|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 11 May 2007 Issue No: 2591
 Chinese PM Wen Jiabao confirms decision to upgrade relations with GreeceBEIJING (ANA-MPA/N.Melissova)
The Chinese leadership's intention to upgrade its relations with Greece in the economic, cultural and political sectors was conveyed to Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Culture and Education Minister Chen Zhili, as well as by the president of the colossal COSCO shipping group, in separate meetings she had with them in Beijing on Thursday.
"The political leadership showed great interest and the contacts were extremely positive," Bakoyannis said after the meetings, adding that "China views Greece as a 'gateway' for the promotion of its products in the markets of the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean and there is strong interest in cooperation with Greek ports."
Both sides also approached major international issues from Kosovo to the issue of Cyprus and relations with the European Union to security in the Far East from a common point of view and as the foreign minister said "the Chinese leadership looks forward to our cooperation at the Security Council."
Bakoyannis was received at the traditional Chinese mansion for official welcomings at the Jon Nan Hai complex and termed her welcoming "upgraded and very substantive."
Bakoyannis discussed with Jiabao, who is termed by the official Press a "moderate" and a supporter of a "harmonious society", aiming at lifting the contrasts created by the rapidly developing economy, all issues with special emphasis being placed on economic ones which, as the minister said, he was well aware of and in detail.
Foreign Minister Jiechi underlined for his Greek counterpart the desire for the deepening of bilateral cooperation and his country's strong interest in Greece as a transit centre in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the desire for investments. The two ministers signed a Cooperation Protocol between the two foreign ministries at the end of the meeting.
The desire for cooperation at Greek ports and interest in managing container terminals was also expressed by COSCO President "Captain Wei", who heads the fourth shipping group in the world and manages about 600 ships, 140 of which belong to COSCO.
"The Chinese are interested in investing a great deal of money," said "Captain Wei" and stressed that "he expects Greece to become an important partner."
Speaking to reporters, Bakoyannis said "we are the best customers in the sea transportation sector. Greek ships carry 50 percent of energy and dry cargo to and from China. We are also building 187 ships in Chinese shipyards. They want to promote cooperation with investments in Greek ports and to strengthen relations with Greece, which they see as a gateway to the wider region. This message was conveyed to me by both the prime minister and the foreign minister."
Referring to discussions she had on international issues, the foreign minister said that there is cooperation at the Security Council. "Greece steadfastly supports the principle of one China and China supports Greek positions on the issue of Cyprus. They want from us support, as members of the EU, to strengthen their relations with the EU and they have it. We also support their position for 'market economy' status to be given," she said.
On the issue of Kosovo, that is in the limelight in view of a decision by the Security Council, at which China has the right of a "veto", being a permanent member, the Chinese leadership has an extremely cautious approach and supports an "agreed and viable solution."
The political climate between Greece and China is excellent and this was confirmed by this visit as well. What is required is the strengthening of economic and trade relations and Greek culture can become the springboard for this goal to be achieved.
 PM Karamanlis in Zagreb for 10th summit of SEECPZAGREB (ANA-MPA/S. Goutzanis)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is currently in Zagreb where he will attend on Friday the 10th summit of the South-East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP).
On Thursday morning, Karamanlis communicated by phone with members of Serbia's political leadership, expressing the European Union's interest for the normalistion of the political situation in the country, as difficulties are being faced for the formation of a government.
In the evening, the Greek prime minister attended an official dinner hosted by Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader in honour of the SEECP leaders.
On Friday, apart from his participation at the official sessions of the summit, Karamanlis will have meetings with Montenegro Prime Minister Zeljko Sturanovic and Bosnia-Herzegovina Prime Minister Nikola Piric.
The summit's sessions are being observed by US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and by European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.
Karamanlis is being accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, who on Thursday stated to an Austrian television channel that Greece supports the European prospects of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), but that Skopje must become aware that its positions should not be anti-productive for Greece.
 Valinakis attends 10th meeting of SEECP FMsDeputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Thursday attended the 10th meeting of South-East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP) Foreign Ministers in Zagreb, Croatia. The meeting precedes Friday's 10th SEECP summit in the Croatian capital.
According to a foreign ministry press release, Valinakis said, "The South-East Europe Cooperation Process - former Inter-Balkan - is enriched today with the Council of Regional Cooperation."
Valinakis noted at the end of the sessions, "In the past, the so-called Inter-Balkan concerned an era during which the Balkans were in turmoil. Today, the region leads the road of European prospects. In this road, the candidate countries of South-East Europe must pass through the known judgment of the criteria and prerequisites which necessarily must be respected."
"At the same time, we must not forget that regional cooperation passes through the relations of good neighbourliness. And at our meeting here, we repeatedly stressed that the Process must be utilised, in order for the relations of good neighbourliness to be helped, for regional cooperation to be strengthened and for us to promote the European prospects of the Balkan countries even more," the Greek deputy foreign minister added.
Specifically on the European prospects of these countries, Valinakis underlined, "We want to overcome the problems of the past and transform the Balkans into a European neighbourhood of cooperation, peace and prosperity."
 PM briefed by justice ministerPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Thursday with justice minister Anastasis Papaligouras, who told reporters after the meeting that he briefed the premier on two basic issues, the first concerning the transfer of foreign inmates to their countries of origin, and the second concerning the new Bankruptcy Code.
Papaligouras said that there has already been partial success towards agreement at European Union and Council of Europe level on facilitation of the transfer of inmates to their countries of origin.
In a few months' time, he said, the relevant binding procedure will have been finalised by the EU, but aded that Greece was chiefly interested in advancement of a similar agreement at Council of Europe level give that "the overwhelming majority of foreign nationals incarcerated in Greek prisons are not EU citizens but citizens of Council of Europe member countries".
