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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-12

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Ruling ND's party congress in June or July
  • [02] Athens stands firm on positions regarding FYROM 'name issue', UN envoy Nimetz in Athens on Friday
  • [03] Foreign ministry regarding Gul visit, occupied territories on Cyprus
  • [04] State Dep't spokesman on Cyprus efforts
  • [05] Greece on EU-Russian relations in energy
  • [06] Premier confers with FM
  • [07] Government on reports regarding interior ministry draft bill
  • [08] Papandreou tours Athens Academy's research foundation
  • [09] Koumoutsakos on ECHR ruling on Great School of the Nation property in Istanbul
  • [10] Local AI branch holds street protest against Guantanamo
  • [11] Synaspismos leader to take part i n ELP conference in Berlin
  • [12] Greece outlines energy policy at OECD
  • [13] Moody's upgrades Greek economic outlook to positive
  • [14] Gov't wants speed up in OTE privatisation
  • [15] PASOK, Coalition criticise government over OTE issue
  • [16] Deputy FM Evripidis Stylianidis discusses know-how transfer
  • [17] Good prospects for increase in tourist arrivals from Austria
  • [18] FinMin meets with Marfin CEO
  • [19] Greek business conference in London
  • [20] Government intends to increase VAT return rates for farmers
  • [21] Employment minister praises Manpower Employment Organisation
  • [22] Fruits from Velventos, Kozani dominate foreign markets
  • [23] Greek inflation unchanged at 2.9% in Dec., yr/yr
  • [24] Piraeus Bank to make public proposal to Marfin Popular Bank
  • [25] Novator to sell shares in Forthnet
  • [26] Germanos to delist from Athens bourse
  • [27] Greek stocks jump 1.22 pct on Thursday
  • [28] Foreign Exchange Rates
  • [29] Greece ratifies three international agreements of UNESCO
  • [30] Greek Culture Foundation in Trieste
  • [31] Construction of Multicultural Centre in Rhodes announced
  • [32] Press conference on 'constitutional changes against natural environment'
  • [33] Greek ministers attend concert in Istanbul
  • [34] Group assumes arson attacks in Athens
  • [35] Armed robbers target hotel jewelry shop
  • [36] Edessa alleged child molester remanded in custody
  • [37] Climate change affects the migration of aquatic birds to Greece
  • [38] 'Patris' newspaper publisher dies
  • [39] Weather Forecast: Unseasonally warm on Friday
  • [40] The Athens dailies at a glance
  • [41] Papadopoulos: security should not be at stake
  • [42] FM: Official UN Cyprus policy, the July 8 agreement

  • [01] Ruling ND's party congress in June or July

    A congress by the ruling New Democracy (ND) party will be held in June or July, the party's political council, chaired on Thursday by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself, announced.

    Senior party officials and government ministers emerging from the council session, among them Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and ND Central Com-mittee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, underlined that the announcement should fi-nally put an end to speculation that the government intends to call early ele-ctions.

    Zagoritis said that the decision would entail new elections within the party, while announcing that he would stand for re-election in the new Central Com-mittee that would emerge after the Congress.

    Thursday's council meeting also made decisions regarding the constituencies where certain prominent party members will run for office in the next general elections, he announced.

    Specifically, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will run in the 1st Athens constituency, government spokesman and Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos will in Attica, deputy foreign minister Yiannis Valinakis in the Dodecanese islands and the New Democracy MEPs Antonis Samaras, George Dimitrako-poulos and Kostis Hatzidakis in Messinia, Larissa and 2nd Athens constituency, respectively.

    Karamanlis, in his address to members of the council, referred extensively to the education sector, which has leaped onto the national limelight this week with the opening of a debate in Parliament on revising Article XVI. Among others, the premier noted that the government's priority of significantly upgrading state universities remains intact.

    He also referred to efforts at boosting regional development, especially via the use of new technologies.

    Moreover, he said the ND government's reforms will proceed with society as a whole as its ally. Finally, he referred to the positive development emanating from Bulgaria and Romania's recent accession into the European Union, while reminding that Turkey's absolute fulfillment of criteria means that country's full membership.

    Karamanlis met earlier on Thursday with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, while on Friday he will receive Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras at his office.

    In statements to reporters regarding the upcoming congress, Polydoras said that it would be an opportunity for broad dialogue with society rather than a strictly 'internal' affair and an opportunity to air proposals for reforms, both to assess existing policies and for the party's programme. The Athens mayor, meanwhile, revealed that the council had unanimously approved his proposals for a new environmental strategy for waste management in central Athens and changes to local government institutions, especially regarding local authority finances.

    Statements were also made by Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who, in addition to ruling out any increase in the duration of mandatory military service, said the planned congress would be an opportunity for ND to bring its political programme up to date and stressed that the party operated autonomously and independently from the government.

    [02] Athens stands firm on positions regarding FYROM 'name issue', UN envoy Nimetz in Athens on Friday

    The Greek government on Thursday again outlined its standing positions vis-a-vis the "name issue" still separating Athens and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), a day before special United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz returns here for talks with Greek leadership, including Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Speaking during a regular press briefing, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Greece has taken all the "necessary and productive steps towards resolving the out-standing 'name issue' with FYROM."

    "We have accepted Mr. Nimetz's proposal of 2005 as a basis for negotiations. We consider that the responsibility (for the on-going impasse) lies with the other side, which even now should follow the example of Bulgaria and Romania, as well as other nations in the Balkans, who are marching ahead with their vision fixed on a common European future and not taking steps backwards, insisting on falsifying the past," Koumoutsakos charged, in a direct reference to an unprecedented decision by FYROM's Cabinet last month to remain Skopje's Petrovec Airport in honour of none other than Alexander the Great.

