|Monday, 24 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greek exports up 19.4 pct in value over Jan-Oct, yr/yrThe value of Greek exports grew by 19.4 percent in the January-October pe-riod, compared with the same period last year, to a total of 13.579 billion euros, from 11.377 billion euros in 2005, the Hellenic Export Promotion Organisation said on Thursday.
HEPO, in a report, said exports rose by 2.2 billion euros in the 10-month period of 2006, of which 827 million were exports of oil products, 330 million in foods and beverages and 476 million euros were exports of industrial products.
The report attributed an 11.6-pct increase in the trade deficit in the January-October 2006 period to higher payments for oil imports. Excluding oil, the deficit rose by 8.5 pct over the same period.
Export activity to the EU grew 20 percent to 7.328 billion euros, accounting for 53.96 percent of total exports, with Germany the top export destination of Greek products, leaving behind Italy (the top export destination until Sep-tember). Exports to Romania soared by 46.8 pct and to Bulgaria, by 31.6 pct.
Exports to third countries totalled 6.25 billion euros, up 18.6 pct from the same period in 2005, accounting for 46.04 pct of total exports. Exports to China jumped 65.79 pct to 108.8 million euros. Exports to Japan jumped 60.8 pct, reflecting increased exports of fish (23.7 pct) and fruits (7.5 pct).
HEPO noted a significant increase in the export activity of copper (94 pct), heating and cooling systems (76.7 pct), iron-steel pipes (62.5 pct), electricity equipment (71.5 pct), cotton (46.3 pct) and fresh fruit, vegetables, frozen food products (38 pct).
 PM briefed by Tsitouridis, AlogoskoufisPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Employment and Social Insurances Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Thursday, as the latter briefed the premier on initiatives undertaken by the ministry as well as its legislative agenda during 2007.
Afterwards, Tsitouridis said that a social solidarity fund will be created to assist the unemployed in problematic regions and sectors. He also reminded that three state-controlled social security funds (TEBE, TSA and the merchants' fund), with a total of 1.8 million contributing members and pensioners, merged on Tuesday, a move he said was pending since 1999.
Among the ministry's priorities for 2007 is curbing the extent of contribution evasion, while Tsitouridis added that 2007 will be a year targeting unemployment, particularly joblessness pla-guing younger adults.
During a separate meeting, Karamanlis received Alogoskoufis, with the latter telling reporters afterwards that discussions focused on priorities for the coming year.
The tidying up of the state's finances, implementation of reforms and efforts aimed to better support lower-income groups were also discussed, he said.
 Gov't vows to lower joblessnessThe government has made lowering unemployment and boosting employment a key priority, Deputy Employment and Social Protection Minister Gerassimos Yiakoumatos said on Thursday.
"Our target of more jobs and better jobs is being attained. Joblessness is fallling. It has not been elimimated but has been reduced significantly without resorting to rigging the figures or creative accounting," Yiakoumatos said in a statement.
 FM Bakoyannis gives interview to Bulgarian newspaperSOFIA (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, in an interview she gave to the Bulgarian "Standart" newspaper during her recent visit to Sofia, hailed Bulgaria's accession to the European Union (EU).
Bakoyannis also referred to the importance of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project, the Kosovo issue, the name issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), but also to the death sentence of five Bulgarian nurses and of the Palestinian doctor by Libya's authoritities.
"Allow me to send a message on behalf of the Greek people to the Bulgarian people, our sincere, brotherly 'welcome' to the European family. We are extremely happy that Bulgaria henceforth constitutes a member of the EU, and with intense desire we await to cooperate for a better and more brilliant European Union," Bakoyannis told the newspaper.
The Greek foreign minister expressed the conviction that "Bulgaria's and Romania's accession will constitute yet another important step for the construction of the European neighbourhood, of peace, democracy, economic growth and prosperity."
Bakoyannis underlined the importance of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and of the Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline for energy stability in Europe, saying:"Greece is not only part of the EU but also a warm supporter of the Union and we aspire to jointly develop it with our European partners. From this point of view, we constitute part of the European energy policy, within the framework of which our countries are transformed into energy centres through the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, as well as through the natural gas pipeline, which starts from Turkey and concludes in Italy, crossing through Greece."
Regarding the matter of the status of Kosovo, Bakoyannis stressed the need "for a European solution to be found to the problem," that is, a solution which "will correspond to the principles and values of the EU," and for it to be a viable solution, it should favour "stability and security and be based on the respect of the rights of minorities."
 Greece backs Italian UN initiative to abolish death penalty around the worldAthens on Thursday praised an initiative by the Italian government, within the United Nations framework, to abolish the death penalty around the world.
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos reminded that "the European Union has already made a statement in favor of the abolition of capital punishment during the 61st UN general assembly, proposing during a first stage the imposition of a moratorium on executions. This statement was signed by 87 countries, and of course, by Greece and its European partners."
 Merchant marine minister on voting by Greek seamen serving abroadMerchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Thursday sent a letter to Interior, Public Administration and Decentra-lisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos for the special category of Greek seamen who serve in ocean-going merchant ships, to be also taken into consideration by Greek Parliament during the promotion of the legislative adjustment for the voting by Greeks who are abroad.
Greek seamen who serve in ocean-going merchant ships already have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament.
 Sioufas receives new envoy of Saudi ArabiaDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas received on Thursday the new Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Athens Mohammed Al Qahtani.
Talks focused on issues of bilateral relations in the economic and energy sectors.
 Sioufas briefs president, comments on cartel charges in local fuel marketPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas at the presidential mansion in Athens on Thursday, with the latter later telling reporters that, among others, he briefed Papoulias on progress to finally commence construction of the Burgas-Alexandrou-polis oil pipeline.
Sioufas, who holds the energy portfolio as development minister, said Athens is in agreement with both the Russian and Bulgarian sides on practically all points, adding however, that there are two issues that are "approached differently" by Moscow and Sofia.
He nevertheless expressed certainty that any final obstacles will be overcome within a matter of days, thus allowing the three sides to proceed quickly with the signing of a final agreement so that construction begins on the oft-delayed project -- a pipeline connecting the Black Sea with the northern Aegean on the drawing board since the mid 1990s.
Regarding a domestic energy matter, namely, charges of oligopolistic and cartel-like practices in the fuel market, Sioufas said a high-profile Competition Commission report, unveiled a day earlier, aims to identify problems and to significantly increase competitiveness in the sector.
Regarding fuel prices specifically, Sioufas pointed out that despite the fact that international oil prices rose more than 90 percent, prices in Greece recorded an increase of 25 percent. He also reminded that unleaded petrol in Greece is 21 percent lower compared to 15 EU member-states.
Finally, he stressed that 2007 will be even better for Greek households and the business world, particularly in the country's provinces.
In a later reaction to Sioufas' statements, former PASOK minister and one-time EU commissioner Christos Papoutsis charged that the government is only now admitting that past problems still plague the pipeline project.
He also said the average price for unleaded gasoline in Greece was 32 percent lower than that the average price for the EU-15 when PASOK was last in power, first quarter of 2004.
 Development ministry cites success of 'Competitiveness' business programmeA "Competitiveness" Business Programme promoted by Gree-ce's development ministry ranked first in the absorption rate of sectoral programmes, with a rate of 64.42 percent in 2006, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Thursday.
The programme ranked in the 11th place in 2004, to move up to fourth place in 2005 with an absorption rate of 42.82 percent. The minister is expected to present a full report on the "Competitiveness" Business Programme for 2006 in the next few days.
 Greek mutual funds' assets total 23.91 bln euros in 2006Domestic equity mutual funds recorded exceptional returns last year, while Greek mutual funds' assets totalled 23.91 billion euros at the end of December, slightly up from 23.84 billion a month earlier, official figures showed on Thursday.
A monthly report by the Association of Institutional Investors said domestic equity funds' average return totalled 26.5 percent in 2006, up from a 19.93 percent return of the composite index in the Athens Stock Exchange, with 51 of the 62 funds in the category recording returns ranging from 20 to 50.96 pct.
Foreign combined funds' assets rose 6.4 pct last year, equity Funds of Funds' assets rose by 5.9 pct, money market funds were up 3.1 pct and domestic equity funds rose 2.2 pct. Bond Funds of Funds (4.5 pct), Bond Domestic funds (4.0 pct) and Domestic Money Market funds (3.8 pct) recorded declines in their assets last year.
The Greek mutual funds market recorded a net outflow of 246 million euros in 2006, mainly in the domestic bond (91.6 mln) domestic equity (91.5 million) and combined Funds of Funds (63.3 million euros) categories.
 Cooperation pact for industry, exportsThe Federation of Greek Industry on Thursday signed a cooperation agreement with HEPO, the state exports board, as part of a government-backed drive to make business more outward-oriented.
The two trade groups pledged in a statement to arrange business delegations and promotions, increase participation in exhibitions at home and abroad, and facilitate contacts aimed at forging corporate alliances.
 EFG Eurobank issues 250-mln-euro bond loanEFG Eurobank Ergasias on Thursday announced that its subsidiary EFG Hellas (Cayman Islands) Ltd., has issue a four-year fixed-rate bond worth 250 million euros.
The bond issue, carrying a fixed interest rate of 2.75 pct, will have EFG Eurobank Ergasias' guarantee and will be traded in the Swiss Stock Exchange.
The bond issue is offered to institutional investors and private banks in Switzerland, with Unicredit Group (HVB) as the main underwriter of the issue.
EFG Eurobank Ergasias enjoys an A2 credit rating by Moody's, A- by S&P and A by Fitch. The bond issue is included in an EMTN programme to raise medium-term capital aimed to increase the bank's funding.
 Greece accepted as full member of IOTAGreece has been accepted as full member of the Intra-European Organisation of Tax Administrations (IOTA), a non-profit inter-governmental organization aimed at promoting coope-ration between tax administrations in the European area and to supporting their development, a minance ministry announce-ment stated on Thursday.
Current full members of IOTA now include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Greece, Estonia, UK, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Holland, Hungary, Malta, Georgia, Azer-baijan, Albania, Montenegro, Moldova, Norway, Ukraine, FYROM, Poland, Romania, Serbia, the Serb Republic of Bosnia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Finland.
 China has observer status.IOTA cooperates with the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Bank.
The organization holds annual meetings, seminars and work-shops to promote cooperation between tax administrations and to improve tax systems.
 National Bank union queries Turkish buyoutThe staff union at Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece on Thursday repeated its qualms about the credit institution's acquisition of Turkey's Finansbank.
The viability of the venture had again come into question after Greek regulators fined National for inadequate information about the deal given to investors; and a recent ruling by Turkish regulators that the buying price for Finansbank stock in National's public offer should be raised to 4.14 US dollars per stock from 4.04 dollars, adding 45 million euros to the bill, the union said in a statement.
 Vivartia seeks share swapAthens-quoted Vivartia S.A. announced on Thursday that it had signed a non legally binding memorandum of understanding, with the shareholder of Elliniki Zymi SA, Michalis Arabatzis, for a swap in shares of 49% of Elliniki for the same percentage of Alessis SA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vivartia.
Both companies operate in frozen dough products.
If negotiations are successful, a binding agreement will emerge in coming weeks, Vivartia said in a statement.
 Greek stocks end at highest levels since Sept 2000Greek stocks surged to their highest closing levels since September 2000 in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, pushing the composite index up 1.0 percent to end at 4,536.69 points. Turnover was a strong 350.3 million euros.
Sector indices ended mostly higher, with the Insurance (3.83 pct), Telecoms (3.43 pct) and Food-Beverage (1.99 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains, while the Media (1.19 pct), Industrial Products (0.78 pct) and Raw Materials (0.61 pct) suffering the heaviest losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.96 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.33 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.28 pct.
Logismos (19.83 pct), Varvaressos (18.87 pct) and Lyberis Publications (16.82 pct) were top gainers while Ippotour (19.32 pct), Petzetakis (5.85 pct) and Tasoglou (5.26 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 140 to 111 with another 55 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.78%
Personal & Household: +0.41%
Raw Materials: -0.61%
Travel & Leisure: -0.15%
Food & Beverages: +1.99%
Financial Services: +1.39%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.20
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.30
HBC Coca Cola: 29.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.34
Emporiki Bank: 23.16
National Bank of Greece: 36.72
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 28.54
Titan Cement Company: 42.34
Derivatives Market Close: National Bank top in stock futures trade
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.20 pct
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.321
Pound sterling 0.679
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.142
Japanese yen 157.3
Swiss franc 1.626
Norwegian kroner 8.339
Cyprus pound 0.582
Canadian dollar 1.551
Australian dollar 1.681
 GSEE president slapped with lawsuit over bail money for AslamSeven Kavala residents have sued the president of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), the country's largest trade union, over his decision put up 30,000 euros of the union's funds to bail out a jailed Pakistani man, the president of an Athens-based organisation representing Pakistani nationals.
In their lawsuit, the seven plaintiffs charge that GSEE president Yiannis Papagopoulos covered the 30,000-euro bail under "the illegitimate claim that Javed Aslam is struggling in the defence of the rights and freedoms of all".
The seven plaintiffs' suit also justifies the legal action "because this claim (by Papagopoulos) is entirely unsubstantiated; because GSEE manages the contributions of all wage-earners in Greece; and because its leadership has no authorisation to allocate (GSEE) financial resources towards activities beyond what the law specifies..."
The plaintiffs also charged that Aslam, a Pakistani man who runs a phone calling centre in Athens, was arrested by Greek authorities on an Interpol warrant citing his involvement in migrant trafficking.
An appellate council ordered Aslam's release on bail pending a final extradition ruling.
 Edessa man charged with molesting boys; victims' fathers face blackmailing probeA 47-year-old local man was arrested in Edessa, northern Greece, Wednesday on charges stemming from the alleged molestation of three pre-teen boys, beginning in January 2006.