The justice minister clarified that this decision did not concern illegal immigrants but foreign inmates who did not have second trials pending.
Papaligouras further stressed that, in a short time, the Bankruptcy Code would be completed and tabled in parliament, noting that it provided a second chance for those who go bankrupt "in good faith".
The minister also said that it was a matter of a few months "which can be counted on the fingers of one hand" for completion of the new Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code.
 Laliotis to return to political front line, PASOK leader saysVeteran politician Costas Laliotis, a high-profile member of the "old guard" in main opposition PASOK with strong grass-roots support, is due to return to frontline politics after a lengthy absence according to an announcement made by PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday.
Papandreou also announced Laliotis' appointment as president of the Andreas Papandreou Institute, stressing that the former public works minister would have a daily and active role in PASOK's political, communications and programme planning in the run up to the elections.
Laliotis will also be a member of PASOK's National Council.
PASOK's leader pointed out that the former minister was a politician with knowledge and experience, with whom he had worked together "over an entire lifetime" and who had lived through all the critical moments in the career of both the PASOK party and of its founder Andreas Papandreou.
With Laliotis at its helm, the Andreas Papandreou Institute would acquire a new dynamism and be more involved in political and social developments in the country, he added.
Laliotis said he was deeply honoured by the proposal and that he had accepted it "since it was also an act of faith in my person".
He stressed that the invitation to head the Institute was not a form of "honorary retirement" but a proposal for constant, honorary and symbolic enlistment. He expressed confidence in a favourable outcome for PASOK in the next elections, saying that a new majority was forming to add to the three million voters that had voted for PASOK in 2004.
Concerning the present New Democracy government, Laliotis described it as "winded and faded" and said it had already given everything it had to give, so that its further stay in power would only accumulate dead-end problems.
 Ticket led by Athens mayor Kaklamanis wins majority at KEDKE electionThe Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) will elect a new president in the coming period after Wednesday's election results for a new board gave a New Democracy-affiliated ticket headed by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis the majority of seats.
Kaklamanis' grouping secured 16 seats plus one occupied ex officio by the Athens mayor himself aftery garnering 266 votes in Wednesday's elections.
A PASOK-affiliated ticket headed by outgoing KEDKE president Paris Koukoulopoulos, the current mayor of Kozani in northwest Greece, received 207 votes and won seats; the Coalition of the Left-affiliated ticket picked up 19 votes and one seat, while the Communist Party-affiliated grouping managed four votes and no seat.
Afterwards, Kaklamanis said a new era begins for local government, while he expressed regret for a statement by Koukoulopoulos, who accused ruling ND of "voter manipulation."
"The night of the last municipal elections (main opposition PASOK leader) Mr. (George) Papandreou had said that a change in the country's political landscape had taken place, results of recent elections in the prefectures' union, the union of municipalities in Attica prefecture and KEDKE confirmed Mr. Papandreou's prediction, with one substantial difference, namely, the complete reversal in the other direction, in favor of ND," the alternate government spokesman said on Thursday during his regular press briefing.
Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros also dismissed the charges by the outgoing KEDKE president.
 Interior minister speaks in Germany on immigration issueInterior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, during an EU Interior Ministers meeting in Germany's northeastern city of Potsdam on Thursday, referred to the measures and initiatives which Greece has undertaken on the matter of immigration but also on the need for international cooperation for the proper handling of this phenomenon.
"A fundamental term of every modern legislation on immigration is the acceptance that the immigrant does not constitute a problem neither a threat to any society. On the contrary, immigration is a factor of growth and progress, to the degree that allowes to the hosting states to highlight men living within their borders, without any discrimination, at the same time deriving important benefits themselves," Pavlopoulos told his EU counterparts.
Referring to the initiatives undertaken by Greece for the immigrants' social incorporation on a central administration level, Pavlopoulos noted, "it (Greece) consolidated with law 3386/2005, the Common Basic Principles for the incorporation which were agreed at Groningen in Holland in November 2004."
"Within the framework of the Integrated Action Programme for the Social Incorporation of Immigrants (ESTIA), which is being implemented for the first time, secured is the coordination and supervision of the decentralised actions, measures and policies concerning the social incorporation of immigrants in sectors such as employment, education, health, housing and welfare," the Greek interior minister added.
 Interior minister comments on immigrants voting in municipal electionsInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the European Union Interior Ministers meeting in Potsdam, Germany, on Thursday, said that there is no constitutional obstacle for the right to vote at municipal election level to be given to immigrants.
"In the framework of our policy, those joining the status of longtime residents, and when this status has been conpleted, will have the right to participate in municipal and prefectural elections. What is not anticipated by the Constitution is participation in national elections because, as it is known, Greek citizens participate in national elections," he said.
Asked to comment on the bill giving overseas Greeks the right to vote, Pavlopoulos said that he has given it to parties for consultations and expressed his conviction that it will be tabled in Parliament and will be ratified before the end of the present government's tenure.
The minister also called on the opposition, particularly the main opposition party, to agree to help enabling the law to be ratified, since a two-thirds majority is required in order fo it to become valid in general, as is anticipated by the Constitution.
 Education minister addresses European Parliament event in AthensNational Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou addressed a European Parliament event at Zappion Mansion in Athens on Thursday.
Pupils from Greek schools were also present and discussed environmental issues. The pupils also played the "role" of ministers in an effort to become aware in this way of the sessions and role of the European Union's agencies.
In statements, Yiannakou said, "The Greek citizen, who is one of the most informed in Europe, does not know very much about the way of operation of the agencies and many times we also see press comments of the type 'Brussels decides'. Certain others do not decide for us. We also participate. The government at the European Council and the directly elected representatives of the Greek people at the European Parliament."
