|Sunday, 23 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 23 October 2010 Issue No: 3626
 Papandreou, Erdogan agree to work together to stem migrant flowGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday agreed to step up cooperation on all levels, especially in efforts to staunch the flow of migrants from Turkey to Europe via Greece.
The two prime ministers had a lengthy meeting in Athens on the sidelines of the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative conference in the Asteras resort in Vouliagmeni, which stretched to two hours instead of the originally scheduled one. The meeting was also attended by Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
In statements afterward, Papandreou said that Greece desired close cooperation with its neighbouring countries, within the framework of the principles of international law, not just for the benefit of Greece and Turkey but for the benefit of the entire region.
The two prime ministers announced a joint initiative that would try to tackle the issue of large-scale illegal migration through "systematic bilateral cooperation" while at the same time pressing the EU for a liberalisation of visa requirements for Turkish citizens entering the EU.
Addressing the media, Papandreou referred to a "xenophobic climate" that was being cultivated in Europe and stressed that bilateral cooperation with Turkey would help alleviate this since it would seek to stem the migration wave. At the same time, it would give impetus to EU-Turkey negotiations on the signature of a migrant readmission agreement.
The Greek premier also referred to "positive progress" in the two countries' cooperation on energy issues, while Erdogan pointed out that Turkey was already supplying Greece with natural gas and that the aim was to complete a natural gas pipeline linking the two countries by 2015.
Questioned about the progress of exploratory talks on the issue of delineating the Aegean continental shelf, Papandreou stressed that these were continuing in a systematic way, without deadlines and with the aim to achieve positive results as soon as possible.
The Turkish premier, meanwhile, noted the potential benefits for Greek tourism if the EU visa regime for Turkish citizens was relaxed.
Erdogan particularly emphasised the improved 'climate of trust' in the relations of the two countries since his last visit in May, pointing out that six Turkish ministers had visited Greece and four Greek ministers had visited Turkey since that time, while the foreign ministers of the two countries had met several times.
The two premiers also broached the issue of the Cyprus problem, developments in the Middle East, issues concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, energy matters and bilateral cooperation in tourism.
 Avramopoulos on Papandreou-Erdogan meetingMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party vice president and Foreign Affairs and International Relations sector chief Dimitris Avramopoulos, referring on Friday to the meeting between Prime Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Athens earlierin the day, said "the statements by the Greek prime minister, after his meeting with Turkish prime minister Mr. Erdogan are of a general character, without any reference to the developments on the exploratory contacts on the continental shelf. Contacts for which Greek and Turkish mass media mention that the spectrum of the discussions has been widened to other issues apart from the continental shelf as well. Information which if valid, something we don't hope, place in dispute our sovereign rights."
Avramopoulos terms as "worthy of wonder" the fact that the two prime ministers also discussed "human rights, religious freedoms and minorities issues," as the Greek prime minister stated and which were characterised "issues of mutual interest."
Avramopoulos also said "we call on the government and the Foreign Ministry to brief Parliament and the Greek people what issues are being discussed with Turkey and which is the institutional framework of these discussions."
 Med Climate Change conference opens in Athens, Papandreou urges close cooperationPrime Minister George Papandreou on Friday urged close cooperation among the countries of the Mediterranean to tackle the repercussions of climate change, stressing "this is the threat that unites us", opening a conference in the Athens coastal town of Vouliagmeni being held at the Greek premier's initiative and attended by regional leaders.
Opening the "Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative" (MCCI) conference, Papandreou stressed the significance of the high level of representation at the conference, noting in particular Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's attendance.
"The fact that Turkey is represented here at high level, by friend Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is proof that the two countries can put aside their differences in the face of the common threats," Papandreou said.
"Having learned the value of cooperation in difficult conditions, Greece and Turkey stand united on one of the most important issues, that of climate change," he added.
From within the "bad scenarios" for climate change appearing to be coming true in the southeastern Mediterranean with increasingly frequenter extreme weather phenomena and threats to the region's unique agricultural production, "which is a capital for its culture", an opportunity arises, Papandreou said, that of taking advantage of the cooperation among the regional countries "to develop a new growth model, making use of the region's resources, to create new green industries".
"Our cooperation becomes even more mandatory because globalisation, as it is developing, has created major inequalities, great instability, due to climate change, energy problems, dietary crises, a crisis in water management, but also due to economic clashes and recession," he said.
Later in the day, the leaders will sign a Declaration which, Papandreou stressed, "is not a declaration of intentions but a commitment that we will step up our cooperation on the Mediterranean, which is holding up to the changes but also utilises its rich resources".
"These changes are of historic significance. At threat is not only the climate but also our culture, our life, and the coming generations may simply remember today's Mediterranean as a memory," he said.
"That is why we have taken this initiative, I personally together with the prime minister of Turkey, to develop common actions and decisions so that the Mediterranean will have a stronger voice in the international negotiations on the climate, an appeal which has particular significance just one and a half months before the global conference in Mexico," Papandreou said, referring to the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun from November 29 to December 10.
Noting that there is skepticism on combating climate change, Papandreou said that that is why "we need to coordinate at international level".
That, he added, is the hardest part, "but it is also a challenge, because the planet is a single space and the path of cooperation is the only way to succeed".
