|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 30 May 2007 Issue No: 2605
 PM meets development minister, visiting Russian industry ministerPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday received visiting Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko, who was accompanied by Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, for talks on energy issues, particularly energy ties between Greece and Russia.
Afterwards, Sioufas underlined the importance of the Russian minister's visit, 75 days after the signature of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline agreement between Greece, Bulgaria and Russia. He said ratification of the agreement by the Russian Duma and the Bulgarian Parliament was expected to take place over the coming days, while the Greek Parliament had already ratified the agreement.
Sioufas also noted that representatives of the three countries will soon be meeting in order to set up the international company that will construct and operate the pipeline.
According to the development minister, progress was also being made in a discussion on extending an agreement for the supply of natural gas from Russia to Greece until 2040, while noting that collaboration on this front so far had been good and reliable.
Asked why the meeting with the premier had lasted an unusually long time and whether any "kinks" had arisen in the deal, Sioufas underlined that there were "absolutely no kinks" and that the prime minister had been fully briefed on the issues, which he was following personally.
Khristenko, on his part, stated that relations between the two countries were at a very "high political level" and stressed that cooperation was important and also contributed to the resolution of Europe's energy problems.
Asked if he had conveyed a message to Karamanlis from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Khristenko said that he had conveyed the Russian president's best wishes and said that the Russia side looks forward to the official visit by Greek President Karolos Papoulias, that is due to begin on Wednesday.
He also noted that there was an invitation from President Putin to Karamanlis to visit Russia.
Earlier on, there had been a meeting just between Sioufas and the Russian minister to discuss the oil pipeline deal and extending the natgas agreement after 2016, after which Sioufas had expressed satisfaction with the progress in drafting the text of an agreement for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.
He also announced that the three countries will be holding a meeting in Moscow in early June to discuss details of the contract, which was confirmed by Khristenko.
Earlier, Sioufas expressed his satisfaction over progress in works to draft an interstate agreement text for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project.
Speaking to reporters, Sioufas noted that the Greek Parliament has already ratified a tri-party agreement between Greece, Russia and Bulgaria and that a similar process was expected to be completed in Russia and Bulgaria over the next few days.
The three countries will hold a meeting in Moscow, in early June, to discuss details of the project.
 Inner Cabinet discusses economy/finance ministry issuesThe Inner Cabinet on Tuesday discussed matters falling under the competency of the national economy and finance ministry, during a meeting chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis.
National economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that he briefed the Inner Cabinet on the new operational framework for the banks and the investments management firms, in implementation of the relevant EU Directives.
Alogoskoufis stressed that, with the new framework, there will be transparency in the banking system and in the sector of investments, while there will also be greater competitiveness and, to a large degree, reduction of the difference between loan and deposit interest rates, which, he added, will benefit the consumers and businesses.
The minister further said that Greece's adaptation to the framework adopted by the EU will result in more efficient operation of the banking system and the economy.
Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, who had accompanied the premier on his recent visit to Australia, when asked by reporters whether the visit to Australia had been of a pre-electoral nature, she repied that "no election campaign has taken place".
She stressed that the during the visit the dynamic of Hellenism was projected, a "Hellenism that succeeds, is present in the political affairs of Australia, a Hellenism of which we can be proud".
 Papoulias departs for Russia visit on WednesdayPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias departs on Wednesday morning for an official four-day visit to Russia at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Papoulias will hold talks at the Kremlin with Putin, focusing on Greek-Russian relations in all sectors, particularly on the energy field, as well as major international issues such as the situation in the Middle East and the Balkans, relations between Russia and the European Union and Russia-NATO relations.
Papoulias will be accompanied by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Dora Bakoyannis, Defence, Evangelos Meimarakis, Culture, George Voulgarakis and Tourism Development, Fani Palli-Petralia, all of whom will have separate talks with their Russian counterparts. A large business delegation is also accompanying the Greek president.
Bakoyannis is expected to sign a "2007-2009 Common Action Programme" with her counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the presence of the two presidents.
Soon after his arrival at Vnukovo airport at noon, Papoulias will be received by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexei II.
On Thursday he will address a Russian-Greek business forum, and will also attend the unveiling of the statue of the Leichoudis brothers in central Moscow. The Leichoudis brothers were ethnic Greeks from the island of Cephallonia, who in the late 17th century settled in Moscow, where they launched their educational activities and founded a Slavo-Greco-Latin Academy.
Papoulias will then meet Moscow Mayor Yuri Louzhkov before laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
At noon on the same day, the Greek president will have a private meeting with Putin at the Kremlin, followed by talks between the two countries' delegations.
In the afternoon, Papoulias is expected to meet with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, while in the evening he will be attending an official dinner hosted by President Putin.
On Friday morning, the Greek president will address a ceremony for the signing of the Act for the Establishment of a Greek-Russian Business Council before flying to St. Petersburg, where he is scheduled to meet the city's Governor Valentina Matvienko, who served as the Russian ambassador to Greece.
The Greek delegation will return to Athens on Saturday afternoon.
 FM to meet with Russian counterpart in MoscowForeign minister Dora Bakoyannis, who will be accompanying President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on his state visit to Moscow this week, will meet on Thursday with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced on Tuesday.
Papoulias departs Wednesday for a four-day state visit to Moscow at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
 Athens confirms upcoming visit by U.S. under secretary BurnsThe Greek foreign ministry on Tuesday confirmed that U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns will be visiting Greece in the first 10 days of June.
According to foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, talks during the visit would cover "all issues of regional interest".
He had been asked whether the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the republic's adopted name of 'Macedonia' would be on the agenda for the talks during Burns' visit.
Greece objects to the name on the grounds that it is historically misleading and because it is shared with a northern Greek province that has a common border with FYROM, arguing that this could give rise to future expansionist claims on Greek territory by its landlocked northern neighbour.
 PM to meet OECD head on WednesdayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis is scheduled to meet the head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria on Wednesday morning, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.
Papandreou reiterates criticism on domestic, foreign policies issues in address to Parliamentary council
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou addressed his party's Parliamentary council on Tuesday, touching on a variety of domestic and foreign policy issues as well as repeating his standing criticism of the ruling New Democracy government.
In turning to one foreign policy issue that recently more-or-less returned to forefront, namely, the FYROM "name issue", the former foreign minister in two successive Simitis governments said that a PASOK government was "very near" a mutually acceptable solution with the neighbouring Skopje government, while charging that the current government has lost ground since 2004.
He also repeated criticism that the government has returned Greek-Turkish differences to the bilateral level and cited two "lost opportunities", which he cited as being in 2004 and 2005, when ND was in power.
Regarding a recent Karamanlis government initiative to give expatriate Greeks registered in their home country the right to vote in national elections here from their respective overseas place of residence, Papandreou said the "issue necessitates seriousness and not an opportunist approach, as ND is doing".
Along these lines, he charged that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' recent week-long tour of Australia and his numerous meetings with Greek-Australian communities belied an effort to exploit those communities for petty partisan reasons.
Additionally, he again repeated his criticism of the government over the ongoing structured bonds issue affair, while demanding that all particulars regarding similar purchases by other state-run pension funds be revealed.
The primary issue up for discussion at the council meeting was public sector hirings, with charges of upwards of 365,000 partisan hirings being aired, on the one hand, and a draft bill by PASOK eyeing stricter criteria, on the other.
PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou, a former minister, also highlighted what he called various networks run by the ruling party for petty partisan hirings, while again outlining the party's opposition to the re-establishment of a rural and agriculture law enforcement service (agrofylaki).
 Interior ministry replies to PASOK party on hirings issueThe interior, public administration and decentralisation ministry, replying to an announcement made following the session of the main opposition PASOK party's Parliamentary Council, said in an announcement on Tuesday that "talk of blue hirings that emerged from today's session of the Parliamentary Council of PASOK goes beyond the limits of disinformation and constitutes a display of political audacity."
The interior ministry further criticised PASOK because "for two decades, being in government, it enacted the partisan political favour and turned into daily practice the hundreds of thousands of partisan hirings through the 'window'," while also speaking of "political audacity" on the occasion of the attack on the current government "which, on the one hand, turned the contracts of 33,000 contract employees hired during the days of PASOK into ones of an indefinite duration and, on the other, it renewed contracts that had again been concluded during PASOK governments."
 Deputy FinMin Doukas responds to PASOK allegationsDeputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas on Tuesday responded to allegations by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) of "a political decision to cover-up" the issue of the structured bonds.
"The seven contracts of the structured bonds have been publicized analytically since July 2005 at the world website of the Bloomberg agency with all its details," Doukas said in an announcement, accusing PASOK of "slander."
"Both the PASOK leader (George Papandreou) and officials of the main opposition party are even launching today incredible slanders regarding 'a political decision for a cover-up' of the seven contracts of the bonds which were issued by the Greek State. The truth is that the seven contracts of the structured bonds have been analytically publicized since July 2005 in the website of Bloomberg with all their details. Analytically and in full. At the disposal of any interested party. This fact confirms yet again the irresponsibility of PASOK and ridicules all its claims," Doukas said.
 PASOK leader attends dinner hosted by Arab ambassadorsMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou attended a dinner hosted in his honour on Tuesday by the ambassadors and heads of diplomatic delegations of Arab countries in Athens.
Talks held during the dinner focused on the wider region of the Middle East, recent developments in Palestinian territory and Lebanon, the situation in Iraq and the issue of Iran's nuclear programme.
Also discussed were the initiatives undertaken in the region by Papandreou and the results of the recent visit to Athens by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Issues of Greek interest were also discussed, such as the situation at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the issue of Cyprus, negotiations over Kosovo, the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and developments in Turkey.
 Euro-Med Forum ministerial to be held on Crete on June 1-2The 14th Mediterranean Forum Ministerial Meeting will take place in Rethymno, Crete on June 1-2 and focus on the crucial developments in the Middle East and the prospects of the peace process, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced on Tuesday.
Greece is to be represented by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, who will present specific proposals for creating an energy community between Mediterranean countries, the spokesman added.
Asked whether the Greek initiative will be on the same scale as the efforts to create an energy market in Southeastern Europe, the spokesman said the outcome of the discussion could not be judged in advance.
"We consider it positive that such a discussion should begin on the level of the EuroMediterranean area also," he said.
Taking part in the Mediterranean Forum ministerial are the foreign ministers of the 11 founder-members, which include Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
Greece also intends to highlight and put forward specific proposals on the issue of migration, which it considers a crucial issue requiring broader cooperation, Koumoutsakos said.
 Greek FM in Egypt early next monthForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be in Egypt between June 4 and June 6 on a working visit to the North African country, as she will inaugurate an exhibition at the state-of-the-art Alexandria Library dedicated to one-time Greek culture minister and noted actress Melina Mercouri.
Bakoyannis is also scheduled to meet with the Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa as well as ethnic Greek community leaders.
Finally, the Greek FM will be received in Cairo by Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, Arab League general secretary Amr Moussa and her Egyptian counterpart.
 Athens praises Cyprus gov't economic support to Turkish CypriotsGreece on Tuesday called a decision by the Republic of Cyprus to funnel economic support to the Turkish Cypriot community and to boost cooperation between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot businesses as "important and courageous".
"It is a major and courageous decision by the Cyprus government, whose objective is quite clear," Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told reporters in reference to last week's decision by Nicosia.
He added that the decision constitutes "an effort to boost economic and trade relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots through the granting of important incentives, reinforcing and initiating at the same time the preliminary work for the economic and territorial reunification of the island ... They are very important measures and they should be dealt as such," the spokesman stressed.
Replying to a question regarding Turkish Cypriot leadership's negative response to the measures, Koumoutsakos said that "it is very difficult for one to hide the intention of deterring Turkish Cypriot entrepreneurs from activities that would benefit their own businesses, that is, from setting up joint ventures between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot enterprises."
The Cyprus government on Monday announced ground-breaking measures to further improve economic development and cooperation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriot communities, something that could boost the local economy and help efforts at the reunification of the country.
The first project, approved by the cabinet, concerns ways to help establish small ventures between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in specific selected sectors for the 2007-2013 period, with grants totalling seven million euros. A ceiling of 200,000 euros has been set for each eligible small business.
The second project provides grants to businesses in specific areas to upgrade technology in the ventures between the two communities, as well as to develop trade and processing of agricultural products with grants amounting to 27 million euros for 2007-2013. A ceiling of 500,000 euros has been set for each eligible business.
 Athens appeals for end to violence among Palestinians, Israeli restraintThe Greek foreign ministry on Tuesday appealed for an immediate stop to armed conflict between Palestinians and urged Israel to show restraint.
"We are appealing for an immediate end of armed conflict between Palestinians and we stress that unity under Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the government that has been formed by his orders is an urgent necessity and a vital condition for the success of the Palestinians' struggle to form a sovereign, independent and democratic Palestinian state," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said during the regular press briefing.
He also called on Palestinians to put an end to strikes against Israeli settlements that led to civilian victims and undermined the prospect of peace negotiations.
At the same time, he urged Israel to "show restraint and put a stop to military operations in the Gaza Strip and to the targetings and arrests of the Palestinian's elected political representatives".
 Foreign ministry on visits by Greeks to FYROMThe foreign ministry on Tuesday refused to comment on reports that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was considering a measure that would allow Greek citizens to enter the country by simply displaying their police ID cards.
"It appears that there are thoughts in Skopje of adopting such a measure but while there is no final decision I will not make any kind of comment," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said.
He noted, however, that visits by Greeks to FYROM had dropped sharply in the first third of 2007, by up to 40 percent compared with the same periods in 2006 and 2005, and that this may have caused concern in Skopje.
 Synaspismos discusses general elections campaignThe Political Secretariat of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) convened on Tuesday and decided to propose Alexis Tsipras to undertake responsibility for the general elections campaign of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).
According to an announcement by the Political Secretariat, decision was reached for the continuation of contacts and discussions with the leadership of the Ecologists-Greens, aimed at establishing a proposal for electoral cooperation.
 Gov't declines comment on Christodoulos statementThe government on Tuesday declined to comment directly on a statement reportedly made a day earlier by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
"Every Greek citizen has the right to express his views ... we are in a free democracy where everyone is judged by his statements," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos merely noted in response to a press question during his regular briefing.
On Monday, the feast day of the Holy Trinity, a religious holiday in predominately Orthodox Christian Greece, the influential head of the Greek Church reportedly said from the pulpit that "people should avoid voting for small minority parties that say we can live without God".
 Jerusalem Patriarch at Fanar on WednesdayA five-member delegation of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, headed by Patriarch Theofilos III, will depart on Wednesday for the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The two-day visit will focus on recent and disturbing developments related with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem following a threat by the Jordanian government to lift its recognition of the Patriarchate.
 Alogoskoufis meets with new ESC presiding boardNational Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis met on Tuesday with the newly-elected Economic and Social Council of Greece (ESC) presiding board to review the council's role, as it was the representative of many agencies.
Alogoskoufis underlined after the meeting with ESC board president Christos Polyzogopoulos that they discussed ways leading to a closer cooperation with the government.
The ESC operates independently from governments and political parties, said the minister, stressing that it will play a significant role in major issues associated with the Lisbon decisions, the economy and the state.
Polyzogopoulos commented that he briefed Alogoskoufis on the ESC role and the initiatives it has undertaken, adding that the council will assume an important role in the wider region of southeastern Europe, underlining that Greece must play an important role in the region.
He clarified that the ESC seeks the wider participation of society in addition to its current 18 partners, stressing that confrontations will have no place in the ESC initiatives and noting that it was preparing for the new conditions to be formed after the elections.
 FinMin presents draft law on introduction of "Basel II"Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday met with the presidency of the Hellenic Banks Association and discussed a draft legislation on the operation of financial institutions, known as "Basel II".
The draft law, Alogoskoufis said addressing an inner cabinet meeting, will embody three community directives into Greek legislation with the aim to adjust to current developments in financial services around the world, such as operation of financial institutions, capital adequacy and offering of investment services.
Takis Arapoglou, president of the Association, Christos Gortsos, secretary-general, and Dimitris Matzounis, first vice-president of the Association, represented the Hellenic Banks Association.
The Greek minister stressed that the draft legislation would introduce new methods of supervision controls, stricter analysis and monitoring of risks involved in asset management and new regulations covering provisions and bad loans. All new directives seek to boost transparency and investor protection based on International Accounting Standards.
The "Basel II" rules are expected to favour financial institutions with a clear portfolio risk management and will boost competition in the banking system, Alogoskoufis said.
 Civil Servants Administration president files lawsuit on 70 million euro bond issueSupreme Civil Servants Administration (ADEDY) President Spyros Papaspyros filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against five persons, regarding the issue of the purchase of the 70 million euros bond by TEADY.
Prosecution concerns the offences of felonious fraud and embezzlement against the state.
Papaspyros again called for the return of the money, the punishment of those responsible and the full solving of the case to avoid the repetition of similar phenomena in the future.
 Fiscal year 2006 source of wealth statements submitted by deputies and ministersThe relevant parliamentary committee on Tuesday publicized the fiscal year 2006 'source of wealth' statements submitted by national Parliament and European Parliament deputies.
Source of wealth statements were submitted by all 300 Greek Parliament deputies, 24 Euro-deputies, 130 former Hellenic Parliament deputies, 21 former Euro-deputies, a minister and a deputy minister (non parliament members), 6 former ministers and deputy ministers (non parliament members), a former party leader, 23 political party treasurers and 10 former treasurers of political parties.
 Appointment of new directors at OTEThe up until now Director General for Financial Issues of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), Iordanis Aivazis, will henceforth have increased competencies as he has assumed the newly set up position of Executive Director General.
According to an announcement on Tuesday, the Director Generals for Financial Issues, Regions, Companies and Clients, Domestic Benefits, Technology and Informatics Technologies will answer to Aivazis. At the same time, Aivazis maintains the supervision of the Sub-Division of Relations with Shareholders.
Christini Spanoudaki, up until now Deputy Director General for Financial Issues, assumes the post of Director General for Financial Issues.
Legal Advisor P. Passias is appointed Director General for OTE's Legal Services.
 Greek government debt up to 235.365 bln euros in March 31The Greek central government's debt totaled 235.365 billion euros at the end of March 2007, from 226.217 billion euros in December 31, 2006, the General Accounting Office said on Tuesday.
In a report, the accounting agency said bonds accounted for 82.7 pct of total debt, interest-bearing notes accounted for 0.5 pct of total debt, another 13.4 pct was other loans while the remaining 3.4 pct was owed to the Bank of Greece.
 Greek producer's price index up 1.4 pct in April, yr/yrThe Greek producer's price composite index (measuring both the domestic and foreign markets) rose by 1.4 pct in April, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the index was up 1.8 pct in April from March 2007.
NSS attributed the 1.4 pct annual increase of the producer's price index to an 1.7 pct rise in the domestic price index and a 0.7 pct increase in the foreign market price index.
 Intralot Group says profits up 42.4 percent in 1st quarter, yr/yrIntralot Group on Tuesday said its consolidated turnover totaled 179.8 million euros in the first quarter of 2007, unchanged from last year's levels, while pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings rose 3.2 pct to 74.1 million euros.
The company said pre-tax profits rose 3.0 pct to 67.6 million euros, while earnings after tax and minorities jumped 42.4 percent to 34.1 million euros.
Income from international activities totaled 150.6 million euros in the first three months of 2007, contributing by 83.8 pct to the Group's turnover, up 10 percent the corresponding period in 2006.
Parent turnover fell 2.1 pct to 40.4 million euros, while pre-tax profits almost doubled to 30.9 million euros (up 92.6 percent from last year). After tax profits soared 176.6 percent to 27.2 million euros.
 ANEK shipping company increases consolidated turnoverThe ANEK shipping company increased its consolidated turnover by 21.6 percent in the first quarter of 2007, amounting to 49,802 thousand euros as against 40,968 thousand euros during the corresponding period in 2006.
Moreover, an increase of 6,800 percent in pre-tax, financing and investments results and depreciation (EBITDA) was achieved, totalling 5,520 thousand euros as against 80,000 euros during the corresponding previous period.
The mother company also increased its turnover by 22.4 percent, amounting to 43,995 thousand euros as against 35,941 thousand euros in the first quarter of 2006.
 Agreement on repurchase of four suezmax tankersThe Greek TOP Tankers shipping company announced on Tuesday that it is moving ahead with an agreement on the repurchase of four suezmax tankers sold in 2006 through a sale and leaseback agreement.
The vessels are the Limitless (DWT 136.055, 1993), Endless (DWT 135.915, 1992), Noiseless (DWT 149.554, 1992) and Stainless (DWT 149.599, 1992).
The repurchase will be financed by 70 percent with a bank loan that has been secured from a big shipping bank. The agreement is expected to be finalised in early June 2007.
 Lamda Development group announces quarterly resultsThe consolidated post-tax and minority rights results of the Lamda Development group decreased during the first quarter of the current year, compared to the corresponding period last year, amounting to 1.24 million euros as against 6.56 million euros.
According to a relevant announcement by the company, the decrease is due to the fact that during the first quarter of 2006 a revenue from tax totalling 6.4 million euros due to the reduction in the tax rate from 29 percent to 25 percent had been recognised and to the mixed profit amounting to 3.8 million euros from the mass transfer of apartments.
Lamda's consolidated turnover also dropped by 65 percent, totalling 14.9 million euros, compared to 42 million euros in the corresponding period in 2006.
 Loulis Mills raises equity stake in Lift LTD to 98.7 pctLoulis Mills on Tuesday announced the completion of a purchase of a 10.35 percent equity stake in Life LTD from Global Finance, at 4.7 million euros. Following the transaction, Loulis Mills controls 98.7 pct of Life LTD, owner of a 86.09 pct majority stake in Romania-based Loulis SA.
 Folli Follie Group increases sales by 96.8 percentThe Folli Follie Group increased its sales by 96.8 percent during the first quarter in 2007, amounting to 121.6 million euros, due to the creation of the new Group. The EBITDA also increased by 61 percent and reached 33.8 million euros.
Net profits are registering a steady increase, taking into consideration the Group's current expanding strategy and the increased fiscal expenses amounting to 5.5 million euros, in comparison with the first quarter of 2006.
In relation to the results of the previous quarter (annual results for 2006), the Group is showing a mixed margin that has improved by 4.7 percent.
 Greek stocks end 0.38 pct up on TuesdayGreek stocks moved higher on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange to new highs for the year. The index ended 0.38 pct up at 4,938.27 points, with turnover a moderate 344.2 million euros.
Sector indices ended up with the Telecommunications (1.62 pct), Financial Services (1.26 pct) and Insurance (0.88 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Utilities (2.82 pct), Industrial Products (0.78 pct) and Healthcare (0.63 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.55 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.32 percent higher and the Small Cap index was 0.21 pct up.
Viosol (20.0 pct), Imako (20 pct) and Creta Farm (19.69 pct) were top gainers, while Vis (16.97 pct), Postal Savings Bank (4.46 pct) and AEGEK (4.11 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 153 to 110 with another 44 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.31%
Personal & Household: +0.73%
Raw Materials: +0.11%
Travel & Leisure: +0.18%
Food & Beverages: +1.62%
Financial Services: +1.26%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 19.90
HBC Coca Cola: 33.60
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.42
Emporiki Bank: 21.08
National Bank of Greece: 43.98
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.86
Titan Cement Company: 43.50
 ADEX closing reportTurnover in the Athens Derivatives Exchange was a low 76.305 million euros on Tuesday. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.14 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.10 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 4,851 contracts worth 61.229 million euros, with 37,980 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 120 contracts worth 3.749 million euros, with 1,541 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,198 contracts worth 11.327 million euros, with investment interest focusing on ATEbank's contracts (1,343), followed by Eurobank (351), PPC (690), National Bank (529), Alpha Bank 676), Intracom (587), Viohalco (213) and Intralot (404).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.910 billion euros, of which 1.5 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.41 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 810 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.21 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.5 pct and the German Bund 4.29 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.83 pct, the two-day rate fell to 3.83 pct from 3.86 pct, the one-month rate rose to 4.0 pct from 3.98 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.42 pct from 4.42 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.361
Pound sterling 0.685
Danish kroner 7.509
Swedish kroner 9.329
Japanese yen 165.54
Swiss franc 1.663
Norwegian kroner 8.163
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.473
Australian dollar 1.660
 Search for missing hikers continues in Lousios RiverSearch and rescue efforts continue in improved weather conditions on Tuesday for locating two hikers who have been missing in the remote Lousios River Gorge in the Peloponnese, southern Greece, since Saturday when tragedy struck an 18-member trekking expedition, resulting in the deaths of six people.
Two people, the co-owners of the excursion firm that organized the ill-fated expedition, will be led before a prosecutor in Tripolis on Tuesday afternoon charged with multiple counts of manslaughter and causing bodily harm through negligence.
Meanwhile, the prefect of Arcadia in the Peloponnese has denied that a license of operation was issued to an alternative tourism operator, maintaining that no such request was ever submitted.
At least six people had been confirmed dead on Sunday evening after a group of 18 hikers were swept away by a torrent on the Lousios River in Arcadia prefecture the previous evening.
According to officials, a group of 18 hikers from Athens, after visiting the nearby towns of Dimitsana and Stemnitsa, set off for a trek along the Lousios riverbed and an ascent of a waterfall when they were swept away by a torrent of floodwater and mud as they attempted to cross the swollen river.
 Mass media's role in information on natural disasters stressed at Media Terra conference in IstanbulISTANBUL (ANA-MPA)
The mass media can play a decisive role in providing correct and clear-headed information to the public on natural disasters, thus avoiding dangermongering and the creation of a climate of panic, it was stressed during a two-day conference organised in Istanbul by the Turkish news agency ANADOLU, in the framework of the EU programme Media Terra.
Participating in the programme, being implemented under the EU's Interreg III/Archimed initiative, are the national news agencies of Greece (ANA-MPA), Turkey (ANADOLU), Syria (SANA) and Palestine (WAFA), the Civil Protection Services of Greece and Italay, the Universities of Thessaly (Greece) and Palermo (Italy), and the municipality of Latsion from Cyprus.
Speaking at the opening session of the conference, Turkey's director general of press and information Salih Melek pointed out the need for all the necesssary steps to be taken so that the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean region would not again suffer the consequences of the natural disasters that plagued the countries of the region in recent years.
"This renders necessary the exchange of information among the authoritative agencies and the correct information of the mass media," he said, adding that mutual information among the countries of the region on such matters also increased their cooperation at all levels.
The coordinator of the programme, Macedonian Press Agency (MPA) general director Spyros Kouzinopoulos, noted the mutual assistance that developed among the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and state agencies of Greece and Turkey during the deadly earthquakes that struck the two countries in 1999, adding that "human pain, suffering and destruction know no boundaries" and that "common confrontation of such phenomena comrpises the best encouragement for the comprehensive development of cooperation among the countries".
 ASEM's 8th Ministerial Meeting of Europe-Asia Dialogue ends in HamburgForeign Ministry European Affairs Secretary General Dimitrios K. Katsoudas represented Greece at the two-day sessions of the 8th Ministerial Meeting of Europe-Asia Dialogue, ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), which ended in Hamburg on Tuesday.
According to a foreign ministry press release, taking part in the meeting were 45 countries from Asia and Europe. ASEM's partners represent 58 per cent of the world population, 60 per cent of international trade and 50 per cent of the world's Gross Domestic Product.
Discussed at the meeting were issues concerning developments in Europe and Asia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, while also discussed were the climatic changes and the Inter-Religious Dialogue.
Katsoudas referred to Greece's aid to Afghanistan (60 armoured vehicles, 36 million euros until 2009, a fully equipped hospital and school) and also on the issue of the Inter-Religious Dialogue, emphasizing the importance which Greece attributes to its further growth.
Katsoudas also submitted, on behalf of Greece, proposals for the rapprochement of religions and cultures, among them being the strengthening of contacts of students and schools, the promotion of inter-religious tourism and the selection of issues of world importance, such as the environment and minorities.
The Greek Foreign Ministry European Affairs Secretary General also reminded of the proposal made by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for Greece to host, after 2009, the Inter-Religious Dialogue Meeting of ASEM.
 Transfer of old Acropolis museum artifacts to new cutting-edge facility begins in SeptemberThe delicate process of transporting the exhibits and artifacts currently housed in a small museum atop the Acropolis in central Athens to a new state-of-the-art Acropolis Museum facing the celebrated hill's south side will begin in September.
Archaeology service officials in the Greek capital on Tuesday said that 340 priceless artifacts, loaded into special metallic crates, will be lowered by three large-scale construction cranes from atop the Acropolis for a short 400-metre journey to the new museum -- a modern glass-&-steel structure that Greek officials and philhellenes around the world hope will soon host part or all of the Parthenon Marbles.
The entire operation is expected to last until the end of the year, as the new Acropolis museum is scheduled to open in early 2008.
Exhibits housed in the current, cramped and outdated museum atop the Acropolis will be joined by numerous detached pieces of the Parthenon's spectacular friezes that remain out-of-sight in various museum warehouses due to insufficient and lackluster exhibition space in the Greek capital.
According to Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, the entire task of transporting the artifacts down from the Acropolis will cost 2.5 million euros.
 Maria Callas costume stolen from Italian Institute in AthensA gown worn by the legendary soprano Maria Callas during one of her performances has been stolen from the Italian Institute in central Athens. The theft was reported by the director of the Institute on Monday afternoon, when an investigation was launched by Attica police.
According to investigating officers, the dress was probably taken from a storage area within the Italian Institute near Omonia Square last Friday. The Institute has a guard and a CCTV security system, so police have asked to view the security tapes to see if the theft was recorded.
 Thessaloniki to erect Constantine Karamanlis statueThe municipality of Thessaloniki has decided to erect a marble statue of late statesman Constantine Karamanlis in Aristotelous Square in the section between Tsimiski and Mitropoleos streets.
Sculptors wishing to compete for the 250,000-euro project will have to present their works within 9 months after a relative announcement is made public.
 Colonel Mordechai Frizis' bust to be unveiled in ThessalonikiThe bust of Greek Army Colonel Mordechai Frizis, one of the 12,898 Greek Jews who fought for Greece's freedom, will be unveiled in the Jewish Heroes Square in Thessaloniki on June 8.
The initiative to erect the bust, an American Hellenic Congress donation, was undertaken over a year ago by World Council of Hellenes Abroad, SAE, honorary president Andrew Athens in cooperation with the Mordechai Frizis Friends Association in the United States, stated Thessaloniki Jewish Community President David Saltiel stressing that he was among the first Greek Army officers to be killed during WWII's Greco-Italian War.
Frizis took part in the November 1940 Pindos battle that led to the liberation of Konitsa, in northwestern Greece and was killed on December 5, 1940 northeast of Premet, Albania.
His remains were buried at the Thessaloniki Jewish Cemetery in 2004 with military honors in the presence of then Hellenic Republic President Costis Stephanopoulos, after being brought to Greece from Albania following an intervention by the Greek General Army Staff.
 Italian Technology and Services exibition inaugurated in AthensThe Italian Festival (Festival Italiano), a new series of events in Greece that anticipates the interaction of economic and commercial activities with activities of a cultural and social character until mid-June, heightened with the inauguration of the "Italian Technology and Services" exhibition at the Zappion Mansion, dedicated to the sectors of transportation, aeronautics, energy, the environment and great projects and services.
The "Italian Technology and Services" exhibition was inaugurated on Tuesday night by the Italian Ambassador to Athens Gianpaolo Scarante, together with Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas.
Italian products will be on display at the exhibition until June 3, with emphasis on high technology transportation means. The exhibition is aimed at the overall promotion of Italy's commercial image and offering the Greek public a picture of Italy as a modern country that produces technology, research and science, far from the well-known stereotypes.
 Prosecutor-led police intevention to remove squatters from Athens municipality propertyThree individuals were detained after police raided an old abandoned house in Metaxourgio, Athens on Tuesday morning occupied by anti-establishment squatters for several years.
The prosecutor and riot police (MAT) were called in by the municipality of Athens, owner of the property.
The three detainees will be arrested and led before a prosecutor if such a request is made by the municipality of Athens.
 Firefighting helicopter in ChaniaA firefighting helicopter will be added in early June to the airborne firefighting force on the southern Aegean island of Crete.
The helicopter will operate from Souda Airport in Chania during the summer period in parallel with a second helicopter based at Iraklion Airport.
Meanwhile, small private planes registered with the Chania and Souda flying club will conduct fire detection flights over the prefecture of Chania on high fire-risk days.
 Brazilian superstar signs with AEK AthensThe AEK Athens football club on Tuesday announced the signing of Brazilian superstar Rivaldo to a two-year contract, as the 1999 international player of the year transferred from rival Olympiakos Piraeus after a falling out with the former team's management.
Olympiakos won the 2006-2007 Greek first division championship earlier this month, with AEK coming in second and securing its participation in the Champions League third qualifying round.
In brief statements appearing on the club's official website, the 35-year-old attacking midfielder said that remaining in Athens with his family played a major role in his decision.
The left-footed Brazilian international will undoubtedly be the best-known player to don AEK's yellow and black jersey in its 83-year history.
 Mostly sunny on WednesdaySunny weather will prevail in most parts of Greece on Wednesday, with some scattered showers or storms in the north and west of the country. Temperatures will range from 12C to 28C. Winds westerly, southwesterly, light to moderate.
Partly cloudy in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 15C and 28C. Possibility of brief storms in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 14C to 25C.
 UN pays tribute to UNFICYP members lost in CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller paid tribute on Tuesday to the 172 members of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) who died over the past 43 years while serving on the island.
At a ceremony to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, also attended by the advisers of the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, Moller said UNFICYP, a mission often overshadowed by the news from more embattled and less peaceful contemporary peacekeeping operations, ''has its own record of lives lost and sacrifices made in the name of peace and the healing of this divided island.''
''This year, we pay special tribute to the memory and sacrifice of the 172 members of UNFICYP who have died in the course of the past 43 years. Some of our UNFICYP colleagues fell in the fire of conflict. Most died as the result of accidents or illness. Whatever the causes, all died in the service of peace, far from home and loved ones,'' he pointed out.
Moller noted that the plaque unveiled during the ceremony, listing all 172 names, is ''a roll call of honour intended as a lasting tribute to their ultimate sacrifice and as a sign of respect and gratitude to them and to the countries they came from.''
''What better way to remember and acknowledge the legacy of our fallen comrades and to show our gratitude to their friends and families than to dedicate this ceremony to re-committing ourselves and renewing our efforts to fulfill the task that brought them and us here in the first place, the reunification of this island through an agreed and comprehensive settlement,'' he concluded.
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