Yiannakou also responded to reporters' questions regarding the declaration by the "Revolutionary Struggle" group which also made reference to the Education Ministry.
"I wish to express my sorrow because individuals and groups select the terrorising of citizens and the threats against the life of political figures. However, I wish to repeat that these threats will never find place in the conscience of the Greek people."
She also noted that reforms in education will not cease.
 Yiannakou tables draft bill on life-long learningEducation Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Thursday tabled a draft bill dealing with life-long learning programmes in Parliament.
The bill envisages the creation of a body to administrate a comprehensive life-long learning programme and sundry related issues, such as the creation of a youth enterprise observatory or youth counsellors in large municipalities
 Former PM Constantine Mitsotakis stresses need for dialogue in public lifeFormer prime minister and ruling New Democracy party Honourary President Constantine Mitsotakis stressed the need on Thursday night for dialogue in the country's public life.
Speaking at an event in his honour at the Orthodox Academy of Crete at Kolymbari, in the prefecture of Hania, he said that "the work of the Academy is very important because in our times we have forgotten what dialogue means."
Mitsotakis further said that "social dialogue does not take place, because we usually realise it on the one hand, as a need, as an annoying process and on the other hand as an opportunity to impose our view in full and if this is not possible, to prevent any change."
The former prime minister went on to say that the mass media have abandoned their purposes, which even the Constitution determines explicitly, and sacrifice everything for the sake of ratings, dropping standards constantly lower.
"In Greece that gave birth and systematised dialogue we have established a deadlocked monologue today," Mitsotakis stressed.
 Alavanos visits KastoriaCoalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos continued a tour of Kastoria prefecture on Thursday, where he visited, among others, a technological education institute (TEI) and the labour centre in the northwestern border city.
In comments, Alavanos said his party's goal will be to field a "united left front" for any upcoming general election, instead of "various little storefronts (splintered parties) which appear to play a marginalised or colorful role."
He said cooperation with environment advocacy groups is one possible avenue for growth.
 Exclusive interview with Austrian President Fischer ahead of Cyprus, Greece visitsVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
Austrian President Heinz Fischer stressed the excellent level of relations his country shares with Greece and Cyprus in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA ahead of his official visit to Cyprus on Thursday followed by a formal four-day state visit to Greece on Saturday.
The Austrian President referred to a number of current and important issues such as the Cyprus problem, Turkey's EU accession course, EU enlargement and the role of its members, the future of the European Constitution, the Middle East problem, the Balkans and globalization.
President Fischer noted that he is familiar with Greece and Cyprus, which he has visited repeatedly in the past both as the president of the Austrian Parliament and privately, stressing that relations with both countries have positive and emotional elements. Austria backed Cyprus in its efforts to gain independence while Cyprus backed Austria on the South Tyrol issue. During the dictatorship in Greece, many Greeks found refuge in Austria where they got university degrees or worked, while Austria became an EU member during a Greek EU Presidency.
A scholar of the ancient Greek language, Fisher maintains close personal contacts with Greek political figures. He shares a close friendship with Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias, while he knew well the late Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and met Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis when she was the Mayor of Athens. During his imminent visit to Greece, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart, Fischer will discuss issues of vital bilateral interest.
He knows many Cypriot political figures as well, among them the Cypriot Parliament President whom he met when they were counterparts. His visit to Cyprus is in response to a visit by the Cypriot Republic President to Austria in February 2006.
Referring to the Cyprus issue, Fischer pointed out that it would have been very pleasant news if it had been resolved before or simultaneously with Cyprus' accession to the EU, but this goal was not attained and therefore efforts should continue on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal solution, which is primarily aUN obligation. He stressed that Austria backs the efforts of the current UN Secretary General and his predecessor, adding that the EU also has an obligation to assist in the improvement of the preconditions leading to a solution.
On the EU accession course of Turkey, which he described as big and important country, Fischer noted that Austria maintains very constructive relations with Ankara and that the EU-Turkey relations should be as close as possible. He stressed that he cannot predict today if the negotiations underway - always under the precondition that all prerequisites for an EU accession are met - will lead to an EU accession or to a special EU-Turkey relationship.
He said that the EU absorption capability should be examined carefully to avoid a failed conclusion of the negotiations during the ratification process in state parliaments or referenda.
The Austrian President stated that he is still considering the idea of a pan-European referendum, believing that the consent of the majority of the European population and EU member states constitutes a sufficient measure of legitimacy whereas referenda held in individual states have a disadvantage according to which, a weak majority in a country can lead the entire effort to collapse.
On the EU enlargement issue, Austria has very clear and specific positions which he will present during his visits to Cyprus and Greece. He believes that Croatia's EU accession negotiations can be concluded in about 2 years from now, while the European prospect should be kept open for Serbia because of the Kosovo problem and because Serbia should not be left under the impression that it is being isolated and excluded from the European integration process.
The same holds true for all the Western Balkan states seeking to become EU members, stressed the Austrian President, adding that the door should be kept open for them if they fully meet the necessary prerequisites. Austria's position is that each case should be examined separately and that an objective decision should be reached on the time negotiations should be launched or when negotiations already underway should be led to a positive conclusion.
On the European Constitution, President Fischer stated that by 2009, set as a target date by the German EU Presidency, the way can be found to a European Constitution that will be as close as possible to the text approved back in 2003. All participants should be ready for compromise, both the skeptics and others, like Austria, who want to keep the current text intact, stressing that changes leading to improvement should be considered.
In his exclusive interview with ANA-MPA, the Austrian President referred to the very difficult situation in the Middle East, expressing concern for the difficult position both Israel and the Palestinian side are in, and noting that the United States will soon be on a Presidential election course.
He stressed that the Palestinians should adhere to the Mecca agreements averting suicide attacks and terrorist actions. On the other hand, Israel should realize that those exerting pressures are not enemies but true friends. Israel should work sincerely for a solution that will make possible a peaceful coexistence with a Palestinian state based on the principles adopted in Mecca or outlined by the "quartet" or based on the UN resolutions, he said.
President Fischer stressed that it is self-evident that Israel has the right to exist, a right to security and a right to protect its population, just as the Palestinians have the right to a Palestinian state, a right to dignity and a right to exist both politically and economically.
The Austrian President pointed out that the globalization phenomenon should not be viewed only negatively and with a sense of concern, stressing that opportunities and new capabilities are also being offered. Now people know better than ever that they share the same planet, that human rights are a global issue, that peace is a global goal and that the future of the planet should be a global responsibility.
According to President Fischer, globalization naturally means heightened competition and competitiveness but it should also mean that countries and regions in an extremely disadvantageous position until now are able to share the conquests of modern society and culture and the conquests of democratic structures and social security.
 Austrian president to pay private visit to IoanninaAustrian President Heinz Fischer will pay a two-day private visit to Ioannina, northern Greece, at the weekend, at the invitation of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Fischer will arrive in Ioannina on Saturday afternoon and along with his Greek counterpart, will tour Ioannina Lake by yacht. They will then tour the city's museums.
On Sunday, they will visit the ancient theatre of Dodoni, Zagorohoria and Ioannina Castle. They will depart in the afternoon for Athens, where on Monday the official programme of Fischer's visit to Greece begins.
 Terror group claims April 30 attack on police stationThe ultra-leftist 'Revolutionary Struggle' group has claimed responsibility for the April 30 late-night attack on an Athens police station in a proclamation left for a weekly newspaper published on Thursday, in which the terror band warns of a "war" on police, calling on them to "choose their side".
The shadowy urban terrorist group also derisively referred to the government, Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and the three opposition parties represented in Parliament (main opposition PASOK, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos).
In one of the most provocative urban terrorist-related proclamations since the once-elusive "November 17's" members found themselves in prison, the group also warned of strikes against Parliament.
The group further criticised the government for offering a bounty of "only" 800,000 euros for information leading to the arrest of its members, and also said it considered as "small" the bounty offered by the United States for the January attack on its embassy in Athens, which caused material damage but no injuries.
Two unidentified individuals riding a motorcycle and wearing helmets opened fire on the New Ionia police precinct in Perissos district of northwest Athens in the early morning hours of April 30 with a 9mm automatic handgun, riddling the station's wall with shots, and also threw a grenade that exploded on the street 15 metres away from the station building.
Police collected 30 cartridges from the scene. No group had claimed responsibility for the attack at the time.
The proclamation was reportedly left inside an abandoned house in the central Gyzi district of Athens.
In a later statement, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reiterated that the government does not enter into a dialogue with terrorists, responding to a question on the content of terrorist group's proclamation, published on Thursday in the weekly Pontiki newspaper.
 Greek fiscal deficit cut "credible and sustainable", Commission saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
Greece's fiscal deficit fell below the 3.0 pct of GDP limit "in a credible and sustainable way", the European Commission said in its recommendation proposal to ECOFIN to end an excessive fiscal deficit procedure against the country.
The European Commission's agencies completed drafting of a recommendation proposal, which is expected to be adopted by the Community's executive arm in May 16 after a recommendation by EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.
The recommendation proposal asks the Council to annul its previous decision over an excessive fiscal deficit in Greece, after it concluded that the country's budget deficit fell to 7.9 pct of GDP in 2004 to 2.6 pct of GDP in 2006, mainly through measures of permanent nature and some temporary nature measures accounting for 0.6 pct of GDP. The Commission estimates that the deficit would fall by 0.25 pct of GDP this to 2.4 pct, while it underlined the need for alertness to maintain fiscal discipline in the future and stressed its preference to permanent nature measures in fiscal consolidation efforts.
Referring to the country's public debt, the Commission said it was adequately reduced from 108.5 pct of GDP in 2004 to 104.5 pct in 2006 and was expected to fall to 97.5 pct in 2008.
The EU's executive said that Greek statistics agency improved procedures of collecting and processing of statistical data, reducing statistical divergence and improving the quality of statistical figures and noted that following this development Eurostat withdrew all of its reservations over the quality of Greek statistical data.
The Commission said its economic forecasts were based on existing financial figures and not on revised GDP figures submitted by Greek authorities, figures that revised upwards by 26 percent the country's GDP. It said that Eurostat was currently examining the revised figures and its recommendations were expected during the year.
The Commission said that if Eurostat fully verified Greece's revised GDP figures, the country's fiscal deficit would fall below 2.0 pct of GDP.
 IMD report confirms positive economic course, minister saysAn International Institute for Management Development (IMD) report confirms the positive course of the Greek economy and its competitiveness, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Thursday.
Commenting on a report on international competitiveness, the minister stressed that after five years of continuous decline, Greece managed to reverse this slide in 2006 and to maintain its position in this year's list, while it improved significant indexes of the report and more particularly a 10-position jump of the Government Efficiency category.
Sioufas said the IMD report verified the government's efforts over the last three years to bring its public finances in order.
The report said that Greece maintained its 36th position, amongst 55 countries, in this year's list, improved its total points by 6.06 pct and saw its Business Efficiency category rise from 40th to the 35th place this year.
The country suffered slight losses in the Economic Efficiency category (from the 43rd to the 46th position) and Infrastructure (from 29th to the 34th place).
 Finance ministry replies to PASOK on country's exit from excessive deficit processThe finance and economy ministry announced on Thursday, replying to statements by officials of the main opposition PASOK party on the country's exit from the excessive deficit process, that the main opposition party's officials, "having no real argument, followed the path of danger talk and disinformation from the very beginning".
