|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-04-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 6 April 2007 Issue No: 2564
 FinMin "fully satisfied" with results of visit to AustraliaEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday expressed his full satisfaction over the results of his official visit to Australia.
Speaking to ANA-MPA, after the conclusion of his talks with government officials in Victoria and New South Wales and his counterpart Peter Costello, the Greek minister said his intention was to underline Greece's role as an ideal business partner for foreign companies seeking to begin activities in Southeastern Europe.
"As the role of Australia is particularly important in the Southeastern Asia and the Pacific region, Greece's role is becoming more important each day in Southeastern Europe," Alogoskoufis said, adding that Australian officials fully acknowledged that Greece was no longer a "relatively small isolated economy, but the epicenter of a region with a population of 140 million people and with great growth outlook".
"I underlined to the Federal Economy Minister Mr. Costello Greece's great capabilities through its ports to promoting commerce throughout the region and offering significant business opportunities to Australian investors," he said.
The Greek minister noted that foreign investments to Greece doubled last year and stressed that the government's economic reforms helped in transforming the Greek economy into a dynamic, open and competitive economy. He expressed his belief that his visit to Australia would contribute in boosting Greek exports, attracting Australian investments to Greece and forge closer commercial and economic relations between the two countries.
Alogoskoufis headed a large business delegation of 32 Greek enterprises. The Greek minister said more than 200 meetings were held with Australian enterprises with very encouraging results. He underlined that Greece would continue its business presence in Australia, particularly in the sectors of building materials and technology, while the country will participate in an international food and beverage trade fair "Fine Food" to be held in Sydney in September.
Alogoskoufis invited his Australian counterpart to visit Greece.
 PM meets European Commissioner DimasPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis met in Athens on Thursday with Greek European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, who is responsible for environmental issues.
Dimas stated after the meeting that he briefed the prime minister on the major issue of climate change, stressing that the EU and the European Commission play a leading role in the global efforts aimed at dealing with the problem.
He said that they discussed with the prime minister how the problem can be faced and how Greece could contribute to the effort.
Responding to a question on the adequacy of the measures taken by Greece, he stated that the EU objectives were announced a month ago and all member states will proceed to draw up relative programmes aimed at tackling the problem.
 PM meets development ministerPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis received Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday to discuss issues related to his ministry and the meeting of SE European Cooperation Process (SEECP)energy ministers held in Zagreb.
Sioufas said their talks had also focused on the energy and natural gas markets and the major investments planned for these sectors, which he stressed would bring major benefits for consumers and in terms of employment, and the need to intensify efforts on all levels and sectors of the government's overall work.
"The citizens must be sure that we are listening to their voice and meeting the commitments that we have undertaken toward them," Sioufas said, expressing conviction that the government's policies would bring the desired results.
 PM arrives in Ioannina for Easter holidaysPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his family arrived in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, on Thursday evening to spend their Easter holidays.
From the airport, he departed for the region of Dolo Pogonianis where he will remain until Monday. On Good Saturday, he plans to visit Ioannina and have an unofficial meeting with the city's officials.
Meanwhile, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, who has been in Ioannina since Palm Sunday, will also celebrate Easter in the city, returning to Athens on Monday.
 PASOK leader meets Athens mayorAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis emerged satisfied from a meeting with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday, saying that PASOK's president had offered sincere and convincing promises of support.
"Though it's usual in Greece for the main opposition to make maximalist promises, the issues on which Mr. Papandreou responded positively were very specific, while many of them are in any case included in PASOK's programme, and I am convinced that he will help, regardless of what institutional position he occupies in the future," Kaklamanis said.
He said the meeting ended a round of contacts with the prime minister and the heads of the political parties, so that everything would be in place to begin work after the May 5 elections held at Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).
According to the mayor, his talks with Papandreou had covered a range of issues concerning local government, including funding, the transfer of responsibilities from central government to local authorities and continuing the "Help at Home" programme, whose joint funding ends in June.
Issues concerning Athens were also discussed, among them waste management, the metropolitan organisation of Athens and local authority responsibility for schools and nurseries.
Regarding the upcoming KEDKE elections, Kaklamanis said he had not yet decided whether he would run president and said that this would partly depend on whether the government came through with a promise to set up a company named "Demos SA" that would be in charge of administrating the funds destined for local authorities under the EU's 4th Community Support Framework (CSF).
"I cannot conceive that whoever is KEDKE president can continue to beg from central government. He must receive the things that are due to him within the framework of the body," Kaklamanis stressed.
