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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 18 May 2007 Issue No: 2596


  • [01] PM underlines commitment to strong local government
  • [02] Kaklamanis, Drakos comments on results of meeting
  • [03] Papandreou reiterates criticism over bonds issue, fiscal audit
  • [04] Antonaros' response to Papandreou over EDP exit
  • [05] PM briefed by health minister on primary healthcare bill
  • [06] PM Karamanlis briefed by ND secretary
  • [07] Karamanlis' scheduled meetings on Friday
  • [08] Foreign ministry on Jerusalem Patriarchate, Mideast trip by Bakoyannis
  • [09] FM spokesman on Kosovo
  • [10] Information on Turkish armed forces website 'untrue', Athens says
  • [11] Government to sue over sinking of 'Sea Diamond', minister says
  • [12] Education Minister Yiannakou attends Bologna Process conference in London
  • [13] Gov't spokesman on trial of November 17 terrorist group members
  • [14] Draft bill on framework for opinion polls, polling firms debated in Parliament com't
  • [15] Evert criticises Papandreou over 1999-2001 stock market 'bubble' issue
  • [16] Alavanos again backs free access to colleges for HS grads
  • [17] US Under Secretary Burns addresses annual conference of Greek-American organizations
  • [18] Transport sector the top energy user in Greece
  • [19] No change to government position on pension reform, spokesman stresses
  • [20] FinMin on procedure for privatisation of OTE
  • [21] Greek unemployment rate fell to 9.0 pct in February
  • [22] Tourist development minister inaugurates 1st Summer Holidays Expo exhibition
  • [23] Public awareness campaign on new technologies
  • [24] PASOK accuses gov't of treating Olympic Airlines with 'disdain'
  • [25] Greek cooperative bank report improved 1st quarter results
  • [26] Development minister inaugurates Greek Marketing Academy conference
  • [27] Kloukinas-Lappas reports improved 1st quarter results
  • [28] Marfin Investment Group to increase share capital by 5.1 billion euros
  • [29] Hellenic Petroleum to invest 1.0 bln euros in upgrading refineries
  • [30] Ilektroniki Athinon company opens first outlet in Belgrade
  • [31] Kri-Kri reports improved 1st quarter results
  • [32] Continental begins daily flights from Athens to NYC
  • [33] Watchdog authority offers details market manipulation bylaws
  • [34] Greek stocks end flat on Thursday
  • [35] ADEX closing report
  • [36] Greek bond market closing report
  • [37] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday
  • [38] EANA conference on "The Future of News Agencies - Technology and intellectual property"
  • [39] Pavlopoulos to address event on the 50th anniversary of united Europe
  • [40] Interior minister addresses conference on cultural diversity and human rights
  • [41] President Papoulias inaugurates 4th Thessaloniki International Book Exhibition
  • [42] Thessaloniki event focuses on Pontian genocide
  • [43] Corcyra Beach resort on Corfu to partially reopen
  • [44] Jean Cocteau exhibition opens in Athens on Friday
  • [45] Andreas Papandreou collection of weapons, gifts of foreign leaders, donated to Defence Ministry
  • [46] Senior police officer arrested on bribery charges
  • [47] Government on arrest of two police officers
  • [48] Psychoanalysis conference begins in Athens on Saturday
  • [49] Banks and ND local offices firebombed in Athens
  • [50] Athens mayor receives tennis greats Sampras, Courier
  • [51] Italian soccer coach Marcello Lippi invited to Athens
  • [52] Rain, storms on Friday
  • [53] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [54] Government expresses satisfaction over EU proposal towards Eurozone
  • [55] UN-led meetings to continue, but so far no progress made
  • [56] British High Commissioner: Nothing positive as regards 8 July agreement Politics

  • [01] PM underlines commitment to strong local government

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday underlined the government's commitment to building up strong local authorities, which would be a vital part of a modern, flexible and decentralized state. He was speaking after a meeting with the newly elected leaderships of Greece's national local government unions, the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) and the National Union of Prefectures of Greece (ENAE).

    "Three and a half years ago the citizens and we decided on a national strategy for strong, sustainable growth everywhere. Day by day, this strategy is becoming a national conquest. We are moving ahead with all Greek men and women, with the people of local government as valuable advisors and partners on the road to development and progress," Karamanlis said.

    He underlined that dialogue with the local authority organisations was ongoing and constant, open, honest and produced tangible results. When this was completed toward the end of the government's four-year term, it would allow reforms of critical importance to the administrative structure of the country, he added.

    "This reform cannot fail to produce more powerful, more effective, more productive and more transparent local government units, which with the support, incentives, and encouragement provided by the state, by using the new legal framework and through metropolitan collaboration, will be in a position not just to follow but to create developments, meet the challenges and take a leading role in the new era," Karamanlis stressed.

    The prime minister also emphasised the "new relationship of trust" between central and local government that had been built up over the past 3.5 years, through measures like the new code for municipalities and communities, the five-year developmental programme "Thiseas", the payment by the state of all funding due to local authorities under the law, the steady and constantly increasing funding for prefectures, new developmental opportunities for local government and new structures for its support and for the absorption of 4th Community Support Framework funds that exceed 36 billion euros, of which 80 percent would be spent in Greece's regions.

    At another point, the prime minister referred to the European Commission's decision to allow Greece to exit the excessive deficit procedure and said that this confirmed "that a policy of change and reforms yields results and guarantees important and sustainable benefits for the country and its citizens".

    Fiscal reforms freed resources for policies that improve the present and secure a better future, he added.

    In this context, the government was planning the gradual return to municipal authorities of funds that had been illegally held back by PASOK governments, Karamanlis said.

    "With optimism and confidence based on what we have already achieved we are continuing on the road to changes and reforms. We are breaking through outdated structures and distortions, overcoming mentalities and views that prevented the country for striding forward, building a modern, reliable and efficient state that is decentralised and flexible, with strong and reliable local government," the prime minister stressed.

    [02] Kaklamanis, Drakos comments on results of meeting

    As the newly elected president of KEDKE, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis stressed the importance of the prime minister's invitation to the new local authority leadership, just two days after the elections.

    "This demonstrates the prime minister's interest in local government," the mayor stressed, while noting that Thursday's meeting had been used to set the agenda for talks during a second meeting with the premier at the end of June.

    These would concern new administrative reforms, metropolitan-level cooperation between municipalities, municipality finances, environmental issues focusing particularly on waste management and the 4th CSF.