"That is why we are here. To show that we can lead initiatives at regional level in the Mediterranean," the Greek premier said, adding that by "working together, we can emerge stronger and confront the problems that exist."
The MCCI conference is also being attended by Philippe Maystadt, president of the European Investment Bank (EIB), which on Saturday is organising the first Mediterranean Greek Development Investors Forum that will also be attended by the regional leaders.
 Turkey's PM Erdogan addresses MCCI conferenceThe Turkish government's sensitivity toward environmental issues was underlined by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking on Friday in the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative (MCCI) Conference taking place in the Athens coastal resort of Vouliagmeni.
Erdogan stressed that his government is particularly sensitive toward anything that affects nature's balance, "that is why Turkey is very interested in the course of the initiative undertaken in Kyoto".
Erdogan stated that his country has prepared a legislative plan on environmental protection and development planning to be implemented by 2012.
He added that his government is already in talks with the European Union as regards the chapter on the environment referring to the pre-accession talks between Turkey and the EU. The chapter in question includes all the issues that concern water supply, water management, forest protection and construction.
He pointed out that in the next few years, his country will be able to produce 20,000 MkWh of wind power, while the effort focusing on the the use of Alternative Energy Sources continues considering that Turkey has an average 2,040 hours of sunlight per year.
Turkey participates in every effort focusing on the protection of the environment and developments that concern climate change, Erdogan concluded.
 Environment Minister Birbili addresses MCCI Conference; other speakersJoint action on climate change by countires big and small, developed and developing, was the new element introduced by the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative taking place in Athens according to Greece's Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Friday.
Addressing the Med Initiative conference taking place in southern Attica's coastal resort of Vouliagmeni, Birbili stressed that "the end goal is for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to become an opportunity for the development of our economies and not an obstacle to development."
The main conclusion reached by the Mediterranean environment ministers was that all participating government representatives are committed to the effort to tackle climate change and that the richer countries should shoulder most of the effort, a position expressed by the poorest countries (mainly on the southern shores of the Mediterranean).
Birbili set four goals for the Mediterranean region state governments: namely, to be more involved in international negotiations, to be ready to cooperate to tackle the climate change, to look for the causes of the problem and to direct the climate change discussion to green economy.
Cypriot Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Demetris Eliades pointed out that climate change needs joint effort and action in order to be tackled. Referring to Cyprus, he stressed that the average temperature on the island rose 0.7 degrees in the period 1991-2005 compared to the period 1980-1990, adding that about two years ago they resorted to importing drinking water from Greece. He also referred to Cypriot government initiatives aimed at dealing with the problem, including water management systems, water desalination plants that will soon go into operation, irrigation with recycled water, firefighting readiness etc.
Egyptian Environment Minister George Maged underlined that Mediterranean countries should be pioneers in meeting their obligations to tackle climate change but that developed countries should carry out more programmes. He also stressed that climate change is not associated only with the rise in sea levels but other problems as well, such as desertification.
Italy's Undersecretary for Environment, Land and Sea Roberto Menia stated that his government's efforts focused on two areas: water management and energy. He also referred to regional actions with Italian participation such as water management in the Sinai region (Egypt), installation of solar heaters in Tunisia etc.
Romanian Environment and Forests Ministry State Secretary Marin Anton stated that the consequences of climate change are already evident and that human activities have contributed 90 pct to the phenomenon while Europe is a region most affected by it.
Croatia's Environment Protection Ministry State Secretary Nicola Ruzinski referred to the action programme for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and to his country's energy policy which is based on the increased use of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and biomass.
Albanian Environment, Forestry and Water Administration Minister Fatmir Mediu underlined that the exchange of technological know-how is of decisive importance to meet the goals in the effort to tackle climate change.
Syrian Environmental Affairs Minister Kaokwab al-Sabah Dayeh mentioned that developing countries cannot handle climate change problems on their own, stressing that the obligations of the countries in the north and the south Mediterranean coasts should be divided fairly. She also underlined that "the countries in the south are semi-irrigated and threatened with desertification, with major consequences for tourism and farm cultivations".
Environment and Physical Planning Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) Nexhati Jakupi stated that the Mediterranean is a region very vulnerable to the consequences of climate change and international cooperation is necessary based on action prioritizing and evaluation of financial needs.
Serbian Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Oliver Dulic stressed that he "cannot imagine his country without agriculture, Greece without tourism and Turkey without agriculture and tourism". He added that legally binding means are necessary to deal with the climate change problem.
Turkish Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroglu underlined that global issues, like climate change, need to be tackled globally. He stated that Turkey's efforts are focused on use of alternative energy sources and reforestation, stressing that roughly 1 million hectares of land have been reforested in the past 30 years.
Mauritanian Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Ba Housseynou Hamady stressed that his country fully supports the Greek initiative regardless of the fact that it has no coasts in the Mediterranean. He stressed that each year the desert expands and destroys roughly 50,000 hectares of forest and arable land in his country.
Israeli Minister Ze'ev B. Begin referred to the water desalination and recycling programmes implemented in his country. He stated that Israel recycles roughly 70 pct of the sewage and its goal is to reach 90 pct by 2015. He invited all the region's countries to cooperate instead of being engaged in misunderstandings.
Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitar Tsanchev stressed that his country is committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 8 pct and implements programmes for the development of all Renewable Energy Sources (RES), reforestation, use of low-energy light bulbs etc.
 IPCC chairman stresses importance of regional initiativesDr. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), stressed the importance of the assumption of regional initiatives, given the "very slow pace" in the process for a global agreement on the climate, in a video-taped address to the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative (MCCI) conference in an Athens coastal suburb on Friday.
In the video-taped address screened at the MCCI in Vouliagmeni, Dr. Pachauri noted various repercussions of climate change in the Mediterranean basin -- which he said will seriously impact a plethora of economic activities -- such as: reduction of rainfall in the subtropical regions of the Mediterranean, more frequent extreme heat events (heat waves), decline in tourism, more forest fires, effects on agriculture due to drought, with reductions in the various crops, and impact on biodiversity, with the threat of extinction for a variety of species. Also, he said, the extended periods of drought in Sub-Saharan Africa will cause a rise in the number of illegal migrants.
"The Mediterranean must adapt, but it must also become part of the solution, the amelioration of the repercussions of climate change," Dr. Pachauri said, adding that measures for energy conservation in buildings was one of the most efficient steps in that direction.
The progress achieved internationally between last year's UN Climate Change summit in Copenhagen and this year's summit in Cancun, Mexico, was outlined by speakers during a panel discussion on "Progress achieved towards a global agreement on the climate".
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the chief obstacle to a global agreement was that the US was not moving on the matter, adding, however, that Europe is playing a very constructive role.
"Europe is the most environment-friendly region in the world," Dimas said, and called the initiative on Climate Change in the Mediterranean very important, given that the different targets of the individual countries of the Mediterranean need to evolve into a common denominator.
The head of EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard's cabinet, secretary Peter Vis, noted that the expectations from the upcoming Cancun summit are more moderate compared with preceding Copenhagen summit, adding that "Cancun is simply an intermediate step in concluding a comprehensive and legally binding global agreement on the climate".
"It remains to be proven how effective the talks process in the framework of the UN is," he said, adding that, as Greek prime minister Papandreou had stressed, "we are in favor of the assumption of actions".
World Bank regional vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa, economist Dr. Shamshad Akhtar outlined the international organisation's fields of activity in the region of the Mediterranean and North Africa, underlining its major Concentrated Solar Power project, and its desalination programs.
 Declaration signed at Mediterranean Climatic Change Initiative conferenceThe Declaration on the "Initiative on climatic change in the Mediterranean" was signed on Friday afternoon, a text that binds the signatory countries to take action and measures to handle climatic change.
The Declaration was signed by the representatives of the countries partricipating, the first being the prime ministers of Greece, Turkey, Malta and the Palestinian Authority.
Responding to the question "what the Initiative means" tabled by the coordinator of the "Table of prime ministers" Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute of Columbia University, Prime Minister George Papandreou said after the signing of the declaration: "Our impressive participation here, proves that we realise the threat from the repercussions of climatic changes, for culture, the economy, security, the quality of our life but, mainly it proves the common will, despite the differences and the conflicts, because climatic change threatens the survival of all of us."
Papandreou added that the threats also produce opportunities and the opportunity in Greece is called "green growth," clarifying that "green growth will provide the vehicle for us to win the struggle of competitiveness, which is Greece's number one problem."
It is the opportunity for sustainable growth, for different tourism, different, more qualitative, agriculture, for the proper management of water resources, he also noted.
He referred to the comparative advantage offered by the aeolian potential and geothermy and stressed that in the next 5-6 years "we can create 250,000 jobs with the participation of the private sector and investments amounting to 45 billion in Renewable Energy Sources."
"Another example of the implementation of 'green growth', is the renovation of our buildings in the direction of saving energy, an activity that will both contribute to the creation of jobs and will decrease the citizens' rates," the Greek premier said.
He also referred the restructuring of the educational system, that will lead to a "new stance of life" and from which "new professions and new know-how" will result.
Turkish Prime Ministjer Recept Tayyip Erdogan, asked about measures taken by Turkey to handle climatic change, said that his country signed the Kyoto agreement and has prepared a national plan for the protection of the environment, that it has incorporated in its development programme.
Also, in the framework of accession negotiations with the EU and in the chapter on the environment it has taken measures of forest protection, water, buildings, gas emissions. "We have a new approach to energy in the direction of saving, productivity and utilisation of RES," he added.
Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis spoke before the signing of the Declaration, calling on the participants, politicians, scientists, organisations and activists to offer "flesh and bones" to Friday's Initiative.
 Joint Declaration on the establishment of The Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative - Full textToday, the 22 October 2010, the participants to the meeting held in Astir Palace in Athens, Greece for the launching of the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative:
Recalling the inaugural announcement of a Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative by the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic on the 3rd Mediterranean Sustainable Energy Summit in Athens on 18th and 19th May 2010,
Taking into consideration that participating countries that are also member states of the EU, are committed to implement European Legislation to all policies pertaining to Climate Change,
Acknowledging that the Mediterranean region has been identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as being especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,
Taking into account that many of these impacts such as increased risk of drought, longer fire season, reduction in crop productivity, are common across the Mediterranean region,
Recognising that, despite the Copenhagen Accord, a legally binding international agreement on climate change remains to be secured,
Acknowledging that it is imperative that the Mediterranean presses ahead with action now, sharing best practice, experience and tools to adapt to changes already being observed and seek solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
Stating that opportunities for common low carbon development strategies in the Mediterranean should be pursued,
Noting that the Mediterranean region has an unrivalled potential to become a major hub of renewable energy generation for domestic and neighbouring markets,
Acknowledging that this potential implies increasing the technical strengths to exploit available resources and the creation of finance mechanisms as well as intensifying collaboration, including in the field of grid interconnections, which the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is fostering through the Mediterranean Solar Plan,
Taking into consideration that large scale renewable energy projects, the development of both climate adaptation and other mitigation solutions could bring significant new opportunities for a 'green economic boost' to the Mediterranean,
Noting that the potential for the creation of new local businesses and jobs arising from demand side measures in cities, buildings, transport, industry and tourism have yet to be fully explored,
Acknowledging that the emergence of a strong, action oriented Mediterranean voice would contribute to global efforts to tackle climate change through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and will also ensure that issues relating to adaptation measures and low carbon development opportunities for the region are explored at the international level,
Hereby jointly declare the launching of a "Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative".
The Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative will aim at contributing to the emergence of low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient economies in the Mediterranean and its objective will be to undertake strategic policy development work on climate change adaptation and low carbon development relevant to the entire Mediterranean region. The Initiative will seek to contribute to addressing the specific challenges faced by the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative will aim at developing convergent Mediterranean positions on climate change demonstrating leadership and strong commitment to action in the international arena.
The participants envisage the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative as both an autonomous Mediterranean political initiative aiming at strengthening international and regional agreements through common policy positions and concrete actions, as well as a projects-based initiative to be eligible for the UfM branding. The Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative aims to strengthen collaboration on convergent challenges and opportunities across the Mediterranean and place a greater focus on the implementation of UfM projects in the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative will also collaborate with other initiatives in the Mediterranean where value can be added through joint working.
The participants also state that they are equal partners in the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative and that any other interested parties in the region can eventually be active and become equal partners in the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative.
 High-level Israeli representation at Mediterranean Climate Change ConferenceThe Israeli government is to be represented at a high-level at the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative Conference hosted by Prime Minister George Papandreou, Israel's embassy in Athens announced on Friday.
A statement issued by the Israeli embassy underlined that PM Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to attend the conference but at the recommendation of Israel's Ambassador to Greece Arye Mekel, he personally assigned government minister Ze'ev Binyamin Begin to represent Israel at the conference, "being a proof of the importance attributed by Jerusalem to Greek-Israeli relations and the climate change issue".
The Israeli representative is a scientist and will address the conference on behalf of the state of Israel, while he will be accompanied by Israeli environmental protection ministry experts.
He is the son of the late Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin who signed the first peace treaty between the state of Israel and an Arab country with the late President of Egypt Anwar Sadat. Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this historic achievement, the statement concluded.
 PM Papandreou holds talks with Palestinian Authority PMGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad discussed the Palestinian issue on the sidelines of the international conference on Climatic Change in the Mediterranean on Friday.
Speaking after the meeting, Papandreou said that the nego-tiations must go ahead for a viable and united Palestinian state and, referring to the Palestinians' right to live in the region with security, he spoke of the desire of the European Union and of the international community to support the reconciliation effort.
Papandreou referred to Greece's traditionally good relations with the Palestinians and sent through Fayad his personal greetings to President Mahmoud Abbas.
On his part, Fayad congratulated Papandreou for the initiative for this international meeting on Climatic Change in the Mediterranean, termed the discussions very interesting and stressed that he found the opportunity to brief his interlocutors on developments in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
He expressed the desire of the Palestinian people for peace and a safe Palestinian state in the region and for this purpose, he added, strong institutions and infrastructures must be created.
The Palestinian official referred to the initiatives and the efforts that have been made, burt stressed that "the conditions are adverse due to the occupation."
Fayad also said that the Palestinians must be in a state of readiness so that the timetables can be observed, but noted the deadlock in the political process of finding a solution and pointed out that this process must find its credibility again and forge ahead with speedy rates. Lastly, he expressed gratitude for Greece's support for the Palestinian issue.
 ND leader Samaras tours Larissa, central GreeceMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Friday lashed out at the prime minister and the relief measures he announced for low-income pensioners.
Speaking in the city of Larissa, central Greece, Samaras stressed that he "was unable to tell whether it was a statement of repentance or yet another attempt by the prime minister to trick the peopleat a time when the society's endurance is wearing out."
Samaras visited the city's commercial centre and called on the people to vote for his party's candidates in the upcoming local government elections on Nov. 7.
The ND leader visited the offices of the local prefect and mayor as well as the agricultural cooperatives union in Larissa.
In the afternoon, he will meet with production sector repre-sentatives and tour the towns of Elassona and Tirnavos.
His tour of the region of Thessaly will be completed on Saturday after visiting the cities of Trikala and Karditsa.
 KKE leader addresses event in GerakasCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, addressing employees at a National Bank branch in the Athens district of Gerakas on Friday, said that the election struggle is a political one and for this reason KKE is looking ahead.
Papariga also said that whatever solution one may seek lies ahead and not behind and for this reason the struggle cannot be limited to November 7 and 14.
"If we are referring to the elections now is because it is there that the decision of the Greek people is recorded to place their seal on developments. The degree of fatalism is recorded, because fatalism exists, meaning if the Greek people will tackle this fatalism," she added.
 GPO opinion pollAn opinion poll carried out by GPO and presented by the Mega television channel on Friday night showed that 32 percent of respondents consider the government's work to be positive, while 66.8 percent have a negative view.
As regards the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, positive views on its work amount to 28.8 percent and the negative to 69.4 percent.
According to GPO head, Takis Theodorikakos, the government's image has worsened, while the image of the main opposition remains the same.
On the question of the prime minister's image, positive views amount to 39.8 percent and the negative to 58.9 percent.
As for the main opposition ND party leader Antonis Samaras, the positive views amount to 37.1 percent and the negative to 60.8 percent.
Moreover, 16.7 percent of respondents believe that the government is implementing a plan of its own for the economy, while 77.5 percent believe that the government is implementing the instructions of the Memorandum.
The opinion poll on the Attica region elections show Yiannis Dimaras leading with 19.5 percent, followed by Sgouros with 17.1, Kikilias 16.2, Pafilis 9.1, Mitropoulos and Georgiadis 8, Psarianos 2.9, Alavanos 2.8 and Diakos 1 percent.
In the Athens municipal elections, leading is incumbent mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis with 37.1 percent, followed by Kaminis 27.2, Sofianos 10.8 and Portaliou 6.3 percent.
 Fact-finding committee on Siemens slush funds to visit Munich next weekA delegation of Greek MPs, members of a Greek Parliament fact finding committee on Siemens slush funds, will go to Munich next week in order to question former Siemens executives Reinhard Siekaczek, Michael Kutschensreuter and SIEMENS Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos.
The first part of the examination will be held on October 26 and 27 and there will be a second trip by MPs on November 8-10 to examine Kutschensreuter, who according to informations is currently in Dubai for family reasons. Siemens chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld will be also questioned at that time.
 German President visits Ecumenical PatriarchISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)
Germany's President Christian Wulff on Friday paid a visit to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at his seat in the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul.
Wulff described his meeting with the Patriarch as "very important" and said it had chiefly focused on issues of religious freedoms, the problems of religious fanaticism and the need for dialogue on all levels between Christians and the other monotheistic religions.
Turkey's European perspective and protection of the environment were also among the subjects discussed, Patriarch Bartholomew added.
The German president said the meeting, beyond inter-faith cooperation and the major problems occupying humanity, had also touched on the situation of the Orthodox Church in Germany and its ever-increasing role and contribution to Germany's plurality.
Wulff is currently on an official visit to Turkey.
 Qatar reaffirms intention to invest in GreeceGreece and Qatar held their first meeting in Athens of an inter-ministerial commission, set-up following the signing of a memorandum of understanding last month in New York.
In a joint communiqué released after the meeting, the Qatari delegation expressed its strong will to implement its intention to invest up to 5.0 billion US dollars in Greece. The meeting was chaired by Greek State Minister Haris Pampoukis and the head of Investments Authority of Qatar, Ahmed Al-Sayed.
The meeting focused on organizing contacts between the two sides, along with investment plans on sectors envisaged by the memorandum. Sources said the meeting did not discuss a decision to cancel an energy investment in Astakos, western Greece.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said "relations are impeccable" and dismissed negative reports made in the last few days. The Qatari official said he was happy to visit Athens for the first time, adding "and not the last".
"We reaffirmed our interest for investments and we are examining several proposals on how to proceed with them. The Greek government was very helpful and the climate positive. Our next meeting will be held in Doha at the end of November," Al-Sayed told reporters. He declined to say anything about an alleged interest to invest in the site of the former Athens airport at Hellinikon.
Theodore Pantalakis, governor of ATEbank also attended the meeting.
After the two-hour meeting, the two representations issued a joint communiqué, saying: "The Joint Commission set up after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of Greece and Qatar in New York, on September 23, held its first meeting today, according to an agreement by both sides. During the meeting, the Qatari side expressed its strong will to implement its intention for investing in Greece up to 5.0 billion US dollars. The two parts reaffirmed their commitment to continue meetings and to intensify cooperation with the aim to promoting investment plans in the sectors mentioned in the Memorandum of Understanding. The next meeting of the commission will be held in Doha, Qatar, in November".
 Benefit for low-income pensioners after ChristmasApproximately 500,000 pensioners on low incomes are to receive benefits ranging between 100 and 300 euros at the end of December, the finance ministry announced on Friday. The benefit will be paid at the same time as their pension by each pension fund, with the exception of the farmers' fund OGA and the civil servants' fund.
The benefit is restricted to pensioners aged 60 years or over, except in the case of disability pensions where there is no age limit. The total cost of the measure has been estimated at 100 million euros and the size of the benefit will be based on annual income.
Specifically, single people with an annual income of 7,000 euros or less and families with an annual income of up to 12,000 euros qualify for the 300-euro benefit. Pensioners in the 7,000-8,500 euro and a family income of up to 14,500 euro qualify for a 200-euro benefit and those in the 8,500-10,000 income category or with a family income of 16,500 euros are to receive 100 euros.
 GSEE: low-income benefit no remedy for loss of 13-14th pensionsCommenting on a 100- to 300-euro benefit for some 500,000 low-income pensioners announced by the government on Friday, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) stressed that this in no way compensated pensioners for the loss of the 13th and 14th pensions under the austerity cuts imposed by the government earlier this year.
"The burdens shouldered by wage-earners and pensioners are hard to bear and for this reason every fragmentary assistance in the form of benefits does not solve the massive problem of income losses," stressed GSEE President Yiannis Panago-poulos.
"GSEE's position and demand is clear and categorical. We demand the 13th and 14th pensions be once again paid to all pensioners and especially those receiving low pensions," he added.
 Magriotis signs joint declaration for 'Via Carpatia'Deputy Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Magriotis on Friday signed a joint declaration for the construction of the 'Via Carpatia' international motorway that will link the Baltic with the Mediterranean, passing north to south through the countries of the European Union's eastern borders.
The joint declaration was signed in Poland by representatives of Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.
"Via Carpatia" will start from Lithuania and will pass across Poland and Slovakia to Hungary, from where it will connect with the Inter-European Road Axis 7 passing through Romania and Bulgaria to end at Thessaloniki, from where it will hook up with the Greek highway network.
The new road is expected to give a further developmental impetus to the ports of the eastern Mediterranean, including the roads and ports of Greece.
Magriotis stressed at the meeting that Greece was in favour of carrying out all necessary action to include the specific road in the Trans-European Transport Networks as an extension of the existing 'Axis 7'. In this way, it will be easier to seek funds for its construction from European structural funds.
The deputy minister also suggested that the Greek state company 'Egnatia Odos SA' act as technical advisor for the project, providing high-level know-how and expertise gained during the study and construction of major infrastructure projects in Greece.
 BoG calls for continuation of fiscal consolidation with no new tax burdensThe Greek economy has made significant steps forward, but no complacency is justified as the country is at the middle of a great effort. This will be the message of Bank of Greece's Interim Report on Monetary Policy, to be tabled to Parliament by its governor George Provopoulos, next Tuesday.
The central bank, in its report, recommends the continuation of efforts towards fiscal consolidation but without any further increases in tax rates, while it recommends the continuation of structural reforms to boost the economy's competitiveness and export orientation. The Bank of Greece estimates that the country's Gross Domestic Product will shrink by around 4.0 pct this year.
The report says that the growth model adopted by the country was responsible also for the current crisis and recommends the adoption of a cohesive action plan for growth, working in parallel with a fiscal consolidation program. The new growth model should be based on investments and structural reforms boosting the production base and contributing to the competitive operation of markets. The central bank said this action would boost productivity and competitiveness, strengthening export activity and improving the country's position in the global economy. At the same time, the new model should serve in protecting the environment and strengthening social cohesion.
The Bank of Greece reiterates its position that fiscal consolidation effort should be based on cutting spending (2/3) and raising tax revenue (1/3), saying international experience has shown that stabilization programs based mainly on cutting spending proved to be more effective. The central bank recommends that the government should accelerate a program to abolish state organizations and agencies lacking any objectives and merger between state organizations.
The report is making a special note on a successful share capital increase plan by National Bank, with the central bank saying it was a very positive message as it highlighted the gradual return of confidence in the Greek economy.
 Hellenic Telecoms appoints Mihalis Chamaz as new chairman and CEOHellenic Telecommunications Organisation on Friday announced the appointment of Mihalis Chamaz as chairman and chief executive of the group, following a decision reached between OTE's main shareholders, Deutsche Telekom and the Greek state.
An OTE announcement said the decision expressed the common will of the group's main shareholders. Chamaz will take over his new post in November 3.
Commenting on the appointment, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said "OTE has great prospects ahead. It has a leading role in the development of the country and in the wider region and strengthening the competitiveness of the Greek economy. I am sure that Mihalis Chamaz will respond successfully to a difficult task ahead, leading OTE into its next steps".
Guido Kerkhoff, a member of Deutsche Telekom's board said: "His extensive international experience and skills rank him among the top executives in Greece, as shown in Cosmote's course. It is exactly these qualifications we sought in the person to lead OTE. I also want to thank Panagis Vourloumis for an exceptional job in OTE and his significant contribution to a good cooperation between OTE and Deutsche Telekom".
Panagis Vourloumis, the outgoing head of OTE said: "Progress in the last six years reflected the hard work of the Group's staff and executives. I believe that the selection of Mihalis Chamaz is a guarantee for the future".
Mihalis Chamaz said: "I thank shareholders for their trust. The responsibility is great. OTE's role is decisive in the technological development of the country of Southeastern Europe. A modernization began under Panagis Vourloumis must be continued at a speedier rate, ensuring the group's healthy development, an impeccable labour environment, offering financial returns to shareholders through products and services satisfying our customers".
 Skaramangas shipyards deal to close on WednesdayThe procedures for the closing of the deal concerning the contract on Hellenic Shipyards in Skaramangas and the Navy submarines will be extended until Wednesday, Oct. 27 at a request of the cosignatories, Abu Dhabi Mar LLC- TKMS/HDW - ENAE, which was accepted by the ministers of finance and national defence acting on behalf of the Greek state.
The ministry of defence announced that the extension was approved "due to bureaucratic difficulties that have arisen in the collection on behalf of ENAE and HDW of the contractually guaranteed instalments which have been deposited on time in the Bank of Greece by the Greek state".
 General government deficit 14.172 bln euros in Jan-AugThe Greek general government's deficit totaled 14.172 billion euros in the January-August period, the Finance ministry said on Friday. A ministry announcement said that outstanding debt by general government's agencies totaled 7.2 billion euros, of which 5.3 billion euros were state hospital debt -a debt already rescheduled and currently under repayment. The state budget's outstanding debt totaled 376 million euros, with the ministry forecasting that this debt would be minimized by the end of the year. The ministry said the figures would be updated and published on a monthly basis in the framework of boosting transparency in the country's public finances.
Local authorities' outstanding debt to third parties totaled 333.5 million euros, state hospitals' debt to suppliers was 6.0 billion euros and pension funds' debt to third parties totaled 89.8 million euros.
 GSEVEE on the kiosk owners' strikeKiosk owners in 45 prefectures nationwide, with the exception of the region around the capital, launched a three-day strike beginning on Friday.
The Hellenic Confederation of Professionals Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE) expressed its support for the mobilization, stressing that the finance ministry should revise the tobacco taxation legislation that has triggered a decline in the kiosk owners' profit percentage from 8 pct to 2 pct.
GSEVEE underlined that the consequences of proposed laws on small and very small businesses should be evaluated first before they are voted into state legislation as dictated by a basic EU principle, stressing that an immediate solution is necessary for the "survival" of the roughly 30,000 sector professionals.
 OSE employees' strike brings rail services to a haltRail services will come to a standstill for roughly seven days in Greece as a result of the four 24-hour rolling strikes called by the Hellenic Railways (OSE) employees for Oct. 25, 26, 27 and 29 and the cancellation of tens of scheduled train routes on Oct. 24, 28 and 30.
OSE and Athens' Proastiakos suburban railway trains will not be running in protest over an infrastructure, transport and networks ministry bill on the reorganisation and development of OSE.
On Oct. 25, 26, 27 and 29 access to Athens' International Airport via public transport will be possible only by bus.
 Greek CDS easing, report saysFor the first time since January, the cost of insurance against a Greek default within a year is cheaper than the cost for longer duration, a sign that the risk of default has declined, according to CMA in London.
A report by Bloomberg said Greek state bonds' credit default swaps (CDS) for one year fell to 565 basis points, down 61 bps compared with 10-year CDS, a sign that markets are offering Greece time to reduce its fiscal deficit.
Greek one-year CDS started the year at 143 basis points, soaring to 1,300 bps in June at the peak of the credit crisis. The two-year CDS has the highest cost from any other duration.
 Stocks end higherGreek stocks ended significantly higher in the last trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index rose 1.24 pct to end at 1,605.82 points, for a net gain of 3.61 pct in the week. Turnover, however, remained a low 97.299 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 1.29 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.41 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.79 pct. Ellaktor (6.71 pct), Viohalco (5.25 pct) and OPAP (3.59 pct) were top gainers among blue chips.
The Chemicals (3.91 pct) and Industrial Products (2.90 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Financial Services (1.10 pct) and Insurance (0.47 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 94 to 65 with another 66 issues unchanged. Dias Fund (19.05 pct), Mevaco (10 pct) and Q&R (9.52 pct) were top gainers, while Elfico (18.75 pct), Fintexport (11.76 pct) and Edrasi (9.09 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.57%
Personal & Household: +0.57%
Raw Materials: +1.51%
Travel & Leisure: +2.86%
Food & Beverages: +1.09%
Financial Services: -1.10
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, OPAP and Bank of Piraeus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.43
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.26
HBC Coca Cola: 19.29
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.90
National Bank of Greece: 8.29
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.10
Bank of Piraeus: 4.03
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 693 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, from 684 bps on Thurday. The Greek bond yielded 9.39 pct and the German Bund 2.46 pct. Turnover in the market shrank to 22 million euros, of which 12 million were buy orders and the remaining 10 million euros were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security of the day, with a turnover of 10 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.51 pct, the six-month rate 1.25 pct, the three-month 1.025 pct and the one-month rate 0.82 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.404
Pound sterling 0.894
Danish kroner 7.517
Swedish kroner 9.330
Japanese yen 114.09
Swiss franc 1.364
Norwegian kroner 8.208
Canadian dollar 1.441
Australian dollar 1.431
 10-year anniversary of "Thessaloniki Megaron"The Thessaloniki "Megaron of Music" in 2010 celebrates its 10th anniversary and has commissioned a new piece of music from composer George Koumentakis, which will be presented for the first time during a anniversary concert held on Monday 25 October at 21.00.
The Thessaloniki National Orchestra will perform under the conductor Myronas Michailidis, alongside piano soloist George-Emmanouil Lazaridis.
George Koumentakis was the musical director, composer and writer for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and he is considered as one of the most recognised new Greek composers. He has composed 100 pieces for full orchestra, chamber music and solo instruments, operas and dance, music for ancient Greek tragedies and theatre.
 Event commemorating the Marathon Battle in WashingtonÔhe US regional division of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), the Federation of Greek-American teachers and the Educational Office of the Greek Embassy is Washington are organising an event at Capitol Hill on Friday dedicated to the 2,500th anniversary of the 490 BC Battle of Marathon.
 World Forum on spiritual culture held in AstanaASTANA- Kazakhstan (ANA-MPA)
A "World Forum on Spiritual Culture" was held in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, with a wide participation of people of culture and art, scientists and representatives of the society of citizens from 70 countries.
The organiser was Kazakh Senator Tolegen Mukhamdzhanov, president of the non-governmental organisation "Peace through Culture" who was also the Forum's joint president that was held under the auspices of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and with the support of the country's Senate.
On the part of Greece, the professor of International and European Institutions of the Pantios University Theodora Chiou-Maniatopoulou participated in the Forum as a speaker on the theme of "Culture in a globalised world."
 Chinese community associations in Athens to deliver gifts to two children's sheltersThe associations of Chinese communities in Athens, in a display of freidnship to the Greek people and especially children in need, have expressed their desire to donate clothing, toys and other gifts, to the children hosted at two Health Ministry children's shelters Agios Andreas and Agia Varvara.
The associations, after several months of preparation and with the support of the Chiese Embassy in Greece and the ministry, will on October 27 deliver the gifts to the Agios Andreas facility, during a special ceremony to be attended by the ministry's secretary general for welfare Katrivanos and Greek Ambassador in Athens Luo Linquan.
 US Consulate to be closed on October 27As is normal on the last Wednesday of every month, the Consular Section of the United States Embassy in Athens, will be closed to the public on Wednesday, October 27, for internal administrative reasons. According to a U.S. Embassy press release on Friday, this closure includes the non-immigrant visa unit, immigrant visa unit, federal benefits unit, American citizen services unit, and passport unit. For true emergencies during 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. working hours on this day, one may call 210-721-2951 and after 5:00 p.m. 210-720-2490, or 210-720-2491.
 Cloudy on SaturdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 25C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 19C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe working conditions in the private sector, a financial support to pensioners, and polls ahead of local government elections, mostly dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Cutbacks in salaries and working hours in private sector".
AVGHI: "Prime Minister George Papandreou turns the local government elections into "general elections".
AVRIANI: "Acts of desperation in fear of crushing defeat".
ELEFTHEROS: "Covert reduction of salaries in private sector".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Civil servants' benefits to be cut from November via the single payment service".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Derby in Attica prefecture elections".
ESTIA: "The bureaucracy monster".
ETHNOS: "Poll foresees surprises in local government elections".
IMERISSIA: "Government clash with industrialists for the prices'.
KATHIMERINI: "EU: Either severe austerity or penalties".
LOGOS: "Local government elections bring an extraordinary financial support ".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Government -Industrialists clash over the prices in market".
NIKI: "Government to manufacturers: Cut prices by 30 percent".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government-NATO: Surrender Greek sovereign rights to the imperialistic power war plans".
TA NEA: "100-300 euros extraordinary financial support to low pensioners".
TO VIMA: "Unemployment sends the young to the armed forces".
VRADYNI: "Job market a jungle".
 Solution to property should respect international law, President tells UNSGNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has told the UN SG Ban Ki-moon, during a telephone conversation, that the discussion and solution of the property issue cannot ignore the relevant UN resolutions or human rights conventions, but it should be based on them, Government Spokesperson Stephanos Stephanou said on Friday.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday's separate communication between the UN SG on the one hand with President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu on the other, Stephanou noted that the policy of the UN is not to put the blame on either side, while the process is ongoing, in order to protect the negotiation process.
According to the spokesperson, the President told UN SG that it is also his wish to proceed with the negotiations and achieve convergences and progress in the talks.
The president noted however that the solution of the property issue cannot ignore the relevant UN resolutions, international law or human rights conventions, Stephanou said.
He went on by saying that the negotiations and the solution to the problem should be based on these facts. The proposal which the Greek Cypriot side has recently put forward enshrines the right of the property owner to opt either for restitution, exchange or compensation of his/her property, Stephanou said.
The spokesperson added that during the telephone conversation, President Christofias referred to his proposal to link discussion on property to territory and immigration, citizenship, aliens and asylum, saying that this proposition will bring about progress.
Stephanou concluded that the Turkish side has not accepted the President's proposal.
President Christofias has recently put forward a three-tier proposal in a bid to help make headway at the talks he is currently engaged with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Dervis Eroglu.
The first proposal provides for linking discussions on property to territory and immigration, citizenship, aliens and asylum.
The second proposal calls for the implementation of Security Council resolution 550 which provides for the return of the fenced off area of Varosha - under Turkish occupation since 1974 - to the UN. The proposal envisages also the opening of the city's port for trade for the Turkish Cypriots, under EU supervision.
The third proposes the convening of an international conference on Cyprus, once the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side are within reach of an agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem. The conference is to be called by the UN, and apart from the Republic of Cyprus and the island's two communities, the EU, the five permanent members of the Security Council and Cyprus' three guarantor powers will attend (Greece, Turkey and Britain are the guarantor powers according to the 1960 Constitution).
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