Questioned about the issue that has arisen with the purchase of structured bonds by state pension funds, the mayor refused to divulge what he discussed with Papandreou, saying he did not make public his private discussions with others.
Asked if "heads would roll" if something similar were revealed about the Athens municipality, the mayor said the easy answer would be to say 'yes'.
"I would like to remind you that whatever happened during my two years at the head of the health ministry, even if I was not technically to blame, I always came out and said that the political responsibility was mine and that I undertook it," Kaklamanis added.
 Development minister stresses SE Europe's role as energy hubBELGRADE (ANA-MPA - N. Pelpas)
The countries of southeastern Europe have an opportunity to make the most of their geographic position and become a hub for the transfer of energy resources from east to west, Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said in an interview with the Croatian daily newspaper "Jutarni List" published on Thursday.
According to Sioufas, the region could earn revenues up to 30 billion euros through the transfer of electric power and natural gas alone.
"Can you imagine the profits that the other oil pipelines will bring, apart from that of Burgas-Alexandroupolis?" he added, noting that the energy sector was arising as the main catalyst for the region's growth.
Asked about the significance of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline for Greece, he answered that it would help "put Greece and Bulgaria on the international energy map":
"It is an energy route that, by complementing the sea routes that already exist, will lead to a decongestion of tanker traffic in the Bosporus. Thus, oil from Russia, the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea will reach the European and American markets more easily," he replied.
The minister also noted the close relations between Greece and Russia in the energy sector.
"We cover 80 percent of our needs in natural gas from Russian sources. Greece is working intensively in the direction of internationalising its energy policy," he said.
Commenting on the recent signature of a declaration for the construction of a Costanta-Trieste oil pipeline that will run through the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Sioufas said the construction of oil pipelines and energy lines was a positive step for the region.
Sioufas was interviewed by the paper when he visited Zagreb two days ago to attend a meeting of South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) energy ministers in the city.
 Employment ministry replies to European Commission on Green Paper questionsThe employment and social solidarity ministry sent replies to the European Commission on Thursday regarding the 14 questions contained in the Green Paper on the modernisation of labour legislation.
According to an announcement by the employment and social solidarity ministry, the replies provided took into consideration all the views voiced during dialogue.
Prolonged negotiations took place in the country with representatives of institutional and social partners and with experts from Greece and abroad since November, 2006.
Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said in a statement that "the sending of our national positions to the European Commission closes a first negotiating cycle at European level. We must all contribute to this dialogue, that will be continued in the near future in both a national and EU framework to enable our labour legislation to adjust to the new social and economic developments and to the challenges that globalisation, demographic developments and speedy technological progress constitute, with the position that labour law will remain the law of the weaker side always being the criterion."
 National Bank concludes agreement with International Finance CorporationThe agreement between the National Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) by which the IFC acquires from the National Bank 5 percent of the ordinary shares of the Turkish Finansbank A.S. Bank, was concluded on Thursday.
According to a relevant announcement, the price per share with which the deal was carried out is equal to the price that the National Bank paid to Finansbank's minority shareholders in the framework of the compulsory public proposal and after the relevant decisions of the Turkish Capital Market Committee were implemented.
 Greek economy: weekly reviewThe Bank of Greece this week warned commercial bans of risking a significant worsening of their capital adequacy ratios unless they drastically cut their bad debt rates. The central bank, in a report, said the rate of bad debts fell to 5.4 pct of total loans last year, from 6.3 pct in 2005.
In the other headline news this week, budget revenues rose by 3.7 pct in the first quarter of 2007 to 11.052 billion euros, from 10.655 billion euros in the corresponding period last year. The finance ministry said revenues fell by 4.2 pct in March to 3.269 billion euros, from 3.412 billion in 2006.
Alpha Bank's chairman, Yiannis Costopoulos, said Greek economic growth could be stronger if hurdles limiting the growth process did not exist. Addressing a general share-holders' meeting, the Greek banker said that unrealistic reactions to structural reforms and adjustments to technological and other developments in modern societies were inevitably limiting the country's growth potential.
Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index, measuring business activity in the manufacturing sector, jumped to 54.8 points in March, from 53.1 in February, reflecting a strong improvement of business conditions in the country.
The country's economic sentiment index rose significantly in March, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said this week. The index jumped to 109.1 points from 105 in February, exceeding the long-term average level (2000-2006), reflecting improved business expectations and an improved consumer sentiment index.
Building activity jumped 29.3 pct in January 2007, compared with the same month last year, with the Attica (47.7 pct), Crete (32.7 pct), Central Greece (48.4 pct) and the Peloponese (26.2 pct) recording the biggest percentage gains.
 Greek stocks end week with 1.08 pct gainGreek stocks ended Thursday's session with minor changes, as investors were absent from the market ahead of the Easter holidays. The composite index ended 0.05 percent lower at 4,693.44 points with turnover a low 240 million euros, of which 14 million euros were block trades.
The index ended the week with a net gain of 1.08 pct and was up 6.81 pct so far this year.
The Big Cap index fell 0.22 pct, the Mid Cap index was up 0.85 pct and the Small Cap index rose 0.86 pct. The FTSE/ASE International index eased 0.06 pct.
Emporiki Bank (2.55 pct), Viohalco (1.47 pct) and National Bank (1.47 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eltech (3.21 pct), Alpha Bank (2.89 pct) and Eurobank (1.92 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Industrial Products/Services: +1.64%
Personal/Home Products: +0.03%
Raw Materials: +1.46%
Financial Services: +0.34%
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 168 to 70 with another 61 issues unchanged.
ANEK (30.08%), Ideal (20%), Desmos (7.41%) and Elfico (6.52%) were top gainers, while Loulis (5.06%), Mesohoritis (4%), Creta Plastics (3.4%) were top losers.
Hellenic Telecoms, National Bank, ANEK Lines and Alpha Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day.
The markets' capitalization totaled 173.555 billion euros.
Blue chips ended as follows (Prices in euros):
ALPHA BANK: 22.86
COCA COLA: 30.20
HELLENIC PETROLEUM: 10.88
NATIONAL BANK: 41.50
CYPRUS BANK: 11.50
POSTAL SAVINGS BANK: 18.08
MOTOR OIL: 21.00
PIRAEUS BANK: 26.10
FOLLI FOLLIE: 29.30
 Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday, SaturdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.348
Pound sterling 0.685
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.345
Japanese yen 160.27
Swiss franc 1.643
Norwegian kroner 8.198
Cyprus pound 0.585
Canadian dollar 1.553
Australian dollar 1.648
 Evacuation of cruise ship passengers concluded with complete successThe evacuation of the 1,170 passengers of the cruise ship Sea Diamond, that had struck a reef early on Thursday afternoon while preparing to enter Kaldera on the Aegean island of Santorini, was concluded with complete success.
The shipowner company "Louis Hellenic-Cruises" sent the Greek cruise ship "Perla" to Santorini to take the 1,170 passengers, that is expected to arrive late on Thursday night. Until then, the passengers will be given hospitality at hotels on the island at the company's expense.
The 1,170 passengers and 390 crew of the cruise ship Sea Diamond, that develpoped a list while sailing off the fashionable Aegean island of Santorini on Thursday afternoon, were being taken to the port of Santorini, according to an earlier press release by the Greek merchant marine ministry.
The announcement said that the listing of about 12 degrees occurred at 16:00 hours in the sea region half a nautical mile off the town of Fyra on the island of Santorini as gale force 5 winds were blowing in the area, while Super Puma and Greek Navy helicopters, the cruise ships Ocean Majestic and Aegean 2, tugboats and other vessels sailing in the region rushed to the scene and the people on board have been picked up and taken to the port of Santorini.
 Easter exodus traffic jamsCars can use only one lane on the section of the motorway between Aghios Konstantinos and Lamia, central Greece, due to the roadworks underway on the national road network and the many traffic diversions along the way.
Dozens of traffic police officers were dispatched along the highway hugging the horseshoe-shaped Maliakos Bay to assist motorists but cars were backed up at several points along the 60-kilometre stretch of road, where the width of the motorway has been considerably reduced by 12 road construction sites.
Traffic Police intervened on a number of occasions along the national road network in an effort to improve traffic flow but problems persisted, with cars moving with at an average speed of 30-40km/hour on the Aghios Konstantinos-Lamia road section.
The exodus of Easter holiday makers is expected to peak early in the evening.
 Explosive device destroyed by bomb squad expertsA makeshift explosive device planted at the entrance of the building housing the Labour Unions Center offices in Iraklion, Crete was destroyed at dawn on Thursday by bomb squad experts through a controlled explosion. According to police, the material used to build the device was old and corroded and even if the bomb had exploded it wouldn't have caused much damage.
The incident is regarded by police as isolated and the way the device was built was characterized as "infantile". Newspaper clippings and an impromptu written statement with incoherent comments targeting the Labor Unions Center president and police were found in a telephone booth nearby.
Police were alerted after anonymous calls made to two Athens-based private television stations.
 Met Museum's Greek and Roman Galleries open on April 20NEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)
Two new galleries housing Greek and Roman Art will open to the public on April 20 at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Metropolitan Museum Director Philippe de Montebello said in a special message that the two galleries meet the need for new spaces in the museum using modern technology that allows visitors to admire the Classical Art exhibits from a fresh angle.
The centerpiece is a monumental peristyle area for the display of Hellenistic and Roman art with a soaring two-story atrium. The colossal statue of the young Hercules, a lion skin draped over his arm, will be there on display, along with many other works, including the great Badminton sarcophagus, decorated with more than 40 figures including Dionysus, the god of wine - shown riding his panther - and the seasons, mentioned the Metropolitan Museum director.
 Evros and Edirne agree to cooperate over mosquito problemLocal authorities in the northeastern Greek prefecture of Evros and the Turkish region of Edirne, which share a joint border, on Thursday agreed on the need for cross-border joint action to deal with the mosquitos that plague the region's inhabitants.
The conclusion was reached during a conference held in the municipality of Orestiada between the prefects of Evros and Edirne and of mayors in regions around the Evros River, which looked into ways that the two countries might work together.
Among the issues discussed was the possibility of aerial spraying over the rice paddies on the Turkish side, which are banned under EU legislation.
The Evros prefect said he would raise the issue with the foreign, agriculture and health ministries, asking them to allow spraying of rice paddies during the crucial period.
The two sides decided to hold regular bi-weekly meetings, during which they would analyse the results of cooperation against the mosquito problem and decide new joint actions.
 Turkish ship runs aground near ChiosThe Turkish-flagged cargo ship TAHIR KIRAN, en route from Alexandria, Egypt to Istanbul, Turkey, ran aground in the sea region southeast of the eastern Aegean island of Chios on Thursday morning.
The ship's 23-member foreign crew is safe.
The conditions under which the ship ran aground are still unknown while no pollution was caused as result of the accident. Two Coast Guard vessels are in the region to offer assistance, while winds blowing in the area are 6-7 Beaufort.
 Overcast on FridayOvercast weather is forecast throughout the country on Friday with the possibility of light rain in the central and southern mainland and in Crete. Winds northerly, northeasterly, light to moderate. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 9C and 19C and in Thessaloniki from 6C to 18C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government decision to shut down all fan clubs associated with professional teams, the investigation for the arrest of those responsible for the deadly attack during a hooligan clash in Peania, the bonds affair and the Easter exodus of holiday-markers were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "270 fan clubs associated with professional teams are being shut down - The killer of the young fan in Peania is still unknown, 9 of those arrested are in jail".
APOGEVMATINI: "Eye-witness testimony on the Peania slaughter alleges that the killer is a cabdriver".
AVGHI: "The depositions point the finger at violence organizers - Olympiakos has share of responsibility for hooligan actions".
AVRIANI: "ERICSSON and ADAE (information and communication security watchdog) bonds - The multinational group responsible for the biggest phone-tapping scheme continues to enjoy backing".
CHORA: "The dates for salary, (low pension benefit) EKAS and pension raises - Scepticism over the 176-euro bonus".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Kilkis topples premiers - Strange coincidence or simply history is being repeated".
ELEFTHEROS: "Debts of thousands of loan recipients are erased - Liberating decision by Bank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "550 death traps on the national road network - Survival guide for the Easter exodus".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "A resignation, at last - The Corinth Hospital governor assumes responsibility".
ESTIA: "Elections seen as a way out - Immediate elections favor (ruling party) New Democracy".
ETHNOS: "Operating Room black out during the Easter holidays - Hospital understaffed because of personnel shortages and vacation leaves".
KATHIMERINI: "The Bank of Greece calls for restrictions on pension funds - Suggests measures for strict investment control".
LOGOS: "Easter market livens up - (Deputy Development Minister Yannis) Papathanasiou in favor of market inspections".
NIKI: "(Government headquarters) Maximos Mansion guidelines limiting scandal statements".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Free and public social and medical care at home - (Greek Communist Party) KKE Central Committee Political Bureau statement on the Assistance at Home programme".
TA NEA: "Organizers and culprit unveiled - Shocking testimonies by hooligans".
TO VIMA: " The pension funds scandal: The dates of the scheme".
VRADYNI: "5,000 houses to (Workers' Housing Organization) OEK beneficiaries - The building plots".
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