    He announced that KEDKE intended to put forward proposals for dealing with corruption when this arose.

    The new ENAE president Dimitris Drakos, who met Karamanlis immediately after the Athens Mayor, said he was very satisfied with the agenda of talks decided on for prefectures after the meeting.

    He said his talks with the prime minister also covered the new prefecture code that is currently being prepared and absorption of 4th CSF funds and promised to "closely monitor" the implementation of the premier's pledge to spend 80 percent of these on the regions.

    In statements after the meetings between local authority leaders and the prime minister, Interior, Decentralisation and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that the funds withheld from local governments were being paid over this period and the big challenge ahead was management of the 4th CSF.

    He said a special mechanism will be set up by the government to ensure payment of funds to local authorities.

    [03] Papandreou reiterates criticism over bonds issue, fiscal audit

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou reiterated his sharp criticism over the government's policies, this time in late-night comments to reporters on Wednesday, as the former foreign minister focused on the bonds affair and other issues he said were outstanding.

    Among others, he again cited the Vodafone mobile phone tapping conspiracy that targeted members of the Karamanlis government and the premier himself, as well as delays in a judicial probe of claims by a handful of Pakistani guest workers in Athens charging illegal detention and interrogations by intelligence agents in the wake of the London underground terror attacks.

    Asked about the 1999-2001 stock market 'bubble' that generated heated criticism of the PASOK governments at the time, Papandreou said "let them (government) open the (issue) whenever they want, we have nothing to fear." Moreover, he said a full disclosure on the specific affair will remove the "durance" in which ruling ND has held main opposition over the past three years.

    Regarding other timely issues, he again criticised the government over its high-profile "fiscal audit" when it assumed power in March 2004; said he was not afraid of broaching thorny social security reforms and predicted victory of his socialist party in any upcoming elections.

    Finally, the PASOK leader said EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia recently told him that following Greece's successful exit from the excessive fiscal deficit procedure (EDP), the challenges ahead for the east Mediterranean country are competitiveness, education, exports, private sector investments and social security reform.

    [04] Antonaros' response to Papandreou over EDP exit

    The unfounded claims made by main opposition PASOK party President George Papandreou insult and depreciate European institutions and EU bodies, stated alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday.

    Above all his comments target the Greek people, who made a big effort in the past 3 years to tidy up the Greek economy and take it out of the very bad state it was in as a result of the policies followed by the PASOK governments in which Papandreou had been a leading member as part of the inner cabinet, in which he raised no objections to the decisions reached, added Antonaros.

    Antonaros was responding to statements made on Thursday by Papandreou regarding the European Commission's decision to recommend that Greece exit the excessive deficit procedure (EDP). Papandreou had referred to secret agreements that were not binding for PASOK, adding that the 'state audit' that led to Greece being placed under supervision and the subsequent EDP exit were both "factitious".

    On the government's commitment to present balanced budgets and more social resources at the same time, Antonaros stressed that the current government is distinguished for its consistency in its decisions, deeds and actions and has proved that it can cut spending when necessary without affecting the social web. Greece has proved over the past three years that it can present balanced budgets while supporting the weaker classes and at the same time attract new investments leading to economic growth and more jobs.

    Antonaros stated that living standards are improving, adding that reforms continue while underlining that reforms never cease being necessary.

    [05] PM briefed by health minister on primary healthcare bill

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed by health and social solidarity minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday on issues in the sector, ahead of the "broad and rich legislative work" to be initiated in the coming week, according to statements by the minister after the meeting.

    Avramopoulos spoke of a major institutional change which "consolidates transparency in the wider field of health, and in the hospitals, and has to do with procurements", while he also stressed that a bill on primary healthcare has also been drafted and would be tabled in parliament's law-drafting committee.

    "Never before in the past, despite the efforts made, had we reached the desired point for the development of a broad network of primary healthcare, which is something that will act positively for the country's hospital network, providing services to the public at the closest possible point," he said.

    The minister said he also briefed Karamanlis on his recent initiatives aimed at opening up a dialogue on the future of the National Health System (ESY).

    The ESY, he said, has provided many and useful services in the past years, "but everyone acknowledges that it has become outdated by the new status quo", adding that it was necessary to move forward so as to adapt the ESY to the new status quo, while keeping the public nature of Health non-negotiable.

    "We are advancing our reform work in the health sector, too, with the completion of the four-year term (in government) as our horizon," Avramopoulos noted.

    Asked by reporters whether the timing of the next general elections had been discussed, Avramopoulos said that "if something arises, we shall learn of it together with you".

    To another question, Avramopoulos said the ministry was determined to launch a "new era" in the health sector, providing useful services to the Greek citizen with respect to his personality, modernising the system, and advancing reforms which will consolidate transparency, contribute to proper management of the public monies and, chiefly, will bring about results.

    [06] PM Karamanlis briefed by ND secretary

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with his ruling New Democracy (ND) party'd Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis on Thursday to be briefed on party organization election results, electoral procedures in view of the party Congress and planning concerning the conferences and pre-congress dialogue ahead of the major event.

    Zagoritis told reporters that parliamentary elections will be held at the appropriate time, stressing that the main opposition PASOK party has compromised with the idea of an election defeat in the upcoming national elections after the recent setbacks suffered by the party in local administration and university student elections.

    Replying to press questions, the party Central Committee Secretary denied that the government feared the opinion polls and wanted no reference to them on television news bulletins, stressing that a debate on the improvement of quality in television has commenced at the government's initiative. The New Democracy party has worked hard and fought for free radio and television, he stressed.

    [07] Karamanlis' scheduled meetings on Friday

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet on Friday with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Rural Development and Food Minister Evangelos Basiakos and Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras to discuss preparations for the summer season, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Thursday.

    The prime minister will hold a separate meeting with National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis followed by successive meetings in Parliament with Euro-deputy Antonis Trakatelis, Parliament vice-president Yannis Tragakis and former adviser Olga Kefaloyannis.

    [08] Foreign ministry on Jerusalem Patriarchate, Mideast trip by Bakoyannis

    Athens' efforts for the Jerusalem Patriarchate are geared toward lifting misunderstandings and returning to a situation of normality, so that it will be absolutely secure and safe and able to serve its congregation, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Thursday.

    He underlined that the foreign ministry was following the issue extremely closely, given that the Jerusalem Patriarchate had to carry out its work in an unusually dangerous and volatile environment, which was the scene of the world's longest-running and most intractable political problem.

    The spokesman also announced that Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was planning a series of visits to countries in the Middle East sometime in the middle of June.

    [09] FM spokesman on Kosovo

    At this given time, only a decision of the UN Security Council could serve as the legal and political basis for further actions, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Thursday, replying to press questions on the developments in the Kosovo issue.

    Athens, he added, remained dedicated to the fundamental principles of respect of the inviolability of borders, and of respect of the UN resolutions.

    [10] Information on Turkish armed forces website 'untrue', Athens says

    The Greek foreign ministry on Thursday denied a claim in a Turkish armed forces website that Greek military planes were harassing Turkish ones as "untrue and fictional".

    "The aim is obvious and it is an attempt to create false impressions. Such actions are weighed carefully and we, of course, condemn them," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said.

    According to the spokesman, "internal political tug of war" could not be an alibi for actions that could potentially create tension and which could never lead to a way out of whatever difficulties.

    "Greece evaluates and Europe judges them," he added.

    [11] Government to sue over sinking of 'Sea Diamond', minister says

    The government intends to file a civil suit against the ship-owner and the company that insured the sunken cruise ship "Sea Diamond", Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said in Parliament on Thursday.

    He was responding to questions by a Coalition of the Left (SYN) party MP, Asimina Xirotiri, over delays in cleaning up an oil spill that occurred when the ship was allowed to sink into the depths of Santorini's Caldera, marring the scenery and environment in one of the prime tourist destinations in Greece.

    Kefaloyiannis announced that he had sent letters to ministries and local authorities at all levels because the ministry intended to sue over the handling of the accident, noting that claims in other major shipwrecks had been as high as one billion dollars.

    Xirotiri criticised the approach taken, however, pointing out that the method of waiting for the oil in the sunken ship to rise to the surface before it was collected would only recover about 15 percent of the oil spilled.

    "It is not enough to fine the companies that do not carry out a good clean-up. Our demand must be that the previous condition on Santorini be fully restored, in line with modern views on environmental responsibility," she stressed.

    Kefaloyiannis replied that two thirds of the oil on the ship had already been pumped out and that the government, because it was not complacent, had demanded that this extend to the "last drop of lubricants and oils". He requested a month's grace from the MP, when the ministry's in charge would be able to provide figures regarding the final toll taken by the accident on all the sides involved, including businesses and the public sector.

    [12] Education Minister Yiannakou attends Bologna Process conference in London

    LONDON (ANA-MPA/L. Tsirigotakis)

    The first to last crucial conference of the Bologna Process is being held in London since Wednesday with the participation of education ministers from 45 states. Taking part in the conference is Greece's National Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou.

    The Bologna Process foresees the founding of the European Space of Higher Education, with its implementation in 2010.

    At the meeting, the education ministers discussed about the systems of higher education and on the answers which Europe is called upon to give in the challenges and demands of the modern globalised environment.

    "The Bologna Process wants to strengthen the internationalisation of higher education, to stop introversion, to strengthen autonomy, to increase financing and to give opportunities of mobility to youths and the exchange of scientific views. The system through the Bologna Process wants to link growth, training and employment," Yiannakou said.

    Greece is a founding member of the Bologna Process. The first conference was held in Bologna in 1999 and meetings followed in Prague in 2001, Berlin in 2003 and in Norway's Bergen in 2005. The last conference of the Bologna Process is planned for 2009.

    [13] Gov't spokesman on trial of November 17 terrorist group members

    Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday responded to reporters' questions regarding the trial of the members of the November 17 terrorist group.

    "The trial of the members of the November 17 terrorist group was concluded in accordance with the rules of justice, which are valid in democracy. To the protagonists of a series of criminal acts, who for decades attempted to harm our parliamentary system, justice was administered. Any conjecture on non-institutional interventions is alien to the notion and operation of independent justice, which unfortunately this past period is being attacked and unjustified criticism. Alien to the country's political world," Roussopoulos said.

    "Mrs. Bakoyannis said the self-evident," said Roussopoulos, adding that "practices of defamation and disdain offer an alibi to those who attempt to threaten."

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis' husband Pavlos Bakoyannis was murdered by the terrorist group in 1989.

    "No one can flatten every democratic and human right for the support of the value of human life and no one can use the practice of defamation and disdain, because thus, it gives an alibi to all those who persist even today to continue terrorist action," Roussopoulos concluded.

    [14] Draft bill on framework for opinion polls, polling firms debated in Parliament com't

    The government on Thursday unveiled the general outlines of a draft bill on establishing a stricter framework for opinion polls and polling firms in the country, with the relevant Minister of State expressing a hope that the bill will soon be tabled in Parliament.

    In a related development, Minister Theodoros Roussopoulos, who is also the government spokesman, said the government has no interest in excluding newscasts and news programmes from television ratings.

    Representative of political parties in Parliament's institutions committee had mostly favorable reactions to the draft bill, while emphasising that it should be tabled and voted on before any upcoming elections.

    "As long as there is a gap in the institutional framework (for opinion polls) there is a danger that instead of opinion polls recording, in an unadulterated manner, the volition of public opinion and developments, that they will be turned into tools of those attempting to manipulate," Roussopoulos said.

    On his part, PASOK deputy and former minister Evangelos Venizelos said the legislation was "in the right direction", nevertheless, "provisions must be harmonised with international standards and be compatible with the Constitution and Community law."

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Liana Kanelli praised the political consensus on the specific initiative, which she said serves to "protect the public from crafty opinion polls".

    Finally, Coalition of the Left deputy Fotis Kouvelis called for a detailed definition of such firms' ownership and a prohibition against the participation of off-shore companies in polling firms' ownership.

    [15] Evert criticises Papandreou over 1999-2001 stock market 'bubble' issue

    Veteran deputy and one-time New Democracy (ND) president Miltiades Evert on Thursday was the latest high-profile during party cadre this week to take exception with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's stinging criticism of the government.

    "PASOK continues to be unrepentant and call the stock market scandal an 'issue', as Mr. Papandreou's statements yesterday (Wednesday) show. In order to cover-up the truth he is changing the Greek vocabulary. Mr. Papandreou, because he either suffers from a weak memory or is untruthful, claims that (Prime Minister) 'Mr. Karamanlis is afraid of opening the stock market (bubble) issue of 1999-2001," a statement by Evert read.

    [16] Alavanos again backs free access to colleges for HS grads

    Coalition of Left (Synaspismos) president Alekos Alavanos on Thursday touched on the timely issue of college entrance exams, as university in Greece hopefuls begin taking tests on individual subjects on Friday.

