|Monday, 20 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-07-14
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greek economy to grow at around 3.5 pct in 2nd qtr, FinMin saysGreek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday said the country's economic course was satisfactory adding that Greece "seems to have one of the best economic performances in the EU".
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said economic growth rate would reach 3.5 percent in the first quarter of 2005 and added he expected similar growth rate for the second quarter, quashing bleak forecasts for economic growth after the Olympic Games.
Alogoskoufis said recent figures for unemployment and retail sales were better than expected, with the unemployment rate falling at 10.4 percent of the workforce in the first three months of 2005, from 11.3 percent in the same period last year. "Without being fully satisfactory, the figures are evidence that we don't have any worrying developments in the unemployment front," he said adding that retail sales and exports were steadily rising.
Alogoskoufis said the economy ministry would have to face two big problems in the next two months: tax evasion, particularly in VAT, and fuel smuggling in the country. The Economy minister said systematic work and offering more information to consumers to help in dealing with these two problems.
Commenting on a package of recommendations made by an IMF delegation, after an official visit to Athens, on drafting the state budget and the reforming the tax system, Alogoskoufis said the ministry would study these proposals, some of which were already included in the ministry's plans.
Alogoskoufis said the government did not have any particular problems in its discussions with the European Commission over a restructuring plan in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation. The Greek minister said the government was awaiting a response by the European Commission over a ministry plan to exclude first home owners from paying VAT from January 1, 2006. Alogoskoufis said the government would unveil its plans over introducing a VAT on real estate by the end of the month.
The Greek minister also said the Finance ministry would proceed with a plan of securitisating part of public sector's revenues, a measure successfuly introduced in Portugal in the past.
 Extended shop hours to offer a new impetus, minister saysDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday expressed his confidence that draft legislation for extending shopping hours in the country would offer a new impetus in the domestic market and would lead to a new era, resolving chronic problems.
Speaking to reporters, Sioufas said retailers and supermarkets would be open until 21.00, Monday to Friday, and until 20.00 on Saturdays, while he categorically dismissed talk of letting shops open on Sunday.
The Greek minister said that by introducing a new single shop hours schedule around the country, each prefecture could not lower shop hours in their region, but only extend shopping hours after consultation with local entrepreneurs.
"A government is not a government of a particular social group," Sioufas said, adding that a government must compose different views. He noted that the country operated under 54 different shopping hours systems in the present, and that the government sought to harmonise the system.
 Triumphant welcome ends maiden run on new Thessaloniki-Istanbul train lineISTANBUL (ANA - A. Kourkoulas) Inaugurating the new Thessaloniki-Istanbul train line, the inter-city train 'EXPRES ΦΙΛΙΑ' (pronounced Express Filia, or "friendship express") rolled into a triumphant welcome at Istanbul's flag-bedecked Sirkeci station at 10:00 on Thursday morning, after completing its maiden run.
On board was Greece's Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis, who was met by Turkish Transport Minister Yildirim Binali, the head of the Turkish railway authority Suleyman Karaman, the local mayor, the Greek General Consul in Istanbul Alexis Alexandris, and dozens of TV news crews.
As the Greek minister and his entourage alighted, traditional dance groups from the Black Sea performed a spectacular and breath-taking dance with war knives.
"Today we are witnesses to a great historic moment, when a train linking Istanbul with Thessaloniki becomes a steady bridge of communication between our people," Liapis said in a brief speech to the welcoming committee.
"This line does not only symbolise the closer ties between Greece and Turkey but is also a first step in completing an ambitious transport and communication plans of the European Union. The doors of the European Union are opening for Turkey, also," Liapis stressed.
The Greek minister also noted that a new highway to Turkey was also due to be completed within the next two years.
He said that the new train line would signal a new spurt of economic growth for the region, bringing Europe and Turkey closer together and shortening the journey from Thessaloniki to Istanbul by three hours.
"This line is a line of friendship between our two countries and their people but also a commercial and tourist route that begins in the heart of the Thermaic Gulf (in Thessaloniki) to end up in the heart of the Bosporus," Liapis added.
After the welcoming ceremony, gifts were exchanged between the Liapis and Binali and between the head of the Greek Railway Organisation (OSE) Constantinos Yiannakos and Karaman. The two ministers then went to dinner on board a ship sailing on the Bosporus.
Later on Thursday, Liapis will meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan before hosting a dinner in return for Binali at an Istanbul restaurant.
 National Opera to mark Theodorakis' 80th year with performance of 'Canto General' as a balletThe National Opera of Greece will mark the 80th year of Greece's "national composer" Mikis Theodorakis by staging a production of "Canto General" - one of his best known and most ambitious works - as a ballet at the Herod Atticus Odeon on July 21-22.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Theodorakis called "Canto General" his "most contemporary, political, advertising and national work", stressing its highly ecological message.
It will be conducted by Ilias Voudouris, who said it was the composer's "most important" work, while the choreography will be the work of Spain's Ray Barra.
Theodorakis also spoke about his relationship with the poet Pablo Neruda, who wrote the words to "Canto General" and stressed that he considered it a "joint creation" after their collaboration.
"As a deeply religious person, I believe in the law of cosmic harmony and my relationship with Neruda is a magic moment," he said.
He also revealed that he had composed the music at the request Chile's former president Salvador Allende, and considered it a commission from the socialist government of Chile.
Lead singers in the performance will once again be Maria Farandouri and Petros Pandis, while other parts will be sung by Sofia Mihailidou and Tassis Christoyiannopoulos.
 PM to speak at New Democracy youth festival on LimnosPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will depart for Limnos on Friday, where he will deliver the opening address at the New Democracy Youth organisation (ONNED) festival "Parousies 2005", government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.
At a press conference on Thursday, ONNED President George Papanikolaou presented the festival's programme and expressed his excitement at the "active support of New Democracy President and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis".
"We are stirring up the stagnant waters of political party youth groups....All those who believe that Greek youth is apathetic and non-political are proved resoundingly wrong," he said.
He stressed that the festival had attracted large numbers of participants during a politically "dead" period, despite being organised at a location far from the capital. He also stressed that the choice of location was symbolic and a way of saying that Greek regions - including a remote island like Limnos - were also at the "centre" of Greek life.
Papanikolaou also noted that this would be the first time that a political party youth organisation would show its faith in the climate of solidarity and "constructive coexistence" with the Turkish people by visiting the Turkish coast and carrying out joint events there.
Planned events at the festival include three discussions, one on education with Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou speaking, one on youth and the armed forces with Defence Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos as main speaker and one on policies for regional development, with the input of Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis.
A number of cultural events are also planned, such as a theatre performance, a puppet show, musical concerts, art exhibitions and events, book fairs and various activities, such as visits to archaeological sites, tree-planting expeditions, beach volley and water sports competitions, among others.
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