation in West BankA Communist Party of Greece (KKE) delegation, led by KKE leader Aleka Papariga, will arrive in the Palestinian self-rule areas on Wednesday for a three-day visit, which will include meetings with Palestinian Authority officials, Parliament deputies and politicians from the entire political spectrum as well as social groups.
The KKE delegation was invited to the area by the Palestinian People's Party (PPP), the one-time Palestine Communist Party.
 Athens Bar Association calls for abolition of death penalty worldwideThe Athens Bar Association, on the occasion of the execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, stressed the need for the abolition of the death penalty.
An announcement by the Bar Association deplores the preservation of the inhuman, as it termed it, measure and stresses that it will undertake a series of initiatives for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.
"Exerting pressure on all countries still keeping the death penalty is a primary duty of the judicial world and the obligation of every democratic citizen," the announcement said.
 National Bank requests re-evaluation of Turkish Capital Markets Comm. decision over FinansbankNational Bank on Tuesday said it has requested that Turkey's Capital Markets Commission reconsider a decision asking the Greek bank to raise its offer to buy out Finansbank's minority shareholders.
National Bank completed the acquisition of 46 percent of Finansbank's common shares and 100 percent of founding shares on Aug. 18, 2006, while applying to Turkey's Capital Markets Commission to approve a binding public offer to purchase the remaining 44.3 percent of Finansbank's shares. On Dec. 28, Turkey's market watchdog said National Bank must raise its offer to 4.14 US dollars for each 10 shares, up from 4.04 US dollars paid for the acquisition, citing accounting differences on valuations for the Turkish lender.
 Development minister calls for closer cooperation on market operationDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Deputy Ministers Yiannis Papathanasiou and Anastasios Nerantzis and secretary general Nikos Stefanou, speaking on Tuesday on the occasion of the new tenures of the country's prefects, mayors and com-munity presidents, stressed the need for closer cooperation on development issues, market operation and controls.
Sioufas said that the development ministry's civil leadership sends a message of close cooperation to all the re-elected and newly-elected prefects, mayors and community presidents, while calling for the participation of the active citizen and consumer to remove extreme attitudes from markets and marginalise the deceitful.
Nerantzis said that the ministry looks forward to all local government authorities "regardless of their colour, party or whatever other shades of theirs with confidence and optimism."
 3rd CSF absorption rate reaches 58 pcThe rate of absorption of funds from the 3rd Community Support Framerwork (CSF) reached 58 percent at the end of 2006, according to the finance and economy ministry's press bulletin.
The absorption of funds for sector programmes amounted to 57.7 percent and to 58.5 percent for regional ones. Moreover, legal commitments (contracts signed) reached 90 percent of the total public expenditure.
Legal commitments cover a percentage of 88.6 percent for sector programmes and 93.3 percent for the regional ones.
The finance ministry also mentioned that "for 2006 there will be no loss of European Union funds as a result of the N+2" rule."
 Hellenic Olympic Properties signs 130-mln-euro lease with consortiumHellenic Olympic Properties on Tuesday signed a 30-year lease contract with J&P Avax-GEK-Vioter-Corfu Waterpark for the Canoe-Cayak Olympic facilities at the Helliniko site -- southern coastal Athens -- for close to 130 million euros, raising the proceeds from the leasing of four Olympic sports facilities to just over 661 million euros.
The annual lease for the first year was agreed at 3.5 million euros, to reach 4.6 million euros (fixed 2006 prices) during the 15th year of the lease contract. Under the contract terms, the Greek state will save 2.62 million euros in security and maintenance costs.
The consortium plans to operate a waterpark, aiming to attract both local and foreign visitors throughout the year.
 Dock workers to end go-slowDock workers at Piraeus and Thessaloniki, the country's two largest ports, are to end a two-month overtime ban on Wednesday, ending severe disruption for trade and commerce.
Workers on Tuesday agreed to hold talks with the government and management on improving operations at the two facilities that have a completion deadline of April 30, and an option for continuation.
The decision was taken by Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, management of Piraeus Port Authority, the Federation of Permanent Staff at Greek Ports, and dock w╬┐rkers in Piraeus.
 Intralot wins betting licenses in ItalyIntralot, a Greek-listed lottery systems provider, on Tuesday announced that it has won licences to run sports and horse-betting outlets in Italy.
The company said it won 416 exclusive and 164 non-exclusive licenses for sports betting and nine exclusive horse-racing licenses for a period of nine years. Intralot will also provide sports and horse race betting on the internet. The Italian government has offered licenses for 1,900 exclusive and 4,400 non-exclusive sports betting outlets. It also awarded licenses for 500 exclusive and 9,500 non-exclusive horse racing points, Intralot said.
In Italy, there are currently only about 700 outlets where punters can bet in a market worth about 4.5 billion euros.
Intralot operates in 32 countries and expects to invest 65 million euros in the Italian market, where annual sports betting per capita totals 36 euros compared to 210 euros in the Greek gaming market.
 National Supervisory Authority for aeronautical sectorThe establishment of an independent National Supervisory Authority in the aeronautical sector is anticipated by a draft presidential decree being promoted by the transport and communications ministry that has already been signed by the minister, Mihalis Liapis.
According to the decree, based on a special study prepared by EUROCONTROL, the supervision, control and certification of air transport control services will be subject to this Authority.
The directives and regulations of the European Parliament and of the Council of the European Union on the application of Unified European Sky planning will be implemented with the presidential decree in question.
 Piraeus Bank network totals 520 units in 2006Piraeus Bank on Tuesday announced that its domestic branch network totalled 301 units in 2006, with a total of 520 units both in Greece and abroad.
The bank opened 28 new branches in Greece and another 42 units abroad. The greater Athens region accounted for 42 percent of its domestic branch network, followed by northern Greece (32 pct) and southern Greece (26 pct).
The Athens-based bank operates a network of 63 branches in Bulgaria, 47 in Romania, 39 in Egypt, 36 in Albania, 22 in Serbia, 11 in New York and one bank branch in London.
 Greek PMI fell below 50 in DecemberGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index fell in December to 49.9 points from 50.6 in November, signalling a shrinking manufacturing sector for the first time in almost a year.
The PMI index, measuring activity in the manufacturing sector, recorded a moderate growth in production and decline in new orders in December, while employment fell for the first time in six months.
Inflationary pressures intensified in December, with producer prices growing at the faster pace in five months. Inventories also fell in December.
Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while reading below 50 indicate a shrinking manufacturing sector.
 Greek stocks open year with bullish sessionGreek stocks began the year on Tuesday on a solidly bullish note, with the composite index rising 1.65 percent to end at 4,466.62 points, with turnover a moderate 258.1 million euros.
Most sectors ended higher with Health care (3.77 pct), Technology (2.54 pct) and Telecoms (2.52 pct) posting the biggest gains of the day.
The Big Cap index rose 1.88 pct, the Mid Cap rose 0.73 pct and the Small Cap index rose 1.46 pct.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 191 to 80 with another 33 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.81%
Personal & Household: -0.15%
Raw Materials: +1.65
Travel & Leisure: +1.41%
Food & Beverages: +0.35%
Financial Services: +0.21%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and ATEbank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.30
Public Power Corp (PPC): 19.60
HBC Coca Cola: 29.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.54
Emporiki Bank: 23.20
National Bank of Greece: 35.92
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 27.90
Titan Cement Company: 41.76
Derivatives Market Close: PPC top in stock futures trade
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.18 pct
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.337
Pound sterling 0.678
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.096
Japanese yen 159.0
Swiss franc 1.623
Norwegian kroner 8.273
Cyprus pound 0.582
Canadian dollar 1.557
Australian dollar 1.682
 Figures show decline in technical/vocational education student populationOverall student population in the country during the academic year 2004-2005 showed a decline of 7.2-percent in the technical institute/vocational education sector, compared with the corresponding period of 2003-2004, while a drop in the parochial education sector was recorded at 7.8 percent, according to the National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE).
Based on ESYE figures, teaching staff numbers also fell by 2.9 percent in the technical institute/vocational education sector.
Regarding the student population concentration rate, ESYE figures showed that 32.4 percent of students enrolled in technical or vocational institutes, and 17.3 percent of parochial school pupils, were located in the wider Athens region.
 Noted Greek-American writer Pagoulatou diesJournalist, poet and writer Regina Pagoulatou died late last month at the age of 86 in New York, with a funeral service held last Thursday in the city's Astoria district.
Pagoulatou wrote more than 17 books and was a columnist in many Greek-American periodicals.
She was born on the Ionian Sea island of Cephallonia in 1920.
Pagoulatou was sentenced to internal exile in 1947 during the height of the Greek civil war for her leftist beliefs. In 1963, she emigrated to the United States and later emerged as one of the most distinguished "voices" of the Greek American community.
 Drug smuggling arrests near Greek-Albanian frontierTwo foreign nationals and more than 400 kilos of hashish were intercepted by border guards near the Greek-Albanian frontier in two separate incidents over the New Year's holiday, autho-rities said on Tuesday.
In one instance, border guards spotted a mule loaded with the cannabis in the remote Pogoniani district of Ioannina prefecture, with the animal followed at a distance by at least three smugglers. The trio reportedly fled back into neigh-bouring Albania on foot after being spotted. Police said Albanian authorities were notified of the incident.
Meanwhile, two alleged drug couriers driving separate vehicles were stopped and arrested at a police checkpoint on the Ioannina-Kozani provincial roadway. Both suspects are Albanian nationals, while another two suspects are wanted in connection with the same incident.
 Family of boy stoning police begins new lifeA large family of which the 11-year-old boy taken to the Security Police for throwing stones at police outside the Aristotelio University in Thessaloniki is a member, began a new life on Tuesday.
The 12-member family moved into a furnished flat in Faliro that was rented by the health ministry for three years, that will also assume all operational costs.
Deputy Health Minister George Konstantopoulos symbolically handed over the keys to the family and talked to the boy and, responding to a request by him, gave him a mobile phone and an icon of Saint George.
The boy appeared sorry for his deeds and promised to devote himself to his lessons on his return to school.
The deputy health minister also said that finding permanent housing for the family is a goal, while all necessary procedures will be carried out, in cooperation with the municipality of Thessaloniki, for a peddler's licence to be provided for the father, who is continuing to undergo treatment at the Papani-kolaou hospital.
 Preliminary enquiry ordered for soccer referee betting issueAn Athens prosecutor has ordered a preliminary enquiry on Tuesday as a result of a newspaper report concerning strange bets by soccer match referees.
The report revealed that referees placed bets through foreign betting companies on various aspects of matches, such as cards being shown and extra time being given, and for the carrying out of which they are responsible themselves.
Prosecutor Karaflos has undertaken to investigate the case and ascertain the truth of evidence produced in the report and find out if and by whom offences have been made.
 Weather Forecast: Rainy start on WednesdayThe day will start with rain or storms in most parts of the country, later easing off. Gale force winds at sea. Temperatures in Athens from 5C to 11C; and in Thessaloniki between 1C and 7C.
 House President says relations with Bulgaria set to develop furtherLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus House of Representatives President Demetris Christo-fias said here Tuesday there is a big desire and good will between the governments of Cyprus and Bulgaria for further development of the relations between the two countries.
Christofias was speaking to the press, after his arrival in Cyprus from Bulgaria, where he attended the celebrations to mark the country's accession to the European Union as of January 1, 2007.
He said that he had the opportunity to meet with Bulgaria's President and the Prime Minister with whom he exchanged views on the presence and future of the two countries' relations, adding that there is ''big desire and good will'' to further develop the relations between Cyprus and Bulgaria ''as it was before''.
''I firmly believe in the future of the two countries' relations,'' Christofias said, adding that the President of the Bulgarian Parliament will visit Cyprus, while he will be making an official visit to Bulgaria.