    According to the leftist leader, the nationwide exams system is counter-productive and ineffective.

    In a press conference, Alavanos reiterated his party proposal for exam-free access to Greece's state-only universities for high school graduates, following the example of Austria, the Scandinavian states and, in part, Germany, as he said.

    He also stated that wages of secondary level teachers are unacceptable.

    [17] US Under Secretary Burns addresses annual conference of Greek-American organizations


    The current period in Greek-US relations is the best in recent years, with only a few problems, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said Wednesday, addressing the organizers of the 23rd annual conference in Washington held by the Greek American organizations PSEKA (International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus), UHAC (United Hellenic American Congress) and CEH (National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes).

    Burns, a former US ambassador to Greece, was bestowed the "Livanos" award, and referred to bilateral cooperation on the Cyprus issue, Kosovo, Bosnia, the US-European relations and the Middle East, while he praised Greece and noted the close Greek-US bilateral relations and common values that tie together the United States and Greece.

    Burns referred to the recent luncheon with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Zagreb expressing admiration for him while stressing that on his next visit to Turkey he will raise again the issue of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as he did last January during the meetings he had in Ankara with Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Gul. Burns stated his intention to visit Nicosia at the appropriate time for talks with the Cypriot Republic government, "the only government recognized by Washington", he stressed.

    The conference dealing with Cyprus, Hellenism and Orthodoxy-related issues opened with a speech by Greek Ambassador to Washington Alexandros Mallias who outlined Greek foreign policy and Greek-US relations, while Cypriot Ambassador Andreas Kakouris referred in detail to the latest developments concerning Cyprus.

    The conference is attended by roughly 100 distinguished Greek-American community representatives from a number of US states.

    The importance of such meetings was underlined by Hellenic Parliament Standing Committee on Greeks Abroad vice-president Grigoris Niotis, who also conveyed to the delegates messages by main opposition PASOK party president George Papandreou and all political parties represented in the Greek Parliament.

    Financial News

    [18] Transport sector the top energy user in Greece

    Energy use by the transport sector outstrips that by households and industry in Greece, which is at the top of EU league tables for percentage energy consumption on transport. Replying to Greek New Democracy MEP Kostis Hatzidakis, European Commissioner for energy Andris Piebalgs on Thursday said that Greece ranked sixth among the 27 EU member-states, with 39.3 percent of its energy consumption directed toward transport when the EU average was 30.4 percent.

    At the top of the list is Luxembourg (60.1 percent), Malta (58.6 percent) and Cyprus (46.4 percent) - all of which are considered special cases because of their very small size. The lowest percentage energy consumption for transport among EU countries is in Finland (17.9 percent), Estonia (17 percent) and Slovakia (15.8 percent).

    The percentage of energy consumed by Greek households and Greek industry, by contrast, was 26.5 percent and 20 percent, respectively, with another 14.2 percent for other sectors, the Commissioner added, while noting that this was in line with trends in the rest of Europe.

    According to Piebalgs, the figures run counter to generally held beliefs among Europeans, as recorded in a Eurobarometer poll last January, that industry has the largest share in energy consumption. This view is shared by 68 percent of Greeks that responded to the poll, who said that industry was the largest energy user, while 54 percent believe that more energy is spent on heating and only 38 percent believe the majority is used by transport.

    Commenting on the Commissioner's reply, Hatzidakis stressed the need for higher use of public transport in order to save energy.

    "The transport sector depends almost exclusively on oil, which is a source of energy with proven negative repercussions on the environment. Greece is a predominately oil-driven country. But we ourselves are unaware of how much energy we use daily on our transportation. In the effort to end our economy's dependence on oil, we must give a decisive boost to public transport in order to save energy and protect the environment," he said.

    [19] No change to government position on pension reform, spokesman stresses

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday underlined that there was no change to the government's position regarding reforms to the pension and social security system.

    "The social security issue is a national issue that concerns all Greeks on which the government has taken a clear stance and nothing is changed. From March 2004 until today, the government has clearly laid out its positions, on which there is no change. In any case, dialogue is underway, the facts will be collected and the essence will be discussed in the next four-year term," he replied in response to questions.

    [20] FinMin on procedure for privatisation of OTE

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis stated on Thursday that "the procedure for the privatisation of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) is within the timeframe," adding that "the government's will for further privatisation is given."

    The minister concluded that "the privatisation will take place either with a strategic investor or in another way, tried in other enterprises as well."

    [21] Greek unemployment rate fell to 9.0 pct in February

    Greek unemployment fell to 9.0 percent of the workforce in February, from 10.4 pct in the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the number of unemployed people totaled 440,982 in February 2007, while the number of employed people totaled 4,438,614 in the same month.

    Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (13 pct), Ionian Islands (13.6 pct), Northern Aegean (16 pct) and Western Greece (10.6 pct) recorded the highest unemployment percentage rates, while Crete (7.5 pct), Central Greece and Evia (7.8 pct) and the Peloponese (8.0 pct) the lowest unemployment rates.

    [22] Tourist development minister inaugurates 1st Summer Holidays Expo exhibition

    Tourist Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia inaugurated the 1st Summer Holidays Expo exhibition in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Thursday, stressing that the government is determined to intensify checks in the market to safeguard services provided for tourists and to shield Greece's image worldwide.

    Petralia pointed out that in the first quarter of 2007, Thessaloniki "broke a record", icreasing overnight stays at its hotels for the first time since 2000. She added that Thessaloniki has a "dominant" position in southeastern Europe, as a Conference and Tourist Exhibition Centre and underlined that the government aims at boosting this sector even further.

    The minister called on all relevant agencies to offer better services and noted that the state apparatus is vigilant to provide adequately for this year's tourists in the country.

    Referring to the Summer Holidays Expo, Petralia expressed confidence that it will become one of the greatest successes of the organiser Helexpo and said that the company's option of including the exhibition in question in its exhibition programme was correct.

    [23] Public awareness campaign on new technologies

    The national economy and finance ministry on Thursday launched a major public awareness campaign on the benefits of new technologies, with an event at the Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW), during which economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis unveiled the fundamental aspects of the campaign.

    Alogoskoufis stressed that all the means will be used to urge citizens to get to know the new possibilities and new opportunities offered by the new technologies.

    "The new technologies are here, and we can utilise them," he said.

    The purpose of the campaign is to familiarise the public with the benefits and prospects offered by information and communication technologies, and to boost the use of the new technological means.

    In that framework, spot ads will appear on television and radio stations throughout the country, as well as advertisements in the print media.

    In the coming weeks, a four-digit telephone number will be introduced to provide information to the public on the possibilities and opportunities provided by new technologies in all aspects of social and economic life.

    In addition, a webpage will also be set up for the purpose of introducing the public to "digital Greece".

    Further, competitions and 'excellence' actions will be organised to highlight the possibilities offered by the new technologies, while day seminars and related events will also be held.

    The public awareness campaign will run to October 2008.

    Information Society special secretary for 'Digital Greece', Professor Vassilis Assimakopoulos, also addressed the event.

    [24] PASOK accuses gov't of treating Olympic Airlines with 'disdain'

    Twenty-nine main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) deputies, headed by Haris Tsiokas, tabled a question in Parliament on Thursday, accusing the government of "systematic disdain and slander against Olympic Airlines."

    The PASOK deputies said that "over the past three years and always in view of the summer period, it is the permanent tactic of the New Democracy (ND) government to disdain and slander Olympic Airlines with leasing of foreign aircraft, of unknown origin, with the expensive method of wet leasing."

    The deputies noted "that 10 aircraft have left the company's fleet these past three years."

    A question was also tabled by PASOK deputy Christos Protopapas, head of the Health Department of the party's Parliamentary Council, about the National Health System (ESY). He accused the Health and Social Solidarity Ministry of "obstruction in briefing Parliament regarding the situation in hospitals, despite the repeated questions" which he himself has submitted.

    [25] Greek cooperative bank report improved 1st quarter results

    Greek cooperative banks on Thursday reported a significant increase in their results in the first quarter of 2007, with assets up 25 percent to 2.567 billion euros, saving deposits up 23.6 pct to 2.166 billion euros and loans up 23.5 pct to 2.064 billion euros.

    Pre-tax profits jumped 37.2 percent in the January-March period to 13.2 million euros, compared with the corresponding period last year.

    New members rose 8.3 pct to a tota l of 177,865 at the end of March, from 164,187 last year, with equity capital rising 18.9 pct to 358.2 million euros.

    Panhellenic Bank SA, the central bank of cooperative banks, reported a 23.5 pct increase in assets to 636 million euros and a 59 percent rise in pre-tax profits to 1.75 million euros. The Group operates a branch network of 174 units.

    [26] Development minister inaugurates Greek Marketing Academy conference

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas inaugurated the Greek Marketing Academy's 3rd conference on Thursday, stressing that the new governance is implementing an integrated economic and development plan that is already producing considerable results.

    Sioufas said that the European Commission scheduled Greece's exit from the excessive deficit procedure, "which it had entered due to the irresponsibility of past governments."

    "The European Union confirms the correctness, effectiveness and performance of the economic and development policy that we are folowing. For the first time since our accession to the EMU, the fiscal deficit has been reduced below the EMU's limit," the minister said.

    [27] Kloukinas-Lappas reports improved 1st quarter results

    Kloukinas-Lappas SA on Thursday reported an 18 pct increase in its pre-tax profits to 2.715 million euros in the first three months of 2007, from 2.294 million euros in the corresponding period in 2006.

    After tax profits jumped 25 percent to 2.122 million euros in the January-March period, while consolidated turnover rose 49 pct to 7.928 million euros, from 5.328 million euros last year.

    [28] Marfin Investment Group to increase share capital by 5.1 billion euros

    The increase in the share capital of the Marfin Investment Group by 5.1 billion euros is expected to be completed by the end of June, while the negotiating of new shares will begin in mid-July.

    The process will be taking place with a private investment for shares that will not be sold to existing shareholders, but the Marfin Popular Bank, that controls 97 percent of the company, has already declared that it will not exercise preference rights, to enable its percentage to reach about 6.5 percent after the increase.

    The lion's share of capital that will be collected by the Marfin Investment Group will be invested by the end of 2007, with the investments being planned mainly in the sectors of health, energy, technology and infrastructures and the development of real estate and tourism.

    [29] Hellenic Petroleum to invest 1.0 bln euros in upgrading refineries

    A Hellenic Petroleum's general shareholders' meeting on Thursday approved a board to plan to invest 1.0 billion euros in projects to upgrade the Elefsis and Thessaloniki refineries.

    The investment in Elefsis refinery aims to boost production of diesel oil and to reduce emissions. The general shareholders' meeting also approved a board plan to pay a 0.43 euros per share dividend to shareholders.

    E. Christodoulou, the Group's chairma, said measures to cut commission and costs and operating expenses have saved 75 million euros and noted that the management aimed at doubling the group's pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) to 1.0 billion euros by 2011.

    Christodoulou said Hellenic Petroleum has already begun talks on the formation of an international company to build and operate the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.

    [30] Ilektroniki Athinon company opens first outlet in Belgrade

    The Ilektroniki Athinon company is expanding into the Balkans after opening its first outlet in Serbia last week. It is the company's first Megastore in the capital of Belgrade and the biggest electric and electronic goods outlet in the country so far.

    According to the company's predictions, the new Belgrade Megastore is the biggest outlet in turnover in Serbia and it is expected to provide Ilektroniki Athinon with a 3 percent stake in Serbia's market, while the company is also considering the opening of another outlet in the Serbian capital.

    [31] Kri-Kri reports improved 1st quarter results

    Kri-Kri, a Greek dairy company, on Thursday reported an 18.7-pct increase in its first quarter turnover to 6.657 million euros, up from 5.609 million in the same period in 2006.

    Net, after-tax and minorities earnings totaled 554,000 euros, up from 33,000 euros in the first three months of 2006.

    Parent sales rose 19.1 pct to 6.370 million euros, up from 5.349 million in 2006, while net after tax profits jumped to 553,000 euros from 44,000 euros over the same periods, respectively.

    Kri-Kri said its aim was to achieve a 10-pct increase in consolidated sales and a 12-pct rise in pre-tax profits this year.

    [32] Continental begins daily flights from Athens to NYC

    Continental Airlines on Thursday announced the beginning of daily direct flights between Athens and New York, starting ον June 8.

    The fifth largest airline in the world said the Athens-New York flight will be operated with Boeing 767-200ER aircraft. Departure time from Athens will be 12.20 and arrival time at New York Liberty International airport at 16.30 local time. Passengers will be able to use Continental's hub to continue travelling to 230 cities in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

    [33] Watchdog authority offers details market manipulation bylaws

    Greece's Capital Markets Commission on Thursday offered detailed information on when repurchases of stock shares by listed firms would be considered share manipulation.

    In a letter to Greek-listed enterprises, the country's market watchdog said the purchase of own shares by a company should aim:

    a) at reducing the issuer's capital

    b) completing a private placement to staff and,

    c) completing obligations resulting from a convertible bond loan.

    The Capital Markets Commission said it would examine cases over alleged market manipulation when buy/sell orders were given at a higher price compared with the last transaction, when buy back of shares exceeded 25 pct of average daily turnover in the previous 20 sessions in the market, when the issuer sells shares during a share buy back period and finally when buy orders were given at a time when the issuer postponed the publication of privileged information.

    [34] Greek stocks end flat on Thursday

    Greek stocks ended Thursday's session slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index fell 0.07 pct to end at 4,864.66 points with turnover a moderate 346.1 million euros.

    Sector indices ended mixed, with the Healtchare (1.61 pct), Insurance (1.32 pct) and Commerce (0.93 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Raw Materials (1.42 pct), Media (1.39 pct) and Industrial Products (1.15 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.09 pct, the Mid Cap index was unchanged and the Small Cap index rose 0.22 pct.

    Euroholdings (18.18 pct), Alpha Grissin (15.98 pct) and Compucon (14.55 pct) were top gainers, while Vis (19.03 pct), Vivere (10.62 pct) and Plias (10.0 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 135 to 129 with another 42 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.32%

    Industrials: -1.15%

    Commercial: +0.93%

    Construction: +0.09%

    Media: -1.39%

    Oil & Gas: +0.58%

    Personal & Household: -0.07%

    Raw Materials: -1.42%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.14%

    Technology: -0.53%

    Telecoms: +0.57%

    Banks: +0.08%

    Food & Beverages: -0.25%

    Health: +1.61%

    Utilities: -0.05%

    Chemicals: -0.32%

    Financial Services: +0.52%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Bank of Cyprus and Marfin Popular Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 22.28

    ATEbank: 4.10

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.00

    HBC Coca Cola: 34.10

    Hellenic Petroleum: 11.34

    Emporiki Bank: 21.10

    National Bank of Greece: 42.90

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 27.10

    Intralot: 23.44

    Cosmote: 22.50

    OPAP: 27.90

    OTE: 22.14

    Titan Cement Company: 41.44

    [35] ADEX closing report

    Turnover in the Athens Derivatives Exchange was a moderate 128.825 million euros on Thursday, while the June contract on the FTSE 20 index continued trading at a discount (1.68 pct) and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount (0.64 pct).

    Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 7,537 contracts worth 97.442 million euros, with 36,711 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 707 contracts worth 21.657 million euros, with 1,607 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,123 contracts worth 9.745 million euros, with investment interest focusing on ATEbank (2,823), followed by PPC (422), National Bank (389), Alpha Bank (562), Intracom (386), Intralot (245) and Postal Savings Bank (884).

    [36] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.98 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.467 billion were bird orders and the remaining 1.513 billion were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017), was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.218 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.22 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.53 pct and the German Bund 4.31 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates rose slightly. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.84 pct, the two-day rate rose to 3.89 pct from 3.84 pct on Wednesday, the one-month rate was 3.89 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.39 pct from 4.36 pct.

    [37] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.362

    Pound sterling 0.689

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 9.280

    Japanese yen 165.08

    Swiss franc 1.668

    Norwegian kroner 8.237

    Cyprus pound 0.587

    Canadian dollar 1.498

    Australian dollar 1.655


    [38] EANA conference on "The Future of News Agencies - Technology and intellectual property"

    A four-day conference on "The Future of News Agencies - Technology and Intellectual Property", opened in Athens on Thursday, organised by the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA), in cooperation with member agency ANA-MPA, attended by some 60 presidents, general directors and other senior officials of the association's 30 member agencies.

    The conference/seminar opened with a greeting by ANA-MPA general director George Tambakopoulos and EANA President Dr. Wolfgang Vyslozil, president and CEO of the Austrian press agency Austria Presse Agentur (APA).

    The focus of the presentations delivered by delegates is ways of resolving the problems created by new technology in the sector of protection of intellectual property (texts, photographs, videos), and relations between news agencies and FIFA in the coverage of major sport events.

    The second day of the conference will focus on the presentation of the annual "Country Reports" survey drafted each year by ANA-MPA on behalf of EANA, which records developments in the sector of the mass media in the various European countries.

    The final section of the seminar will include discussions on the changes in the manner of operation and targets of the Alliance, which will be tabled at the EANA general assembly in September.

    [39] Pavlopoulos to address event on the 50th anniversary of united Europe

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos will be the keynote speaker in an event to be held in Mytiline, on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, on Friday on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the European Union.

    The event on the "Elimination of discrimination: Europe of equal Opportunities" is organized by the Greek Center of European Studies and Research, the North Aegean Region administration, and the European Commission and the European Parliament missions in Greece.

    The goal of the event is to lead local communities into expressing more dynamism and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the European Union for the development of the Greek regions.

    [40] Interior minister addresses conference on cultural diversity and human rights

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos addressed the opening of the 3rd international human rights conference on the theme of "Cultural diversity and human rights" at a downtown Athens hotel on Thursday.

    "The strengthening of diversity does not harm but on the contrary strengthens and lays healthy foundations for social cohesion, since it promotes the accession of population groups with particularities to society, contributing in this way to the strengthening of the social fabric," he said.

    Referring to the European Union, the minister said that the values that constituted and that continue to constitute pylons of Europe include respect for cultural diversity and stressed that article II-82 of the Constitution Treaty mentions that the EU respects cultural, religious and linguistic multiformity.

    [41] President Papoulias inaugurates 4th Thessaloniki International Book Exhibition

    President Karolos Papoulias inaugurated the 4th International Book Exhibition in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Thursday, saying that every book is a living and bright treasure of knowledge that cultivates the "art of thought."

    "Today's Book Festival is an opportunity for all and particularly for children, parents and teachers to receive the messages of this event and to realise even better the great significance of the book in our day-to-day lives. And today in particular, in the singular and adverse conditions for pure cultural cultivation of the modern-day era," the President said.

    President Papoulias also said that "today, we are witnesses of speedy developments in the sector of the Internet and of Electronic Information Means. It is a new world, where the speed of transferring 'knowledge' competes with the volume of information."

    It is the first time in the four-year existence of the exhibition that a President of the Republic inaugurates the International Book Exhibition.