"At first, they doubted the data of the European Statistical Service concerning the deficits and debts that the governments of PASOK created. They then doubted the reports of the European Commission that confirmed the effectiveness of the economic policy of the government and the good course of the Greek economy. Later, they spoke of dangers regarding growth and unemployment. Afterwards, they claimed that the country's exit from the excessive deficit process would not be achieved. Today, they are proving once again with their statements that they are out of touch with place and time," the announcement said.
 FinMin addresses Bocconi University conference in MilanFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis addressed a conference organised by the Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, on Thursday, saying that three essential preconditions were necessary for the effective implementation of the reforms policy.
Speaking on the theme of "What are the political obstacles for economic reforms in Europe and how can they be overcome," Alogoskoufis said the policy must have a clear target as to the change in economic and social institutions, it must take economic and social restrictions into consideration and the individual elements of this policy must be analysed and discussed at length in the framework of a social and political dialogue because, if society is not convinced of the necessity of the reforms, they will lead nowhere.
The minister also referred to the achievements of the Greek economy over the past three years with the parallel strengthening of social cohesion, as he said.
 Commission approves Greek state aid to OTEThe European Commission on Thursday said it has closed an in-depth investigation concluding that the Greek government's planned contribution to the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) voluntary early retirement scheme was compatible with community regulations on state aid.
The Commission, in a statement, said the Greek government's transfer of 4.0 pct of its shares in OTE to the organisation's pension fund was aimed at relieving OTE from extra costs resulting mainly from the status of OTE's employees. The Commission's decision is based on the Greek government's explicit commitment that the value of the shares to be transferred to the pension fund will not exceed the extra costs of the programme, estimated at 390.4 million euros.
Commenting on the decision, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "I am pleased to approve aid which should enable OTE to reduce its staff and become a leaner and more efficient company to the benefit of a healthier Greek communications market. The Commission is in favour of measures which help former monopolists adapt to a fully liberalised market environment provided that they comply with the state aid rules".
 Tram line extension to Piraeus moves closer to construction stageExtension of a tram line to the port of Piraeus dominated a meeting on Thursday between Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis and Piraeus Mayor Panayiotis Fassoulas, with an initial timetable released afterwards showing a completion date of spring 2010.
The long-discussed extension, which has generated support and opposition from shop owners in Piraeus, would extend into the country's largest port city from a present terminus at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in the coastal Neo Faliro district.
The greater Athens area's tram system -- inaugurated for the 2004 Olympic Games -- is comprised of a "Y" -shaped network, namely, one line leaving from central Athens and breaking off into two separate routes, one southwest towards Neo Faliro and the other southeast along various coastal districts before reaching the upscale municipality of Glyfada.
Another project for the congested municipality is the construction of an underground line, in place of the current above-ground section, for the electric train line (ISAP) serving Piraeus by 2010.
 Greek industrial production index up 0.1 pct in March, yr/yrGreece's industrial production composite index rose by 0.1 pct in March compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a monthly report, said the average composite index was up 2.5 pct in the first quarter of 2007, from the same period last year.
NSS said the 0.1 pct increase of the industrial production index in March, reflected a 0.5 pct decline in the mining index, a 0.1 pct increase in manufacturing and a 0.4 pct rise in the electricity-natural gas-water production index.
 Greek exports up 10.7 pct in March, yr/yrThe value of import-arrivals totaled 4.695 billion euros in March, from 4.723 billion in the corresponding month last year, for a decline of 0.6 pct, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a monthly report, also said the value of export-deliveries totaled 1.62 billion euros in March from 1.463 billion in March 2006, for an increase of 10.7 percent.
 Hellenic Sugar to transform two units into ethanol productionHellenic Sugar Industry SA on Thursday said it would hold an international tender to find a strategic investor to transform two sugar production units into ethanol production units.
The listed company said its board accepted recommendations made by its financial and legal advisors to transform its two sugar production units in Larissa and Xanthi.
Details of the tender will be published on Sunday and Monday, May 13-14.
 Illegal imports of pesticides from Bulgaria, FYROM and TurkeyThe Hellenic Crop Protection Association (HCPA) has received at least 20 complaints since the beginning of the year concerning the illegal import of pesticides from Bulgaria, FYROM and Turkey. In many instances, pesticides that have been withdrawn from the European market are being imported from Bulgaria.
Farmers are tempted to buy the pesticides by their low prices - which are up to 50 percent lower in these countries - effectively putting their crops and public health at risk. According to other reports, the boxes of pesticides on sale do not always accurately reflect their contents.
 Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling reports improved 1st quarter resultsCoca Cola Hellenic Bottling on Thursday reported improved first quarter results and said its operating earnings (EBIT) totaled 60 million euros, up 11 percent from the same period last year, while net profits totaled 25 million euros, up 25 percent over the same period.
The company said the volume of sales totaled 402 million boxes, up 18 percent from the first quarter of 2006. The volume of sales in developed markets totaled 144 million boxes, up 15 percent, while sales volume in Greece reached one-digit growth rate in the January-March period. Developed markets accounted for 39 million euros of total comparable pre-tax and interest earnings, down 13 percent from the same period last year.
In developing markets, the volume of sales totaled 74 million boxes, up 18 pct from last year, contributing 3 million euros to comparable operating earnings of the group.
 Gerolymatos Group buys 51% stake in Laboratoire AIMGerolymatos Group on Thursday announced the purchase of a majority 51-percent equity stake in the French company Laboratoire AIM, ensuring access in the French pharmaceutical market.
The company will be renamed AIM Gerolymatos France.
 Louis Group announces purchase of cruise ship M/V OperaThe Louis Group on Thursday announced the purchase of the cruise ship M/V Opera. According to an announcement by the company, the cruise ship was built in 1992, it has a displacement of 25,611 tons and carries 1,278 passengers in 483 cabins and suites.