    Koumoutsakos said the decision, "as far as the historical perspective is concerned, is utterly baseless; as far as the political angle is concerned, it is clearly unproductive."

    Although Athens and Skopje have achieved remarkable progress in bilateral relations, especially in trade and invest-ments, since signing an UN-mediated "interim agreement" in 1995, the "name issue" remains the only "thorn" blocking full normalisation.

    Greece and ethnic Greek communities around the world strenuously oppose FYROM's use of the name "Macedonia", as in "Republic of Macedonia", citing historical and political reasons. Moreover, Greece's largest province, which shares borders with southern FYROM, is called Macedonia, the same geographical region that more-or-less corresponds with the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, the birthplace of Alexander.

    In response to a question on whether Athens retains the right to veto FYROM's membership in international organisations - more-or-less a reference to Euro-Atlantic entities ' Koumou-tsakos merely noted that "Greek policy on the specific issue is absolutely based on what Article XI of the (September 1995) interim agreement foresees".

    Moreover, queried on the how the Greek side perceives any difference between the "double name" idea proposed by Skopje - which has already been rejected by Athens - and the international status quo at present, whereby Greece, the European Union, NATO and the United Nations recognise the landlocked former Yugoslav republic with the name FYROM, whereas 140 individual governments recognise the country with the name "Republic of Macedonia", Koumoutsakos said:

    "There are countries of particular political weight that, regardless of their policy to bilaterally recognise the neigh-bouring country with its constitutional name, are ready to adapt their decision to a resolution that will emanate from the UN process if a mutually acceptable solution is found. The interna-tional landscape is not static, and it's within this environment that Mr. Nimetz's effort is taking place".

    Finally, Koumoutsakos said finding of a mutually acceptable solution to the "name issue" would have "multiple positive effects" on bilateral relations as well as on regional cooperation and development, while at the same time facilitating FYROM's Euro-Atlantic ambitions "on the basis of good-neighbourly relations and mutual trust, which are EU principles and an obligation of EU candidate states."

    FM to meet with Nimetz on Friday

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis will meet Friday with UN special mediator on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced on Thursday.

    Announcing the foreign minister's schedule for the coming week during a regular press briefing, Koumoutsakos said that Bakoyannis would be in Munich on January 13-14 at the invitation of the Alliance Cultural Group, which is organising a series of lectures on the topic "The future of Europe". Many European personalities will be attending the events, including German foreign minister

    During her visit, Bakoyannis will meet with representatives of the Greek community in Germany.

    On January 14-16, Bakoyannis will accompany prime minister Costas Karamanlis on his trip to Belgrade (Jan. 14), Lubljana (Jan. 15) for events celebrating Slovenia's accession to the euro-zone, and Belgrade (Jan. 16).

    On January 18, Bakoyannis is scheduled to attend the President of the Republic's annual reception in honour of the diplomatic corps.

    [03] Foreign ministry regarding Gul visit, occupied territories on Cyprus

    Arrangements are currently being made through diplomatic channels to set a date for a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to Greece, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told reporters on Thursday.

    Asked to comment on a recent speech by Gul to the Turkish Parliament, in which the Turkish minister claimed that the Moslem minority in Thrace was being subjected to discrimi-nation and lived in region that was significantly backward in comparison with other regions of the European Union - as well as what was perceived as an effort by Turkey to make the minority a bilateral issue - Koumoutsakos stressed that Greece has a clear policy where the minority in Thrace was concerned.

    "The members of the Moslem minority in Thrace are Greek citizens and citizens of Europe that enjoy full equality before the law and state," he underlined, adding that Greece was "proud of its European policy for minorities, which is constantly developing and which we consider an example for others".

    The spokesman also pointed out that Gul's speech had referred to Turkey's unswerving desire to improve bilateral ties with Greece.

    On the prospect of Gul touring Thrace while in Greece, Koumoutsakos said that the Turkish foreign minister would be free to visit any area of the country and repeated that Greece was proud of its policy for minorities so that there was no reason for concern from such a visit.

    He also stressed that Greek governments past and present had made efforts to use EU Community Support Frameworks in the best possible way, while the region of Thrace was among those where special efforts were being made to make optimal use of 4th CSF funds.

    Finally, he said a report of shots fired near the Imia islets, which in 1996 sparked an incident that brought Greece and Turkey to the brink of hostilities, had been checked and found inaccurate.

    In response to a question regarding an EU regulation to allow direct trade with Turkish-Cypriots in the occupied territories of Cyprus, Koumoutsakos said that this would be discussed by both working teams and by the Permanent Representatives on COREPER and all indications pointed to a repetition of the discussion in order to arrive at a specific decision at the Council of EU foreign ministers on January 22.

    [04] State Dep't spokesman on Cyprus efforts

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)

    US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack on Wed-nesday reiterated the US interest that the sides involved will agree to come together to try once again to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, replying to questions at a regular press briefing prompted by statements by US under secretary of state Nicholas Burhs during a visit to the Greek embasssy.

    During the visit, Burns, a former US ambassador to Greece, had said that "We think, we hope that 2007 could be a year of Cyprus. And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is now putting together a team. We hope that there will be even senior Americans on that team in the new UN effort to try to resolve finally the problems that have stemmed from the invasion of Cyprus 30 years ago."

    "Well, we hope that all the relevant parties can come together to once again try to find a solution to this very difficult long-standing problem. (Former UN) Secretary General Annan made tremendous efforts to propose a solution that was put to the test of the voters and ultimately the Greek Cypriots decided against it. They voted against it. And so I think that in the wake of that there wasn't much interest among the members of the interna-tional community for reenergizing efforts to try to come to a solution," McCormack said.

    "But I think we have gotten to a point now where enough interested parties in the region have expressed an interest in maybe trying again to find a solution; that the UN has taken another look at this issue and they may consider what it is that they might do. We support them in those efforts. And should they decide to move forward with a new effort to try to find a solution, we would certainly support them in those efforts, but we would be in a supporting role," the state department spokesman added..

    [05] Greece on EU-Russian relations in energy

    "We believe that stable and reliable energy relations between the European Union and Russia will be in the interests of both sides," Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumou-tsakos told reporters on Thursday.

    Noting that the German EU presidency would seek to deepen energy dialogue with Russia, the spokesman said that Greece will support this effort.

    He was responding to questions regarding the proposals for a common EU energy policy announced by the European Commission on Wednesday.

    [06] Premier confers with FM

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred Thursday morning with foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    No statements were made after the half-hour meeting.

    [07] Government on reports regarding interior ministry draft bill

    The government on Thursday questioned the veracity of reports claiming that a draft law prepared by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos had been judged unconstitutional by the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos pointed out that the court's decision regarding the draft legislation had not yet been formally written out, and that those claiming otherwise were "victims of a distortion of the case".

    "On the major issue of whether or not the proposal made by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos to increase the number of representatives in the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities (TEDK) was constitutional, this was judged constitutional by 9 - 0 votes. On the question of whether it was constitutional or not to increase the number of electors, this was again judged constitutional by a overwhelming majority," Roussopoulos said.

    The spokesman added that the only change in the percentage of electors from the majority and minority factions on councils of 17 or more members, which dropped from 75%-25% originally proposed by Pavlopoulos to 60-40.

    [08] Papandreou tours Athens Academy's research foundation

    Main opposition party PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday toured the Athens Academy's biomedical research foundation, where he was briefed by foundation president Dr. Grigoris Skalkeas on its activities and recent breakthroughs in biomedical research.

    Papandreou was accompanied by party spokesman Petros Efthymiou and top PASOK cadre and former minister Michalis Chrysohoidis.

    In brief statements, Papandreou underlined that the foundation's work enjoys international recognition, while adding that PASOK governments, and he himself personally, exerted efforts to establish the research entity.

    [09] Koumoutsakos on ECHR ruling on Great School of the Nation property in Istanbul

    A recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights ordering the Turkish state to return to the Great School of the Nation in Istanbul a piece of property that had been seized in 1974, or pay it a compensation of 900,000 euros, "is clear and like all other decisions by this authoratitive court creates a new legal reality," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumou-tsakos said on Thursday.

    Koumoutsakos was responding to a qiestion whether the above decision created a legal precedent for other same issues.

    The European Court of Human Rights, by virtue of a ruling, had ordered the Turkish state to return to the Great School of the Nation in Istanbul a piece of property that had been seized in 1974, members of the board of directors of the Foundation of the School announced in Istanbul on Tuesday.

    [10] Local AI branch holds street protest against Guantanamo

    Members of the local branch of Amnesty International on Thursday staged a symbolic protest in the northern city of Thessaloniki on the occasion of the five-year anniversary of the operation of the Guantanamo Bay detention unit.

    Four AI volunteers, wearing orange prison jumpsuits remini-scent of the ones worn by prisoners at the US camp on the eastern tip of Cuba, expressed their opposition to Bush admini-stration policy, while other Amnesty International volunteers handed out leaflets to passersby.

    AI Greek branch vice-president Irene Tsolakis said the goal of the protest was to raise public awareness and exert pressure on the US government to shut down Guantanamo on the grounds of grave human rights violations.

    [11] Synaspismos leader to take part i n ELP conference in Berlin

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader will take part in a conference of the presidents of the Europeam Left Party (ELP) due to be held in Berlin on January 12-14, according to a party press release.

    Issues on the agenda of the conference include European Union institutional, educational and energy issues, as well as international developments.

    Stelios Pappas, member of the party's Secretariat, will participate in a meeting of the Executive Committee of the ELP, to be held in Berlin at the same time.

    Financial News

    [12] Greece outlines energy policy at OECD

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/O Tsipira)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday outlined the Greek government's energy policy at a meeting of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) held in the French capital.

    "Greece is evolving into a major energy corridor between production points and consumption centres, and into a modern, commercial, transit and financial centre," Sioufas said.

    "At the same time it is the gateway to the Middle East and Asia from Europe, and a base for major European companies to rely on, firms that wish to develop business in the dynamically emerging southeast European region," he noted.

    The government's energy policy is based on opening up the domestic market and ensuring adequate energy supplies.

    "We are implementing a focused and outward-looking energy policy aimed at upgrading Greece's role in the global energy map," the minister stated.

    The country had upgraded its energy ties with the USA, countries in the Mediterranean basin, the Caspian and Arabic peninsula, as well as making the best use of European Union membership.

    Key projects included construction of a natural gas pipeline with Turkey, now in its final phase; and in 2007 procedures would be completed for construction of an undersea natural gas pipeline between Greece and Italy.

    The minister also summarised key economic progress Greece has made since the government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis took office in March 2004.

    After the meeting, Sioufas told a news conference that he was honoured to have the opportunity of presenting the govern-ment's reform policy before the OECD's permanent repre-sentatives.