    [42] Thessaloniki event focuses on Pontian genocide

    An event in remembrance of the victims of the Pontian (Black Sea Hellenism) genocide will be organised on Saturday evening in the northern port city of Thessaloniki by the federation of Pontian groups of Greece.

    Following the event in the central Aghia Sofia square, a protest march will head towards the Turkish consulate in the city.

    [43] Corcyra Beach resort on Corfu to partially reopen

    The Corcyra Beach resort in Gouvia, Corfu is to partially reopen for business following an order approved by Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, the tourism ministry announced on Thursday.

    The hotel made headlines in 2006 when two British children died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their rented bungalow due to a gas leak and more recently when it was penalised by the ministry for opening over the Easter holiday even though its licence had been temporarily revoked.

    The Louis group that owns the resort had resorted to the ministry's appeals committee, which decided unanimously to give the Corfu branch of the Greek Tourism Organisation the go ahead to reverse a temporary order removing the hotel's operating licence.

    The decision concerns only 265 rooms out of a total of 373 in the hotel, for which the owners could provide documentation showing that they had a fire safety certificate and which had received an operating licence in the past.

    The company did not request an operating licence for the remaining 108 rooms, which do not have fire safety certificates and will not be used during the current tourist season. It stressed in an announcement that all the rooms that will open had passed necessary inspections and complied with required standards of safety and hygiene.

    In April, the tourism minister had ordered the hotel's closure for flouting regulations and reopening without providing the necessary documentation.

    Its licence had been temporarily revoked after the tragic accident involving the two deaths in autumn last year, when it was ordered to shut down until the end of an investigation into the causes of the accident.

    [44] Jean Cocteau exhibition opens in Athens on Friday

    An exhibition dedicated to French playwright, poet and painter Jean Cocteau that is entitled "Jean Cocteau and Greece" opens on Friday at the Benaki Museum on Piraeus Street.

    The exhibition, sponsored by the Focus on Hope-Nana Mouskouri Foundation and Emporiki Bank, showcases sketches, paintings, ceramics and jewellery by the late French artist.

    French actor Jean-Claude Brialy and Carole Weisweiller, both friends of Jean Cocteau, and the French Embassy are the main co-ordinators of the exhibition, which will run until the end of July.

    Referring to Cocteau's work, Brialy said during a press conference that "this so-called acrobat of poetry suffered because his work remained, while he was alive, unknown."

    Nana Mouskouri, on her part, underlined Cocteau's love for Greece, saying that the artist's "home interior was painted by himself personally, with subjects taken from Greek mythology."

    [45] Andreas Papandreou collection of weapons, gifts of foreign leaders, donated to Defence Ministry

    Former prime minister and main opposition PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou's collection of weapons, received as gifts during his terms as defence minister and premier by foreign leaders, was donated to the national defence ministry by Papandreou's widow Dimitra Liani-Papandreou on Thursday, which will be put on display at the War Museum in Athens.

    Liani-Papandreou said the donation was separate from that of the gift she made recently of Papandreou's collection of political memorabilia to the Hellenic Parliament, saying Thursday's move was a "gesture of peace", given that Andreas Papandreou was "primarily a leader for peace", recalling the 1985 "Initiative of the Six" for world peace launched by the then prime minister of Greece Andreas Papandreou, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, Swedish president Ulaf Palme, Mexican president Miguel de la Madrid, Argentinian president Raul Alfonsin, and Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, which she said had gone down in history.

    Defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis thanked Liani-Papandreou for her contribution, and recalled the various budget votes in parliament when Andreas Papandreou, as the main opposition leader, would vote "no" on everything else but "yes" on defence spending, "since he knew that a strong Armed Forces ensures peace and averts any other thought".

    Meimarakis further praised Papandreou's contribution in the sector of foreign policy.

    [46] Senior police officer arrested on bribery charges

    The commanding officer of the police station in the Nea Ionia district of northwest Athens was arrested on bribery charges by internal affairs officers on Wednesday afternoon following an order by a local prosecutor, it was announced on Thursday

    The officer in question is accused of calling a jailed man he met when serving at the Athens inmate transferring division and demanding 30,000 euros to intervene in the composition of a court about to try the latter's case.

    The defendant, who notified authorities, was released from jail recently based on a court of appeals ruling, but was re-arrested following an order by an appellate judge who linked his release with a trial-fixing ring.

    The police commander was arrested after two female undercover officers, posing as friends of the defendant, handed him the sum in marked banknotes.

    "Police are unwavering, prosecuting and punishing any instance of corruption. Police's internal affairs division was directly involved in the two recent cases and arrests of suspects," Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras later said.

    [47] Government on arrest of two police officers

    Commenting on the arrest on Thursday of two police officers for drugs offences and taking bribes, respectively, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that the arrests "showed that the axe falls heavily on those who break the law".

    He also confirmed that the officer caught in possession of heroin had served in the guard for Christos Markoyiannakis and then Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, while the last had him removed after noticing that his behaviour was strange.

    [48] Psychoanalysis conference begins in Athens on Saturday

    The New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis is holding its 5th annual scientific conference in Athens on May 19-20 at the Megaron Athens Concert Hall.

    According to a press release by the Greek Society of the New Lacanian School, the latter is a non-profit society, comprising members from France, Belgium, Great Britain, Switzerland, Greece, Israel and many other European and North American countries and its objectives are purely scientific and educational. It is under the jurisdiction of the World Association of Psychoanalysis presided over by Eric Laurent, who will address the Athens conference.

    The conference will deal with the "psychanalytic transfer", while fifty addresses on the issue will be presented with simultaneous translation in Greek, French and English. About 250 psychiatrists and psychologists will take part in it.

    It is the first time that a conference by European Lacanian analysts is taking place in Greece, the press release noted.

    For further information contact,

    [49] Banks and ND local offices firebombed in Athens

    A series of arson attacks targeting banks were reported in Athens, while the local offices of the ruling New Democracy party were torched in Alimos in the early morning hours on Thursday.

    The Emporiki Bank in Kesariani was seriously damaged by three petrol bombs, while another Emporiki Bank branch and the Bank of Cyprus in Neo Iraklio were the targets of two makeshift incendiary devices consisting of small propane gas canisters. Another incendiary device made up of four propane gas canisters damaged two ATM machines of the National Bank of Greece in Patisia, while an Alpha Bank in Kypseli was also firebombed.

    An overnight firebomb attack on the local offices of the ruling New Democracy party in Alimos caused material damages.


    [50] Athens mayor receives tennis greats Sampras, Courier

    Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Thursday received two international tennis legends, Greek-American Pete Sampras and American Jim Courier, at city hall, where the former presented symbolic gifts to the two retired super stars.

    Sampras and Courier are participating in the international tennis tournament Athens Champions Cup 2007.

    [51] Italian soccer coach Marcello Lippi invited to Athens

    Deputy Culture Minister for Sport George Orfanos has invited to Athens Italian soccer coach Marcello Lippi, who led Italy to winning the World Soccer Cup in 2006.

    Lippi will be addressing an event organised by the Deputy Sport Ministry on "World Cup Experiences. Team work and the path to success" at a downtown Athens hotel on May 22.

    The Italian coach, who will be honoured by Orfanos, will speak of the experiences that led him and the Italian national soccer team to the top of the world.

    Coaches, officials, Olympic Games medallists and, in general, people belonging to the world of sport, and of soccer in particular, have been invited to attend the event.

    Weather forecast

    [52] Rain, storms on Friday

    Rainy and stormy weather is forecast in most parts of Greece on Friday. Temperatures ranging from 8C and 28C. Winds southerly, southwesterly, light to strong.

    Rain in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 16C and 28C. Same in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 13C to 24C.

    [53] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis' announcement on Greece's imminent exit from the excessive deficit procedure (EDP), following the European Commission's official recommendation on Wednesday that the European Council lift the EDP against Greece, Germany and Malta after Greece's budget deficit fell below the 3 percent of GDP ceiling, and was contained at 2.6 percent of GDP from 5.5 percent in 2005, and the structured bonds affair, were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "TSPEATH (Athens and Thessaloniki Media Employees' Pension Fund) not only did not lose, but profited 2.686 million euros - The mudslinging over the bonds now suffocating PASOK (main opposition party)".

    APOGEVMATINI: "9,269 new hirings - The distribution of the postions by agency and specialisation".

    AVGHI: "Social insurance reforms and austerity the tail of the EDP - Government's triumphant statements in order to conceal the anti-popular policy".

    AVRIANI: "Elections (early general) have been 'locked in' for September 23 - Karamanlis initiatives for the crucial period".

    CHORA: "Lifting of the EDP decisive for the economy - Karamanlis: Our policy has been vindicated".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Elections stigma from Karamanlis, prompted by lifting of EDP on the Greek economy".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Weight lifting for the weak - Karamanlis message on the end of the EDP".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Our pockets under EDP - The government celebrates, but the citizen knows...".

    ESTIA: "The talk on change of the electoral law an unallowable arbitrariness".

    ETHNOS: "Karamanlis under monitorship of the barons - Kefaloyannis-Varvitsiotis pick up the baton from Mitsotakis".

    KATHIMERINI: "Karamanlis: Persistence on the reforms until 2010 - Lifting of EDP recommended by College of EU Commissioners".

    LOGOS: "Karamanlis on the EDP: We achieved our targets, we will carry on with the reforms".

    NIKI: "They sold-out the social insurance sector - Secret agreements with Brussels for exit from EDP".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Bill proposed by KKE (Communist Party of Greece) on the (social insurance/pension funds') reserves and social insurance - Press conference by Aleka Papariga (KKE leader)".

    TA NEA: "Elections 'show' with the EDP - Karamanlis announcement, exorcism of the bonds affair".

    TO VIMA: "The looting of the Funds: The investigation into the bonds affair being internationalised".

    VRADYNI: "5 big goals for Greece - The lifting of the EDP frees the unties of the government".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [54] Government expresses satisfaction over EU proposal towards Eurozone


    The Cyprus government expressed here Thursday its full satisfaction with the conclusions of the European Commission which underlined that Cyprus has achieved a high degree of sustainable economic convergence with the euro area member states and that it fulfils the necessary conditions to adopt the euro.

    Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas pointed out in a written statement that the government has achieved the great national goal of Cyprus' accession to the Eurozone and noted that the Commission's Report, which opens the way for Cyprus accession to the Eurozone on January 1st, 2008, "is a result of intensive and coordinated effort for the achievement of this national goal we had set out."

    "The conclusions of the Commission constitute recognition and a reward of the successes and efforts of the Government for tidying up the public finances," he added.

    Palmas said the government "knows and recognizes that the positive outcome of this ambitious goal it has become reality due to the efforts of all the workers and productive classes of the people, both of the private and civil sectors."

    He also assured that "the welfare state will not be sacrificed for the accession to the Eurozone," and that the support of financially weaker classes will continue through social benefits.

    [55] UN-led meetings to continue, but so far no progress made


    Representatives of the leaders of the two communities will continue to meet under UN auspices in a bid to overcome problems, created by an attempt of the Turkish Cypriot side to sideline a UN-brokered agreement in July last year to help prepare the ground for substantive negotiations towards a solution.

    Diplomatic sources have told CNA that Wednesday's meeting did not produce any result, adding that the two representatives exchanged views in the light of a letter by the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat to the Secretary General in which he essentially relinquishes his commitment to the July agreement between himself and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    At the meeting, between the Director of Papadopoulos' Diplomatic Office Ambassador Tasos Tzionis and Talat's advisor Rashit Pertev, in the presence of UN Secretary General's special representative in Cyprus Michael Moller, the two sides exchanged ideas on how to break the current impasse, without however any optimistic indications so far, the same sources have said.

    The Turkish Cypriot side insists on bringing back a UN-proposed solution plan, the Annan plan, which it approved in a referendum in April 2004 and which the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots rejected saying it did not lead to the reunification of the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion and continuing occupation of the island's northern part. Tzionis and Pertev are scheduled to meet again on Tuesday.

    [56] British High Commissioner: Nothing positive as regards 8 July agreement


    British High Commisioner to Cyprus Peter Millet has noted that unfortunately there is nothing positive as regards the agreement reached on July 8, 2006, between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat at the presence of the then UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.

    Millet assured that ''we will continue to have contacts with Mr. Moller (the UN Secretary General Special Representative to Cyprus) and with the other Ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council.''

    ''Our support is clear and we will continue to make these efforts,'' he assured.

    Millet recalled that ''as always in June we will have a discussion in New York on the issue of UINFICYP (United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus) and this gives us an opportunity to promote this as well.''

    The July 8 agreement provided for the concurrent establishment of working groups to address substantive aspects of the Cyprus problem and technical committees to deal with the day-to-day problems that affect the people, as well as Confidence Building Measures.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.

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