|Friday, 17 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 23 May 2007 Issue No: 2600
 PM Karamanlis begins official visit to Australia, meets with NSW state premier IemmaSYDNEY (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday met with New South Wales State Premier Morris Iemma, beginning the first official visit by a Greek premier in office to Australia.
He is accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis.
Karamanlis arrived in Sydney on Monday night following a visit to New Zealand, a lengthy tour of Oceania that will also take him to Vietnam.
The Greek prime minister met at noon with Iemma, who hosted a luncheon in honour of Karamanlis and the Greek delegation.
In his address, Iemma stressed that Greece has a government that guarantees democracy, and has given momentum and growth to the country. He also supported the idea for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, noting that a short while ago Britain had returned antiquities to Australia and that s similar move must be made with the Parthenon Marbles.
Iemma also praised Bakoyannis, noting that she was Greece's first woman foreign minister, and calling her a courageous woman, underlining that she had suffered the consequences of terrorism - a reference to the assassination of her husband, New Democracy MP Pavlos Bakoyannis, by the 'November 17' terrorist gang in 1989.
In his return address, Karamanlis referred to the friendly relations between the two countries, noting that the bonds also emanate from the presence of a prospering ethnic Greek community in Australia.
Karamanlis said the flow of trade and investments between the two countries should be increased, stressing that Greece was an ideal business partner for Australian companies wishing to enter the developing market of Southeast Europe.
"The Greek economy is evolving into a more dynamic, more open and more competitive economy," he said.
He also expressed satisfaction over the scheduled signing, on Wednesday, of a Greece-Australia social security agreement, which he will co-sign with Australian Prime Minister John Howard in Canberra, noting that "a serious issue concerning thousands of people who have worked in both countries will finally be settled with this accord".
Turning to the national issues, Karamanlis said Greece consistently encourages the European prospect of all the countries of the region, "with the complete conviction that such a prospect constitutes a strong incentive that can help in ensuring and promoting democratic and economic reforms that will lead to the development and stability of our wider region".
Regarding the FYROM name issue, Karamanlis said "we remain devoted to the UN process and look forward to a mutually acceptable solution, despite FYROM's provocative stance".
With respect to the Cyprus issue, he stressed that it is an international problem of military invasion and occupation, stressing that Greece's policy was clear and consistent: "We support a comprehensive, just and viable solution for the reunification of the island, to the benefit of all its lawful residents".
Karamanlis met earlier with Archbishop Stylianos of Australia and attended a church service.
Addressing a crowd of Greek-Australians, Karamanlis praised the work of the Greek communities abroad, stressing that a common goal was to build the future on the solid foundations that have been laid.
"Our thoughts focus on the next generation of Greeks abroad, all over the world, as the transition from one generation to the next brings about changes that we must be prepared to respond to, and to prepare for based on our timeless values and unity," the premier said.
He said that the Orthodox faith comprises a strong element of the identity of the overseas Greeks, adding that the role of the Church in preserving Greekness of the coming generations was undisputable.
Also important, he continued, was the role of the overseas Greeks' organisations.
Karamanlis explained that, for his government, promotion and advancement of the Greek cultural identity was a top priority and, in that framework, the overseas Greek communities comprised a central element of its policy.
"The constant, two-way communication with the Greeks abroad and the smooth cooperation with the Church, the effort to create a climate of understanding among all the agencies of Hellenism, aim at consolidating conditions of unity of the Greeks Abroad, with the end goal being to reinforce the prosperity of our communities throughout the world," the premier said.
Karamanlis later inaugurated the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's Vassiliada Home for the Elderly, where he stressed that the Greeks of the Diaspora have waged tough battles for survival, and praised the Archdiocese of Australia for all it has contributed and for the new old-age home while, addressing the local Greek community, said that "you have always kept Greece in your hearts, and I want you to know that you are in our thoughts".
He announced that soon, a small bus would be donated to the old-age home to facilitate the elderly.
Karamanlis also visited the Greek Community Old-Age Home in Sydney, and the Greek Orthodox College of St. Spyridon, where he gave 22 outfits of the Greek national soccer team and soccer balls to the children, as well as books, noting that the students comprised "the future of Hellenism in this far-away country".
The students at the college are chiefly third-generation Greek-Australians.
Afterwards, the Greek delegation cruised the port of Sydney by boat, while Karamanlis was scheduled to address a large gathering of local Greek Australians on Tuesday night, before departing for Canberra where, on Wednesday, he is slated to visit the parliament and meet with Howard.
The Greek prime minister is due to meet afterwards with opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hellenic Australian Monument, to be attended by war veterans, while he will also address members of the local Greek community during an event at the Greek ambassador's residence in Canberra.
On Thursday morning, Karamanlis will travel to Adelaide, where he will meet with South Australia State Premier Mike Rann and Adelaide Lord Mayor Michael Harbison, followed by a reception for the local Greek community before leaving for Melbourne, where he will address the local Greek community at an evening event.
Karamanlis will meet with Victoria State Premier Steve Bracks and opposition members on Friday, while that same night he will address a large gathering of Greek Australians at the Rod Laver Arena.
On Saturday, Karamanlis will leave for Darwin, where he will meet with Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin, followed by a reception hosted by the latter.
At noon on Saturday, the Greek prime minister will depart Darwin for Hanoi, Vietnam, on the last leg of his tour.
On Sunday, Karamanlis will lay a wreath at war memorial and another wreath at the Ho Chi Ming Mausoleum, followed by talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, after which a tourism cooperation agreement will be signed.
Karamanlis will also attend an official luncheon hosted by Dung, followed by a meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.
The Greek prime minister will depart Vietnam on Sunday afternoon (local time), and is expected to arrive back in Athens shortly before midnight Sunday (Greek time).
 Karamanlis again spells out standing positions on Turkey's EU prospects, Cyprus in Australian TV interviewMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/S. Hatjimanolis -A. Panagopoulos)
Athens' position on Turkey's EU accession course is absolutely clear, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was quoted as saying in an interview aired by the SBS television network here.
Karamanlis reiterated that Turkey should receive full EU membership status if it fully accepts and meets prerequisites and criteria set out by the Union.
He added that the Greek government has consistently encouraged the European prospect of other countries in SE Europe based on the firm belief that such a prospect constitutes a strong motivation to safeguard and promote democratic and economic reforms and accompanying growth and stability in the wider region.
Moreover, Karamanlis expressed a view that observance of European principles by Turkey will assist efforts at finding a solution to the long-standing Cyprus problem as well.
He also expressed satisfaction for the resolution of a long-standing issue concerning a social insurance agreement between Greece and Australia - the signing of which is expected on Wednesday - that will allow for the transfer of pension rights of thousands of Greek-Australians.
Earlier, addressing a gathering of Greek-Australians in Sydney before departing for Canberra, where the agreement will be signed with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Karamanlis underscored the contribution of Greek expatriates to the promotion of Greece's national interest.
Regarding Turkey, he reiterated that its harmonization with Europe being encouraged, again stressing that a full EU membership will come after full implementation of criteria, prerequisites and commitments it has undertaken. He also emphasised that, at the same time, an effort is being made to fully and gradually restore bilateral relations based on international law and treaties.
On the Cyprus issue, the prime minister stressed that efforts for its solution -- based on UN Security Council resolutions and EU principles and values -- are firmly supported, adding that the objective is to bring "down the walls of occupation and reunite the Republic of Cyprus within the framework of a viable and functional solution."
Referring to the FYROM "name issue", Karamanlis said the goal is to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the matter, one that will eventually facilitate the country's course towards the Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Karamanlis noted that Greece has made important steps and expects the neighbouring country to abandon its intransigent stance and follow suit, while abandoning any action or support of action that allows for unfounded irredentist propaganda.
Karamanlis stressed that a main pylon of Greece's foreign policy is its Diaspora and reminded that the SAE charter, which defined its structure, operation and area of responsibility, is now part of the Greek Constitution. He also referred to a draft law expected to be ratified soon extending voting rights to eligible Greek citizens living broad.
Referring to the state of the recently surging Greek economy, Karamanlis said it was moving towards the future with steady steps, and based on a well-thought out strategy of changes and reforms.
 PASOK leader addresses party's Parliamentary CouncilMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday addressed the first meeting of PASOK's Parliamentary Council since the party's programme conference over the weekend, stressing that the party was ready to win the elections and govern the country.
He stressed that "PASOK has a clear plan for the future" and its programme deals with all the problems of the average Greek and Greek families.
Adding that the party had mobilised so that its programme would reach all voters, Papandreou stressed that this outlined a framework of principles and positions that was completely different from the actions of the ruling New Democracy government, being marked principles, transparency, evaluation, participation, social dialogue and accountability.
Speakers at the meeting also stressed that the central direction of the programme was growth coupled with a redistribution of wealth in favour of the economically weak and that the central goal was to create a new social state in education, health, welfare and social insurance that would relieve average families from the financial burden of getting these from the private sector.
The Council also discussed policy for sports, where speakers accused ND of lacking transparency and political patronage that had led to poorer results by Greek athletes when compared to their performance at the 2004 Olympic Games. Under PASOK's programme, emphasis will be placed on developing sport from the bottom up, by encouraging mass participation in amateur sports, they said.
 PASOK steps up criticism over structured bond affairMain opposition PASOK on Tuesday again stepped up its criticism of the government regarding the ongoing structured bond controversy, with the party's parliamentary council calling for the tabling in Parliament of all information regarding purchases by state-run pension funds of similar bonds.
PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou also said the council also conveyed a complaint to the Parliament president over what it called the "unacceptable" refusal by specific executives of JP Morgan and North Asset Management to appear before a relevant Parliament committee.
He also charged that the government was behind a scheme to cover-up the affair and keep it out of Parliament's halls.
 PASOK leader commends Ombudsman's OfficeMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou praised the Greek Ombudsman's Office for a job well-done in monitoring executive power and the state administration on behalf of the citizens, during a meeting with Ombudsman George Kaminis on Tuesday.
The Ombudsman, by calling for answers and transparency, has a substantive role in the consolidation of the citizens' rights, Papandreou said, adding that his party supports the viewpoint according to which independent watchdog authorities should check governments and power holders, thus contributing to greater transparency while combating corruption.
The PASOK leader made the comments after meeting with Kaminis, who handed over to him a copy of the independent agency's annual report, delivered earlier to Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
Kaminis stated that he also had the opportunity to present a brief account of his four-year term in office that ended on April 23.
Papandreou also again sharply criticised the government for what he called its failure to support and embellish watchdog authority organisations.
In a later reply to Papandreou's comments, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said efforts underway "have brought a sense of confidence among the people, proving to them that there are public agencies that actually listen to them, respect them, accept their complaints and launch investigations."
Roussopoulos added that indisputable evidence proves, in practice, who really respects both the people and independent watchdogs and who merely engages in "talk", while calling on the former foreign minister "to read the 2006 Ombudsman Office report he (Papandreou) has in his hands carefully."
On his part, Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos countered that since March 2004 the Karamanlis government has paid enormous attention to boosting such agencies' effectiveness, increasing staff and buttressing their institutional framework, "as opposed to the governments of PASOK, where every type of regulatory agency was depreciated."
 Papandreou visits KarpathosMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Tuesday visited the island of Karpathos, in the Dodecanese, to promote his party's recently approved programme.
He visited the mountainous village of Olympos at the northern part of Karpathos, where he was received by its inhabitants at the village's square and church.
Addressing the inhabitants of Olympos, Papandreou said that "the basic philosophy of PASOK is that there are no first and second class citizens."
"The islander must feel secure and an equal citizen of the country," he said and promised the island's inhabitants that "he will support them in their struggles."
"PASOK has an overall plan for Greece, but also an overall proposal for the islands. Particular weight is given to the programme of the islands' infrastructure and particularly to the transport infrastructure," Papandreou further said and promised "a ship every day to every island."
He also referred to the sectors of education, health and air transport and pledged increased pensions for farmers.
On the development of the islands, he stressed that "particular emphasis will be given to tourism and tradition."
 Justice minister attends presentation of Council of State's information systemJustice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Tuesday made an address at the official presentation of the Council of State's completed information system and website.
Present at the events were all the presidents of the country's high courts.
"It's with particular joy that I'm here today, for us to inaugurate together the new modern Information System of the Council of State. A project which is incorporated in our overall effort for the completion of the computerisation of Justice and aims at the decisive strengthening of transparency and the security of Justice, with all that goes with it: a more effective administration of Justice, easier access to it by the citizen and facilitation of our judicial principles in the broadened international judicial cooperation," Papaligouras said.
The modernisation of the Information System of the Council of State is a project of an overall budget of 4,100,000 euros.
 Former minister Papantoniou not to run in next electionFormer finance minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who held key cabinet posts under former PASOK governments and is now serving as a main opposition PASOK MP for inner Athens, on Tuesday announced that he will not be standing for Parliament in the next elections.
"Under the present circumstances I cannot, against my will, hold myself up to the judgement of the people in the next elections but I remain active in our political life," Papantoniou said in a statement that criticised PASOK leader George Papandreou for his stance toward him.
"He removed me from my party, the Parliamentary group, the National Council and the conference in ways that were undemocratic and unconstitutional, for reasons that are not understood by me or the majority of Greek citizens," the former minister complained.
He said that he had sent two letters to Papandreou raising the issue of his re-involvement in the party, one in February and one in April, but had received no reply.
Papantoniou also commented that "leadership models" for running political parties had no place in contemporary Parliamentary democracies and that "tactics of exclusion serve other purposes and surely do not lead to the renewal that only arises by democratic debate of ideas and views".
The MP said the country was in a phase of stagnation and regression and that the New Democracy government had proved incapable and dangerous, while PASOK now had to convince voters that it could carry out an ambitious programme of progressive reforms.
At PASOK's programme conference last weekend, PASOK's leader had made it clear that he did not intend to include several of party's senior officials in any future government he might form, saying that there were individuals in the party that had been "worn out" by their long stay in power and lost sight of the greater purpose.
 Greece-Pakistan agreement on combatting crime ratifiedAn agreement reached between Greece and Pakistan on cooperation in combatting crime, particularly terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime, was ratified by a majority in Parliament on Tuesday.
The agreement was supported by the deputies of the ruling New Democracy party, but was opposed by the main opposition PASOK party, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).
 Interior minister on bill for overseas Greeks voteInterior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday briefed Parliament's Overseas Hellenism Committee.
"By the end of the tenure of the New Democracy government, the bill will be tabled for the exercise of the electoral right, during the Greek parliamentary elections, to the Greeks who live and serve abroad," he said.
At the same time, he clarified that it concerns an executive law of the Constitution, which must be voted by the majority of two-thirds of the deputies, while the exercise of the electoral right will be valid in the parliamentary elections which will be held after January 1, 2011.
 FinMin very satisfied with economic performanceEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday expressed his satisfaction with the country's economic course, saying economic growth data were very satisfactory with growth rates at 4.6 pct in the first quarter of 2007, exceeding all forecasts.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the 4.6 pct growth rate was evidence of strong economic growth and noted that the most important thing was that economic growth was based on exports and investments and not on consumption.
Alogoskoufis said this year's budget was moving within set targets and forecast that the country's public debt would fall to 100 pct of GDP this year, from 108.5 pct in 2004 and 104.6 pct in 2006. The fiscal deficit was expected to fall to 2.4 pct of GDP this year, from 2.6 pct in 2006, he said. He underlined that all figures would change after the revision of the country's GDP and noted that unemployment rate was expected to fall to 8.0 pct of the workforce this year, from 10.5 pct in 2004 and 8.9 pct in 2006.
The inflation rate fell to 2.6 pct in the first four months of 2007, from 3.3 pct in the corresponding period last year.
The Greek minister said the government must remain on alert to successfully execute this year's budget and to achieve further improvements in real economy.
Alogoskoufis presented a draft legislation aimed to reform the customs code and reforming an existing law on sale and lease back of real estate assets owned by the state. The Greek minister said the government was expected to table more draft legislations to parliament soon, such as a draft law on combatting tax evasion, combatting porerty and harmonizing financial markets.
 PASOK, Synaspismos react to FinMin's statementsMain opposition PASOK and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) on Tuesday criticised Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis earlier statements regarding the country's "satisfactory economic course" as well as a government initiative to combat poverty.
PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou said, in a statement, that the government has "done absolutely nothing in all sectors", referring to ruling New Democracy's pre-election commitments and "what the government has until today implemented".
Commenting on Alogoskoufis announcement regarding draft legislation reforming an existing law on the sale and lease back of real estate assets owned by the state, Synaspismos' Panayiotis Lafazanis said the draft law "opens the way for the sell-off of all real estate assets owned by the state to large private interests..."
 KKEThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in an announcement on Tuesday commented on a bill made public by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.
"The bill on real estate property which George Alogoskoufis made public is provocative and unacceptable. Instead of public property being utilised to the benefit of the people, it is handed over to capital and with a subsidy from the money of the Greek people. It is yet again revealed that the (ruling) New Democracy (ND) party, just like the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in the past, does not hesitate to proceed in scandalous adjustments and measures in favour of the profiteering of capital," the KKE announcement said.
 Circular to ministries on state budget for 2008The continuation of the effort to achieve further fiscal restructuring with the aim of securing a balanced budget by the year 2010 is the main pursuit contained in the budget for the year 2008.
This is pointed out in the circular on the preparation of the budget for 2008 sent to all ministries and agencies by the General State Accounting Office in the framework of preparations of the new budget.
Speaking about the circular, Depute Finance and Economy Minister Petros Doukas said that "despite the great effort, we still have ground ahead of us to cover," adding that "the Greek economy, following our goals, will be going from good to better and the Greek citizens will continue to ascertain on a daily basis that sacrifices are being rewarded."
According to the circular, the continuation of the effort to achieve fiscal restructuring will be promoted primarily through a more rational management of the budget's credits, the assessment of every activity in relation to funds provided and the most effective utilisation of state funds.
 Deputy FinMin on pricing of new 15-year bond issueDeputy Finance and Economy Minister Petros Doukas expressed his satisfaction on Tuesday over pricing for the new ODDHX issue of the 15-year bond. The issue amounted to five billion euros with a stable 4.70 percent annual interest rate.
"Despite the disdainful climate being attempted lately, today's pricing of the new issue of the 15-year bond is yet more proof of confidence existing for the development course of the Greek economy and its optimistic prospects. Proof of confidence in the management of the money of the Greek taxpayer, while at the same time it proves the professionalism of the officials of ODDHX in a clear way," Doukas said.
 Employment minister, central bank governor discuss pension fund investmentsThe new draft bill on investing pension fund assets will soon be unveiled and set on the path to becoming law, Employment Minister Vassilis Magginas said on Tuesday after a meeting with Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas.
Magginas said that he and Garganas had an exchange of views and that the Bank of Greece was taking part in the effort to set up a new framework of laws that will ensure transparency, on the one hand, but also investment activity by social insurance bodies, on the other hand.
 Government on special spatial planning lawsCommenting on the unveiling of a special draft bill regulating spatial planning for industry, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday stressed that this was the third piece of legislation for special spatial planning completed and unveiled by the present government, after those for renewable energy sources and tourism.
He said a general spatial planning bill was on the way that would complete the legislative picture and address the country's huge shortcomings in this area, in accordance with government pledges.
The spokesman underlined that the country's fiscal deficit was not the only deficit inherited from its predecessors by the government, since Greece had entered the 21st century without an comprehensive spatial plan.
Asked about the delay in presenting the "general spatial plan", Roussopoulos attributed this to delays linked to Olympic Games projects that had not been adequately prepared for.
 Technical Chamber of Greece criticises spatial plan for tourismThe Technical Chamber of Greece on Tuesday said measures introduced under a new special spatial plan for the tourism sector were "ambivalent" and would not substantially address the industry's present problems.
The new regulations did not systematically enforce necessary restrictions on the rampant unplanned development that was one of the biggest problems facing Greek tourism to this day, while giving more weight to facilitating investments and growth of tourism than to incorporating the principles of sustainable development and rationalised spatial organisation.
"If [the spatial planning laws] are enforced, tourism in our country will continue to develop in the way that it has developed until today and will exacerbate the many and serious problems that this way has caused," a TEE announcement said, calling for measures that would also "clean up" those areas that were already developed.
 Commission approves Greek-Italian request over gas pipelineBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Tuesday conditionally approved a joint application tabled by Greece and Italy for the exclusive use of a Greek-Italian natural gas pipeline.
The regulation is foreseen in Article 22 of Community Directive (2003/55/EK) and safeguards, for Greece's DE.PA (Public Gas Corp.) and Italy's Edison, exclusive control and management of the natural gas pipeline.
The project envisions the linking of the two countries' natural gas grid via an underwater pipeline the southern Adriatic connecting the northwest Greek port town of Igoumenitsa with Otranto, with a capacity of 8.8 billion cubic metres of natural gas per annum. The construction of the pipeline is expected to begin in 2008 and be completed in 2011.
 Funds for social solidarity programmesTwo joint decisions by the interior, public administration and decentralisation, employment and social protection and health and social solidarity ministers, as well as the deputy finance and economy minister, on the continuation of social solidarity programmes that are jointly financed by the European Social Fund in the framework of the 3rd Community Support Framework, were publicised on Tuesday.
Consequently, necessary funds for the continuation of these activities by local administration businesses have been secured until August 31, 2008.
More specifically, aid and treatment at home and support for elderly people in general will be secured, employment and the return of unemployed to the labour force, particularly of women, will also be promoted.
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said "timely care for the continuation of the above programmes and activities, which the governments of PASOK had literally left 'up in the air', constitutes an unbreakable and main part of our social policy, in the framework of which we are supporting in practice all that are in need, we are giving substantial equal opportunities to all our fellow citizens, we are supporting the institution of the family and we are enlarging, gradually and steadfastly and with prospects, the Social State of Law."
 President receives Central Bank governorCentral Bank Governor Nikos Garganas was received on Tuesday by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. No statements were made after the meeting.
 Greek current accounts deficit up 11.5 pct in Jan-March, yr/yrGreece's current accounts deficit widened by 11.5 percent in the first quarter 2007, compared with the same period last year, to total 9.011 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.
The central bank, in a report, attributed the widened deficit to a decline in the current transfers surplus and a widening of the trade deficit in the January-March period.
The trade deficit rose by 330 million euros in the three-month period, reflecting higher payments on the purchase of vessels (646 million euros). Receipts from exports of goods (excluding fuel and vessels) rose by 4.1 pct, while payments on imports rose by 2.0 pct in the three-month period.
The services' surplus rose by 45 million euros, reflecting an improved balance of travel and transport services (revenues were up 10.8 pct and 3.1 pct, respectively).
The incomes deficit grew by 139 million euros due to higher net payments on interest, dividend and profits. A significant reduction of the current transfer surplus reflected higher payments of the general government to the EU.
The capital transfer balance showed a surplus of 1.917 billion euros in the January-March period, up from 1.180 billion euros in the same period last year.
The financial transactions balance showed that foreign direct investments to Greece fell by 76 percent to 136.3 million euros, while Greek investments abroad totaled 2.19 billion euros over the same period.
Portfolio investments recorded a net inflow of 11.052 billion euros, while the other investments category recorded a net outflow of 2.049 billion euros in the three month period.
 Greek trade deficit up in Jan-Feb, yr/yrThe Greek trade deficit totaled 6.4 billion euros in the first two months of 2007, up by 1.4 billion euros compared with the same period in 2006, Eurostat said on Tuesday.
Greek exports totaled 2.7 billion euros and imports totaled 9.1 billion euros in the January-February period. Greek exports grew by 15 pct compared with the same period in 2006 (from 2.4 billion to 2.7 billion euros), while imports grew by 24 pct (from 7.3 billion to 9.1 billion euros).
Germany (30.1 bln), Holland (6.3 bln) and Ireland (4.1 bln) recorded the highest trade surplus in the two month period in the EU, while UK (22.2 bln), Spain (14.4 bln), France (7.0 bln) and Greece (6.4 pct) recorded the highest trade deficits.
Eurozone recorded a trade deficit of 7.4 billion euros in the two-month period, with the EU-25 a trade deficit of 11.1 billion euros.
 PPC says examines strategic position in telecoms marketPublic Power Corporation on Tuesday said it was examining all scenarios over its equity participation in Tellas SA and its strategic position in the telecommunications sector.
In an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange, PPC (Greece's electricity utility) said: "We are cooperating with our partners to support the growth of Tellas and we are discussing over alternative future possibilities". Weather Investments, PPC's partner in Tellas, has acquired TIM Hellas and Q-Telecom and aims to expand its activities in the Greek telecommunications market.
 PPC says EBITDA down 20.1 pct in Q1Public Power Corp. (PPC), Greece's electricity utility, on Tuesday reported a 53.6-percent drop in consolidated net profits to 41 million euros in the first quarter of 2007, down from 88.4 million euros in the same period last year. Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) totaled 235.6 million euros in the January-March period, down from 294.8 mln euros last year, a decline of 20.1 percent, while other operating expenses fell 8.5 pct to 146.4 million euros over the same period.
Investments were steady at 164 million euros.
Group revenues totaled 1.24 billion euros, up 3.5 pct from last year. PPC said hydroelectric production dropped by 71 pct in the first quarter of 2007 due to low rain and snow falls in the January-March period. Revenues for sale of electricity power rose 3.8 pct to 1.113 billion euros, reflecting a 4.8 pct increase in electricity prices and an 1.8 pct decline in the volume of sales.
P. Athanassopoulos, the chairman and chief executive in PPC, commenting on the results said:
"I am relatively satisfied with first quarter results since profitability was affected by weather conditions. In March, I described my five main priorities. We have began drafting our strategic plan to be unveiled in autumn this year".
Participation in losses of affiliated companies was zero in the first quarter, after an 1.7 million euro loss in the same period in 2006.
PPC and Bulgaria's Environment and Water Resources minister on Monday agreed that PPC would recommend an effective solution over the next few days to complete the long-delayed acquisition of Bobov Dol power plant in the neighbouring country.
 Greek stocks end 0.27 pct downGreek stocks eased on Tuesday as investors took profits after a recent rally in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index fell 0.27 pct to end at 4,892.28 points with turnover a moderate 356.9 million euros.
Sector indices were mixed, with the Utilities (2.71 pct), Chemicals (1.39 pct) and Media (0.85 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Oil (0.65 pct), Telecoms (0.60 pct) and Travel (0.57 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index fell 0.29 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.14 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.80 pct.
Cyclon Hellas (18.27 pct), Viosol (16.67 pct) and Desmos (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while Vivere (8.18 pct), United Textiles (5.26 pct) and Lyberis Publications (5.17 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 151 to 114 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.65%
Personal & Household: +0.64%
Raw Materials: +0.25%
Travel & Leisure: -0.57%
Food & Beverages: -0.34%
Financial Services: -0.57%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Eurobank, Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.66
HBC Coca Cola: 33.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.34
Emporiki Bank: 21.20
National Bank of Greece: 43.30
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 27.26
Titan Cement Company: 42.00
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.452 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.271 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.181 billion euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 805 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.22 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.56 pct and the German Bund 4.34 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate fell to 3.83 pct from 3.84 pct on Monday, the two-day rate eased to 3.84 pct from 3.85 pct, the one-month rate rose to 3.94 pct from 3.92 pct and the 12-month rate eased to 4.38 pct from 4.40 pct.
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices maintained their discount during Tuesday's in the Athens Derivatives Exchange, in subdued trading of 85 million euros.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.21 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.11 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 4,797 contracts worth 62.008 million euros, with 37,245 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 427 contracts worth 13.213 million euros with 1,396 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 4,818 contracts worth 9.640 million euros, with investment interest focusing on PPC's contracts (1,069), followed by Eurobank (396), Piraeus Bank (180), National Bank (734), Alpha Bank (602), Intracom (338), ATEbank (178), Attica Bank (315) and Postal Savings Bank (90).
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.356
Pound sterling 0.687
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.265
Japanese yen 164.78
Swiss franc 1.669
Norwegian kroner 8.197
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.469
Australian dollar 1.649
 Delphi Centre unveils events for annual festival; dedication to Constantine Karamanlis plannedThe European Cultural Centre of Delphi (ECCD) will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its founding this year with an international symposium entitled "Women in Ancient Drama" along with a dedication to its founder, Greek statesman Constantine Karamanlis.
A ceremony unveiling a bust of Karamanlis, the uncle and namesake of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, is scheduled for July 22 at the ECCD, with EU Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Hans Gert Petering expected to attend.
This year's series of events for the ECCD's annual Cultural Amphictyony also include an event in memory of pre-eminent 20th century Greek lyric poet Angelos Sikelianos and his wife Eva, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the couple's revival of the Delphic festival.
Plays, concerts and dance performances will again be on the schedule of the festival in Delphi - the mountainous seat of the eponymous ancient oracle in central Greece dedicated to the god Apollo - between July 6 and July 15, with ancient heroines the focus on this year's theme.
One of the notable performances scheduled for this summer will be the staging of Aristophanes' "Thesmophoriazusae" (Women Celebrating the Thesmophoria) by Chinese director Luo Yin Lin on July 11.
"Constantine Karamanlis was the first Greek political leader that realised the significance of establishing the European Cultural Centre of Delphi. He strived to turn the ancient 'navel of the world' into a modern hub of open and ecumenical dialogue," Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said on Tuesday during a press conference in Athens to unveil the programme for this year's festival.
Among others, he also noted that the ministry has allocated one million euros for the upgrading of the outdoor Delphi Odeon.
 Deputy FinMin Doukas meets AHEPA representativesDeputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas on Tuesday met with representatives of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and with officials of the Greek-American community.
They discussed Greek-American relations, both on a political and economic level.
According to a finance ministry announcement, the AHEPA representatives and the Greek-American community officials expressed their interest in the course of the Greek economy and national matters and the manner with which they can contribute to the Greek targets.
Doukas accepted an invitation by the AHEPA representatives to be the main speaker at the Association's next congress which will be held in Colorado in July.
 President Papoulias receives delegation of 1967-1974 imprisoned and exiled resistance fightersPresident Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received a delegation of the Federation of 1967-1974 Imprisoned and Exiled Resistance Fighters, composed of President Fotis Provatas, Vice President Nikos Apanomeritakis, Secretary General Yiannis Rengas, board member Dimitris Protopsaltis and substitute board member Theodoros Stinis.
The members of the delegation thanked the President for his presence at "April 21 1967-1974, 40 years after" memory events and called for his moral support for the promotion of their demands.
 National Opera to stage Bizet's 'Carmen' at Herod Atticus OdeonGreece's National Opera promises to give a dynamic, bold and modern rendition of Georges Bizet's "Carmen" when its ambitious production goes on stage at the Herod Atticus Odeon in Athens from May 31 - June 5 as part of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival.
The drama of the classic Mediterranean heroine will take place against a 21st-century backdrop peopled by cars and motorbikes during the five performances at the historic ancient theatre beneath the Acropolis.
The production also introduces several innovations regarding the layout of the stage, lighting and the positioning of the orchestra, bringing the action much closer to the audience.
 Vast majority of young Greeks enjoy good health, survey findsThe vast majority of young people in Greece enjoy good health, according to a survey carried out by the National Statistics Service of Greece (NSS) on "state of health and life expectancy without health problems".
The study found that 98.73 percent of girls under 16 and 99.03 percent of boys under 16 have good health, while 1.24 percent of girls and 0.59 percent of boys the same age have "moderate" health.
Levels of health remained high at the ages of 20 and 25 but started to go down after the age of 40 for both sexes.
At the age of 40, 93.19 percent of woman and 92.29 percent of men said they enjoyed good health. In this age group, 4.69 percent of women and 3.78 percent of men had moderate health, while 2.11 percent of women and 3.94 percent of men had poor health.
In the age group 80-85, only 17.21 percent of women and 20.95 percent of men said they had good health, 48.28 percent of women and 41.90 percent of men say they had moderate health and 34.51 percent of women and 37.16 percent of men had poor health.
The study was conducted using a sample of 6,252 households, and included only those members aged over 16.
In terms of years of life with good health, men believe that they have better health than women at the age of 65 while the expected number of years with good health at the age of 65 is higher for men than for women.
Finally, after the age of 85, men enjoyed better health than women.
 Greeks and Cypriots are EU's smoking 'champs', poll findsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
Greeks and Cypriots are Europe's smoking "champions" according to a Eurobarometer poll released in Brussels on Tuesday for World No Smoking Day. The European Commission warned that about 650,000 smokers and 80,000 passive smokers die in Europe every year.
According to the poll, 42 percent of Greeks said they were smokers in reply to the poll, compared to 32 percent for the European Union on average. Nine out of 10 Greek smokers say that they smoke on a daily basis and 53 percent of Greek smokers said that they smoke more than 20 cigarettes in a day.
Runner's up in the smoking stakes are Cypriots, of which 39 percent are smokers, Hungarians and Bulgarians with 36 percent, Poles with 35 percent, followed by Czechs and Estonians with 34 percent. The lowest percentages of smokers are in Sweden (18 percent), followed by Portugal (24 percent), Slovakia and Malta (25 percent).
The poll also showed that 31 percent of European smokers attempted to stop in the past year but 70 percent of these started up again in less than two months. Of these, 18 percent sought professional help and one third used medication and other methods. In Greece, 30 percent of smokers attempted to quit, of which only 6 percent sought professional help.
European Commissioner for health Markos Kyprianou said it was "encouraging" that support for anti-smoking measures was high among Europeans, with 88 percent in favour of banning smoking at work and in public areas. He said that this would promote a general ban on smoking in all public areas and in workplaces in Europe by 2009.
A majority of Europeans also support a ban on smoking in restaurants (77 percent) and in bars (62 percent), while the Commission pointed out that support for these measures was highest in the countries where such policies had already been introduced, like Ireland, Sweden and Italy.
Regarding the ban on smoking in public areas, 54 percent of Europeans say that this is observed in their country compared with just 30 percent of Greeks.
One in three Europeans reports that he is exposed to second-hand smoke at work while those who are not exposed to cigarette smoke range from 15 percent in Greece to 96 percent in Ireland.
About half of European households are completely smoke-free, meaning that none of their members smokes. Percentages range from 83 percent in Finland and 69 percent in Sweden to 17 percent in Croatia and 26 percent in Greece.
 Conference on tourist development and local administration in Southern RussiaA conference on "Tourist development and local administration" will be organised by the Network of Overseas Greeks and Elected in Local Administrations of Europe in the city of Sochi, in Southern Russia, on May 25-26, where a considerable population of Greek origin lives and where members of the Network are active.
The city of Sochi is an important tourist destination in Southern Russia, both during the summer and winter periods, while it is contesting the Winter Olympic Games in 2014.
The Network's initiative is aimed at an exchange of views concerning local administration with the promotion of Greek and European conception and, in parallel, the strengthening of the role of overseas Greeks in cities where its members are active.
Issues to be discussed during the two-day conference concern tourism and sustainable development, alternate tourism and the relation between major sports events and tourist development, conveying both Greek and European experience.
 Six bears in NW Greece fitted with satellite transmittersSix bears in the east Pindus mountain range of north-western Greece have been fitted with satellite transmitters to help researchers interpret their behaviour in relation to ongoing construction of the Egnatia motorway, which will spanthe breadth of northern Greece.
Scientists hope "Melis", "Pacino", "Koutalianos", "Four-fingers", "General" and "Kallisto", a young female bear, will offer valuable assistance regarding any behavioural change on the local bear population in the vicinity of the 37-km-long "Panagia-Grevena" section of the Egnatia highway
The major roadway project will pass through a brown bear habitat in the east Pindus mountain range and very near the North Pindus National Park, better known as Valia Calda.
The bears were fitted the devices by members of the environmental group "Kallisto", which is comprised of biologists, foresters and veterinarians.
Observation of animal behavior that could be affected by construction works is a main research subject in a programme included in the Egnatia project's environmental protection terms.
 Fishing boat collides with navy inflatable craftThe two passengers of a small fishing boat were slightly injured in a collision with a seven-metre-long Hellenic Navy inflatable craft on night patrol early Tuesday morning in the Perama sea region off the main port of Piraeus.
 Safe-crackers break into pension fundBurglars broke into an OTE telecom employees' pension fund offices in Thessaloniki during the night and made off with roughly 21,000 euros from a safe. Police were alerted by employees who found the safe opened and the money was missing when they reported to work on Tuesday morning.
 Illegal immigrants arrested in Evia, Chios, LesvosPolice on Tuesday arrested 66 illegal immigrants in Evia, central Greece and on the eastern Aegean islands of Chios and Lesvos. They stated that they entered Greece from the Turkish coast.
According to the Merchant Marine Ministry, 34 illegal immigrants were located and arrested by port officials in the eastern coast of Evia, 14 in the region of Chios' Vokaria, 13 in Lesvos and five in the sea region of the island of Samos.
All the arrested are being held at the local port authorities, while by order of Harbour Corps chief Vice-Admiral Ilias Sionidis, patrols by patrol boats have increased, particularly in the islands of the northeastern Aegean.
Champions League final
 Brazilian soccer star Kaka dedicates participation in Athens Champions League final to cause of global hungerKaka, a player widely regarded as the best in world football, has dedicated his participation in the UEFA Champions League final in Athens on Wednesday to the cause of hungry children.
Kaka combines his role as an attacking midfielder for AC Milan and Brazil, with work as an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
When he steps out onto the field for AC Milan in their match against Liverpool FC at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Wednesday evening, Kaka will have just two things on his mind:"Obviously, Wednesday night is all about winning the Champions League trophy for AC Milan," he said. "But personally, I also want to dedicate my appearance in the Athens final to the cause of hungry children."
As WFP's youngest Ambassador against Hunger, Kaka has used his profile as a successful international sportsman to draw attention to the challenge of addressing global hunger.
"As professional footballers, we are very privileged," said Kaka as he prepared for the final in Athens. "From time to time we have a chance to help others because of who we are and what we do. I want to use my position as a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger to make more people aware of the challenges of feeding hundreds of millions of hungry children in some of the poorest, least developed parts of the world."
"It's an incredible asset to have the world's best player in the world's favourite game on our team," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. Kaka has shown that he can combine the skills and dedication needed to be at the very top of the game with a commitment to a worthy humanitarian cause."
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency:on average, each year, it provides food to 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in 80 of the world's poorest countries.
 Survey: Athens to benefit by 26 mln euros from Champions League finalIt is estimated that Athens will receive an economic impetus to the tune of 26 million euros by hosting the Champions League soccer final between AC Milan (Italy) and Liverpool FC (England) at the Greek capital's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night, according to a survey conducted on behalf of MasterCard.
The independent research firm KRC invited, on behalf of MasterCard, official sponsor of "UEFA Champions League", a number of experts who are participating in the hosting of the final on Wednesday.
According to the results of the relevant survey, the various bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, public transport and Olympic Stadium services will mostly benefit.
The experts also believe that the simultaneous promotion of cultural and hotel services before the final could encourage the visitors to stay for a longer duration.
 Rain on WednesdayRainy and stormy weather is forecast in most parts of Greece on Wednesday. Temperatures will range between 12C to 26C. Winds northerly, northwesterly, light to moderate.
Possibility of rain in Athens in the afternoon, with temperatures ranging between 15C and 25C. Same in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 14C to 22C.
 Coordinating committee to promote Famagusta causeNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas said here Tuesday that a coordinating committee will be set up to help organise overseas activities and promote efforts by Famagusta Municipality for the return of their Turkish occupied city.
Lillikas made the statement after a meeting with a delegation from Famagusta Municipality under Mayor Alexis Galanos, who expressed concern over Turkish moves to settle the occupied areas and to exploit Greek Cypriot properties.
The minister said Famagusta Municipality representatives were informed on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and efforts to secure the return of the town of Famagusta, a fundamental aim of the government.
He also said they examined ways for closer cooperation between the ministry, the mayor and the Famagusta municipality to promote the just cause of Famagusta refugees for the return of their occupied town.
Lillikas pointed out "we have decided to set up a coordinating committee, with the participation of representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Famagusta Municipality and the Press and Information Office, to organise a series of activities with main emphasis overseas and decide on ways to promote the cause which the Famagusta Municipal Council has undertaken especially after the initiative to collect signatures from the people of Famagusta".
Famagusta municipality has collected around 30 thousand signatures as part of efforts to have the town returned to its lawful citizens.
The Cypriot minister said cooperation will continue and expressed hope that soon government and municipality efforts will yield results.
Responding to questions, Lillikas said the government did not have specific information regarding reports that Israelis are interested in purchasing properties in Turkish occupied Famagusta and invest in the area.
Lillikas said that Israel has issued travel advice to its citizens warning them about illegal intervention, investment or purchase of Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied areas.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the islandÔs northern third.
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