The case takes an even more ominous turn, as authorities charge that the suspect also paid blackmail money to at least one of the fathers of the alleged victims in order for the latter to remain silent.
Police confiscated a video camera and videotapes, whose content is being examined.
The fathers of the three alleged victims, all reportedly Albanian nationals, were also led before a local prosecutor.
 Man arrested for raping boy in ThessalonikiA 32-year-old man has been arrested and charged for raping a 14-year-old boy in the region of Toumba, in Thessaloniki, Macedonia.
According to police, the boy reported that during Tuesday night, he fell victim of rape by the man in a remote area. Earlier, the man and the boy were in an Internet Cafe of the region.
A police investigation had as a result the arrest of the man who admitted his act.
The man will be led before the public prosecutor on Monday.
 Fewer students drop out of school, survey showsFewer primary and secondary school students drop out of school, according to a survey.
Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Thursday made public a survey conducted by the Educational Institute, according to which the number of pupils who abandon primary school is now almost nil. In secondary school education, the drop out rate is about 14 per cent.
Yiannakou referrred to the education ministry's actions for the reduction of the abandonment, stressing that "because one of the basic causes of abandonment is also school failure, educational interventions are being made in this direction and substantial measures are being taken for its confrontation with better books and programmes, the restriction of teaching material and the introduction of innovative actions."
Meanwhile, university professors, secondary school teachers and students on Thursday gave a press conference at which they announced they would conduct a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, January 10, when Article 16 of the Constitution will be discussed in Parliament.
 Heroin arrest in N. GreeceA foreign national was arrested this week in the Nea Moudania township, northern Greece, on charges stemming for an attempt to sell 527 grams of heroin to an undercover police officer.
The heroin was confiscated and the 32-year-old suspect was led before a local prosecutor.
 Weather Forecast: Icy start on FridayIce overnight and in the morning is forecast on the mainland, with very high northerly winds in the southeastern Aegean. Temperatures in Athens from 4C to 12C; and in Thessaloniki between 1C and 9C.
 The Athens dailies at a glanceThe government's objectives in the economy, a Competition Commission report on the fuel market, yet more early elections speculation in the press mostly dominated the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Cartel in fuel market, too - Shocking findings presented by Competition Commission - Proposal for gas stations to be open on a 24-hour basis"
ANO KATO: "Super cartel in the fuel market - Competition Commission issues damning findings - Proposal for petrol stations in supermarkets'
APOGEVMATINI: "Army officer involved in illegal military service exemptions ring caught in the act"
AVGHI: "Gift to supermarkets - All the money goes to multinationals"
AVRIANI: "Lt. Colonel removed all documents for various artists, journalists, businessmen and politicians who received military service exemptions"
CHORA: "Government launches frontal attack spearheaded by major public works, new job positions"
ELEFTHEROS: "Changes in economy"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Monitored election talk - Government initiatives aimed at leaving elections scenarios behind"
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Burnt by fuel - Burning report: No transparency, lack of competitiveness"
ESTIA: "Prices in drachmas - Introduction of euro had an overall limited effect on cost-of-living index"
ETHNOS: "Lieutenant colonel nailed at conscription offices"
KATHIMERINI: "Series of proposals for a competitive fuel market, in the Competition Commission findings"
LOGOS: "George Alogoskoufis (FinMin) stops election talk: Economic supervision to be lifted in July or October"
NIKI: "Deliberate polyphony in government over the elections"
RIZOSPASTIS: "Solidarity to Palestinian people - KKE (Greek Communist Party) delegation visits Palestinian territories"
TA NEA: "Double bonus to supermarkets with gas, bread"
TO VIMA: "Alogoskoufis 'gospel' and (new) retort by Souflias (environment, land planning and public works minister)"
VRADYNI: "Favorable settlement for IKA (Social Insurance Foundation) debtors"
 Foreign Minister congratulates Bulgaria - Romania on EU accessionNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Yiorgos Lillikas congratulated Bulgaria and Romania on their accession to the European Union, expressing Cyprus' readiness to cooperate with the new member states in the framework of the EU.
"It is with great pleasure that we welcome the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union. The 1st of January 2007 has not only marked the successful completion of the last wave of the fifth enlargement, but it has also rewarded Bulgaria and Romania for all the efforts made in order to implement the acquis communautaire and align with the values and standards of the EU", Lillikas notes in a written statement.
The Cypriot foreign minister adds: "Cyprus looks forward to cooperating with Bulgaria and Romania in the framework of the EU with the view to promote European principles and ideals, and ensure peace, security and prosperity for the peoples of Europe".
"The Republic of Cyprus would like to offer its sincere congratulations to the Governments of Bulgaria and Romania for the successful conclusion of their reform mission, and wishes both Governments all the best for the future", the written statement concludes.