|Monday, 17 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 FinMin optimistic over fiscal consolidation resultsEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday expressed his satisfaction over the general condition of the Greek and European economies, while he noted the need to be alerted over the fiscal sector.
Commenting on the workings of a Eurogroup, on Monday's and Tuesday's ECOFIN meetings, the Greek minister hailed a decision by the EU-27 to exit France from an excessive deficit procedure and directly implied that Germany and Greece would soon follow through.
Alogoskoufis said that the Greek economy managed to enter a fiscal consolidation path without undermining its growth dynamism and without any negative impact on the unemployment front.
'Perhaps the last 2-1/2 years, Greece has shown the most spectacular macro-economic results compared with other EU member-states, because we combined a large reduction of fiscal deficits with very high growth rates and lower unemployment.
I don't think such a combination has been recorded in any other EU member-state over the last few years,' the Greek minister noted. He underlined, however, that a forthcoming (before or after the summer) exit of the country from an excessive deficit procedure would not mean abandoning a medium-term target for full fiscal balancing (achieving balanced or surplus budgets in the coming years).
The Greek minister expressed his belief that a decision to exit Greece from an excessive deficit procedure would be based both on the country's current figures and on Greek updated GDP (revised upwards by 25 pct). Alogoskoufis said Eurostat would verify Greece's past and future data in April, to confirm that Greece not only shrank its deficit below 3.0 pct of GDP in 2006, but that shrinking would continue in the years to come. A verification of the situation and the economic prospects of Greek would be made in April according to the country's non-updated data, he said, adding that the country's economic picture would be fully satisfactory after the revised data.
Alogoskoufis said it was up to Eurostat to complete its work and noted that Greece's National Statistics Service was working hard to offer all methodology details asked by the EU executive's statistics agency.
 Coalition party official criticizes FinMin's statementsCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Political Bureau member and economic and social policy chief Panayiotis Lafazanis, commenting on statements made on Tuesday by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on the outcome of the ECOFIN meeting, said that "the insistence of Mr. Alogoskoufis, in the framework of the directions of the EU, in speeding up the so-called 'reforms' and the continuation of fiscal adjustment, aimed at balanced and surplus budgets, forebode the indefinite continuation of austerity policies for salaries and pensions and new packages of measures in favor of big capital, tax burdening for working classes and the demolition of labor and social security rights."
Lafazanis added that "Greece, with the policy of the New Democracy government, is being condemned to work exclusively for the profits of the big business groups and, primarily, for the excess profits of banks and ship-owners."
 Almunia does not rule out possibility of Greece exiting excessive deficit processBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
European Union Monetary Affairs Commissioner JoaquĆn Almunia, speaking here on Tuesday, did not rule out the possibility of the European Commission proposing Greece's exit from the excessive deficit process in the first half of 2007.
Referring during a press conference to the decision taken on Tuesday by the Council of EU Economy Ministers on France's exit from the excessive deficit process, the EU Commissioner said that in the near future the end of the EU's supervision of Germany will follow and pointed out that the Commission could also propose to the Council in the current six-month period the exiting of Greece and Malta from this process.
 China's Hua Jianmin received by President PapouliasPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received visiting Chinese State Councilor Hua Jian-min, who is also Secretary-General of China's State Council. They discussed bilateral relations between Greece and China, major international issues and the Olympic Games that will take place in Beijing in 2008.
"The Greek people, the Greek government and I, personally, consider your country to be a friendly country to which we are connected by many bonds and especially historic bonds," Papoulias said.
The Chinese dignitary's presence in Greece was a result of the "visit, which had very good results of the Prime Minister of Greece Costas Karamanlis to your country," Papoulias added.
The Greek president also praised China's contribution to peace in a region of the world undergoing crises and expressed Greece's warmest wishes for the success of the Beijing Olympics, saying that Greece would contribute to this by sharing the experiences it had gained by hosting the highly successful Athens Games in 2004.
Hua Jianmin conveyed the "warm regards and hearty wishes" of Chinese President Hu Jintao and noted that President Papoulias was a "old and good friend of the Chinese people" that had visited China several times in the past.
He said that China greatly appreciated the great interest Papoulias had shown in promoting bilateral relations between Greece and China and his important contribution in this regard.
Noting that this was his first ever visit to Greece, Hua Jianmin said that he had been greatly impressed by the country's natural beauty, as well as the splendor of the ancient Greek civilization during his visit to the National Archaeological Museum earlier that morning.
 PM meets Chinese State Councilor Hua JianminPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday met visiting Chinese State Councilor Hua Jianmin and discussed ways in which a joint Greek-Chinese statement calling for a "strategic, partnership relationship" between the two countries might be promoted in practice. The statement was made during Karamanlis' trip to China last year.
The aim of Hua Jianmin's visit to Greece is to launch initiatives that will put the statement on a practical footing, in terms of cooperation on political cooperation and cooperation in the economic and commercial sector.
Bakoyannis receives Chinese State Councilor Hua Jianmin
The excellent atmosphere in bilateral relations between Greece and China and the steadily improving relations in the political, economic and cultural field were underlined by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis after meeting on Tuesday with visiting Chinese State Councilor and State Council Secretary General Hua Jianmin. She stressed the determination of both sides to keep up efforts in this direction.
A special emphasis was given to economic relations, particularly in the sectors of commerce, shipping and tourism, while Bakoyannis stressed that there is room for further improvement.
The minister said that there is great potential for an increase of Greek exports to the China while she also referred to Greek ports serving as transit trade hubs in transactions with SE European and Eastern Mediterranean countries.
In the meeting they also stressed the importance of the strategic partnership relation agreement signed by the two countries during Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' visit to Beijing last January, which Bakoyannis described as a landmark for the further development of bilateral relations.
Apart from bilateral issues, they also discussed a wide range of regional and international issues.
They ascertained the progress made in dialogue between the EU and China, the human rights' issue included, while Bakoyannis referred to China's policy regarding the Cyprus issue and underlined the substantive cooperation between Greece and China in the UN Security Council during Greece's two-year term as a non-permanent member.
Bakoyannis also confirmed Greece's position in favor of a united China principle.
The foreign minister and the Chinese dignitary additionally discussed the Greek cultural year in China scheduled to take place from September 2007 to September 2008 within the framework of bilateral cultural cooperation.
 Chinese dignitary Hua Jianmin visits EKKDAVisiting Chinese State Councilor Hua Jianmin, who is also Secretary-General of China's State Council, on Tuesday afternoon, was given a tour of the National Centre for Public Administration and Local Government (EKDDA).
Hua Jianmin, who is heading a 17-member delegation, was briefed by EKKDA Secretary-General George Voutsinos on the Center's activities and particularly on its international cooperation with European schools and institutes.
The Chinese delegation's visit to the Centre was a desire by Hua Jianmin, a visit provided by the Memorandum of Cooperation which was signed in Beijing last May between EKDDA and China's National Administration School.
 Government decides to tighten laws for requisitioning, minority foundationsThe inner cabinet on Tuesday decided to tighten up legislation governing the requisitioning of services and the administration of foundations belonging to Greece's Moslem minority in western Thrace during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
In statements afterwards, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that requisitioning of services was currently governed by an outdated law passed in 1974 and needed modification to meet the requirements of the Constitution.
He announced that requisitioning of personal services would take place in response to natural disasters and for public health reasons following a decision by the prime minister acting on a request by the government minister responsible.
The minister announced that the cabinet had also approved two circulars concerning the way draft laws were drawn up and for monitoring their implementation, as well as for the issue of ministerial orders and decrees.
Regarding the religious foundations of the Greek Moslem minority in Thrace that own and administer Vacouf properties or endowments - a special class of property donated to religious foundations that dates back to the days of Turkish rule - Pavlopoulos stressed that laws governing their management were also overdue for a change.
He announced that the managerial boards of these institutions will henceforth be elected by the Moslem community rather than appointed by the government, while a settlement will be reached concerning their accumulated debts.
According to Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, the meeting decided to lift certain obstacles and modernize existing legislation in the "framework of equality before the law and state". She stressed that there was cooperation between the minority and the ministries involved that aimed at the development of western Thrace, which she stressed needed every form of European support.
 New laws to end seamen's conscription, government saysNew, updated legislation for the requisitioning of personal services that was decided by the government would end the conscription that forced striking Greek seamen back to work last year, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Tuesday.
"It is understood that with the new measures, the existing conscription is lifted," he said.
Responding to questions about the decisions reached by the cabinet earlier the same day on civilian conscription - to which the government had resorted in order to end an extended strike that had cut off communications with hundreds of Greek islands - Antonaros noted that the government had pledged to adapt the legal framework to "contemporary demands" at the time that it announced the order forcing seamen back to work.
 Egypt's Mubarak receives visiting Greek DM MeimarakisALEXANDRIA (ANA-MPA / N. Katsikas)
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday received visiting Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis in Cairo for talks on issues of mutual and regional interest -- the latter's last meeting before wrapping up his three-day official visit here.
Among the issues discussed was the security situation in the wider region, ranging from the Middle East, the Balkans, Iran and Iraq.
On his part, Meimarakis noted that Athens and Cairo share similar views on a number of issues, while adding that the strengthening of bilateral relations is useful towards the settlement of these issues.
He also stated that bilateral cooperation will be further strengthened while there will be regular contacts with his Egyptian counterpart.
Meimarakis met with several high-ranking Egyptian officials, members of the ethnic Greek community in the North African country and also attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the El Alamein battle site.
 Deputy FM Valinakis refers to European ConstitutionDeputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis met with diplomatic reporters in Athens on Tuesday and their talks centered on the European Constitution, the Balkans and the intensified diplomatic processes on the future status of Kosovo. The deputy minister made an overall analysis of the region of the western Balkans and its prospects.
Valinakis also briefed the reporters on the initiatives for the promotion of the EU's Constitutional Treaty, in which Greece has an active presence and on his participation at the "18+2" conference which was held in Madrid last Friday.
On the promotion of the Constitutional Treaty, Valinakis referred to the 18 countries which have ratified the European Constitution, plus two (Portugal and Ireland) which are participating in the same processes, heading in the same direction.
On January 26, the "18+2" held a ministerial conference in Madrid so as to encourage the other countries as well to advance the issue of the Constitutional Treaty.
 Foreign ministry rejects Turkish statements on Cyprus-Lebanon-Egypt agreementsForeign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, referring to an announcement by the Turkish foreign ministry on Tuesday concerning delineation agreements between Cyprus and Lebanon and Cyprus and Egypt, said that "they are positions that are in flagrant contrast with fundamental principles of international law, such as respect for national sovereignty."
Koumoutsakos said that the Turkish positions "are doubting directly and overtly the rights of third parties, of independent and sovereign countries to strengthen, in the framework of relations of good neighborliness, their cooperation in a peaceful way, in accordance with International Law and international rules."
Lastly, the spokesman said that "generally speaking, they are positions that are absolutely counter-productive which can only have a negative impact for the stability and economic development of the eastern Mediterranean, whose peoples desire a better future of peace and prosperity."
Turkey urged Lebanon and Egypt not to clinch to bilateral agreements with the Cyprus Republic over oil and gas exploration, saying they could harm efforts to settle the decades-old Cyprus problem.
"Turkey is determined to protect its rights and interests in the east Mediterranean and will not permit the (Greek Cypriot) initiatives to erode these," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
"We expect countries and companies thinking of carrying out exploration work for oil and natural gas based on invalid licenses that Greek Cyprus may try to hand out to consider the wishes of the Turkish Cypriots, the other nation on the island," the statement added.