The announcement points out that the cruise ship fulfills the strict specifications of the Coast Guard and Health Authorities of the United States and will begin three-day and four-day cruises from Piraeus in July on behalf of Louis Hellenic Cruises, replacing the cruise ship Sea Diamond, which sank outside the Aegean island of Santorini in early April, on a permanent basis.
 Car sales up 2.4 pc in first four months this yearLocal car sales dropped by 3.9 percent in April this year, totalling 22,617 units compared to 23,541 last April, but during the first four months sales were up by 2.4 percent compared to the same period last year.
The Japanese Toyota car continues to top sales in Greece with 2,348 units, increasing by 4.2 percent. Opel is in second place with 2,965 sales and an increase of 39.2 percent on an annual basis. Volkswagen comes third with 1,751 sales (increasing by 3.6 percent), followed by Ford with 1,550 cars and Hyundai with 1,287.
The car model with the most sales in April was Volkswagen's Golf with 3,519 units, overtaking Opel Astra and Ford Focus.
 Greek stocks end 0.49 pct higherGreek stocks rose moderately in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday. The composite index ended 0.49 pct higher at 4,767.09 points, with turnover an improved 469.01 million euros.
Sector indices moved upwards with the Utilities (2.07 pct), Constructions (1.37 pct) and Personal/Home Products (1.14 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Telecommunications (1.01 pct), Insurance (0.73 pct) and Oil (0.45 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.50 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.62 pct higher and the Small Cap index jumped 1.21 pct.
Ideal (20 pct), Desmos (18.18 pct), Allatini Ceramics (14.42 pct) were top gainers, while Klonatex (6.25 pct), Karamolegos (5.06 pct) and Autohellas (3.87 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 176 to 87 with another 45 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.45%
Personal & Household: +1.14%
Raw Materials: +0.64%
Travel & Leisure: -0.33%
Food & Beverages: +0.59%
Financial Services: +0.30%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 21.84
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.10
HBC Coca Cola: 32.60
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.10
Emporiki Bank: 21.90
National Bank of Greece: 40.82
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 31.00
Titan Cement Company: 43.04
 ADEX closing reportsFutures contract prices maintained their discount during Thursday's session in the Athens Derivatives Exchange, with turnover a low 124.096 million euros.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.43 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.67 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 7,539 contracts worth 94.017 million euros, with 33,586 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 851 contracts worth 17.556 million euros, with 1,590 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 6,080 contracts worth 12.522 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,031), followed by Eurobank (851), PPC (515), Piraeus Bank (124), Alpha Bank(924), Intracom (219), ATEbank (735) and Eltech (587).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 2.858 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.449 billion were bid orders and the remaining 1.409 billion euros sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 365 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.225 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.44 pct and the German Bund 4.22 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate fell to 3.70 pct from 3.71 pct on Wednesday, the two-day rate fell to 3.70 pct from 3.73 pct, the one-month rate was 3.86 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.33 pct from 4.32 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.363
Pound sterling 0.686
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 9.280
Japanese yen 164.16
Swiss franc 1.660
Norwegian kroner 8.224
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.510
Australian dollar 1.638
 Ministry to back new art shows in bid to boost local artCulture Minister George Voulgarakis on Thursday announced a series of actions designed to support contemporary Greek art and Greek artists, including the revival of the Panhellenic Painting Exhibition after 20 years. This is due to relaunch on April-May 2008 and will be held by the ministry every two years, with 600,000 euros in funds from the 4th Community Support Framework.
The minister said the new initiatives hoped to boost local art in Greece, which faced long-standing problems because of "the Greek economy lacks the depth that would allow the average citizen to come closer to the visual arts of the country or the international scene".
The measures listed by Voulgarakis include a state-organised "Modern Art Biennale" in Thessaloniki that will open on May 21 and run until September 30 at the city's State Museum of Modern Art, featuring 167 artists from 37 countries.
Starting this month and running until October 2007 is the 2nd International Sketching Competition entitled "Children of the Future" that will be funded with 200,000 euros and is organised by the culture ministry and Greekartoon.
The ministry will also sponsor and give 200,000 euros to the exhibition Art Athina 2007 that will open at the end of May, with the participation of 80 Greek and foreign galleries.
Another 200,000 euros will be given by the culture ministry to support the 1st Athens Biennale "Destroy Athens" that opens in Gazi on September 10 and will run until November 18.
From March to May 2009, meanwhile, there are plans for the 1st Architectural Biennale in Athens that will explore modern trends in architecture and receive 800,000 euros from European joint-funding programmes.
Other measures announced by Voulgarakis were the re-activation of a law requiring that 1 percent of the budget for public buildings be allocated to their artistic decoration, 400,000 euros to support the Visual Arts Observatory and an annual ministry budget of 500,000 euros for purchasing works of art.
 Health minister opens debate on protecting rights of childrenHealth and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday declared the start of a public debate on a draft bill for protecting the rights of children, including their right to quality entertainment. Speaking before Parliament's Committee for Social Affairs, he said that the ministry was open to all proposals and thoughts put forward by MPs regarding its "National Plan for the Protection of Children's Rights".
"For the first time, the state and the public health system have recognised the need for a comprehensive and horizontal policy for the protection but also the entertainment of children," Avramopoulos said, noting that the state had "delayed taking this initiative".
He added that the planned measures aimed to protect children, which were vulnerable as never before, while also drawing up a new policy for the "recreation, learning and dreams of the child" in safety and security and with a social face.
PASOK MP Evi Christofilopoulou dismissed the proposed bill as "generalised announcements in a vague pre-electoral wish list" and pointed out that the ministry's draft bill lacked both a specific strategic plan and a specific time schedule.
Other MPs referred to the need to secure funds and cooperate with local government in order to make the measures envisaged possible, while ruling New Democracy MP Yiannis Bougias called for clearer and more specific commitments on the issue of child labour and said that many rights of children were currently being trampled.
Replying to his critics, Avramopoulos stressed that the "general charter fully addresses the general principles regarding protecting the rights of children" and said that this was not judged by the time it took but by actions taken. "We are at the start of a new age," he added.
"The results of today's initiative will be judged in the future and in the long term. With this work we are producing policy, which is something that we are in danger of forgetting recently in Greece," the minister said.
Deputy Health Minister George Constantopoulos defended the draft bill, emphasising the need for a "national strategic plan so that we do not have children that turn into 'zombies' because of the things that they watch on television".
 PPC power plants make top two in Europe's 'dirty thirty'Two power plants owned by Greece's state-run Public Power Corporation (PPC) in Agios Dimitris and Kardia, Kozani hold the top two spots in Europe's "dirty thirty" according to the Greek branch of the World Wildlife Fund, WWF Hellas, said on Thursday.
The announcement was based on a recent report issued by WWF international, which lists the 30 power stations in the 25 European Union member-states with the lowest efficiency in power production relative to their carbon dioxide emissions.
Most of the 30 power stations in the list are in Germany and the United Kingdom, while Poland has four. More than half of those listed are owned by Germany's RWE, Sweden's Vattenfall, EDF in France and EON in Germany.
In 2006, the 30 power plants in the list generated 393 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, which represented 10 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions in Europe, the report said. These top greenhouse gas emitters use coal as their fuel source, while the top 10 use the even more polluting lignite.
WWF Hellas director Dimitris Karavellas said the figures for Greece were particularly disappointing, since the specific power plants had moved up in the rankings relative to 2005, when they occupied the top and fourth position in the list. He stressed the need to shift electricity production away from coal and lignite to clean technologies.
The WWF report was based on figures included in the European Polluntant Emissions Register run by the European Commission, while the top polluters were ranked based on grammes of carbon dioxide emitted per KW electricity produced.
 'Hungary in Athens' Festival throughout MayA "Hungary in Athens" cultural and culinary festival begins this month in Athens, in tandem with an exhibition dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the birth of noted Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály.
The festival is hosted by the Hungarian embassy in Athens and aims to better introduce the Visegrad nation through its prolific culture, in a much broader sense, to the Greek public.
Events include a Hungarian book fair (May 7-June 3, 2007); a contemporary visual arts exhibition co-organised by the embassy and the Lefakis Gallery; a visit to the Greek capital by Hungary's first Nobel Laureate for literature Imre Kertész (May 14-16, 2007); the official launching of the "Hungary in Athens" Festival will be held in Hotel Hilton Athens on May 15; and finally, an exhibition dedicated to Kodály, co-organised by the Hungarian embassy in Athens, the municipality of Filothei and the Greek Kodály Conservatory and Institute (Odeio Kodály).
 Eight justices up on charges for trial-riggingSupreme Court prosecutor George Sanidas on Thursday issued instructions to press criminal charges against eight appeals court justices in Thessaloniki for offences linked to trial-rigging.
The seven appelate judges and one appeals court deputy prosecutor, of which three are men and five are women, are accused of arranging 'fixed' ballots for the selection of judges presiding over trials. This ensured their selection to try specific cases in which the accused were either acquitted or received favourable treatment, with lighter sentences than those provided by law.
The eight are alleged to have set up the fake ballots for cases involving money-laundering, drug dealing, illegal trade in fuels, bribery, murder, embezzlement and forgery.
Three of the eight judges are to face criminal charges of repeatedly issuing false affirmations, seven are charged with repeated counts of breach of duty as a misdemeanour and the deputy prosecutor faces criminal charges of attempted abuse of authority.
According to Sanidas, charges may also be pressed against more suspects if the existence of more offences is revealed under questioning.
Thessaloniki Appeals Council rules for extradition of PAOK assistant coach to Croatia, appeal to be submitted
The Thessaloniki Council of Appeals on Thursday ruled in favour of the extradition of Thessaloniki first division basketball club PAOK's Croat assistant coach Ernest Radjen to the Croatian authorities on suspicion of participating in war crimes in the former Yugoslavia
Following several postponements, the judicial appeals council decided in favour of the extradition of 48-year-old Radhen, an ethnic Serb from Croatia, who is wanted by the Croat authorities on suspicion of killing women in Croatian villages near Zadar during the war in the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
Radjen was arrested in September 2006 on the basis of an Interpol international warrant issued on behalf of the Croatian authorities. He was detained for several days at the Athens Security Police headquarters, but was released on restrictive terms after submitting a release petition, by virtue of a ruling of the Council of Appeals.
Following the ruling in favour of extradition, Radjen's legal counsel said an appeal will be tabled with the Areios Paghos, Greece's supreme court.
Radjen, who has been with PAOK since January 2006, has denied the allegations against him.
 Appeals court to rule next week on 'N17' sentencingA five-justice appeals court will issue rulings on Monday on what, if any, sentences handed down to a dozen convicted "November 17" terrorists will be merged, as a handful of the defendants have already been slapped with multiple life terms.
On Thursday, the lead prosecutor at the appeals trial issued her recommendations for sentencing, following the upholding of first instance guilty verdicts against practically all of the defendants a week earlier.
If prosecutor Efterpe Koutzamanis' recommendations are accepted, then two of the decidedly lesser "N17" defendants, Thomas Serifis and Sotiris Kondylis, will be eligible to submit requests for parole immediately and in a few months, respectively.
 Foreign nationals arrested on drug charges in ThessalonikiPolice in Thessaloniki on Thursday announced the arrest of two Serb nationals, aged 31 and 29, on drug-related charges.