    Accompanying the minister was his secretary general, Nikos Stephanou, who reported that in 2005 and 2006 Greece and Albania worked hard to upgrade their electricity production, transportation and distribution system.

    [13] Moody's upgrades Greek economic outlook to positive

    Moody's Investors Service on Thursday apparently "rewarded" the Greek government's efforts to rein in the country's fiscal condition and to boost economic growth, announcing that it was upgrading the outlook of Greek state bonds to positive from stable and offering a credit rating of A1.

    The international credit rating agency predicted that the Greek economy would sustain strong economic growth over the medium term, thanks to an expected increase in investment and productivity, while fiscal consolidation will continue to help cut public debt.

    "Real GDP growth should be around 3.9 pct in 2006. Greece's GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis is expected to reach 80 percent of the EU-15 average in 2008 against 77.2 pct in 2005 and 64.3 pct in 1998," Sara Bertin, a Moody's vice-president and senior analyst said in a statement. "Growth should remain unabated over the medium term due to a pick-up in investment and productivity gains," she added.

    Bertin noted that the country's fiscal debt was reducing as the government "successfully controlled spending and raising tax proceeds".

    Moody's said it would continue to monitor the government's commitment towards fiscal consolidation, improving competiti-veness and reforming the pension system. The credit rating agency also predicted that significant reforms would be made in the pension system, starting 2008.

    Commenting on the next general election in Greece, Moody's analysts noted that "the government elected in 2004 has shown its strong commitment to widespread reform of labour and product markets," and added that they "do no anticipate that the next elections, due to take place in the autumn of 2007 or spring 2008, will lead to any drastic changes in policy".

    [14] Gov't wants speed up in OTE privatisation

    The Greek government is accelerating procedures to find a strategic partner for state-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and the group of advisers picked by the government for the privatisation initiative, Liapis said the two ministers asked advisers to speed up efforts in search of a strategic partner, especially from the international market, to participate in the telephony utility's management. Specific proposals were requested by the end of February.

    The government's aim is to find a major partner that will invest capital and know-how, since "our goal is to offer Greek consumers cheaper and higher quality telecommunication services," Liapis said.

    He did not elaborate on whether any European telecoms have expressed interest in OTE, while Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis confirmed that contacts with foreign firms have taken place.

    [15] PASOK, Coalition criticise government over OTE issue

    The main opposition PASOK party and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) criticised the government on Thursday in connection with the meeting between Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis and Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on the issue of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE).

    PASOK's transport and communications official Dinos Rovlias said that the government "wants to offer OTE for revenue-receiving reasons to foreigners entirely and for the finding of which it is 'scouring' Europe through advisers, but at the same time it fears the judgement of the Greek people, since the majority of citizens want OTE to remain under state control."

    Coalition party Political Bureau member Dimitris Stratoulis spoke on his part of a "national, social and economic crime against the future of the country" and called on labour unions and the Left to prevent it.

    [16] Deputy FM Evripidis Stylianidis discusses know-how transfer

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and German Deputy Environment and Nuclear Security Minister Michael Mueller hose country currently holds the European Union presidency, discussed on Thursday the promotion of the transfer of energy know-how from Germany to Greece and its "re-exportation", with added value, to Arab countries.

    "Greece will assume a key position in the sector of energy in the eastern Mediterranean and we want to do everything we can to support it to enable it to play this role correctly," Miller said after the meeting, stressing that he began his tour of EU countries from Greece.

    The German presidency has placed its weight in the energy sector which, as well as its methods of management, will be, according to the German official, "the key issue of the coming decades."

    Stylianidis said that Germany is ahead on issues concerning alternative energy sources, reminding that "we already have cooperation with German industries, such as BMW, with the University of Berlin" and stressed that "we responded to the German official's proposal on the transfer of this know-how to the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and of southeastern Europe."

    "We are trying to spread know-how to all the Arab countries we have visited in the past months and those which we shall be visiting in the first months of 2007," Stylianidis added.

    [17] Good prospects for increase in tourist arrivals from Austria

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greece is making its presence felt with the big and impressive pavilion of the Greek Tourist Organisation (EOT) in this year's International Tourist Exhibition in Vienna, with good prospects for further increasing tourist arrivals from Austria. The Exhibition opened its doors on Thursday and will expect up to 150,000 visitors by the time it closes on Sunday.

    Representatives of the biggest Austrian travel organisations and businesses, as well as the Austrian press in related reports, highlight Greece as coming first in the Austrians' preferences for holidays abroad this year, while pointing out that the previous year was also very successful, since the number of Austrian tourists visiting Greece exceeded 600,000.

    Greece has had one of the top positions, or even first place, for many years regarding the preferences of Austrian tourists for countries of destination, having a share in the Austrian tourist market, concerning organised trips, in the region of 18 percent.

    Greece is also considered a safe and politically stable tourist destination that meets the needs of families for holidays.

    Austria, considering its population of eight million, is in first place with regard to foreign tourist arrivals in Greece, while the Austrians are considered the most "loyal" visitors of our country, bearing size in mind, since their numbers have been increasing continuously in past years.

    [18] FinMin meets with Marfin CEO

    National economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis met Thursday with Athens-listed Marfin Finanacial Group vice-chairman and CEO Andreas Vgenopoulos.

    Vgenopoulos briefed the minister on the Marfin board of directors' decision to increase the company's share capital by 5 billion euros.

    The company aims at chanelling the capital increase to investments and acquisitions both in Greece and the wider region of southeastern Europe.

    The Athens-quoted Marfin Financial Group Holding SA announced on Wednesday that it will seek a share capital increase of about five billion euros, the largest ever on the Greek market.

    Proceeds of the rise would be used to finance new business, management said in a statement.

    The share capital increase will be proposed to shareholders, it added.

    Marfin Holding controls Marfin Popular Bank, which emerged after a merger of Marfin, Popular and Egnatia banks.

    [19] Greek business conference in London

    A conference on Greece as a strategic partner in southeast Europe in terms of investment prospects and business opportunities will be held in London on January 26, arranged by the Hellenic-British Chamber of Commerce.

    The conference will be held in Claridge's hotel under the aegis of the British ambassador in Athens, Simon Gass.

    Among key speakers will be Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    [20] Government intends to increase VAT return rates for farmers

    The government intends to increase VAT return rates for farmers and indeed for all farm production sectors, Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Antonis Bezas said in Parliament on Thursday, replying to a relevant question put by a main opposition PASOK deputy.

    Bezas said that the finance and economy ministry has created a special work group, that includes ministry officials, the VAT department, representatives of the agricultural development ministry and of the PASEGES farmers union, with the purpose of processing a mutually acceptable proposal.

    The deputy minister also stressed that special macroeconomic data of the past three years must be taken into consideration in this respect.

    [21] Employment minister praises Manpower Employment Organisation

    Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said on Thursday the work being carried out by the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) is very positive, speaking during his visit to the Organisation's headquarters for talks on the programme for 2007 with OAED Governor George Vernadakis.

    The employment minister stressed that unemployment dropped to 8.3 percent during the third quarter in 2006 and called on all sides, the opposition in particular, not to dispute data and assessment methods that remain unchanged since the time that unemployment had been estimated as being over 11 percent.

    Tsitouridis said 2007 is a year for boosting employment among young people. For every young person, as he said, who will complete basic training and will remain outside the labour market, an opportunity for employment or vocational training will be given in six months' time.

    [22] Fruits from Velventos, Kozani dominate foreign markets

    Sweet and tasty, the fruits produced in Velventos in the prefecture of Kozani, northwest Greece, can be found in the markets of Britain, Germany, Holland, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Russia, Poland, Belarus, Slovakia, Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates as 60 percent of the overall production is being exported.

    The annual production of peaches, nectarines, apples, quinces and plums is approximately 18,700 tons with an estimated turnover of 8 million euros, according to the two agricultural cooperatives active in the region.

    [23] Greek inflation unchanged at 2.9% in Dec., yr/yr

    Greece's annual inflation was recorded at 2.9 pct in December 2006, unchanged from November, but sharply down compared with a 3.6-pct rate in December 2005, the National Statistical Service (NSS) announced on Thursday.

    NSS, in its monthly report, said the consumer price index rose 0.5 pct in December from November.

    The agency attributed the 2.9-pct increase in the annual inflation rate in December to a 10.7-pct rise in alcohol and tobacco prices, a 4.3-pct increase in food-beverage prices, a 4.0-pct rise in education fees and a 3.2-pct increase in clothing and footwear.

    Commenting on the figures, NSS secretary-general Manolis Kontopyrakis said the inflation rate in January 2007 was expected to fall by 0.2 percent, and noted that average inflation in 2006 was at 3.2 pct, down from 3.5 pct in 2005.Greece's annual harmonized consumer price index was 3.2 pct in December 2006, down from a 3.5 pct rate in December 2005. The harmonized index rose 0.6 pct in December from November 2006.

    Kontopyrakis said the average harmonized inflation rate in 2006 was 3.3 pct, down from 3.5 pct in 2005.

    [24] Piraeus Bank to make public proposal to Marfin Popular Bank

    The board of the Piraeus Bank decided on Thursday to make a friendly public proposal to the shareholders of Marfin Popular Bank Public Co Ltd.

    The public proposal will concern the acquisition of at least 40 percent and of up to 100 percent of the share capital of Marfin Popular Bank, and in return the shareholders of Marfin will receive one Bank of Piraeus shares for every 5.70 Marfin shares.

    [25] Novator to sell shares in Forthnet

    Novator Equities Ltd, Cycladic Catalyst Master Fund and Foundation for Research and Technology, is to sell the shares it holds in Athens-quoted Forthnet SA through an accelerated bookbuilding process, the Athens-quoted telecoms provider said on Thursday.

    The stock will be offered to international and domestic investors through a private placement, Forthnet said in a state-ment.

    The exact number of shares for sale in the placement is to be determined on the basis of the demand but will not fall lower than approximately 3.5 million stocks, representing about 9.1% of Forthnet's outstanding share capital. All shares to be placed are listed on the Athens bourse, the statement added.

    Merrill Lynch International is acting as the sole bookrunner with Alpha Finance as co-lead manager for the placement.

    [26] Germanos to delist from Athens bourse

    Athens-quoted Cosmote announced on Thursday that following the successful outcome of its public offer for the purchase of all outstanding shares in Germanos S.A.by a wholly owned subsidiary, Cosmoholding Cyprus LTD, it will seek delisting of the acquired firm.

    Cosmoholding is required to buy through the bourse any Germanos shares it is offered at 19 Euro per share within a three month period starting on 22 December 2006, Cosmote said in a statement.

    [27] Greek stocks jump 1.22 pct on Thursday

    Greek stocks rebounded strongly on Thursday, recovering the biggest part of Wednesday's losses on the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index jumped 1.22 pct to end at 4,562.60 points, with turnover a heavy 554.5 million euros.

    Sector indices ended mostly higher with the Construction (3.15 pct), Healthcare (2.69 pct) and Technology (2.48 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Insurance (0.47 pct), Oil (0.31 pct) and Media (0.14 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.29 pct, the Mid Cap index jumped 1.47 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.31 pct up.

    Tasoglou (19.61 pct), Naoussa Spin Mills (18.18 pct) and Plias (15.56 pct) were top gainers, while Elfico (9.09 pct), Desmos (7.14 pct) and Hellenic Acquaculture (6.41 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 168 to 83 with another 56 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.47%

    Industrials: +0.81%

    Commercial: +0.47%

    Construction: +3.15%

    Media: -0.14%

    Oil & Gas: -0.31%

    Personal & Household: +0.56%

    Raw Materials: +1.74%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.43%

    Technology: +2.48%

    Telecoms: +0.35%

    Banks: +1.75%

    Food & Beverages: +0.61%

    Health: +2.69%

    Utilities: +0.99%

    Chemicals: +0.54%

    Financial Services: +1.24%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, Piraeus Bank, and OTE.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 24.60

    ATEbank: 4.20

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.68

    HBC Coca Cola: 30.24

    Hellenic Petroleum: 10.74

    Emporiki Bank: 23.16

    National Bank of Greece: 36.24

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 29.64

    Intralot: 27.36

    Cosmote: 22.92

    OPAP: 29.40

    OTE: 23.70

    Titan Cement Company: 42.68

    Derivatives Market Close: Intracom top in stock futures trade

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +1.29%

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At fair value

  • Underlying Index: +1.478%

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (6360)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 237.5 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.24 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.24 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (980 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.6 bln euros

    [28] Foreign Exchange Rates

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.302

    Pound sterling 0.667

    Danish kroner 7.476

    Swedish kroner 9.170

    Japanese yen 156.6

    Swiss franc 1.617

    Norwegian kroner 8.377

    Cyprus pound 0.580

    Canadian dollar 1.534

    Australian dollar 1.662

    General News

    [29] Greece ratifies three international agreements of UNESCO

    PARIS (ANA-MPA)

    Greece has ratified three international agreements of UNESCO, that will be going into effect this year, in record time for Greek reality, that usually requires a period of over 18 months for the ratification of international agreements.

    The agreements ratified refer to the protection and promotion of the multiformity of cultural expressions, the struggle against doping in sport and the protection of intangible cultural heri-tage.

    Greece's permanent delegation at UNESCO, headed by Ambas-sador George Anastasopoulos, and the Greek govern-ment had played an important role in the shaping of the first two of these international agreements.

    In the case of the agreement for the protection of intangible cultural heritage of 2003, certain reservations had been initially raised that had been lifted last year and the Greek government decided to go ahead with the ratification of this agreement as well.

    [30] Greek Culture Foundation in Trieste

    Another branch of the Greek Culture Foundation will be opening during the first months of 2007. After Belgrade it is the turn of Trieste, a city having a great tradition for overseas Greeks and a historic crossroads between Italy, Austria and Slovenia.

    The Foundation found space to house its activities in the centre of the city, in San Giovanni Square, that was offered free by the Orthodox Greek Community of Trieste.

    The Foundation will also be able to use the building's renovated premises for offices, a library, the teaching of the Greek language and for cultural events.

    [31] Construction of Multicultural Centre in Rhodes announced

    Dodecannese Prefect Yiannis Machairidis announced the construction of a Multicultural Centre in Rhodes on Thursday, that will house the societies of European citizens living on the island, during a meeting with the Dutch Ambassador Hans Foster.

    Schools and libraries will operate in the Centre, at the end of 2007, and necessary infrastructures for education and the cultural activities of people from foreign countries, including the Netherlands, will be provided.

    The Dutch ambassador expressed his satisfaction over the Dodecannese Prefecture's initiatives and assured Machairidis that he will assist the whole effort.

    [32] Press conference on 'constitutional changes against natural environment'

    A joint conference on "Constitutional changes against the natural environment" was held on Thursday at the offices of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE). The event was organised, apart from KEDKE, by the Environment and Viability Chamber and by a number of labour unions.

    The representatives of these organisations are protesting the new amendment of article 24 of the constitution that is being proposed.

    The President of the Environment and Viability Chamber, Mihalis Dekleris, said that the proposals concerning the revision of this article correspond to "ecological crimes."

    KEDKE President Koukoulopoulos stressed that the article 24 is not limited to forests and forested land but to town planning as well.

    Metsovion Polytechnic town planning professor Iosif Stefanou said on his part that the effort to revise article 24 "is doomed to failure", adding that "nothing can be decided at a time when there is no National Town Plan."

    The professor further said that whatever effort aimed at improving the viability of our natural and cultural resources must be accompanied by drastic and courageous measures, such as the abolition of the status of unauthorised building.

    [33] Greek ministers attend concert in Istanbul

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Culture Minister George Voulgarakis attended the concert given by the Athens State Orchestra in the auditorium of Istanbul's Central Opera at the Ataturk Cultural Centre on Thursday evening.

    "Culture means peace, it means democracy, it means an atmosphere that can prevail and bring the peoples closer and see things from a different point of view," Voulgarakis said.

    Meimarakis said that "I believe that these meetings help a further strengthening of relations with the aim of strengthening the climate of confidence. It is a known fact that different assessments and views exist that both countries have tabled, but this does not mean that there should be no corridors of under-standing and communication."

    The Turkish Defence Minister Vegdi Gonul is scheduled to host a dinner in honour of the two ministers.

    A second concert will be given by the Orchestra of the Istanbul State Opera at the Athens Concert Hall. The concerts are being organised in the framework of Greek-Turkish friendship.

    Voulgarakis will be meeting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholo-meos here on Friday, before returning to Athens.

    [34] Group assumes arson attacks in Athens

    A group calling itself the 'Revolutionary Liberation Action' on Thursday assumed responsibility for arson attacks targeting three banks and ruling New Democracy party offices in Athens late on Wednesday night.

    An unidentified individual telephoned the offices of Elefthe-rotypia newspaper and SKAI radio and television on behalf of the organization, saying that the attacks were in support of the demand for the release from jail of anarchists Tarasios Santarozni, Michalis Kiriakopoulos and Costas Hountardas, who are on hunger strikes.

    Homemade incendiary devices were used in the attacks targeting a Eurobank branch in Kesariani, a General Bank branch in Marousi and a National Bank of Greece ATM in Kipseli, where a car parked nearby was also damaged.

    A homemade incendiary device consisting of small propane canisters exploded in front of the ND offices at Agios Panteleimonas. Limited damage was caused by the fire to the offices and to a parked car.

    In other incidents, unidentified individuals dowsed a surveil-lance camera in Neos Kosmos with flammable liquid without causing any damage, while an unidentified individual riding a motorcycle broke the glass window of the National Bank of Greece branch in Kolonaki.

    [35] Armed robbers target hotel jewelry shop

    A hotel in Vouliagmeni, Athens, became the target of armed robbers in the early morning hours on Thursday.

    Two masked men armed with a pistol immobilized the hotel personnel at gunpoint and, using a sledgehammer, broke the glass window of a ground floor jewelry shop and took off using an escape car after taking with them jewelry of unknown value.

    [36] Edessa alleged child molester remanded in custody

    A 47-year-old man from the city of Edessa, who allegedly molested five minors, as well as the Albanian father of two of the children who is accused of accepting amounts of money not to reveal the event, were remanded in custody at the Diavata prison in Thessaloniki on Thursday.

    The two men were being held since their arrest and after making their pleas before an investigating magistrate at the Edessa Police Department and were taken to the prison on Thessaloniki on Thursday night.

    The alleged child molester will be brought before an investigating magistrate in Edessa in the middle of next week to make a supplementary plea, as was confirmed by his lawyer.

    The lawyer of the Albanian father also disclosed that the Edessa Misdemeanours Council will be convening on Friday in connection with his client's appeal against his custody order.

    [37] Climate change affects the migration of aquatic birds to Greece

    Climate changes appear to have affected the seasonal migration of aquatic birds to Greece, based on scientific evidence released on Thursday.

    According to figures provided by ornithologists in Greece, the swans, ducks and geese stayed away from their natural habitats in the Greek wetlands this January. Their presence is limited compared to previous years, a fact attributed to the unusually high temperatures for this time of year recorded in northern European countries.

    The aquatic birds taking advantage of the unseasonably good weather in northern European countries stayed in the Black Sea, the Danube Delta and even in Finland and as a result their numbers are notably small in the lakes of Volvi and Kastoria, northern Greece.

    [38] 'Patris' newspaper publisher dies

    Alexandros Mikoniatis, 82, publisher of the Iraklion newspaper 'Patris' died early on Thursday from heart failure.

    He was born in Iraklion on the island of Crete in 1925, was married and had two children.

    The deceased had worked as a tax office employee and in 1964 after his father died quit his job and took over the reins of the newspaper 'Patris' as publisher-director, leaving his own mark on the local press. Periodically, he also worked as a correspon-dent for Athens-based dailies.

    His funeral will be held on Friday.

    [39] Weather Forecast: Unseasonally warm on Friday

    Unseasonally high temperatures are forecast in all parts of the country. Temperatures in Athens from 5C to 18C; and in Thessaloniki between 1C and 13C.

    [40] The Athens dailies at a glance

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis' position on the educational reforms, the discussion at the parliamentary ad hoc commitee on revision of the Constitution that took place on Wednesday on the revision of Article 16 of the Constitution to enable the establishment of non-state, non-profit universities, the labour status changes at the Public Power Corporation (DEH), the case of the draft-dodgers, and Dubai investments in Greece, were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The disability pensions being put through the sieve - Investigation now into the other big scandal, that of the bogus disabled".

    ANO KATO: "New blow by Venizelos (main opposition PASOK leading member and former MP) against George (PASOK leader), as a wider majority on Article 16 (revision) is being formed in parliament".

    APOGEVMATINI: "PASOK 'yes' to Article 16 (revision) - Prime minister: The reforms in Education (will be effected) with the largest possible consensus".

    AVGHI: "It was only the beginning - Large rallies (to protest the planned reforms in Education and the revision of Article 16) yesterday (Wednesday) throughout the country".

    AVRIANI: "George fears mutiny in PASOK - He's being deluged by recommendations to walk out of the vote on ARticle 16 so that the party (PASOK) won't present a picture of dissolution".

    CHORA: "Radical change to the capital's regulatory plan - New model of housing development".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Despite the dynamic rallies by students and teachers throughout the country, ND and PASOK...ignored the children on the Education issue".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Leader-like appearance by Anna Diamantopoulou (prominent PASOK cadre)".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Fund for the '16' - Government, parties, police passed the test".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "How they set up the bogus draft exemptions machinery - Report reveals the trick with the medical certifications".

    ESTIA: "Capital of demonstrations - The long closure of the centre (of Athens) unacceptable".

    ETHNOS: "Neoliberal manifesto at DEH on the path carved by OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation)".

    KATHIMERINI: "Consensus in parliament, and tension on the streets - Karamanlis: The educational reform non-negotiable".

    LOGOS: "Government-PASOK consensus 'in principle' in parliament on the non-state AEI (institutions of higher education) - Despite the disagreement of Venizelos, Loverdos and other MPs (of PASOK)".

    NIKI: "Inside 'yes', outside 'no' - Discussion of Article 16 begins in parliament".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Dynamic beginning of mobilisations for free public Education - No to revision of Article 16".

    TA NEA: "Unrestricted dismissals at DEH, too - They're applying the OTE model".

    TO VIMA: "The emir of Dubai bringing to Greece five plus ten billion euros, for investments in health, informatics, banks, tourism, real estate".

    VRADYNI: "Ten SOS for larger pension - Full social insurance guide".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [41] Papadopoulos: security should not be at stake

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President Tassos Papadopoulos has stressed that the security of the people will not be jeopardized for the sake of creating impressions and gaining credit from abroad, as far as efforts to open a crossing point at the end of one of Nicosia's most commercial streets, Ledra street, are concerned.

    He also pointed out that the Turkish military, as the occupying power in the north of Cyprus, has imposed its will on the Turkish Cypriots, declaring that it will stay put in the area of Ledra street, where an illegally constructed bridge by the occupation regime was removed earlier this week.

    "We have no intention of sacrificing the security of the people for the sake of certain gimmicks, or for creating impressions in order to gain credit from foreigners and hear that we display good will," the president stressed spealing in Larnaca district.

    The removal of a few steps, which form the bridge, is not exactly the whole issue when at the same time the vicinity, which is in the UN-controlled buffer zone, is now claimed by the Turkish military, the president added.

    He explained that the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat, who had announced the demolition of the bridge apparently prior to securing the consent of the Turkish military, "simply obeyed the calls of the military as an obedient servant".

    "Talat has proceeded with the demolition of the bridge as a face-saving exercise," he noted.

    Papadopoulos recalled that it was the Cypriot government that had proposed the opening of eight separate crossings to and from the northern Turkish occupied part of the island.

    "Every crack in the wall that divides Cyprus is progress. When the number of crossings is numerous, then the dividing line collapses," he said, pointing out that the Turkish side rejected this proposal.

    He said that the Greek Cypriot side seeks to open another crossing point, ensuring the withdrawal of the Turkish army and the demanning of the area at the centre of the capital, explaining that the case of Ledra street is not exactly the same as other locations where crossing points have been opened to facilitate contact between the island's two communities.

    "Demolishing an illegally built bridge is not a grand gesture on the part of the occupation power for which we are asked to give something in exchange," the president emphasized in his speech.

    Responding to calls by the main opposition party Democratic Rally to meet Talat, he said such a meeting must be well prepared, in line with the July agreement between himself and Talat, which provides for meetings between the two to review implementation of what had been agreed in addition to ongoing meetings between their respective aides. So far no progress has been achieved in meetings between the aides, due to unwilling-ness on the part of the Turkish Cypriot side to work constru-ctively.

    The president stressed that issues relating to the military are discussed by the top brass and not the politicians, and indicated that "one must not encourage to Turkey's propaganda and we must bear in mind that the demolition of the steps of the bridge is not a demolition of the illegal constructions put up by the Turkish Cypriots in this area."

    "The Greek Cypriot side is seeking in earnest a political settlement, we are ready for a solution but a real solution that will reunite the country and its people. We must not forget that he who has been sinned against cannot make any concessions," he concluded.

    He described as ''very unfortunate'' a statement by the opposition leader that the demolition is an act of resistance by the Turkish Cypriots.

    The President's remarks came as the Turkish Cypriot regime, in occupied Cyprus, demolished a bridge they had constructed months ago, contrary to calls from Nicosia and the international community not to do so.

    [42] FM: Official UN Cyprus policy, the July 8 agreement

    To: arc1@zeus Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-12
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    Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-12

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The government of Cyprus is not aware of any change of policy on behalf of the United Nations regarding the Cyprus

    question, said here Thursday Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas.

    The minister was invited to comment on a statement made by US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack that the "UN have taken another look at the Cyprus issue and they may consider what it is that they might do''.

    "Officially, we have the agreement of the 8th of July. Our efforts now focus on achieving the necessary progress so that working groups and technical committees will be established in order to begin discussions, aiming to prepare the ground for a new initiative for a comprehensive settlement", he said.

    Lillikas added that parallel to that, there should be a discussion on day to day issues, as agreed upon on July 8th.

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on July 8, 2006, during a meeting in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    "This is the official UN policy, we are committed to that agreement and we will continue working with good will and with a cooperative spirit", he said.

    The Cypriot minister expressed hope that ''the Turkish Cypriot side will show the same good will as the Greek Cypriot side so that soon we will have the necessary results''.

    Invited to comment on efforts made by the German EU Presi-dency regarding the European Commission's regulation for direct trade with the Turkish Cypriot community, Lillikas expressed the readiness of the government of Cyprus to resume negotiations on the issue which begun during the past EU Presidency.

    "I hope that the soonest possible we will have a mutual agreed regulation for trade with the areas of the Republic of Cyprus that are not under the effective control of the government. We are in consultations with the German government. The first meetings will take place on a technical level next week", he said.

    Cyprus, an EU member state since 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of its territory.


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