 PM to meet Italy's Bersani on WednesdayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to meet visiting Italian Productive Activities Minister Pier Luigi Bersani on Wednesday. The meeting will also be attended by Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas.
 PASOK's overall program to be presented in FebruaryMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement's (PASOK) parliamentary council convened on Tuesday focusing on the party's actions in all sectors and especially on the issue of education.
On this issue, the main opposition party is expected to present its own proposal-framework on the revision of article 16 of the constitution during the voting in parliament early in March.
Concerning the overall program of the party, this is expected to be presented to its president George Papandreou and its secretary Nikos Athanassakis before a debate takes place at the political council which, in its turn, will propose it to the party's national council not before February 20.
 Event by Reflection Group on Modernization of SocietyThe Reflection Group on the Modernization of Society (OPEK) held an event on Tuesday evening titled "The Swedish model:12 years of experience in government for the creation of a modern society." The speaker at the event was former Swedish prime minister Goran Persson, who was introduced by former prime minister Costas Simitis.
"The pursuit of models entails the risk of overlooking the special conditions under which a policy was shaped and implemented in Sweden and ignoring at the same time the social and economic environment in Greece that is being called on for implementation," Simitis said, stressing how valuable information is for the implementation of successful social democrat policies in other countries.
"No government is entitled to assume the responsibility of governing a country without the will or the strength for necessary but unpleasant decisions that secure viability in public finances," Persson said, pointing out that the difficulty in the whole undertaking lies in seeking a mandate from Parliament and consent from the people.
Persson said that the success of the social democrat model in Sweden was based "on the responsibility shown by the representatives of the working people, pursuing responsible labor contracts."
Referring to the redistribution of income, Persson said that the most important factor of development is not the level of taxes, but the way with which they are imposed and received, while the most important thing is how revenues are used.
Persson said that the Swedish model is financed primarily by the taxpayers and termed this decision very ideological. As regards challenges for the future of the Swedish social democrat model, Persson said that the most considerable threat is the weakening of public finances with the second problem being the hiring of a generation of people employed in the social sector.
 SYN's Alavanos not to run in Athens, ThessalonikiThe Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) party on Tuesday announced that its leader Alekos Alavanos will not be running for office in Attica or Thessaloniki in the upcoming general elections.
Addressing the meeting, Alavanos said that he intends to run in a constituency where his election would only be ensured if SYN received a much higher percentage of the national vote.
"It is my deep conviction that we can do this. That we can have a completely different Parliament that bears the stamp of the inspired, dynamic and youthful presence of the Left," he said, noting that the country had already entered a pre-election period.
The announcement was made after a meeting of the party's Political Secretariat, which along with the meeting of its Central Political Committee next weekend will officially open debate within SYN on its election strategy.
 LAOS Eurodeputy calls for 'more seriousness' by FYROM's leadershipSKOPJE (ANA-MPA)
Greece's Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader and Eurodeputy George Karatzaferis referred to the matter of the issuing of visas and respect of borders, during Tuesday's meeting of the European Parliament's Joint Parliamentary Committee and of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which convened in Skopje's Parliament.
According to a LAOS press release, Karatzaferis called for "more seriousness by the leaders of this country when they speak about other leaders of European countries." On the issue of the abolition of visas, he stressed that "even when today they train their soldiers with the slogan which means 'Thessaloniki is ours' and when until the end of December 2006, 28,000 Bulgarian passports were circulated for Skopjans, then it is natural for a visa to be required and for the doors of Greece and Europe not to open."
At another point of the session, Karatzaferis called for the phrase to be put that FYROM "respects and views strong all its borders," a request which was not accepted, according to the LAOS press release.
 Presentation of book 'Global Europe'The course of European unification and the international role of the European Union was the topic of a public discussion held at the National Bank's Karatzas Mansion on Tuesday evening.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, former minister and main opposition PASOK party foreign affairs and defence chief Theodoros Pangalos and former minister and Deputy Yiannos Papantoniou participated in the event.
The discussion was organised by the Progressive Policy Research Centre, founded by Papantoniou, on the occasion of the presentation of the book "Global Europe-The international dimensions of the EU," that was prepared by university professors D. Xenakis and M. Tsimisizelis.
Bakoyannis said that the book has two main axes:the analysis of theories on the institutional parameters of the EU and the handling of international challenges, as well as the challenges for the development of the EU itself.
 French ambassador speaks on France's foreign policyFrench Ambassador in Athens Bruno Delaye on Tuesday night spoke on France's foreign policy.
"The foreign policy of France and its relations with Greece" was the topic of the ambassador's speech at a hotel in Kavala, northern Greece.
Delaye visited Kavala at the invitation of the Secretary-General of the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Region, Michalis Angelopoulos.
Earlier, the ambassador was given a tour of the city and later visited the Association of Teachers of the French Language and discussed with them issues which concern the better acquaintance of Greek students with the French language but also of French culture.
During his speech, having referred to the role and functioning of the European Union (EU), Delaye stood in favour of cooperation between the member-states and also supported a strong EU capable of defending its external borders.
 Gov't cites increased CSF absorption ratesThe overall absorption rate of 3rd Community Support Frame-work funds has reached 60 percent, according to the finance ministry.
The average absorption rate for Regional Operational Programs is also at 60 percent, whereas in some cases it has exceeded 100 percent. The regions of sterea ellada (south-central mainland Greece), Thessaly and Central Macedonia have achieved absorption rates of more than 100 percent.
 National Bank raises equity share in Finansbank to 89.44%National Bank of Greece on Tuesday announced it has raised its total participation in Turkish bank Finansbank to 89.44 percent, after completion of a public offering process.
The public offer, January 8-29, allowed the Greek bank to acquire another 5,430,098,148 common shares of Finansbank, or 43.44 percent of the bank's equity capital.
National Bank and International Finance Corp. (IFC) have announced a deal under which IFC will purchase up to 5.0 percent of Finansbank from National Bank after completion of the public offer process.
 European Commission desires information on Olympic AirlinesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The European Commission desires information from Greece on the content of the decision taken by the arbitration court by which it was adjudged that the state pay Olympic Airlines 580 million euros, a spokesman for Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot, said here on Tuesday.
Asked during a regular press briefing, the spokesman said that at this stage the EU Commissioner is neither in favor nor against the decision, adding that the Commission has requested from the Greek authorities certain clarifications which it will examine before drawing conclusions.
 OTE selects Merrill Lynch International as fiscal adviserThe Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) announced on Tuesday that it has selected the Merrill Lynch International investments bank as its fiscal adviser during the process of the sale by the Hellenic state of part of the percentage of shares amounting to 38.7 percent that it possesses with OTE. The Hellenic state started the relevant process at the end of 2006.
 Athens Stock Exchange president comments on cooperation with Bulgarian Stock ExchangeSOFIA (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)
Athens Stock Exchange President Spyros Kapralos, speaking during Tuesday's presentation of the proposal for cooperation between the Athens Stock Exchange and the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, said that "we believe that the suitable strategy in the era of globalization is that of cooperation and of common visions with the aim of creating in southeastern Europe a big and 'visible' market which will attract international capital."
The presentation attracted administrative officials of the Bulgarian stock market, leading Greek and Bulgarian businessmen, bankers and financiers in a downtown hotel in Sofia.
The founder and President of the board of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange Viktor Papazov underlined the "rapid developments that are changing the international capital market in a dramatic way", referring in particular to the recent buyout of Euronext, in whose ranks some of the stock exchanges of Europe are to be found, the strong interest shown by NASDAQ for the acquisition of the London Stock Exchange and other rumored stock exchange "marriages."
"Although being a small stock exchange, we cannot remain outside these developments. And to be absolutely honest, I would say that I do not believe that we could do it, even if we wanted to. For this reason we are orientated towards the dynamic seeking of the best model and, of course, the suitable partner, for the incorporation of the Bulgarian stock exchange in the European capital market and, indeed, in a way that will guarantee the preservation of the Bulgarian capital market and not its absorption and the moving of Bulgarian businesses somewhere else," Papazov said.
Kapralos met on Tuesday with Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivajlo Kalfin and said that apart from an appropriate and logical price, the Greek Stock Exchange will also offer the possibility of the Bulgarian stock exchange developing for the benefit of the Bulgarian economy.
 Greek exports up 18.9 pct in Jan-Nov, yr/yrGreek exports rose by 18.9 percent in January-November 2006, compared with the corresponding period in 2005, or by 2.4 billion euros, the Hellenic Export Promotion Organization (HEPO) said on Tuesday.
HEPO, citing figures released by the National Statistics Service, said the value of exports totaled 15.122 billion euros in the 11-month period last year from 12.721 billion euros in 2005. The organization said exports of oil products totaled 809 million euros, food and beverage totaled 312.2 million and industrial goods totaled 505.3 million euros.
The value of exports totaled 1.544 billion euros in November 2006, up 14.7 pct from November 2005.
The country's exports to 17 target-countries selected by the Economy and Finance ministry rose by 16.8 pct in the January-November 2006 period. Exports to EU countries rose 19.4 pct to 8.092 billion euros (or 53.5 pct of total exports), exports to third countries totaled 7.03 billion euros (up 18.3 pct or 46.5 percent of total exports), while exports to China and Japan were up by 57.1 pct and 37.2 pct, respectively
 Greek retail sales index up 10.5 pct in November, yr/yrGreece's retail sales turnover index jumped 10.5 pct in November 2006 compared with the same month in 2005, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics service attributed the November rise to a 7.1 pct increase in food store category and a 13.5 pct rise in the other store category in the month.
NSS, in a monthly report, said the large food store index rose 8.4 pct in November, department stores rose 16.1 pct, food, alcohol and tobacco was up 0.7 pct and pharmaceutical-cosmetics rose 2.0 pct. Clothing-footwear jumped 10.8 pct and home furniture, electric appliances soared 26.5 pct. Bookstore sales rose 1.7 pct.
 Thessaloniki Port Organisation unveils logistics centre projectThe board of Thessaloniki Port Organization on Tuesday was presented with viability study for the building of a logistics centre, budgeted at more than 20 million euros, covering an area of 90-100 stremmata (one stremma equals 1,000 sq.m) at the port's 6th pier.
The logistics centre is expected to become part of a Cargo Centre scheduled to be build in Thessaloniki together with Hellenic Railways Organization in a nearby area of 600 stremmata.
The Thessaloniki Port Organization plans to include the logistics project to a new development law. Ioannis Tsaras, the Organization's chief executive said the viability study would be discussed by the board soon, after the approval of the development legislation by the Greek parliament.
Tsaras said large shipping supply companies, such as Hutchinson, Cosco and Prologis, have already expressed interest in the project and noted that a private investor could take more than 50 percent of the project and the management.
He underlined that major hotel groups, such as Hilton, Four Seasons and Mariott have already expressed interest in plans to transform an existing passenger terminal into a luxury hotel, although no final decisions have been taken so far.
 CySE accepts public bid of Piraeus Bank, but rejects MPB's bidNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos/CNA)
The Cyprus Stock Exchange (CySE) decided on Tuesday that it can not examine the public bid documents submitted by Marfin Popular Bank (MPB) for the acquisition of Bank of Cyprus, stating that Marfin's bid was preceded by Greek Bank of Piraeus' public offer to acquire MPB.
''The board of the Cyprus Stock Exchange decided it cannot examine the public bid documents of MPB for the acquisition of 35-100% of the share capital of Bank of Cyprus, since it was preceded by the submission of an announcement by Piraeus Bank of a public offer to acquire between 40-100% of MPB Ltd,'' the Stock Exchange statement said.
The board of the Cyprus Stock Exchange examined Tuesday the two public bid documents and decided "to accept the public bid document of the Piraeus Bank", but at the same time not to accept MPB's public bid documents, since "Marfin's move is prohibited by regulation 21 of the Cyprus Stock Exchange regulations (regarding mergers and acquisition)".
On January 14th the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission decided that "the move by MPB to submit public offers for the acquisition of
Bank of Cyprus and Piraeus Bank constitutes a potential violation of regulation 21 of the Cyprus Stock Exchange regulations".
The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission also said that based on CSE regulations, there is a public offer by the Piraeus Bank for the acquisition of Marfin Popular Bank Ltd.
On January 25th, Cyprus' Supreme Court temporarily suspended the ruling by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission issued on January 16th, 2007, saying that it had no jurisdiction to judge that MPB is guilty of violating regulation 21 of the CySE and to impose a fine of 10,000 Cyprus pounds (one pound trades at 2.2 dollars), a move that falls within the jurisdiction of the CySE.
''The exclusive responsibility for the implementation of regulation 21 belongs to the Cyprus Stock Exchange, as that is derived from the structure of provisions governing the issue of a public offer,'' the Supreme Court added.
MPB launched a takeover bid for Piraeus Bank, Greece's fourth-largest lender, and the Bank of Cyprus in early January. But its tenders launched a day after Piraeus Bank's bid for MPB, were ruled invalid by the CySec because of the controversy surrounding which of the two made the first move.
MPB emerged after November's merger between Cyprus Laiki Bank and Greek Marfin Financial Services and Egnatia Bank, creating a new financial organization, the biggest financial organization in Cyprus and the second largest in Greece.
Bank of Cyprus, the island's largest lender, is owned by 10 percent by Greek Piraeus Bank.
 Shipping exchange increases in 2006Exchange from the shipping sector flowing into the country during the January-November 2006 11-month period amounted to 13,194.2 million euros compared to 12,591.8 million euros during the corresponding period in 2005, increasing by 602.4 million euros, according to an announcement by the Merchant Marine Ministry, based on provisional data by the Bank of Greece.
In the month of November 2006, shipping exchange flowing into the country totaled 1,282.3 million euros as against 1,069.8 million euros in the corresponding month of November 2005.
 Greek yachting sector growing strongly, Icap reportThe yachting sector in Greece is growing strongly, a report by Icap said on Tuesday, with the polyester boat sector expected to grow by more than 15 percent annually in the two-year period 2006-2007. The inflated boat sector is projected to grow by 5.0 pct, while the sailing boat sector is expected to grow by more than 5.0 percent over the same period. The report, however, said the jet ski sector was expected to remain stable.
The yachting sector grew an average annual rate of 15.3 percent in the period 2000-2005, with demand mainly covered by domestic products, while imports accounted for 41 percent of consumption. Exports of boats accounted for 20 percent of domestic production, with polyester boats (59.6 pct) and inflated boats 34.8 pct, while personal watercraft (jet ski) and sailing boats accounting for 5.6 pct of the market.
The sector recoded a slight decrease in the average gross profit margin in the period 2001-2004 to 18.86 pct, while the average operating earnings margin was 3.06 pct in the period 2001-2005 and the return on capital index averaged 10.20 pct in the five-year period.
Icap said the market was steadily moving towards polyester boats, up to seven meters in length.
 Hellenic Shipyards files complaint against Elefsis ShipyardsHellenic Shipyards, a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, on Tuesday filed a complaint with the European Com-mission against state subsidies offered by the Greek state to Elefsis Shipyards.
A company announcement said the complaint referred to state subsidies benefiting Elefsis Shipyard during the year of privatization of the company in 1997 and prior to this when the company was under state control.
The measures included the procedure and the price of selling Elefsis Shipyards, preferential terms in the privatization, the cost of lay-offs during privatization, a voluntary retirement scheme in 1995, loans offered by state banks on preferential terms and state guarantees, along with preferential terms and renegotiating contracts to supply rolling stock and defense contracts.
Hellenic Shipyards said the state intervention distorted healthy competition rules in the country.
'Our main priority is to have healthy competition in Greece as prescribed by EU law. We are ready and willing to cooperate with all parties involved towards this aim,' Reinhard Kuhlmann, Hellenic Shipyards chief executive said.
Elefsis Shipyards, owned by Neorion Shipyards, in an announced rebuffed the move by Hellenic Shipyards and said that the company, under a new owner since 1997, did not have any relation with so-called state loans, or preferential terms. The company defended the privatization process and stressed that Neorion Shipyards was selected winner after two international tenders.
 Greek casinos' turnover up 10.4 pct in 2006The casino industry in Greece grew strongly in 2006, with proceeds to state coffers amounting to 257.1 million euros excluding income taxes, a report by the Association of Hellenic Casino said on Tuesday.
The association said that the casino industry recorded a 13 percent increase in total gross revenues from gaming last year, compared with 2005, to 688.1 million euros. The state's net proceeds from casino contributions totaled 257.1 million euros, up 12 percent from 2005. Greek casinos recorded a 4.9 pct increase in the number of visitors to 3.4 million in 2006, while gaming turnover totaled 2.8 billion euros, up 10.4 pct from 2005.
Greek casinos employed a total of 5,310 workers last year.
 Athens Water to invest 57.6 mln euros this yearThe board of Athens Water on Tuesday approved its investment program for 2007, worth 57,584,440 euros.
The new program includes new investments (33 pct of total) focusing on improving services to customers through protecting the environment and improving quality of living.
Athens Water plans to invest on a waste processing project in Thriasio Pedio (co-funded by the EU's Cohesion Fund up to 45 pct), a hydro-electric project at Evinos dam and new electricity and thermal power units in Psittalia (co-funded by the EU's Cohesion Fund).
Another 21.9-25 pct of the investment program covers projects to upgrade the company's water and sewage networks.
 Greek stocks end 0.45 pct downGreek stocks ended slightly lower on Tuesday as lack of follow-through buying left share prices under pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index ended at 4,673.45 points, off 0.45 pct with turnover a moderate 368.9 million euros.
Sector indices ended lower with the Technology (2.12 pct), Healthcare (1.86 pct) and Travel (1.47 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the Financial Services (1.74 pct), Personal/Home Products (0.27 pct) and Food-Beverage (0.25 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index fell 0.58 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.03 pct higher and the Small Cap index eased 0.16 pct.
Galaxidi (10 pct), Tasoglou (8.99 pct) and Eurobrokers (8.22 pct) were top gainers, while Progressive (6.67 pct), Viosol (4.55 pct) and Euroholdings (4.35 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 157 to 91 with another 57 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.83%
Personal & Household: +0.27%
Raw Materials: -0.24%
Travel & Leisure: -1.47%
Food & Beverages: +0.25%
Financial Services: +1.74%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, OTE and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.86
Public Power Corp (PPC): 21.70
HBC Coca Cola: 29.98
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.04
Emporiki Bank: 22.90
National Bank of Greece: 39.30
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 30.00
Titan Cement Company: 42.70
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Turnover was a low 139.521 million euros.
The February contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.15 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.23 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 7,633 contracts worth 97.163 million euros, with 20,739 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index totaled 578 contracts worth 15.966 million euros with 1,483 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,791 contracts worth 6.869 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eltech (1,221 contracts), OTE (1,063), OPAP (449), Piraeus Bank (884), Alpha Bank (635), Intracom (349), ATEbank (568), Cyprus Bank (386), Motor Oil (443).
Volume in stock repos totaled 230 contracts and in reverse stock repos 704 contracts.
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.341 billion euros on Tuesday of which 1.215 billion euros were bid orders and 1.126 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2016) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 815 million euros, followed by the 10-year bond (July 20, 2015) with 505 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.25 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.38 pct and the German 4.12 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were stable. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.57 pct, the two-day rate was unchanged at 3.58 pct, the one-month rate was 3.61 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.10 pct from 4.09 pct on Monday.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.307
Pound sterling 0.665
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.110
Japanese yen 159
Swiss franc 1.636
Norwegian kroner 8.233
Cyprus pound 0.583
Canadian dollar 1.546
Australian dollar 1.692
 Ecumenical Patriarch visits LondonLONDON (ANA-MPA)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Tuesday officiated at a service at the St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral here on the occasion of the Three Hierarchs' feast day, stressing in a sermon afterwards that parents must ensure a proper educate for their children.
He also referred to everyday problems and difficulties faced by the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate and expressed the hope that Turkey's European course will help toward solving these problems.
The liturgy was also attended, among others, by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who invited the Patriarch to London to jointly present results of an inter-faith dialogue between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches. Both Christian leaders will declare the dialogue's continuation at a mass at Westminster Abbey.
 Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of Canterbury hold theological dialogueLONDON (ANA-MPA/L. Tsirigotakis)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, at a special ceremony at the Archbishopric of the Anglican Church on Tuesday afternoon, received the report of the committee for the theological dialogue between the two Churches.
Both sides expressed themselves positively to the prospect of the continuity of the dialogue, which started 16 years ago.
"Despite the difficulties that exist in certain issues, such as the ordaining of women, both Churches wish for the dialogue to continue," Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos said.
Vartholomeos attended a dinner on Tuesday night hosted by Dr. Williams and on Wednesday, last day of his visit to London, he will attend a luncheon hosted by Greece's ambassador in London, Vassilis Pispinis. In the afternoon, Vartholomeos will meet the Turkish ambassador in London.
Spate of university, town hall
A spate of sit-ins and takeovers, ascribed to either students affiliated with leftist collegiate groups or so-called "anti-state" activists, were reported on Tuesday, with the most conspicuous being a protest outside a chapel located on the campus of the Athens University, in the Greek capital's Zografou district.
Around 20 youths reportedly demonstrated outside the chapel during the holding of a liturgy celebrating the feast day of the Three Hierarchs, three canonized Orthodox Christian bishops of the 4th-5th century AD -- St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St John Chrysostom -- considered patron saints of education and schools. Tuesday, in fact, was a school holiday around Greece.
No incidents were reportedly during the protest. The campus falls under university asylum laws preventing the presence of law enforcement officers on the premises.
Meanwhile, sit-ins and takeovers were reported at the rector's office of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, where most of the university's faculties are closed due to student mobilizations. Conversely, the neighboring Macedonia University is holding classes without interruptions.
On Crete, youthful "anti-state" or self-described anarchist activists took over the mayor's office in the city of Hania to demand the release of two hunger strikers jailed since May following disturbances at an anti-globalization rally in Thessaloniki. A similar incident on Monday at the town hall on the eastern Aegean island of Samos - which hosts three university departments - by a group of college students expressed the latter's displeasure over city's council rejection of a motion opposing revisions of Article XVI, which outlaws non-state universities.
Not far away in the same municipality of Hania, groups of students occupied classrooms of the Crete Polytechnic, part of mobilizations aimed at scuttling the government's reforms package for higher education and preventing the operation of recognized non-state universities in Greece.
Gov't sharply criticizes student attempt
to stop church service
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros was on Tuesday sharply critical of an attempt by a group of students earlier the same day to interrupt a church service held within the Zografou campus, saying the government was "absolutely clear" in condemning their actions.
He stressed that violating areas where the faithful should be free to congregate was "unacceptable from all standpoints".
The spokesman pointed out that the government had sought to enter into dialogue with all sides involved in the education debate for over a year, in order to find solutions in the area of education that were desired by the vast majority of Greek citizens.
A group of students that have taken over the campus arrived outside the small chapel and attempted to stop a service taking place within by shouting slogans and writing anti-religious graffiti on the walls. They refused to leave when requested to do so by university professors attending the service and the priest.
The group was eventually persuaded to leave by rectorial authorities.
The incident was also condemned by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, who said that it was "shameful" and called on the young people involved to "repent".
Noted Greek actor Nikos Kourkoulos
Noted Greek actor Nikos Kourkoulos, who starred as a leading man in numerous 1960s and early '70s big screen dramas in Greece, died on Tuesday at the age of 73 from cancer-related complications.
Since 1994 he served as artistic director of the Greek National Theatre in Athens.
Kourkoulos was married twice and had four children.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias in a telegram of condolences said that "in the history of Greek cinema and theatre Nikos Kourkoulos was a protagonist either he played himself or not."
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in his letter of condolences that "Nikos Kourkoulos was one of the most prominent servants of the modern dramatic art of the country."
Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said in a statement that Kourkoulos' "long-standing, creative and continuous presence in theatre and cinema made him one of the top protagonists, with great successes, awards and broad recognition."
Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou in his own statement said that Kourkoulos "was a brilliant personality of theatre and cinema, a real protagonist."
Telegrams of condolences were also sent by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) Alekos Alavanos, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and many others.
Matthew Bourne's 'Swan Lake' in Athens
One of the biggest dance sensations to hit Broadway and London's West End, Matthew Bourne's cutting-edge, all-male version of "Swan Lake", is to debut in Athens' on Tuesday at the Badminton Theatre in Alsos Stratou, Goudi and will run until February 11.
Using only the shell of the indoor courts that hosted the badminton tournament during the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, the newly-opened theatre is the largest in Athens with a 2,400-seat auditorium.
A smash hit that has run for more than a decade, Matthew Bourne's 'Swan Lake' takes a fresh view at Tchaikovsky's classic ballet, replacing the be-tutued ballerinas with a robust, bare-chested male cast and giving provocative, thought-provoking overtones to the relationship between the Prince and Odette-Odile.
Children circle Acropolis, demand
return of Parthenon Marbles
Two thousands school children on Tuesday formed a chain around the Athens Acropolis and demanded the return of the Parthenon Marbles held at the British Museum in London.
The demonstration was organized by the "Network for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles", which said that the response exceeded all its expectations.
Attica Police arrest Italian 'mastermind'
of fraud network
The Economic Crime Department of the Attica Police on Monday arrested an Italian national who is said to be the "mastermind" of a network which has carried out fraud in almost all the countries of the European Union, it was disclosed on Tuesday.
The arrest was made on the basis of a European arrest warrant issued against him by the Belgian authorities.
The man was identified as Mauricio Espozito, 41, from Rome, who maintained three luxury houses in the southern suburbs of Athens and appeared in Greece as a real estate broker, declaring, according to police, income to the tax authorities of 1,800,000 euros a year.
A Police announcement said the Italian, in cooperation with another ten individuals, Belgians and Dutch, had set up an organized network since 2003 and advertised in newspapers in all the EU countries a company which they had set up with the objective the taking of loans on behalf of private individuals and particularly, farmers, merchants, businesspersons and of other professions as well as on behalf of shipping companies which could not get loans due to the fact that they were on the "black lists" of banks.
Patron saint of northern Greece winemakers celebrated on Thursday
Viniculturists in northern Greece will again celebrate the feast day of their patron saint, Tryphon, on Thursday.
Among others, Aghios (St.) Tryphonas is depicted in more contemporary icons holding a billhook in his hand, a tool used for pruning grape vines. Even though he was revered by winemakers throughout the Macedonia province for centuries, more widespread celebrations of the feast day date to 1924, with the arrival of ethnic Greek refugees from eastern Rumelia (present day southern Bulgaria), eastern Thrace and the coastal Pontos region of northern Asia Minor.
ESHEA congratulates journalist
for winning FIPA award
Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) member George Avgeropoulos won the silver award (2nd) for his documentary "Delta, the dirty work of petrol", at the International Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA), which took place this year in France's Biarritz.
FIPA is one of the greatest audiovisual mass media festivals in the world.
It is the first time in the 20-year history of the Festival that a Greek journalist has received an award.
ESHEA on Tuesday congratulated Avgeropoulos "with the wish that he continues to produce even higher level documentaries."
'Constantine Kalligas' journalist
The Greek Section of the Union of European Journalists on Tuesday announced the 2006 "Constantine Kalligas" awards which were established in memory of the Greek journalist Constantine Kalligas.
The awards went to the publisher of the newspaper "Vima of Egialias" and president of the Union of Provincial Press Owners (EIET), Fanis Zouropoulos, to state-run NET central news presenter Maria Houkli, to BBC correspondent in Athens, Thanassis Kalfas, to "Kathimerini" newspaper journalist Paschos Mandravelis and to journalist of state-run ET1 satellite television Nikos Megrelis.
The official awards ceremony will take place at 2:30 p.m on February 28 at the amphitheatre of the mansion "Theodoros Karatzas" of the National Bank of Greece.
Photo exhibition on water, wetlands
opens in Athens on Friday
A photo exhibition on the topic of "Water, Wetlands and Fisheries" will be inaugurated on Friday at a gallery in the central Athens district of Exarchia -- Mavromihali 55 -- in celebration of the World Wetlands Day 2007.
The exhibition will feature works by Yiannis Behrakis, Stefania Mizara and Ilias Kosindas.
Additionally, there will be parallel showings of films that have received the Ramsar/MedWet award at the annual International Film and Visual Arts Festival of Rhodes - Ecofilms.
The exhibition will last until Feb. 11.
Sponsors include Athens-based MedWet and the Institut Francais of Athens.
Cervical cancer prevention events
"Prevention is Civilization" is the main slogan of events held on the occasion of the 1st European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week to better inform women that a Pap smear could save lives.
The cancer awareness events were held in Athens' Syntagma Square and organized by culture ministry employees in cooperation with a volunteer group.
 GNTO shuts down ski lifts in five Greek ski resortsThe Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) has temporarily closed down ski lifts in five Greek ski resorts until their operators supply necessary certificates and assurances that they have been properly inspected and that all specifications required by law have been met:
The ski slopes involved are Vitsi, operated by the Kastoria Skiing and Mountain-Climbing Club; Metsovo-Profitis Ilias operated by the Metsovo Municipality Developmental Company; Pertouli operated by the Pertouli Ski Centre; Gerontovrachos operated by the Athenian Friends of Skiing Club; and Mainalos operated by the Mainalos-Ostrakina Ski Centre.
 Weather Forecast: Temperatures increasing on WednesdayTemperatures will be increasing in most parts of the country. Winds northwesterly light to moderate. Temperatures in Athens from 5C to 16C; and in Thessaloniki between 3C and 13C.
 The Athens dailies at a glanceA special spacial planning committee's proposal to the Education ministry for a reduction in the number of entrants in higher education, the examinations for filling 2,938 positions in the public sector, the scientists' concern over the drastic climatic changes and global warming, developments in the Education sector and the front being set up by university professors in favor of changes in tertiary (higher) education, the underworld gangs, and the "local political cooperation" between the PASOK-backed prefectural candidate in Corfu and the president of the LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally party) prefectural committee, were the main front-page items in Tuesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "What is changing for the ATE (Agricultural Bank) socially insured after their incorporation into IKA (state-run Social Insurance Foundation)".
ANO KATO: "Public sector: Impunity and small penalties - Critical report by the Public Administration General Inspector".
APOGEVMATINI: "A little shame - European Commission and Europarliament not toeing the line on the Cyprus issue - The two top EU bodies communicating directly with the Turkish Cypriots, skirting Nicosia".
AVGHI: "The citizens resisting the tv manipulation - The picture of acceptance of the government's policy belied".
AVRIANI: "Chinese pyramid in Greece with 25,000 members - They've passed onto every...victim, merchandise worth thousands of euros, without invoices, and are pressuring them with mafia-style methods to increase sales".
CHORA: "The problem with the takeovers in the universities now a social one - This examinations period (first semester) also being lost".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Evangelismos (state hospital in central Athens) for sale, bargaining over the patients - In order for the government to collect 'hot' cash".
ELEFTHEROS: "National Bank: 760 euros the minimum pension - The new general plan will be ready after Easter".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Hand-in-hand with the...protocol - Angela's 'select' throws PASOK into uproar".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Earth SOS from 500 scientists - Meeting in Paris on preventing the destruction".
ESTIA: "The true picture of the economy following the revision of the GDP by 25 percent".
ETHNOS: "New wave of hirings in February - 46 competitions for 2,938 positions running".
KATHIMERINI: "Front in favor of changes in the AEI being set up by university professors".
LOGOS: 'Burning week in Education".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Strong front for public education - Government and PASOK exploiting the problems in the universities to create faits accomplis".
TA NEA: "They want to cut 20,000 entrants - Explosive proposal to the education ministry".
TO VIMA: "The wild winter of the 'godfathers' - What the cold-blooded killers are hiding".
VRADYNI: "The minimum pension at 760 euros".
 Spokesman: Turkey's statement on oil reserves a ''flagrant threat''NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes described the announcement made by the Turkish Foreign
Ministry regarding Cyprus' intentions to proceed with the exploration and exploitation of possible oil reserves in its exclusive economic zone, as ''a flagrant threat against Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt''.
"Today's (Tuesday's) written statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry regarding the decision of the Cyprus government to start procedures for oil or natural gas extraction in its exclusive economic zone, constitutes not only an unacceptable provocation, but also a flagrant threat against Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt as well as against peace and stability in the area", Pashiardes stresses.
In a written statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the spokesman points out that "Turkey's demands to assert rights and interests regarding he oil and natural gas reserves at the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus are not backed by the international law or the international rules".
Pashiardes says that "the illegal administrations of the pseudo-state (in Turkish occupied Cyprus) are not legitimized to have a say in an issue that is only on the legal Cypriot government to decide".
"The solution of the Cyprus problem, an issue that is mentioned in the Turkish FM's statement, does not depend on the oil or natural gas extraction, but on the good intentions and political will of the involved parties", he says.
Pashiardes adds that the Turkish side has to prove in deeds its good intention and political will "and not resort to its favorite method of blackmailing and threatening".
The Republic of Cyprus has signed agreements with Egypt and Lebanon regarding the boundaries of their exclusive economic zones in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Turkish foreign ministry said in its statement that "the countries and companies, which think of launching oil and natural gas exploration under null and void licenses to be given by the Greek Cypriot administration, should take into consideration the sensitivity of the situation and will of Turkish Cypriots who are the other founder nation on the island".
"These countries and companies should not launch any initiatives that may have a negative impact on settlement of Cyprus problem", the Turkish MFA said.
The Republic of Cyprus is an EU member state since 2004. Cyprus is occupied since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of its territory.
Turkey is the only country in the world not to recognize the Republic of Cyprus.