A total of 214 xtc pills (ecstasy), a small quantity of cocaine, 10,550 euros in drug money and a notebook with names and addresses of their customers were found in their apartment, the announcement said.
A 25-year-old university student from Serbia was also arrested when he visited the apartment during the police raid with the intent to buy drugs.
 Major heroin haul at border postAn ethnic Greek man from Georgia was arrested at the Kipi customs post on the Greek-Turkish border this week on charges of attempting to smuggle 3.2 kilos of heroin into the country.
The suspect was arrested after a police K-9 unit found six packages of heroin weighing 500 grams each hidden in his car.
 Sunny on FridaySunny weather is forecast throughout the country on Friday. Temperatures ranging from 12C and 32C. Winds northerly, northeasterly, light to strong.
Sunny in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 16C and 30C. Same in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 14C to 30C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe 'Revolutionary Struggle' group's proclamation to an Athens weekly claiming responsibility for the April 30 attack at the Nea Ionia police station in Perissos, the property holdings and 'source of wealth' statement of Areios Paghos (Greek Supreme Court) president Romylos Kedikoglou's son, and the bonds affair, were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Hiring of 1,795 policemen and 112 officers, through nationwide examinations - 1.091 for defence ministry - For 2,846 positions with OAED (Manpower Employment Organisation) programmes".
APOGEVMATINI: "Revolutionary Struggle threatens murders - The new generation of terrorists, in proclamation, assumes responsibility for attack on Nea Ionia police station".
AVGHI: "Greece top in pollution - Revealing Europe-wide study by WWF".
AVRIANI: "The second urban guerrilla war has begun - Revolutionary Struggle assumes responsibility for the attack at the police station in Perissos".
CHORA: "This year's Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) will be an electoral one - Alogoskoufis (national economy and finance minister) will close all the issues by June".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "All together: Israel, Arabs, Jordanians regarding the...'Patriarch' of Jerusalem Theofilos: Immaculate on the Road to Glory".
ELEFTHEROS: "Karamanlis message to his MPs and the opposition - Forget early general elections, we have a four-year time-table".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Terror proclamation by Revolutionary Struggle - They targetted two ministers and parliament, declared war on police".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Bonds rebate 'plan', aimed at weakening the 'bring back the monies' demand".
ESTIA: "Simitis (preceding PASOK prime minister) recipe for early elections - Call and holding withing 30 days".
ETHNOS: "Major political issue for the government and the Areios Paghos president".
KATHIMERINI: "Confirmation by terrorists of lack of security - Revolutionary Struggle proclamation on Nea Ionia attack".
LOGOS: "Brake on the talk of early general elections - Karamanlis: We are continuing with the changes, with a four-year horizon".
NIKI: "Children of incompetence - The dissolution of ELAS (Greek Police) armed the terrorists".
PONTIKI: "Revolutionary Struggle proclamation - We're commencing war with the police - 'We attacked the police station in Perissos' ".
TA NEA: "The Kedikoglou property...in the docks - PASOK demands disciplinary investigation".
TO VIMA: "Senior judiciary official stresses: Confidence in judges collapsing".
VRADYNI: "Vote for reform - DAP-NDFK (ruling New Democracy-affiliated student union organisation) in university student elections - DAP-NDFK conquered traditional PASP (main opposition PASOK-affiliated student union organisation) strongholds".
 Lillikas: Selling of Greek Cypriot properties shows lack of will for settlementNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas has said the illegal selling of Greek Cypriot properties in Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas sends the message that there is lack of will to solve the Cyprus question.
In statements at the House of Representatives, the minister said that the supporters of the Annan plan seek self-vindication through the position that if the plan had been accepted by the Greek Cypriots, then one third of the occupied Greek Cypriot properties would have been saved.
Lillikas expressed the belief that no change of the extreme Turkish position on the Cyprus question should be expected during the next months, adding that the position that the Greek Cypriot side must make concessions, with a view to promote a Cyprus settlement, is short-sighted.
Furthermore, he noted that both the EU and Turkey realise that the international and European laws must be restored in the Republic of Cyprus in order for Turkey to be able to join the EU.
"Whoever really believes in a settlement providing for the reunification of Cyprus, in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, must refrain from interfering with Greek Cypriot properties, because the issues of properties and territories will be indispensable important aspects of any settlement of the Cyprus question," he added, noting that such actions and practices in fact undermine efforts to reach a settlement.
Lillikas sent the message that "we are not going to accept either the erasure of the fundamental human right to property or of the fundamental EU principle for the protection of the right to property or the right for the return of the refugees."
As regards the negative stance of the Turkish side with regard to the implementation of the July 8 agreement, he said that this agreement was a result of actions and initiatives of the Cypriot government and was reached with the unanimous position of the UN Security Council five permanent members.
He said it was very significant that the international community and the EU support, publicly, the July 8 agreement, adding that "beyond this, the government outlines the issue of properties and of promoting a Cyprus settlement to all of its bilateral contacts, and in the framework of discussions within the EU, and this does not mean that we want to move the Cyprus question from the UN framework to the EU.''
Lillikas said that the natural framework to seek a Cyprus settlement is the UN, noting however that Cyprus' accession to the EU changes the political environment as well as Turkey's accession course, and that the acquis communautaire and the EU fundamental principles should be taken into consideration to the settlement of the problem.
Replying to a question, Lillikas said "our effort is through the support of the international community to convince the Turkish government that its policy does not lead to a settlement and does not serve the long-term interests of Turkey, which wants to join the EU."
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
In April 2004, the majority of the Greek Cypriot community rejected a solution plan proposed by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, while the Turkish Cypriot community accepted it, in separate referenda.
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of UN official 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 of the Cyprus problem.
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS