|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 24 May 2007 Issue No: 2601
 Greece, Australia sign all-important bilateral social security agreementCANBERRA (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)
Greece and Australia signed a long-awaited bilateral social security agreement here on Wednesday, providing for recognition of Greek-Australians' pension and healthcare rights, during Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' official visit to Australia and following talks with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
The significant accord, which was signed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on behalf of Greece, was completed after lengthy negotiations and will benefit the Greeks of Australia, Karamanlis said.
"We are resolving a matter that has been outstanding for decades, and which will enable our Greek-Australian fellow citizens to enjoy their pension rights and their healthcare rights," he said.
Howard, in turn, stressed that the accord concerned thousands of Greeks of Australia, who would benefit, and expressed satisfaction that the signing of the agreement was made possible after many years of negotiations.
Replying to press questions, Karamanlis said the agreement would be in force in four months' time, and anticipated that at least 60,000 Greek-Australians would benefit immediately.
Karamanlis noted, in reply to another question, that the accord was founded on the principle of equal treatment of the citizens of both countries in matters of social insurance and security. Consequently, he clarified, as foreseen under Australian legislation, the Greek Australian beneficiaries in Australia were required to declare their properties and assets, stressing that in no instance was the Greek state responsible for doing this on their behalf. "Nothing is changing (in that respect) for the Greek Australians," he said.
The agreement is founded on the principles of equal treatment with respect to social security; co-calculation of the periods of social insurance and residence in the two contracting countries for establishing pension rights; proportional apportionment of pension benefits and of the unhindered transfer of benefits to the beneficiary's country of residence. The accord covers only age-related retirement pensions.
Greek-Australians returning to Greece after the agreement enters into force will receive a retirement pension calculated on a formula in which the numerator is the number of years of residence in Australia and the denominator is 25 years.
For former residents of Australia who have already returned to Greece or will return to Greece prior to the enforcement of the agreement, the pension will be calculated on a different formula in which the numerator will again be the number of years of residence while the denominator will be 44 years.
Also, Greece will grant pension benefits even with only one year of insurance. For example, if a beneficiary has 300 days of social insurance in Greece and has 14 years of residence and social security in Australia, then he has a pension right in both Greece and Australia. In accordance with the above regulation, the pension beneficiary and the members of his family are entitled to full healthcare coverage by the Greek system.
In addition, the agreement further guarantees the acquired rights of the beneficiaries who already receive any category of pension benefits (not only age pensions) from Australia. The payment of the pension from Australia will in no instance be dependent on the right of a pension benefit from Greece.
Furthermore, on the Australian side, Greek benefits, such as the low pension stipend (EKAS), the OGA farmers' pension and certain benefits for large families (four children or more) will not be taken into consideration during the calculation of income for determining pension.
Talks with Howard
During talks between Karamanlis and Howard, special mention was made of the dynamic presence of the ethnic Greek community in Australia and the central role it plays in preserving and strengthening the bonds between the two countries, while emphasis was also placed on progress in bilateral relations in the economy, trade and the educational sector.
The two prime ministers further discussed European Union enlargement, Turkey's EU accession course, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue.
Karamanlis stressed that Greece appreciated Australia's stance on Greek foreign policy issues of priority, and particularly on the FYROM name issue.
Howard called Karamanlis a "personal friend", and expressed satisfaction over their discussion.
To a question on Greece's campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum and Australia's stance, Howard noted that for many years he has repeatedly taken up this matter with the British prime minister, but added that, "in the final analysis, it is an issue that concerns Greece and Britain".
Karamanlis added that the issue "is not only a Greek demand". He explained that it was an "issue of reunification of a very important monument of global import", adding that "we must continue our efforts with all our friends and with all the governments".
"We must all unite our voices for the return of the cultural inheritance of the Parthenon," Karamanlis said.
Champions League final in Athens
Regarding a question on the Champions League final to be held on Wednesday night at Athens' main Olympic stadium (OAKA) and whether he was concerned with the country's international image, Karamanlis that the final was a "celebration of football (soccer), a sport event with world-wide radiance, as the eyes of millions of people were turned to it.
"It was Greece's duty, therefore, as it had done during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, to pass the test and prove that we have the experience, the know-how, the determination to host such major events with absolute success and safety".
He said that preparation carried out for the final was very good and expressed certainty that the game would take place smoothly, adding that "I hope that all fans will enjoy an excellent, quality spectacle worthy of the history of these two great teams".
Meeting with opposition leader
After the statements to the press, Karamanlis met with opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd, who spoke warmly of the Greek community in Australia and also on Greece's course in the EU and the country's economic growth.
Later, at a luncheon in Karamanlis' honour at the Australian parliament, Premier Howard spoke of the long-standing bonds of friendship between the two countries, which he said were also forged by their common struggles against Nazism.
In his remarks, Karamanlis stressed that Greece and Australia had a common perspective on most of the important issues of the times and the corresponding challenges faced by the globalise society.
On the Cyprus issue, he said that Greece placed great weight on a just solution of the Cyprus problem that must conform with all the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
Greece, as a member of the EU, will continue to contribute to the global effort to meet the challenges, he said, adding that it also remained dedicated to its commitment to win the fight against terrorism, and was further determined to secure a peaceful resolution of all the issues being faced today.
Turning to bilateral trade between Greece and Australia, he said that it remained at a relatively low level, and expressed hope that his visit will led to broadening and development of their commercial relations.
Karamanlis later visited the Hellenic Australian Monument, where he laid a wreath and presented medals to Greek and Australian veterans of WWII, and later laid another wreath at the Australian National Cenotaph (tomb of the Unknown Soldier).
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 with the local Greek community before leaving for Melbourne, where he will address members of the ethnic Greek community at a dinner.
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 Martin.
At noon on Saturday, the Greek prime minister will depart Darwin for Hanoi, Vietnam, on the last leg of his tour of Oceania, where he will have talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.
 PM's press office downplays reports of visit to TurkeyCANBERRA (ANA-MPA - A. Panagopoulos)
Reports of an upcoming visit by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Turkey were downplayed by the Greek premier's press office on Wednesday, in an announcement read out to reporters accompanying Karamanlis on an official visit to Australia.
"The only plans are that, in all likelihood, Mr. Karamanlis will be in Istanbul on June 25, where he will take part in the summit meeting marking the 15th anniversary of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation. There is nothing else planned and nothing else is foreseen," the announcement said.
 PM to attend Thessaloniki trade fair as scheduled, spokesman says"Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will attend the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on the date announced. If I remember correctly, the trade fair opens on September 7," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Wednesday in response to questions.
 Greece's position on FYROM name is clear, government stressesThe statements made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis regarding the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) repeated Athens' clearcut positions on the issue, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed on Wednesday.
"The Greek position is clear. It was repeated by the prime minister. I will make no further comment," the spokesman said when asked to comment on reactions to Karamanlis' statements from FYROM's leadership.
FYROM's premier and foreign minister had attempted to link the statements made by Karamanlis on the issue during an official visit to New Zealand to Greek general elections that are due to take place by March 2008 by the latest, saying they were largely "pre-electoral" in nature.
Greece objects to FYROM's adoption of the name 'Republic of Macedonia' on the grounds that it is shared by a northern Greek province that has a common border with FYROM and may conceal future expansionist claims by the tiny, landlocked republic against Greece. Another bone of contention is the ancient Macedonian king and general Alexander the Great, long established as one of the key figures of ancient Greek history. Athens resents claims by FYROM's majority Slav population to be descended from Alexander - whose birthplace and ancient kingdom lay well within the current Greek side of the border and largely coincided with the current northern Greek province of Macedonia - as an attempt to falsify historic truth.
 UN special representative on FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz not resigningNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
The UN Secretary General's special representative on the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) name, Matthew Nimetz, does not intend to resign.
Speaking during a press briefing at the UN's headquarters on Wednesday and replying to a question on whether Nimetz's resignation is impending, the spokeswoman of the international organisation's secretary general, Michelle Montas, said "there is no such question as far as I know."
 Defence minister unveils plaque for fallen air force pilotA plaque bearing the name of fallen Greek Air Force pilot Costas Iliakis, who died a year ago in a mid-air collision with a Turkish warplane above the Aegean, was unveiled on the Greek island of Karpathos by National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Wednesday.
The Greek pilot had been attempting to intercept a formation of Turkish fighter jets that had entered Greece's flight information region about 15 miles southeast of Karpathos without submitting flight plans - a regular occurrence in skies above the Aegean Sea.
Also present during the ceremony were main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and the family of the fallen pilot.
In his address, Meimarakis underlined that Greece "works for peace, stability and the reduction of tension in the Aegean, something that Turkey should do as well".
He asked Turkey to put a stop to its practice of regularly violating air traffic regulations above the Aegean and to work for the region's security and the prospect of its accession to the EU.
Tension in the Aegean helped no one, while intransigency and threats brought no benefits, the minister underlined.
Papandreou's remarks at the ceremony underlined the need to provide material and moral support to the Greek Armed Forces and to forge a national strategy that brought peace and security but also guaranteed Greece's territorial rights and its just national causes.
In comments on Iliakis, meanwhile, Papandreou quoted a phrase by the early 20th-century Greek politician Eleftherios Venizelos, who had said that "freedom is not offered but won".
There followed the unveiling of a plaque at the head of a central road of the island's capital, while a pair of Greek Air Force fighter jets flew over the island in formation during the ceremony.
 Deputy FM Valinakis refers to Greek-Turkish relationsDeputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis reiterated on Wednesday the guidelines of Greece's policy regarding Greek-Turkish relations while addressing an event on the Dodecanese island of Karpathos, during which a plaque bearing the name of fallen Greek Air Force pilot Costas Iliakis, who died a year ago in a mid-air collision with a Turkish warplane above the Aegean, was unveiled.
"Our steadfast goal is to have good neighbourly relations with Turkey, on the basis of absolute respect of International Law and international treaties," Valinakis said.
"We also encourage Turkey's European adaptation in order for her to become a reliable neighbour. Nevertheless, this policy of ours is not a 'blank cheque' towards Turkey. It depends on Turkey itself to respond to commitments it has undertaken, if it really wishes to advance. It's up to Turkey to change its way of thinking, to change its approach. It is its responsibility to keep pace with the demands of the future. Our responsibility lies in the readiness and decisiveness for the effective defence of our national interests and sovereign rights," the deputy minister concluded.
 Greek Euro-MP raises issue of political crisis in TurkeyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
European Parliament vice-president Rodi Kratsa on Wednesday referred to the ongoing political crisis in Turkey in a verbal question addressed to European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn, with the former citing a Turkish constitutional court decision to annul a first round of presidential elections and a subsequent warning issued by the country's military to the Erdogan government.
Kratsa pointed out that Rehn has stated in the past that Turkey's armed forces have an obligation to respect the independent role of democratic procedures, while asking whether a further reaction is expected by the Commission in case developments incompatible with EU democratic principles take place.
The Commissioner responded that, in principle, the Turkish government has observed and implemented the constitutional court decision, adding that the European Commission expects the election of a new Turkish president to take place after a new assembly plenum is derived from early elections in July.
On the role of the military establishment in Turkey, Rehn reiterated that it should be restricted to the country's defence, which is its main role.
He added that the European Commission has repeatedly told Ankara that the EU is founded on the principles of democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law and the supremacy of democracy over the military authority, stressing that a country should meet all these conditions to become an EU member. "This was a clear message to the Turkish government and has reached the Turkish people as well, through the mass media," he added.
Responding to a relative question by Euro-deputy Costas Hatzigakis, Rehn stated that the EU accession negotiations with Turkey should continue contrary to reactions from nationalist quarters in Turkey.
 Report by European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs CommitteePARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
The European Parliament deputies have backed the promotion of dignified labour for all, aimed at combatting poverty and social exclusion, by adopting a relevant report by Greek Eurodeputy Maria Panayiotopoulou-Kassiotou on behalf of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee.
Outlining her report, Kassiotou said before the Plenum that "human dignity is a basic value that must be served by every economic and development policy at national, European Union and global level. The European Parliament joins its voice with the international community for the consolidation of conditions of dignified labour for all in a fair global market to enable international competition to be achieved."
The European Parliament is urging with the report member-states, associate countries and candidate countries to ratify and fully implement the conventions of the International Labour Organisation, particularly those related to dignified labour.
 Justice minister meets AHEPA presidentJustice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras met in Athens on Wednesday with American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) president James Gus.
After the meeting, Papaligouras stated that he was particularly pleased that Gus visited him at the ministry.
"At the time of his visit to Greece, at the other side of the Earth (Australia) Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis announced the satisfaction by the Greek State of two basic demands of the expatriates: the right to vote and the right to pension," Papaligouras said,
"AHEPA's contribution was always decisive in the promotion of Greek interests in the USA. With the zeal and patriotism which distinguishes it, AHEPA was and is the ambassador of our national rights in their cross-Atlantic homeland, helping in every difficult case for the Greek voice to be heard clearly. The Greek State, mother-Greece, honours and thanks it," the justice minister concluded.
 Coalition party leader Alavanos visits VolosCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos said in the city of Volos, central Greece, on Wednesday that the question is not when elections will take place but what they will bring.
Speaking during a press conference, Alavanos said that the "pendulum" between PASOK and the New Democracy party must not be repeated in the next elections and that the correlation of political forces must change.
He further said that his party is pursuing "a turning point in political history and only the Coalition party can achieve this." The Left, he added, can play a substantive role, presenting a programme and joint action and constituting a response to the New Democracy party and the "establishment."
Alavanos arrived in Volos at the invitation of his party's Prefectural Committee of Magnisia and has had a series of contacts with local agencies since the morning.
 Amnesty International annual report on human rights situationAmnesty International on Wednesday presented its annual report on the situation of human rights in the world. It ascertained for 2006 that the governments "with short-sightedness and divisive policies they are opting for are undermining the state of Law and human rights, fuel racism and xenophobia, divide societies and strengthen inequalities."
Amnesty International noted that "the government of the United States of America is handling the world like a gigantic battle field for the war against terrorism. Abducting, arresting, detaining, torturing and transferring suspects from one secret prison to another in all the world without being punished."
About the European Union, Amnesty International said that "the strong governments and armed forces on purpose fuel fear," while "the co-guilt of European states in abductions by the CIA and the illegal extradition of individuals is equal to the crumbling of the state of Law in Europe."
On Greece, Amnesty International said that "immigrants were subjected to maltreatment, while there was concern of violent repatriation. The government did not allow the applicants seeking asylum access to the country and continued to turn them back to their countries of origin, without legal aid or access to the procedure of asylum."
 Gov't: 82% of 4th CSF funding in provincesThe government on Wednesday reiterated its intention to funnel the "lion's share" of 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) funds to Greece's outlying provinces, with the relevant minister again citing the same commitment during a one-day seminar organised in Athens.
Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos reminded that more than 82 percent of dedicated 4th CSF funding for Greece, namely, 16.8 billion euros, will be directed to areas outside the country's two main urban areas. He added that funding from national coffers will be added as well.
In outlining an ambitious and huge, by Greek standards, CSF-related development budget between 2007 and 2013, Pavlopoulos put the figure at 36.4 billion - 16.8 billion euros in direct CSF funds; 7.6 billion euros in agriculture development and fishing subsidies by the Union, along with 10 billion euros in envisioned national investments.
Pavlopoulos spoke at a seminar organised by the national centre for public administration and decentralisation.
 Roussopoulos clarifies aims of legislation unveiled by FinminOutlining the reforms introduced by draft legislation presented the previous day, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday said that the two draft bills unveiled by the finance ministry would give the public sector greater flexibility in its real estate dealings and harmonise Greek customs legislation with European Union regulations.
"The public sector will be able to construct or renovate real estate that belongs to it, in joint ventures with the private sector. Also, the public sector acquires much greater flexibility in the leases it signs, saving funds but also using its property for the benefit of the citizens and on the basis of the public interest," Roussopoulos said.
The second bill would boost the country's foreign trade and facilitate the use of the a comprehensive customs IT system, he added.
On a question concerning a provision for long-term leases and whether these might give rise to problems, such as those that arose with the leases of land involving Jerusalem Patriarchate, the spokesman said that there could be no comparison.
"For nearly 200 years, the Greek government has been elected by the Greek people and does not need the certification or approval of any other government," he said.
He noted that the procedures followed at present were time-consuming, bureaucratic and did not facilitate the exploitation of the public sector's real estate assets, which could bring in much more income through this method, which had been tried and tested worldwide.
"It is a process that pays, because public spending is minimal," the spokesman said, pointing to examples like the construction of major highways constructing through public and private-sector joint ventures.
He dismissed criticism from the main opposition PASOK party accusing the government of making empty pre-election pledges, repeating earlier statements that PASOK was "judging by others by its own standards" and by "its own string of promises that were constantly repeated and never carried out".
The spokesman also dismissed dire opposition predictions concerning the economy as a whole, saying that past predictions of the same kind had been proved wrong in practice, with booming economic indicators that could bear scrutiny from Eurostat - unlike figures presented by past PASOK governments, he added.
 Liapis addresses OTE telecoms event on satellite technologyThe major role played by satellites in the economic, social, political and cultural development was the focus of an event held by OTE telecoms on Wednesday, in cooperation with the European Satellite Operators Association, ESOA, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first satellite launch.
Addressing the event, Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis stressed that Greece has its own presence in space since 2003 with the HELLAS SAT telecommunications satellite serving customers from 30 countries.
Liapis praised the HELLAS SAT company management and congratulated CEO Christodoulos Protopapas for his election as ESOA president. He stressed that the transport and communications ministry has invested greatly in digital technology for the benefit of society and referred to the 9.3-million-euro DORY programme using land-based transmitters to bring information to schools, hospitals, public agencies.
OTE Group President Panagis Vourloumis referred to HELLAS SAT pointing out that it uses 80 percent of its capacity stressing that there is room for further development.
European Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, responsible for health issues, referred to the use of information technology in healthcare.
The event attended Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim.
Since the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 by the Russians, satellite technology has made huge progress. Over 20,000 television channels worldwide broadcast their programs via satellite, 4,400 of them in Europe, with an annual increase rate of 10 percent while the ESOA annual turnover is estimated at roughly 4.5 billion euros. Communications is another sector of satellite activity allowing for broadband access to the internet regardless of geographic location.
 Finmin meets central bank governorNational Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Bank of Greece Governor Nick Garganas had their regular monthly meeting at the ministry of finance on Wednesday.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 Crossborder business cooperation being created by Interreg IIA/Phare CBCCrossborder business cooperation and the creation of economic networks in Greece and Bulgaria constitute the main goal of the project being jointly implemented by the Rodopi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBE) and the Kircali Chamber of Bulgaria.
The project is included in the Interreg IIA/Phare CBC Greece-Bulgaria programme with a budget amounting to 200,000 euros.
EBE Rodopi director Vassilis Christidis told the ANA-MPA that corridors of communication are appearing for future cooperation between businesses from the prefecture of Rodopi with similar or related sectors from Kircali.
The conference held in Komotini, northern Greece, on Wednesday is the first to take place in the framework of the project. The second will be taking place in Kircali in autumn and the third again in Komotini. The project will be completed by June 30, 2008.
 European Parliament adopts agreement on roaming chargesSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/O.Tsipira)
The European Parliament adopted on Wednesday, by an overwhelming majority, a compromise agreement on roaming charges of public mobile networks.
The European Parliament has ensured that customers will benefit from cheaper roaming by the summer holidays.
According to the compromise, the average wholesale charge excluding VAT that a ''visited'' operator can levy on a roaming customer's ''home'' operator for the provision of roaming calls will be capped at 0.30 euros per minute instead of the proposed placing 0.36 euros on the average wholesale price.
The cap, in line with MEP proposals, will decrease automatically by 2 cents per year over a three-year period after the regulation's entry into force. The maximum retail charge excluding VAT for regulated roaming calls will be capped at 0.49 euros per minute for calls made and 0.24 euros per minute for calls received.
Furthermore, the cap for outgoing calls will decrease automatically by 3 cents per year; the cap for incoming calls will decrease by 2 cents after the first year and 3 cents after the second year.
As MEPs insisted, home providers will have to offer the Eurotariff to all their customers.
Greece's New Democracy (ND) party Eurodeputy Manolis Mavromatis, who was the rapporteur of the Culture Committee's relevant opinion, termed the new prices as "a victory of the consumers" of mobile telephony and "a great step which will give a new breath to the domestic market."
During a speech before the voting, Mavromatis stressed that "it is not a trench war between the European Union and the mobile telephony companies. It is part of the right of citizens to seek their protection when their interests become an object of exploitation by the monopolistic tendencies of the large companies."
ND Eurodeputy Nikos Vakalis also spoke of a "victory of the consumers," of "a necessary measure," given that after many years, competition did not manage to reduce the prices in Europe.
"Im completely satisfied by the compromise proposal which we voted today. Our main concern is to combine the needs of the consumers with the competitiveness of the European mobile telephony industry," Vakalis said.
Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Eurodeputy Katerina Batzeli said that "in the present period where scepticism prevails, the specific initiative constitutes an opportunity for the institutional agencies of the European Union to show how directly they can intervene for the solution of the daily problems of the European citizen, but also how the rules of the domestic market can directly benefit the European consumer."
 Tourism foreign exchange revenues up 10.8% Q1, yr/yrTourism forex revenues grew by 10.8 pct in the first quarter of 2007, compared with the same period last year, totaling 575.6 million euros, the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecast (ITEP) said on Wednesday.
In a report, ITEP stressed that although the first quarter of a year was not a base to reach any safe conclusions, early messages were very optimistic and noted that tourism foreign exchange revenues were down 16 pct in the corresponding quarter while tourism foreign exchange revenues for the year were up 5.1 pct, significantly lower compared with the growth rate of tourist arrivals in the country
 Alumyl to build 10-mln-euro aluminium recycling unitAlumyl, a Greek-listed aluminium company, on Wednesday unveiled a project to build an aluminium recycling unit in the industrial zone of Kilkis, northern Greece, in cooperation with German investors.
The 10-mln-euro project will gather scrap (used metals) from around the Balkan region and will be ready in February 2008. Presenting the project, Alumyl's chairman, Georgios Mylonas, said the company aimed to expand activities in the US market. The project was presented during an annual general shareholders' meeting, which approved a board plan to pay a 0.083 euros per share dividend to shareholders, up from 0.013 euros in 2005.
Mylonas said first quarter sales were up 33 percent to 64 million euros, reflecting good performance abroad and said that sales growth was expected to reach 15-25 percent this year and stressed that the group aimed to boost its sales abroad (accounting to 70 pct of total sales from 51 pct currently).
The shareholders' meeting also approved a mandate to the board to negotiate the terms of issuing one or more bond loans worth 100 million euros aimed to refinancing its debt.
 G. Mylonas re-elected as president of northern Greece industries federationIndustrialist Georgios Mylonas on Wednesday was re-elected as president of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries for another two-year term.
The new governing board of the federation also includes Ioannis Stavrou (executive vice-president), Ioannis Akkas and Ioannis Verginis (second vice-presidents) and Stephanos Tziritis (secretary general).
 Piraeus mayor meets Alogoskoufis, discusses loanPiraeus Mayor Panagiotis Fassoulas requested that the state become guarantor for an 80-million-euro loan to be used by the municipality to cover pending expenditures during a meeting with Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday.
Fassoulas stated after the meeting that the municipality of Piraeus will use the loan to cover its debts to suppliers, unpaid personnel etc.
 Power plant to be constructed in Iraklio, CreteA 250MW power plant will soon be under construction in the region of Korakia in Iraklion, on the south Aegean island of Crete, within the framework of the medium-term energy plan drawn up by DEH (the Public Power Corporation SA) with the approval of the ministry of development.
The plant will operate initially on low sulfur concentration crude oil with the option to later turn to natural gas.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas stated that the energy center in Korakia, Crete will meet the island's energy needs after the year 2016.
 Flexopack reports improved Q1 resultsFlexopack AEBE Plastics on Wednesday reported a 13.87-pct increase in its consolidated turnover to 10.768 million euros in the first quarter of 2007, up from 9.456 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
Pre-tax, interest and amortisation earnings (EBITDA) totalled 2.014 million euros in the January-March period, from 1.742 million euros last year, for an increase of 15.61 percent, while pre-tax earnings rose 7.14 pct to 1.2 million euros. After tax and minorities earnings rose 17.24 pct to 960,000 euros.
Parent turnover rose 15.21 pct to 9.910 million euros, from 8.6 million in 2006, EBITDA was up 19.8 pct to 1.930 million euros and after tax and minorities earnings jumped 23.52 pct to 1.003 million euros.
Exports worth 5.506 million euros were reported in the first quarter of 2007, up from 4.740 million euros last year, accounting for 55.6 percent of total turnover.
 Greek household debt surpasses 90 bln euros in MarchGreek household debt exceeded 90 billion euros at the end of March, rising by 17.3 billion euros over the last 12 months, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a report, said mortgage loans accounted for the biggest part of household debt, with housing and consumer loans totalling 90.022 billion euros in March, up 23.7 pct compared with the same month last year.
Corporate loans rose 9.9 pct in March, after an 8.9 pct increase in February, while household loans rose by 22.8 pct in March from 22.2 pct in February.
Credit expansion growth to the private sector (excluding bonds and securitized loans) was 16.2 pct in March, up from 15.4 pct in February.
Corporate and household debt to banks totalled 186.317 billion euros in March, around 90 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.
Mortgage loans rose 25.4 pct in March to a total of 60.254 billion euros, consumer loans rose 19.7 pct to 27.530 billion and other loans grew 31.7 pct to 1.708 billion euros. Personal consumer loans grew 29.2 pct to 18.9 billion euros, while credit card debt rose 3.2 pct to 8.628 billion euros.
In the business sector, direct bank borrowing grew 12.4 pct in March to a total of 82.032 billion euros. Bonds issued by enterprises worth 14.264 billion euros, up 31.4 pct from March 2006, raising corporate debt to 96.295 billion euros.
 Kotsovolos company shares to be sold to Dixons Group companyThe Fourlis Holdings SA company has agreed to sell to a company of the Dixons Group, shares corresponding to 10 percent of the submitted share capital of the P. Kotsovolos AEBE company.
According to a relevant announcement, the price of the sale will be paid in full in cash and amounts to 22.3 million euros. The company's profit from the sale for the 2007 fiscal year totals 7 million euros, in addition to the 10.6 million euros that it has registered in its accounting system as a provision in the financial data concerning 2006.
Fourlis Holdings will now possess 10 percent of the share capital of P. Kotsovolos, that it is entitled to sell in September 2008.
 Michaniki company announces first quarter resultsThe Michaniki company has achieved a consolidated turnover amounting to 47.25 million euros in the first quarter of 2007, compared to 37.89 million euros in the corresponding period in 2006, increasing by 24.68 percent.
Pre-tax profits totalled 12.91 million euros as against 8.58 million euros during the same period last year, increasing by 50.42 percent.
Consolidated pre-tax, interest and depreciation profits amounted to 15.42 million euros, compared to 9.46 million euros in the first quarter of 2006, increasing by 63.05 percent.
Moreover, the consolidated net profits after taxes and after the deduction of minority rights increased by 18.80 percent, totalling 9.62 million euros as against 8.09 million euros during the corresponding period in 2006.
 Greek stocks end 0.66 pct higher on WednesdayGreek stocks resumed their upward trend on Wednesday, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange up 0.66 pct to end at 4.924.68 points. Turnover was an improved 412.5 million euros.
Sector indices moved higher, with the Healthcare (4.15 pct), Telecommunications (2.62 pct) and Commerce (1.57 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Technology (0.75 pct), Chemicals (0.65 pct) and Financial Services (0.02 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.63 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.50 pct higher and the Small Cap index jumped 1.88 pct.
Technical Publications (19.47 pct), Viosol (15.38 pct) were top gainers, while Atlantic (10.05 pct), Desmos (9.52 pct) and Plias (5.41 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 184 to 87 with another 35 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.57%
Personal & Household: +1.03%
Raw Materials: +0.56%
Travel & Leisure: +0.64%
Food & Beverages: +0.81%
Financial Services: -0.02%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and Titan.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.94
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.90
HBC Coca Cola: 33.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.42
Emporiki Bank: 21.10
National Bank of Greece: 43.12
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 27.12
Titan Cement Company: 42.50
 ADEX closing reportTurnover remained low in the Athens Derivatives Exchange, with the June contract on the FTSE 20 index traded at a discount of 1.13 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at their fair price.
Volume in the FTSE 20 index totaled 5,576 contracts worth 72.760 million euros, with 37,245 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 386 contracts worth 12.017 million euros, with 1,396 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 5,428 contracts worth 9.899 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (1,316), followed by Eurobank (336), OTE (400), PPC (285), Hellenic Exchanges (268), National Bank (376), Intracom (233), ATEbank (565) and Attica Bank (377).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.837 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 1.430 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.407 billion euros sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 839 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 0.21 pct with the Greek bond yielding 4.57 pct and the German Bund 4.36 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate eased to 3.84 pct from 3.85 pct on Tuesday, the two-day rate rose to 3.86 pct from 3.84 pct, the one-month rate rose to 3.95 pct from 3.94 pct and the 12-month rate jumped to 4.42 pct from 4.38 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.359
Pound sterling 0.684
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.264
Japanese yen 165.16
Swiss franc 1.666
Norwegian kroner 8.186
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.472
Australian dollar 1.646
 Russian-language magazine 'Ellada' out in Moscow this weekThe second issue of the quarterly Russian-speaking magazine Ellada will be published in Moscow this week, with messages signed by Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.It will also feature extensive interviews with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Cypriot Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and symphonic orchestra director Theodoros Kouretzis, in addition to information on tourist destinations in Greece and local products.
The second issue was published earlier than scheduled so as to precede a two-day official visit to Moscow and Saint Petersburg by President Papoulias starting on May 30. The president is to be accompanied by Foreign Minister Bakoyannis, Tourism Minister Fani Palli Petralia, Defense Minister Evenagelos Meimarakis and Culture Minister George Voulgarakis.
The ANA-MPA and Russian news agency Itar-Tass co-sponsored magazine, which was published by the M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State School of Journalism Greek-Russian Workshop on Information and Culture and will circulate in 15,000 copies that will be distributed to politicians, businessmen, academics and journalists.
In his message, President Papoulias underlined the strong ties shared by the Greek and Russian people, stressing that the legacy of the Byzantine Empire and the Orthodox Christian faith were always reference points in the two peoples' collective historical memory.
President Papoulias also underlined the strong ties of friendship between the two peoples, which can be strengthened even further through a systematic policy of cultural, scientific and economic exchanges, and stressed that such a potential will be promoted during his visit to Russia. The Russian Federation is regarded as strategic partner by Greece and the strategic development of bilateral relations at all levels will continue, he said.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis referred to the long and strong ties of friendship shared by the two countries, adding that bilateral cooperation is being strengthened further by focusing on economic and developmental partnerships. The Greek-Russian relations are at an excellent level as proved by the recent formal visits to Greece by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added.
Karamanlis stressed that the two countries build their common expectations for the future on their unbreakable cultural ties adding that the constant, creative communication between the Greek and the Russian people has enriched and continues to enrich their history and culture.
 Documentary projected in New York on 'The voyage: the Greek-American dream'NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
The facts, memories and the people who marked the course of the Greek immigration to the United States was presented on Wednesday at New York's Metropolitan Art Museum through the documentary "The voyage: the Greek-American dream".
The 86 minutes-long documentary includes rare photographic and cinematographic material from American museums and organizations and is separated into three entities: "Immigrants 1890-1920", American citizens 1920-1960" and "Return to Greekness 1960-1980".
The documentary's first projection in the USA was made by the Tzaharis Family Foundation and under the auspices of the Greek Orthodox Archbishopric of America, of the General Consulate of Greece in New York, of the Credit Fund, of the Leadership of the 100 and of the Benaki Museum in Athens, where the documentary was first presented last January.
Speaking on the content, historical importance and the sentimental aspects of the documentary were its director Maria Iliou, Consul General of Greece in New York Ekaterini Boura, former senator Paul Sarbanes and the historic adviser of the documentary Alexandros Kitroev. Among those present were Archbishop of America Demetrios.
 Greek Classical Scholars Society honors President PapouliasThe Society of Greek Classical Scholars will honor Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of the Greek language and culture.
The special event will be held at the Parnassos Literary Society hall in Athens on Friday.
 Lecture at Athens Concert Hall by Al Gore on greenhouse phenomenonA lecture on the major ecological issue of the greenhouse phenomenon will be given at the Athens Concert Hall on Wednesday, June 13, with former U.S. vice president Al Gore as the main speaker.
The event, organised by Megaron Plus, which is part of the series of multicultural activities in cooperation with ECOWEEK 2007, focuses on Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
Gore's visit to Greece is part of his tour of the world and will be carried out by the Athens Concert Hall in cooperation with ECOWEEK 2007.
 Police unions call off protests during Champions League finalAt 16:00 in the afternoon, Greek police trade unions called off protests and demonstrations taking place on the same day as the UEFA Champions League final in Athens - just hours before the match between Liverpool and AC Milan was due to kick off at the OAKA Olympic Stadium in Maroussi.
POASY's president said that the demonstrations that began earlier that morning had included the hanging of banners from pedestrian bridges and on central roads around OAKA, the distribution of leaflets at the airport, Syntagma and other locations to supporters of the two teams from the UK and Italy and in contacts with foreign police officers that were in Greece for the Champions League match.
Following a meeting with police trade unionists on Wednesday morning, the head of the First-Instance Court Public Prosecutors department had said it was not the job of the public prosecutor to prevent legal trade union action.
During the meeting, both sides had agreed that the police action would be peaceful and would not interfere with security measures for Wednesday's game.
The public prosecutor's office announced that three public prosecutors will be on the scene at the OAKA Olympic Stadium where the match is taking place in order to collaborate with police and intervene where necessary, while others will be on standby at the GADA general police headquarters.
About 60 people arrested for possessing forged Champions League final tickets
About 60 people have been arrested at the Athens Olympic Stadium by the evening on Wednesday for attempting to watch the Milan-Liverpool Champions League final with forged tickets.
The forged tickets are detected with special devices obtained by the Greek Soccer Federation (EPO), while all spectators entering the Olympic Stadium are subjected to checks in two zones.
In another development, police have disbanded a six-member gang selling black market tickets in downtown Athens. The police also revealed that the members of the gang are also accused of stealing 43 name tickets from a suite in an Athens hotel, used as an office for UEFA dignitaries.
 Seminar held in Ioannina on confrontation of human traffickingThe Genders Equality General Secretariat, the Research Centre on Equality issues and the Athens International Immigration Organisation began a three-day seminar in Ioannina, northern Greece, on Wednesday on the theme:"Training of Greek agencies for the confrontation of international human trafficking".
The aim of the seminar is the training and briefing of existing agencies in Greece which focus on the combating of human trafficking and the support of women immigrants-refugees and victims of human trafficking.
Addressing the seminar, Equality of the Genders Secretary General Evgenia Tsoumani stressed that "human trafficking is a complex social phenomenon of our era which harms to the greatest degree, women. It constitutes a modern form of slavery where violence exists. It is a matter of high political priority and challenge particularly for the countries of Europe."
 Hooded individuals attack traffic police patrol car in AthensHooded individuals attacked a traffic police patrol car opposite the building of the School of Agriculture at Iera Odos in Athens on Wednesday afternoon.
The culprits, who were armed with crow bars, iron pipes and other objects, caused damage to the patrol car and snatched a portable wireless of the Tetra system, while later they found resort in the School of Agriculture.
The patrol car which belongs to the Traffic Police of the suburb of Peristeri, had gone there to investigate a traffic accident.
 Arson attacks in AthensUnidentified individuals torched an environment, town planning and public works ministry surveillance camera and ruling New Democracy party offices in Gerakas, Athens, in the early morning hours on Wednesday.
The CCTV panel on the Athens-Lamia motorway was destroyed by fire after being dowsed with flammable liquid and set alight, while the ND party offices in Gerakas, Athens were damaged by a makeshift incendiary device.
Champions League final
 AC Milan wins Champions League in AthensAC Milan (Italy) won the Champions League after beating Liverpool FC (England) 2-1 (halftime 1-0) in the soccer final played at the Olympic Stadium (OAKA) in Athens on Wednesday night.
Milan's goals were scored by Filippo Inzaghi in the 45th minute and 82nd.
Liverpool's goal was scored by Dirk Kuyt in the 89th.
Among the spectators were President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias and UEFA President Michel Platini.
A full compliment of nearly 14,000 uniformed police officers were in and around the stadium, as well as in the capital's centre, metro stations and the airport.
The area around the stadium was off-limits to individuals without tickets, whereas mass transit routes were increased and operated throughout the night.
Video walls were set up at the Zappeion Gardens in central Athens - only a stone's throw from the Greek Parliament.
 Rain on ThursdayRainy and stormy weather is forecast in all parts of Greece on Thursday. Temperatures will range between 12C to 26C. Winds variable, light.
Rain in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 17C and 25C. Same in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 15C to 23C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe benefits announced by prime minister Costas Karamanlis and national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, the structured bonds/social insurance funds' reserves affair, the tense political atmosphere in Turkey, and the premier's position against the military establishment in Ankara and in support of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were the main front-page items in Wednesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Arrangements for farmers, taxi drivers, etc., with large families (four children or more) - Finance ministry's omnibus bill".
APOGEVMATINI: "7,214 opportunities for work - The specialisations, the credentials, the deadlines".
AVGHI: "The 'inner sanctum' of the beaches - 50 kilometres of coasts along the Saronicos Gulf behind wire fencing".
AVRIANI: "The bankers who had sold hundreds of structured bonds over the past six years also facing the docks - Garganas (central bank governor) launches detailed investigation".
CHORA: "Benefits to large families, people with disabilities, farmers - Second package from Alogoskoufis".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Millions of fans waiting to see tonight the top European soccer match between Liverpool and Milan (in the Champions League final to take place in Athens), anticipating a magical show with plenty of goals".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS (first edition of its new, revamped format): "The youth lowering the standard for their lives - They opt for the 'certain' and 'easy' (university) Schools".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Zorbas (the prosecutor heading the independent watchdog on money-laundring) smells...kickbacks".
ESTIA: "The electoral law is siimple and fair - What those calling for its change are overlooking".
ETHNOS: "The standard rising in the Nationwide (university entrance) Examinations - The graders' assessemnts on the first five subjects".
KATHIMERINI: "Shock and violence in the heart of Turkey - Explosion with 5 dead in Ankara - Erdogan shaken".
LOGOS: "New 'pre-electoral' measures announced by Alogoskoufis - 'Gift' for farmers and large families".
NIKI: "They're giving out promises once again - The government's work comprises pre-electoral micro-benefits".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Open beachens, free to the public - Announcement by (KKE) party organisations of Athens, Piraeus, (all of) Attica prefecture".
TA NEA: "Elections rehearsal and grants to...music by Karamanlis and Alogoskoufis - Australia: He (Karamanlis) gave out pensions and vote to the Greek Australians".
TO VIMA: "Karamanlis backs Erdogan - Statements and visits".
VRADYNI: "Write-off of debts and measures/breathers - New social package (of measures) from the government".
 Rehn: Safety of flights is an absolute priorityNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn called for the most effective handling the soonest possible, of the lack of communication between the air traffic control centres of Cyprus and Turkey, noting that this pending issue it puts at risk the safety of flights in the region.
Rehn was speaking on behalf of the Commission in a reply to Cypriot Euro MP Marios Matsakis who, in a letter to the Commission, condemned the violation of international air traffic control regulations in the Republic of Cyprus national airspace by Turkey.
Matsakis informed the Commission that such violations endanger European and international flights from and via Cyprus and asked the Commission which effective measures it intends to take.
In his reply, Rehn said that "the lack of communication between the air traffic control centres of Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus, puts at risk the safety of flights and a solution must be found the soonest on this issue".
He said the Commission raised the issue to the Turkish authorities and the (Turkey-EU) Association Committee on 22 March 2007, adding that Turkey believes that direct communication must be established primarily with the air traffic control centre of the illegal Ercan airport in Turkish occupied Tymbou, which is in the territories which the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control.
The Commission, said Rehn, reminded that Ercan's air traffic control centre is not recognised by the relevant international organization, and especially the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
"Because safety is the absolute priority, this issue must be dealt with urgently, in the most effective manner and according to international law", he concluded.
Cyprus, an EU member state, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the islandÔs northern third.
 German presidency seeks consensus on T/C trade regulationBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The German Presidency of the EU informed member states on Tuesday over the difficulties which restrict to a great extent the possibilities to achieve an agreement at the Council of ministers on trade with the areas of Cyprus which the government does not exercise effective control.
The briefing was held at a level of working groups of the Council of Ministers where the German Presidency was updated on the disagreement of the Cyprus government on the European Commission proposal, and made it evident that it does not favour circumventing Nicosia but would like a consensus to be found on the issue.
The Presidency spokesman referred to the recent measures announced by the Cyprus government in aid of the Turkish Cypriot community.
Referring to the prospects for a solution to the issue over the regulation, the German spokesman predicted that the possibilities to find a solution are slim and for this reason called on member states to submit ideas to the Presidency.
Any further move by the German presidency will depend from now on, on whether member states will submit ideas and proposals in an effort to find an agreement.
Cyprus, an EU member state, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the islandÔs northern third.
 Goverment: Meetings with Talat should create preconditions for progressNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Cypriot government has never said that it does not view positively some meetings with Turkish Cypriot leader
Mehmet Ali Talat, but its position is that these meetings must have a specific agenda and contents, to create the relevant preconditions for progress, stated here Wednesday Government Spokesman Vasilis Palmas.
He made the statement when invited to comment on remarks by House President and AKEL General Secretary Demetris Christofias on Tuesday evening on state television, who appeared in favour of a meeting between President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and Talat.
"The position of the government on this specific issue is clear. We have never said that we do not view positively some meetings to take place with Mr. Talat. Simply, what we have said as government, and the President of the Republic too, is that the meetings should take place and have a specific agenda and contents, to create the preconditions and prerequisites for some progress", he added.
Palmas said that if it is just a case of meeting for a cup of coffee, "which I am not saying is a bad thing, I don't see the point of such meeting which, substantially, will have merely a communication approach or logic".
Regarding the reaction of the Turkish Cypriot side to the measures announced on Monday by the government to improve the financial development and cooperation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, Palmas pointed out that the measures announced by the government are addressed to Turkish Cypriot citizens and "our aim is to have cooperation among Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, to achieve mutual benefit".
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS