|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 6 October 2010 Issue No: 3611
 PM stresses EU-China ties after ASEM SummitBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday underlined the multiple significance of a visit to Greece by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in statements after the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) held in Brussels. The Chinese premier spent three days in Athens from Saturday to Monday during his first stop on a European tour.
"The Chinese premier's visit to Greece was a vote of confidence not only in Greece but also in Europe and the euro," Papandreou underlined.
He also emphasised the fact that Wen Jiabao had announced China's European policy in the Greek Parliament, adding that the economic agreements between Greece and China indicated the confidence that existed between the two countries but also between China and Europe.
Papandreou said this had been discussed on the sidelines of the ASEM and also noted that Greece's efforts for economic recovery were being recognised.
"It is not the Greece of last year," the Greek prime minister stressed, noting that Greece was now making major investment initiatives that would contribute to growth and stressing the importance of strategic agreements, such as that with China.
"A year ago the country was on verge of a precipice and today, through the toil and sacrifices of the Greek people, it is regaining credibility worldwide," he said.
Commenting on the results of the ASEM, the prime minister underlined the need for cooperation between the countries of Europe and Asia on issues concerning the economy, social cohesion, fighting poverty, protecting the environment and other issues of global concern.
He repeated a proposal for a global economic governance and proposed new tools to control financial markets, such as a tax of financial transactions, a carbon tax and 'green' bonds that could be used to finance new investments in growth, green technology and creating new jobs.
While in Brussels, Papandreou had meetings with Indian Vice President Mohammad Ansari and the new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who invited him to visit Australia. He was also received by King Albert II of Belgium.
Papandreou next stop after Brussels in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, where he will address an annual conference on Serbia's European perspective.
 PM stresses importance of 'green energy' at ASEM summit in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The importance of green energy with respect to jobs and growth, and also Greek-Chinese relations in the context of the EU-China cooperation were pointed out by prime minister George Papandreou on Tuesday in his address to the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) taking place in Brussels.
Specifically on Greek-Chinese relations, Papandreou told the ASEM summit that a Greek-Chinese Institute on development and shipping will be created.
German chancellor Angela Merkel lauded Papandreou on Greece's progress and the enhancement of Greek-Chinese relations, while positive comments were made about the fact that Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao chose Greece as the first destination of his European tour.
Papandreou further noted the change in Greece's developmental model, which he stressed will be based on green development.
 PM meets with Indian vice-president on ASEM sidelinesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Prime minister George Papandreou met on Tuesday with India's vice-president Mohammmad Ansari, on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) that opened in Brussels on Monday.
The two leaders discussed cooperation between Greece and India in the sectors of tourism, high technology, shipping and culture.
They also exchanged views on security matters, the situation in the Middle East, and Greece's relations with Turkey and the Balkan countries.
Ansari urged a new strategic relationship between the two countries, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Greece-India diplomatic relations.
 PM Papandreou addresses conference on Serbia's European prospectsBELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing the conference organised here on Tuesday on the theme the "European Prospect of Serbia", said that the future of Serbia belongs to Europe. The conference was organised to honour the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Milosevic regime in October 2000.
Papandreou stressed that Greece supports Serbia's European prospect and today, with the "Agenda 2014", it is trying to provide a new momentum for the European integration of the western Balkans.
"The European course is not an easy case and requires courage for the difficulties to be handled," the Greek prime minister said, adding that "today Serbia is making great efforts for cooperation with the Hague Court to be completed and Ratko Mladic to be arrested."
It is also essential that the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue on Kosovo starts soon and without conditions, in the framework of the UN's recent proclamation, where the interests of Serbia and united Europe will be respected, he said.
Papandreou made special reference to the role of Serbia's former prime minister Zoran Djindjid, who was assassinated in 2003. The Greek prime minister referred to Djindjid's vision to join Serbia with the EU and reiterated the commitment that he made at his funeral, that he will help Serbia as much as he can to reach where it belongs, the EU.
Referring to the Balkans in general, Papandreou pointed out that "the peoples of the region have great possibilities, provided that they overcome the dissensions of the past and look ahead to the future."
He further said that "we feel proud to be Balkan people. We have many possibilities and we can utilise them, within unified Europe" and concluded by saying "let us make our region a place where everybody would like to live."
The conference was attended by Serbian President Boris Tadic, the foreign minister of Slovakia Mikulas Jurida and the leader of the EU mission in Serbia Venson Dezer.
At the end of the conference, the Greek prime minister held a meeting with Serbian president Boris Tadic and discussed Serbia's European prospect, the issue of Kosovo and the measures that Greece is taking to handle the crisis in the country.
Papandreou was accompanied on his visit to Belgrade by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and government spokesman George Petalotis.
 Samaras sharply critical of gov't's first yearMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras sharply criticised the government on Tuesday, speaking before party cadres and MPs on the occasion of the first anniversary of PASOK's election victory in 2009.
Samaras stressed that the ruling PASOK "lied in order to win the elections and then proceeded to do exactly the opposite of what it had promised, it set up fact-finding committees, created an unprecedented crisis and signed the memorandum that has debilitated the country."
The ND leader stated that the "government is dangerous and evolves into the worst government of the last 30 years," underlining that PASOK "lied when it maintained that it was unaware of the situation" when it took office.
He stressed that the government "has exposed the country abroad and as a result the spreads skyrocketed," adding that it "did not take the necessary measures on time, transforming a deficit problem into a debt crisis."
Samaras stressed that the "government does not implement the right economic policy and as a result recession deepens" and repeated that he will set up an investigation committee on how the memorandum became a solution.
Referring to the structural reforms, he stated that many of them had been promoted by ND but rejected by PASOK, when it was in the opposition, stressing that "they are necessary and therefore, we support them."
Government reply to Samaras criticism
Responding to main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and his criticism of PASOK's first year in government, government spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday said Samaras "has once again proved that he has not understood, or does not want to understand, what state his party left the country in a year ago".
The spokesman accused Samaras of being "bound by his party's past" and presenting himself as coming to continue the "work" of past ND governments.
"Samaras comes today, unpenitent, before the Greek people to propose supposed solutions. He proposes "another policy mix" that is so vague and general that only he can understand it. At the same time, he magically 'disappears' the deficit without sacrifices, eradicating the recession. These are magic tricks for which Samaras cannot even convince his own party and its members".
Petalotis stressed that the past year was the first step toward making Greece different, more competitive, fairer and with a small, citizen-friendly state.
"Counter to the 'tangible hopes' of Mr. Samaras and ND we propose our realistic, consistent and effective policies and the citizens' thirst for real changes in all areas," he added.
 LA.OS party disparages gov't, ND econ policiesThe Parliamentary group of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party convened under the chairmanship of party leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday, focusing on the evaluation of the government's work during its first year in power.
Speaking after the meeting, Karatzaferis termed as "completely mistaken" the course being followed by the government in the economy, while criticising main opposition ND's proposals for the elimination of the debt within a year, saying they are "totally groundless."
Karatzaferis also proposed a fact-finding commission on the economy that will seek possible responsibilities for the 1996-May 2010 period, stressing that the probe must not be restricted only to the New Democracy government but to PASOK governments as well.
 PM Papandreou to visit CorfuThe PASOK party will in essence begin its election campaign as of Sunday with a visit and an address by Prime Minister George Papandreou in Corfu.
PASOK's National Council secretary Mihalis Karhimakis said in a meeting with reporters on Tuesday that the aim is for Papandreou to visit half or more of the regions before the elections.
Karhimakis expressed certainty that in November's elections PASOK will win eight regions, without excluding the possibility of the party winning two more regions.
 Deputy FM Kouvelis on Greek BSEC presidencyDeputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis held a meeting with representatives of the Business Council of the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the International Black Sea Research Centre, the Greek Development Fund for the Black Sea and the Secretariat of OSEP, with the aim of coordinating the implementation of the Greek Presidency's "Black Sea Turns Green" development programme.
Kouvelis briefed the representatives on the outcome of the recent informal OSEP foreign ministers session held in New York, where the main axis was the implementation of a coordinated action programme for Green Growth, with the ultimate aim being the adoption of a joint announcement at the conference on Climatic Change in Cancoun in December.
 Revised court sentencing system unveiledJustice Minister Haris Kastanidis on Tuesday unveiled provisions designed to update the current sentencing system, which will be incorporated into a draft law aimed to ensure faster court and legal proceedings.
Speaking at a press conference, Kastanidis stressed that an effort is being made to simplify the implementation of alternative measures and penalties so that imprisonment will be an option only in cases of serious offences and habitual criminals.
Based on new provisions, those who cannot afford to pay for court expenses will not be sent to prison, while prison sentences of up to three years will be converted to fines. The financial situation of the convicted offender will be taken into account, with the option of monthly installments available. Those who are unable to pay can opt for community service.
A suspended sentence will be given for prison terms of up to five years if the offender does not have a previous conviction of no less than a year.
Home detention is an option for offenders over the age of 75, while for those with terminal diseases or the disabled each day of incarceration will be counted as two.
The new measures will be in effect and for those currently serving a prison term and as a result roughly 1,300 people will be released from correctional facilities.
 Account of defence ministry performanceDefence Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Alternate Minister Panos Beglitis on Tuesday gave an account of the work done in the ministry of defence since they were sworn in one year ago.
In a press conference, they referred to legislation on military hierarchy and promotions, a new command structure, pension issues, the Skaramangas Shipyards contract and the abolition of the interview phase for would-be professional soldiers.
They also announced that by the end of the year a legal framework will be approved focusing on the new armed forces' structure, while a new national defence and security policy to be presented to the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) by Nov. 15.
Venizelos also stated that spending cuts in the ministry of defence are estimated between 800 million to 1 billion euros.
In view of the NATO Summit Meeting, Venizelos will meet on Oct. 21 with the alliance's Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen within the framework of the latter's visit to Athens, while next week, the minister will participate in the SE Europe Defence Ministers' Summit.
 e-prescription system at health funds begins trial runReform and modernisation of social insurance organisations is a priority in the effort to ensure dignified pensions, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Louka Katseli stressed on Tuesday, during the presentation of the electronic prescription system to operate on a trial basis at the Organisation for the Insurance of Self-Employed Professionals, beginning on Oct. 18.
Katseli stated that electronic prescription will be into effect at IKA (the Social Insurance Fund) and OGA (farmers' fund) in 2011, resulting to savings of up to one billion euros, while reduced pharmaceutical prices will cut spending by social insurance funds by two billon euros.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE), in a later reaction, sharply criticised the "flexibility of salaries, with the circumvention of the institution of the collective bargaining agreement ... under the pretext of protecting jobs, constitutes yet another barbaric measure for the benefit of big capital."
 Illegal migration, organised crime discussed in separate meetings between Papoutsis and US, UK, French envoysCitizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis discussed issues concerning security, organised crime and illegal immigration, in particular on Monday and Tuesday with the ambassadors of the United States, Britain and France.
Papoutsis met successively with the new US ambassador Daniel Bennett Smith on Monday, and on Tuesday, with the ambassadors of Britain, David Landsman, and France, Christophe Farnaud.
Papoutsis said after the meetings that the main issues discussed with the ambassadors of the two European countries were the illegal migration issue, especially the serious problems that Greece is facing due to its geographical position.
Also discussed were the issues of citizens' security and cooperation between the countries in handling security problems, particularly those resulting from organised crime.
The question of organised crime was discussed in particular with the US envoy.
Referring to a travel advisory issued by Washington, Amb. Smith said it was a general advisory for all of Europe and did not concern Greece in particular, adding that the advisory was not aimed at discouraging US citizens from their trips but making the latter more careful.
 ND leader meets with security corps' representativesMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met on Tuesday with representatives of the federations and unions of police officers, firefighters and coast guard officers.
After the half-hour meeting, Panhellenic Federation of Police Employees (POASY) president Christos Fotopoulos said to reporters that "there is no room for discounts and deductions when it comes to the safety of the citizen".
Fotopoulos said he asked for the ND leader's backing on the issues of concern to the uniformed security corps, noting inefficiency of the services.
Noting that prime minister George Papandreou, at last month's Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), had referred to and placed great emphasis on developmental programs, Fotopoulos said that "in order to have development in a country, it must have domestic security".
 LAOS leader meets with EvertPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis met on Tuesday with main opposition New Democracy (ND) former president Miltiades Evert.
After the one-hour meeting, the LAOS leader told reporters that Evert encouraged him to continue with his effort for a dialgue among the broader Centre-Right.
The talks meeting took place in the context of contacts with former ND leaders commenced by Karatzaferis during the summer, with the aim of establishing a framework for dialogue in the Centre-Right sphere.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras slams draft budgetThe draft budget unveiled by the government was proof that the policies of the Memorandum were "wholly bankrupt", Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday.
With GDP shrinking by 4 percent, inflation at 6 percent and real unemployment at 20 percent, Greece not only had no prospect of exiting the crisis but the next year would sink all Greek society, he said.
He called for a reversal of the entire policy and stressed that the draft budget must never be carried out.
Meanwhile, in a letter to Cyprus President Demetris Christofias for the 50th anniversary since the Cyprus Republic became independent, Tsipras expressed his solidarity with Christofias and his party's support for the "struggle of the Cypriot people to end the Turkish occupation and reunite the island through the creation of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation in accordance with UN resolutions and European laws."
 NATO chief reiterates: No FYROM membership without prior solution of name issueSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday ruled out any prospect of FYROM joining NATO without prior solution of the name issue.
"The decision of Bucharest (2008 NATO summit) is clear: A mutually acceptable solution must be found," Rasmussen said on a Skopje television station, noting that all NATO decisions are taken by unanimous vote.
Asked on the prospect of NATO pressure on Greece for "more flexibility", the Alliance chief stressed that he will not involve himself in the talks between Athens and Skopje, and called on "all the sides to display flexibility for finding a solution".
 Sisilianos elected judge at European Human Rights CourtSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly elected with an absolute majority (115 votes) on Tuesday night Linos-Alexandros Sisilianos to the post of judge at the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg.
Sisilianos takes the place of Christos Rozakis, whose tenure ended. Sisilianos's tenure will last for nine years. He was born in Athens in 1960.
 Greek Air Force plane makes emergency landing in Larnaca, CyprusNICOSIA (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos)
A Greek Air Force C-130 transport plane had to make an emergency landing at Cyprus' Larnaca international airport on Tuesday after running low on fuel. The airport immediately mobilised for the emergency landing and the aircraft landed safely at around noon.
The C-130, which had left the military airport of Elefsina bound for Larnaca carrying soldiers, issued a distress call as it approached the airport.
All the soldiers on board were in good health and safe, while the aircraft is now being examined by experts to determine what caused the problem.
 EU satisfied with progress in Greek trade balanceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Tuesday said it saw encouraging signs in Greece's efforts to bring its trade balance back into balance.
In a quarterly report on economic conditions in the Eurozone, the EU executive expressed satisfaction over the fact that a growing number of Greek enterprises focused on export activities. In its report, the Commission also said that reforms underway in Greece aimed at boosting competitiveness -- included in an economic adjustment programme -- were expected to bear fruit sooner than initial estimates.
The Commission reminded that the medium-term goal of this programme was to improving Greek economy's competitiveness and amending the structure of the economy towards a growth model focusing more on investments and exports. The EU's executive stressed that a strict implementation of the program was necessary to ensuring its success.
The Commission also noted that the economic stabilization program included a wide range of ambitious reforms over wages, labour market and products market. These structural reforms are expected to reduce wage costs and improving business environment in the country.
The Commission stressed that significant steps towards promoting reforms have been made so far and expects these efforts to intensify in the medium-term.
 IMF's Vinals sees better days ahead for GreeceWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA - A. Ellis)
The head of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) monetary and capital markets department, Jose Vinals, on Tuesday told reporters that he expected the economic situation in Greece to improve as a result of the measures taken by its government.
"The Greek government is following programmes of stability and fiscal reform with determination and my expectation is that things will get better, not worse," he said during a press conference held at the IMF before the start of an annual IMF-World Bank meeting that will take place from Thursday until Sunday.
 Moody's sees prospect of upgrading Greece's credit ratingMoody's Investors Service on Tuesday said it saw the prospect of upgrading Greece's credit rating on the precondition that the country continued its policy of reforms and cutting its fiscal deficit, according to Bloomberg news agency.
Anthony Thomas, Moody's high-ranking analyst, speaking in a conference in Warsaw, said "we are impressed with the reforms made by the Greek government," adding that "if this will continue any change in the credit rating of the country will be towards upgrading".
 Gov't: 49% of OSE to private investor; state to assume debts, propertyThe government on Tuesday appeared adamant in its decision to restructure debt-laden Hellenic Railways (OSE), while guaranteeing the workforce's jobs elsewhere in the wider public sector in tandem with "ridding the state of a financial hemorrhaging", as the relevant minister said.
In an interview with a private radio station in Athens and a day after the Cabinet approved a draft law on OSE, Infrastructure & Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas repeated that roughly 2,500 OSE employees will be transferred to other positions in the public sector with smaller salaries, while those who will continue to work for OSE will see bonuses, extra pay and other benefits cut.
As regards the massive debts accumulated by OSE, he said the state will take over the organisation's financial obligations along with its large property holdings. A large part of OSE's 10.7-billion-euro deficit is due to the fact that investments over the past several years made in the railway network and infrastructure were funded through loans, and not through any public investment programme, he clarified.
Reppas also announced that beginning next year, the government, in compliance with the memorandum, will have to add the OSE debts to the public debt, along with other debts recorded by public utility and enterprises as well as local governments and their affiliated entities.
All fixed assets will be exploited by Gaiose S.A., while the OSE group investment programme will be approved by a ministerial committee assigned to monitor the public utility companies.
As regards Trainose S.A., the goal is to reach a strategic alliance with a private investor who will control 49 pct of the rail operator and will take over its management. Based on the plan, Trainose will have to pay OSE for the infrastructure it uses.
Reppas did not rule out the elimination of loss-making rail routes, as well as a hike in fares, while he also stated that free passes for an estimated 64,000 eligible will be abolished, except in the case of disabled or military conscripts.
Finally, he announced that the promotion of a system for direct purchases of passenger tickets, eliminating an intermediary or travel agencies.
 Deputy Finance Minister: Indirect taxes unjust, but the people understandDeputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis conceded that the indirect taxes are unjust, but said that the Greek society has shown that it understands the problem and is disposed to participate in government's effort, provided that there is a just distribution of the burden and that "all will have the right to a share in the exit from the crisis, when this is achieved", in a radio interview on Tuesday.
In an interview with private Real FM radio station, Sahinidis noted that the government has never denied that "the indirect taxes are unjust and that in a just taxation system, a large share should come from the direct taxes" adding that the new tax bill "will remedy some distortions".
Referring to government's efforts to improve the economic indicators and bring the country out of the crisis, the deputy minister said that "the best way to solve our country's problem is to bring it back to positive growth rates, with the attraction of investments and the boosting exports as the two main ways for achieving this.
He also reiterated the government's commitment to reduce the deficits. "We have two obligations, to continue the policy for reduction of expenses and increase of revenues, and to create the conditions for speedier development".
 Negative reactions to 2011 budget draft planTrade unions and the commerce sector on Tuesday reacted negatively to the provisions of a draft plan for a 2011 state budget, presented by the government on Monday.
GSEE -Greece's largest trade union umbrella- said that the budget draft plan offered a bitter taste of a harsh policy to be implemented by the government. "Taxes, cut backs, larger burdens for wage earners," GSEE's president Yiannis Panagopoulos told in a statement, adding that "the nightmare was a jump in the unemployment rate to historic highs. We demand urgent measures to protect employment and supporting unemployed people and of course measures to support low wage and pension earners, living in poverty conditions".
ESEE -the Federation of Greek Commerce- was also critical of the budget draft plan. Vasilis Korkidis, ESEE's president, said the messages sent by the new budget created "reasonable concern" and added that "it reflected an agonizing effort to cut fiscal deficits through new taxes without taking any action towards supporting growth". Korkidis said the government focused more on boosting budget revenues and expressed his worries over plans to cut wages and pensions and a forecast of a high inflation rate for 2011. He stressed that these measures would have a serious impact on figures of vital importance to economic health and social cohesion. He said the government could achieve its targets of reducing the fiscal deficit through boosting budget revenues, but it could do nothing to boost economic growth and social cohesion in the country. "We believe that small- and medium-sized enterprises would not be able to live up to targets set by the new budget and we are fully believe that the budget plan would need several revisions
SELPE -the Federation of Retail Sales Enterprises- underlined that the word "growth" was absent from the 2011 budget draft plan and noted that a government decision to raise indirect taxes was extremely unfair. The market is in a free-fall, businesses are closing and unemployment rising, SELPE said in a statement, while it urged the government to review the mixture of its economic policy, focusing more on measures to boost economic growth.
 New web-based Greek tourism campaign unveiledThe Internet will spearhead the campaign launched by the ministry of culture and tourism focusing new campaigns for Greece.
Minister Pavlos Geroulanos referred to the new tourism campaign strategy on Tuesday during the presentation of 13 new videos available on the youinGreece internet site and pointed out that the Greek Tourism Organization is being transformed into an agency that will undertake to promote Greece abroad.
Presenting the new portal visitgreece.gr, Geroulanos announced that the new internet programme my-greece.gr is an improved version of the youinGreece and the "Alliance for Greece" campaign.
Visitors will be able to upload their favorite photos and videos and will be given the opportunity to promote the "Greece they love", the country's natural beauty and all the distinct characteristics that make it a special place in the world. The visual material will be accompanied by a small 25-word text where users will describe their own experience.
In a later stage, the archive of my-greece.gr will be used as a basis for a total of 90 personal experiences that will be available on visitgreece.gr, ten for each of the nine tourism sectors namely, nautical, meetings, seaside, Athens and Thessaloniki, culture, luxury, nature, touring and wellness.
 Environmental studies on Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipelineMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
The managing company of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline Trans-Balkan Pipeline B.V. (TBP) has submitted to the relevant ministries of Greece and Bulgaria the environmental repercussions study for consideration, according to an announcement by the company, reported by the RIA-Novosti agency.
According to the company's announcement, the study responds fully to both international specifications and the national legislations of Greece and Bulgaria and was prepared with the utilisation of the most modern methods and assessment tools, taking into consideration public opinion and the recommendations of the official authorities, non-governmental organisations and social agencies.
As was pointed out by the state-run Russian news agency RIA-Novosti, the inter-Balkan pipeline will have a capacity of 35 million tons of oil annually with the possibility of its increase by up to 50 million tons.
Greece, Russia and Bulgaria signed in 2007 the interstate agreement on the construction of the pipeline that will have a length of about 300 kilometres. For the implementation of the plan, they established and registered on February 6, 2008, the Trans-Balkan Pipeline B.V. company, 51 percent of which belongs to Russia, with Greece and Bulgaria sharing the 49 percent.
 Energy watchdog threatens Verbund with 3.0-million-euro fineGreece's energy watchdog on Tuesday threatened Verbund with a fine of up to 3.0 million euros saying the Austrian energy company breached the terms of its license by not paying charges envisaged by Greek legislation for electricity energy suppliers.
The Energy Regulatory Authority asked the representatives of the company to a hearing on October 20 to present their case. The authority said Verbund's debt to the operator of the electricity grid totaled 4.8 million euros by September 3 and that the Austrian company systematically questioned the legitimacy of charges imposed for utilities operating in the country.
 Economic sentiment index up slightly in SeptGreece's economic sentiment index rose slightly by 0.3 pct in September to 66.6 points, up from July but down from August, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Tuesday.
IOBE, in a report, said sentiment improved in the services sector, it stabilized in the manufacturing sector and worsened significantly in the construction sector. In the retail sector, economic sentiment remained extremely negative, while consumer confidence remained at historic low levels. Business expectations remained, with small fluctuations, at very low levels for the last seven months.
Reduced consumer spending and a credit squeeze are sustaining an economic recession trend, which it is expected to be continued for the next quarter at least.
Business expectations in the manufacturing sector were almost unchanged in September compared with July, with estimates over the current level of demand and orders improving and estimates over inventories rising slightly.
In the services sector, business expectations showed a slight improvement over demand, while in the retail sector, sentiment worsened because of a large rise in inventories, despite some improvement in estimates over current sales and demand.
In the construction sector, sentiment worsened significantly reflecting lower estimates over works and employment in the sector.
Consumer confidence worsened, with Greek households remaining pessimistic over their financial situation, unemployment and the country's finances in the next 12 months. Saving intention recovered slightly in September.
The economic sentiment index rose in September both in the European Union and the Eurozone.
 Former OA employees stage protestFormer employees of the recently privatised Olympic Airlines (now Olympic Air) demonstrated on Tuesday outside the General State Accounts building in downtown Athens, protesting that they have yet to be transferred to other jobs in the public sector although 16 months have passed since the ailing national carrier was sold.
The transfers were foreseen in a bill advanced by then transport minister Costis Hatzidakis (New Democracy).
The demonstrators are also protesting that their severance pay has also not been paid to them.
The protestors dispersed after half an hour.
 Sprider Stores presents aggressive investment strategySprider Stores on Tuesday said it would respond to an economic crisis with new investments and an aggressive sales policy.
Presenting the company's investment strategy, Athanasios Hatzioannou, chairman of the board, said it would focus on a restructuring of its network, significant investments and upgrading product lines. He said that Sprider Stores is the largest Greek enterprise in the sector with a market share of 6.0 pct.
Athanasios Maltezakis, Investment Relations officer, said Sprider Stores will seek to maintain a stable level of prices, with special discount to vulnerable groups of the population, such as unemployed and families with more than three children, also absorbing two VAT increases in March and June 2010. A restructuring of its network, improvement of a logistics system, introducing a SAP system and a new concept of stores were additional measures included in the strategy
Sprider Stores operates a network of 109 shops in Southeastern Europe with sales of 163.9 million euros in 2009.
 New car licences down 31.8pct in Jan-Sept 2010New road motor car licenses dropped by 31.8 percent in the first nine months of the year, according to figures released on Tuesday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT.), while car sales dropped by 44.2 percent in September.
More specifically, during the period of January-September 2010, a total of 158,375 road motor cars (both new and used abroad) were put into circulation for the first time, representing a decrease of 31.8% compared to the corresponding period of 2009.
A decrease of 20.5% had been observed during the period of January-September 2009,compared to 2008.
Furthermore, the circulation of new motorcycles (above 50cc) during the period of January-September 2010 amounted to 52,292, against 60,803 in 2009, representing a 14.0% decrease.
A decrease of 30.6% had been observed during the period of January-September 2009 compared to the corresponding period of 2008.
In September 2010, automobile sales (new or used abroad) fell by 44.2 percent, from 16,130 automobiles (new or used abroad) in September 2009 to 9,004 in September this year.
More specifically for passenger cars, the reduction in sales reached 48 percent in September against the same month last year, and 33.9 percent for the nine-month period.
 Stocks end 0.97% higherStocks ended higher for the second consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market back above the 1,500 level.
The index ended 0.97 pct higher at 1,503.14 points, with turnover jumping to 173.418 million euros. Buying interest focused on the shares of OTE (5.29 pct), Eurobank (5.56 pct), Hellenic Postbank (5.96 pct) and MIG (4.94 pct).
The Big Cap index rose 1.48 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.10 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 0.78 pct up. The Telecoms (5.29 pct) and Financial Services (5.28 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Food (1.36 pct) and Travel (0.94 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 102 to 61 with another 54 issues unchanged. Kloukinas (15.71 pct), Paperpack (11.36 pct) and Elfico (9.52 pct) were top gainers, while Alpha Grissin (9.84 pct), Akritas (9.46 pct) and Tegopoulos (9.09 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.48%
Personal & Household: +0.78%
Raw Materials: +0.58%
Travel & Leisure: -0.94%
Food & Beverages: -1.36%
Financial Services: +5.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.96
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.61
HBC Coca Cola: 19.02
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.75
National Bank of Greece: 7.39
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.75
Bank of Piraeus: 3.85
 ADEX closing reportFutures contracts were traded around their fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising slightly to 51.667 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,526 contracts worth 41.546 million euros, with 31,616 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,994 contracts worth 10.121 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8,634), followed by Eurobank (1,365), MIG (1,329), OTE (958), Piraeus Bank (1,445), Alpha Bank (1,285), Cyprus Bank (518) and Hellenic Postbank (639).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.389
Pound sterling 0.873
Danish kroner 7.514
Swedish kroner 9.336
Japanese yen 115.72
Swiss franc 1.345
Norwegian kroner 8.105
Canadian dollar 1.418
Australian dollar 1.445
 'Nostos' Hellenic Cultural Association literary contest: 'The Parthenon Marbles: The history of a looting, or the looting of history?'"The Parthenon Marbles: The history of a looting, or the looting of history?" is the theme of the third literary contest being organised by the Hellenic Cultural Association Nostos under the aegis of the Greek Embassy in Argentina.
This year's contest, which is open to both Greeks and non-Greeks all over the world, with texts in Spanish, Greek or English, opens up collaboration, for the first time, with overseas agencies working for the spread of Hellenic civilisation and history, including the University of Chile's "Fotios Malleros Center for Hellenic and Byzantine Studies", the only such center in Latin America, established in 1968, and the Association of Writers of Argentina, as well as the Association of Greek Writers and Authors of the Five Continents, the Diaspora Literary Stoa from Australia, and the Greek Community of Lima, in Peru.
"This year's contest aims to unite all Greeks and non-Greeks with one voice, in a written appeal to the world of Letters, so as to vindicate the just national demand of Greece for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, by the British Museum to the New Acropolis Museum," Nostos president Christina Tsardikos told ANA-MPA.
"It is with great joy that we see what we envisioned four years ago has increasing appeal, as reflected in the agencies taking part," she said, adding special thanks to Greek Ambassador Michalis Christidis "who embraced the idea from the very first moment, lending not only moral but also material support, as the Embassy has undertaken the publication of the anthologies with the best works of the contests".
The communications sponsor is ANA-MPA, which readily agreed to Nostos' request.
"ANA-MPA has always stood at our side, including through its Greeks abroad web page. My heartfelt thanks for all the support and backing you have given us all these years, projecting Nostos' activities, and also our vision for a vibrant Greece that is present everywhere," Tsardikos said.
The competition is open to writers of all nationalities, ages and gender, with one essay, in the Spanish, English or Greek language. The essay should not exceed 10 pages, must not have been previously published or awarded, or awaiting the results of another contest.
The essays must be typed, on one side of the sheet of paper (A4), single space, stapled, and placed in an appropriate envelope, together with a CD containing the text in electronic form. They should be sent (signed with a pen name) to: "ASOCIACIĻN CULTURAL HELENICA NOSTOS"/ CERTAMEN LITERARIO INTERNACIONAL/ AVDA BELGRANO 615 PISO 8VO "J "/ C.A.B.A (1092)/ BUENOS AIRES ARGENTINA.
The envelope should also contain a second, sealed, envelope containing a copy of the essay, the title of the work, the pen name of the writer and his/her personal information: name and surname, ID card number, address, telephone, email address and a brief CV.
The deadline for the entries is December 31, 2010.
The awards will be announced in March 2011, and separate awards will be given for each language. The top three winners will receive a medal and certificate, and 10 copies of the anthology containing the best works.
Copies of the anthology will also be distributed to educational foundations, cultural centers and libraries.
 Cycladic Art Museum exhibition on 'Lost World of Old Europe'The 'forgotten civilisations' of Neolithic Europe and their ties to ancient Greece are the subject of a temporary exhibition that opens its doors to the public on Thursday at the Cycladic Art Museum in central Athens.
Entitled "The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 B.C." the exhibition will be inaugurated by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis on Wednesday evening.
Organised by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University in collaboration with the National History Museum of Romania in Bucharest and with the participation of the Varna Regional Museum of History in Bulgaria and the National Museum of Archaeology and History of Moldova in Chisinau, the exhibition brings together more than 200 neolithic artifacts owned by 22 museums in Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova.
Parallel with the main exhibition, the Museum of Cycladic Art and the ministry of culture and tourism have organised a second exhibition on "The relations between Neolithic Greece and the Balkans" presented alongside the first for comparative reasons. This includes 90 exhibits from Greek Neolithic sites of the same period and explores the similarities and differences between Greece and the Balkans during the 5th and 4th milleniums BC.
The organisers explore a little-known period of human history, noting that the area of southeastern Europe had seen the growth of highly sophisticated societies with advanced technology that disappeared abruptly and mysteriously at around 4000 B.C. for reasons as yet unknown.
Among the most impressive of the exhibits are remarkably modern-looking figurines with human form, some excellent quality, brightly coloured ceramic vases, various metal objects and the world's largest single store of Neolithic gold objects found in an ancient cemetery in Varna.
Goulandris Foundation president Sandra Marinopoulou stressed in a press conference on Tuesday that visitors to the exhibition will gain a fascinating insight into the history of SE Europe 7,000 years ago.
According to Cycladic Art Museum Director Nikolaos Stambolidis, Greece's closest neighbours were "participants" in the cultural product arising from this part of the world from the Neolithic period and onward.
"These two exhibitions come to shed light on the rich past of a region around the Danube and the northwestern coast of the Black Sea during the 3rd and 4th pre-Christian millenia. This exhibition presents a forgotten part [of history] that we must remember without borders but only on geographic terms," he noted.
According to Dr. Dragomir Nicolae Popovici of the National History Museum of Romania, it also marked the first time that such an exhibition "that is a major chapter of European history" was organised, while Dr. Aleksander Minchev of the Varna Archaeological Museum Ancient Art department stressed that it was a chance to view "the birth of European culture".
The parallel exhibitions are taking place under the aegis of the Greek foreign ministry as part of its presidency of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation and will run until January 10, 2011.
 "Inspirations from the Hellenic Past: The Heritage of Epirus through Modern Eyes" exhibition in AstoriaThe influence of Epirus' cultural heritage in the fine arts are being presented at a painting exhbition at the Epirus Heritage Museum in Astoria, NY, the only Greek American museum in the region, titled "Inspirations from the Hellenic Past: The Heritage of Epirus through Modern Eyes".
The museum was recently enriched with a donation by the Starvros Niarchos public benefit Foundation.
Museum Director Christos Kosovitsas expressed appreciation for the donation, the biggest the Museum has ever received, which he said contributed to its upgrading to fully meet the demands of the 21st century.
The museum, housed on the third floor of the Epirotan Cultural Center at 2514 Broadway and Crescent in Astoria, presents exhibits divided into thematic unities, enabling the visitor to become acquainted with the culture of Epirus and the influence of Epirote folk art on modern-day culture.
Most of the exhibits have been donated by Epirotes of the US, including authentic local costumes, embroideries and hand-woven items.
 Two Greek films in Chicago Int'l Film festivalTwo Greek films, 'Black Field' directed by Vardis Marinakis and 'The Building Manager' directed by Periklis Hoursoglou will be screened during the 46th annual Chicago International Film festival that will be held from 7-21 October.
A total of 150 films from 50 countries will be screened during the Festival.
 Body of missing hunter found in forestThe body of a man who had been missing since Saturday afternoon was found in the early hours of Sunday in a forest expanse near the Krystallopigi border region.
The deceased, a resident of Kastoria, had left for Krystallopigi for a hunting trip early Saturday.
Local police are conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the man's death.
 Teller injured in bank hold-upA bank employee was injured on Tuesday morning during an armed robbery of an Emporiki Bank branch in the western port city of Patras.
An unidentified gunman, wearing sunglasses, stormed the bank in the morning and approached a teller, whom he hit on the head with the butt of his gun, and grabbed an estimated 7,000 euros before fleeing on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice.
According to early information, the teller was lightly injured.
Police are taking testimonies from the bank employees and three customers who were in the bank at the time of the hold-up.
 Foreign national arrested for transporting illegal migrantsBorder police at Krystallopigi on Tuesday arrested a foreign national for the transport of two illegal migrants, with his car.
During a preliminary investigation, it was ascertained that one of the illegal migrants was entered on the national data base with a ban on entering Greece.
The car was confiscated, and the illegal migrants were detained.
The three detainees will appear before a public prosecutor in Kastoria.
 President of Republic presented with first torch for Athens 2011 Special OlympicsPresident of Greek Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday was presented with the first torch for the Athens 2011 Special Olympics, as the first volunteer to sign up for the event. Papoulias received Special Olympics Hellas president Ioanna Despotopoulou, who was accompanied by Health Deputy Minister responsible for Sports Christos Aidonis, at the Presidential Mansion.
Cyclist Costas Tzoumerkas presented the torch to the President who in March 2009 was the first volunteer to sign up for the Athens Special Olympics.
Papoulias congratulated Despotopoulou for her efforts and she informed the President that 14,500 citizens have offered to be volunteers in the Games, to be held in June 2011. "Our aim is to reach a total of 19,000 volunteers," said Despotopoulou.
 23rd Alexandrian Race in ThessalonikiThe Alexandrian Popular Running Tour and the Alexandrian Race will take place on Sunday, 10 October, in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.
The running tour will start at 10:00 a.m. in front of the Alexander the Great statue in downtown Thessaloniki and the runners of all ages will cover a four km distance.
A quarter of an hour later the Alexandrian Race, which covers a distance of 20 km, will take off from the same spot.
Athletes from Cyprus will also participate in the race.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 11C and 27C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 25C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 18C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe provisions of the draft 2011 State Budget and speculations of new austerity measures mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "State Budget with Memorandum provisions!!".
APOGEVMATINI: "3.5 billion euros in new taxes - Unemployment to reach 14.5 percent - The worst is yet to come".
AVGHI: "Draft State Budget draft: We got the drift....no thank you".
AVRIANI: "Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras reveals PASOK's lies".
ELEFTHEROS: "New cutbacks in salaries, pensions and benefits foreseen in the draft of 'Memorandum' State Budget ".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "7.1 billion euros in new taxes because... 'the money exists'."
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "2011 State Budget: Death toll for 145,000 new unemployed ".
ESTIA: "What PASOK was saying in November 2008 when the Karamanlis government signed the 35-year concession of the Piraeus Port's container terminal to the Chinese state company COSCO, at which time its spokesman and current finance minister had expressed full opposition to that agreement".
ETHNOS: "2011 State Budget burns everyone".
IMERISSIA: "5.31 billion euros new taxes in 2011 - Unemployment to skyrocket to14.5 percent".
KATHIMERINI: "6.7 billion euros in additional taxes".
LOGOS: "State Budget brings tax storm".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "The new State budget in the orbit of the recession".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Rise up against the suppression of the (popular labor) movement (in the countries of Europe)- Today, Council of Europe to discuss the monstrous resolution against the peoples (resolution on combating extremism)".
TA NEA: "2011 Odyssey - New cutbacks and explosion in taxes".
TO VIMA: "5.3 billion euros additional taxes and unemployment at 14.5 percent - State Budget with recession as its opponent".
VRADYNI: "Draft 2011 State Budget draft foresees new austerity measures".
 Spokesman: Russian President to pay historic state visit to CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has described the state visit by President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev to Cyprus 6-7 October, as an historic event that will further enhance existing excellent bilateral relations.
In statements to the press Tuesday, Stephanou said that the cornerstone of relations between Cyprus and Russia is their political and economic cooperation, noting that the Russian Federation has always been one of the strongest supporters of Cyprus in its efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem.
Referring to the Russian President's state visit to Cyprus, he said "it is an historic event of great importance for the country and our people", adding "this visit will further enhance the dynamic of development of our bilateral relations which are already at an excellent level".
Stephanou said that the number of bilateral agreements to be signed during President Medvedev's visit as well as those signed during the Cypriot President's state visit to Moscow in November 2008 reflect the dynamic which characterizes the development of the Cyprus-Russian relations.
He recalled that in November 2008 eight agreements were signed, as well as a political declaration, while in Nicosia an additional 13 agreements will be signed as well as memorandums of understanding and an action plan between 2011-2013 which will promote the coordination on bilateral and multilateral level.
Furthermore, the spokesman said that the two Presidents will sign a joint declaration on the celebrations of the 65th anniversary of the antifascist victory.
Referring to Russia's support to Cyprus as regards the Cyprus issue, he stressed that "Russia consistently supports the solution of the problem on the basis of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality as defined in the relevant UN resolutions for one state with one and single sovereignty, one nationality and one international personality".
"Russia's stance is of great importance since, being a permanent UN Security Council member state, it is in a position to play and does play an important role as regards the Cyprus issue", he underlined.
Asked about Russia's stance regarding the UN-led ongoing Cyprus talks, Stephanou said that for Moscow, the Cyprus talks are "of Cypriot ownership and that timeframes and arbitration are excluded since the solution must be mutually agreed and put to separate referenda for the people to decide".
Regarding economic cooperation, Stephanou referred to the agreement to be signed regarding the avoidance of double taxation.
The spokesman was also asked about President Medvedev's position as regards the three proposals submitted by President Christofias in July which aim at speeding up the UN Ų led talks for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Stephanou recalled that the Russian Foreign Ministry has issued an announcement in which Russia expresses its full support to those positions.
In July, President Christofias announced a three-point package with a view to expediting the UN-led talks. The package provides for parallel discussions on the property chapter with the territorial aspect and immigration and the return of the fenced-off area of Varosha, in Famagusta, to the administration of the United Nations, combined with the opening of the port of Famagusta under EU auspices and the restoration of the medieval part of the town of Famagusta.
The third proposal provides for an international conference when within range of an agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third territory. Cyprus UN-led talks are underway between the leaders of the two communities of Cyprus, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
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