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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-17
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 EU report sees strong growth rate, decline in unemployment and inflation for GreeceBrussels (ANA/M. Spinthourakis) -- The Greek economy will continue to develop at a strong rate in the coming years, which will also see a de-escalation of unemployment and inflation, but difficulties are presented in the reduction of the fiscal deficit, according to the European Commission's autumn report on developments in the EU member states' economies, covering the period up to 2007, which was released in Brussels on Thursday.
The report was welcomed in Athens as confirming the improvement in the country's fiscal situation in 2005 and anticipating further progress in 2006.
More specifically, according to the Commission report, economic growth in Greece is anticipated at reaching 3.5 percent for 2005, and levelling off at 3.4 percent for 2006 and 2007.
As for the fiscal deficit, the Commission forecasts it will close at 3.7 percentage points of GDP for 2005, although the report specifies that pending was the issue of subtracting from the fiscal deficit the so-called securizations of debts to the public sector. The Commission further predicted that the fiscal deficit would rise slightly to 3.8 percentage points in 2006 and 2007.
Nevertheless, the 2005 prediction is the lowest deficit in recent decades given that, according to figures also released on Thursday by Eurostate, the Greek fiscal deficit for the period 1991-1995 stood at 11.5 percentage points of GDP, while it fell to 5.2 percentage points in 1996-2000, and fluctuated at 6.1 percentage points in 2001, 4.9 percentage points in 2002, 5.7 percentage points in 2003, and 6.6 percentage points in 2004.
A decline, albeit at a smaller rate, was also anticipated by Eurostat in the coming years in Greece's public sector debt, which was expected to close at 107.9 percentage points of GDP in 2005, at 106.8 percentage points in 2006, and at 106.0 percentage points in 2007.
With respect to unemployment, Eurostat predicted it would close at 10.4 percent in 2005, declining to 10 percent in 2006 and to 9.7 percent in 2007.
On inflation, Eurostat predicted it would close at 3.5 percent in 2005, and decline to 3.1 percent in 2006 and 3.0 percent in 2007.
After the release of the Commission reports, European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Joaquin Almunia told reporters that the European Commission's forecast for the Greek public deficit figure is based on a working assumption that the Greek government's debt securitisation plan will be approved by Eurostat.
The Commissioner also pointed out that Greek authorities had based their official forecast on a "worst-case scenario" in which Eurostat completely rejected Greek debt securitisation plans.
Almunia said that the matter will be cleared up in the next few weeks, since Eurostat was due to complete its analysis of the Greek proposals before the end of 2005, and that he had informed Greek Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis by phone that Eurostat's decision was imminent.
Securitisation schemes and other temporary measures had not been taken into account by either the Greek government or the European Commission in the forecasts for 2006 and 2007, he clarified, but noted that these would be included once the state budget for 2006 had been officially presented and Eurostat's decision was known.
 World Association of Newspapers conferenceGreece's minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos addresseed the issue of equilibrium between the mass media and the political authority, in a greeting to the opening session of the two-day World Association of Newspapers' (WAN) 2005 World Editor and Marketeer Conference & Expo, that opened in Athens on Thursday.
"The relationship between the media and their public, between the citizens and the intermediaries of events, is one of the factors that essentially determine the quality of our democracy, given that the press, and particularly the printed press, is the venue where concerns are put forward, recorded and put to the test, in the battle of ideas, arguments, where the public sphere is formed," Roussopoulos said.
Consequently, if one perceived democracy as a continuing process -- not as a destination, but a journey -- then inevitably the discussion on the media is always timely, he said, adding that this was true particularly today when the demand for a new balance between the media and the political authority and for balance between the dual function of the media and business enterprises and public opinon makers is being put forward in an increasingly pressing manner, in the place of and in tandem with the classic demand for freedom of the press.
Roussopoulos also explained the meaning of the word "agora" (market) in the Greek language, which is defined as an economic transaction but also a place for exxchanges of ideas.
The challenge of our age is to prove in action that those two meanings can co-exist harmoniously today, Roussopoulos said, noting that the relationship between citizen and newspaper was a personal one -- contrary to that of the citizen and television/radio, which was a mass relationship -- and was a relationship of trust and promotion of the cultural ideal.
An introduction was delivered by WAN CEO Timoth Balding, followed by a welcome address by Dimitris Kalofolias, president of the AThens Daily Newspaper Publishers' Association and publisher of the Express financial daily, and the chairman's opening address by Mike Smith, managing director of the Media Management Centre, S.
Guest speakers during the two-day conference include Sport.gr CEO Constantine Kamaras (Greece) on "Monetising news content in interactive media"; Bruno Pachent (France), marketing director of La Depeche du Midi, and Bertrand Lacroix (France), consultant to France Telecom, on "A new model of interactivity with readers"; El Mundo marketing director Pedro Iglesias (Spain) on "Management to gain new readers for El Mundo"; St. Petersburg Times circulation director Jerry Hill (US) on "Growing Circulation and Audience"; Herald Telegraph promotion director Connie Gibbs (US_ on "Reading the Reader...Common Interest for a Diverse Audience", Wall Street Journal Europe editor Rahu Narisetti and Wall Street Journal senior vice president international and development Penelope Muse Abernathy on "Ink & Bytes: Executing a wining 'format neutral' strategy"; Le Monde editor-in-chief Eric Le Boucher (France) on "The new format of Le Monde"; Guardian Newspapers marketing director Marc Sands (UK) on "From Broadsheet to Berliner"; and WAN deputy director general Eamonn Byrne on the "World Association of Newspapers 2005 Research Project".
 Justice minister: No one exempt from the lawJustice minister Anastasis Papaligouras on Thursday assured that the clean-up in the justice sector was continuing and would be completed, in statements to the press after a meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis.
He also said that no one would be exempt, stressing that the law was being applied in every instance, when asked to comment on judicial corruption and the case of independent MP Petros Mantouvalos, who was recently expelled from the ruling New Democracy party after announcing his resignation from the ND parliamentary group and retention of his seat in parliament as an independent, without prior notification to the government.
On Tuesday, Areios Pagos (Greek Supreme Court) public prosecutor Dimitris Linos formally asked Parliament to lift Mantouvalos' immunity so that he ccould stand trial.
A former deputy for Piraeus elected on the ND ticket, Mantouvalos unexpectedly resigned from the party's Parliamentary group last month in the wake of press reports linking him to scandal and was shortly afterwards expelled from the party. He retained his seat in Parliament as an independent MP.
According to the judicial report, there are adequate grounds for charging Mantouvalos with bribery as a misdemeanour and with legalising income from criminal activity, a criminal offence. The acts were allegedly committed on 27-29 November, 2000, and the misdemeanour offence will be automatically statute-barred at the end of November, unless he is charged. They concern the sum of seven million drachmas deposited by the MP's associate H. Hatzipanagiotou, a partner in Mantouvalos' lawyer's firm, into the account of former first-instance court judge Evangelos Kalousis, who has been remanded in custody to be tried on corruption charges. Hatzipanagiotou has claimed that the money was deposited on behalf of a woman named Anastasia Delli, who was buying a car for her nephew from Kalousis. Investigation showed that Delli was in dire financial straits at the time and was also under temporary court protection because she was suffering from dementia.
Papaligouras told reporters he had discussed current matters with the prime minister and briefed him on the ministry's legislative initiatives.
In that framework, Papaligouras announced that a bill on domestic violence would be forwarded soon for discussion, while another bill on the establishment of a Judicial Police was also being advanced.
Papaligouras said the two bills were important initiatives, and would be made public after the contents were finalised.
 Pope invitation conveyed to Archbishop ChristodoulosPope Benedict XVI, through Cardinal Turan, director of the Vatican's Library, has extended an invitation to Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos to visit the Vatican.
The invitation was conveyed by the cardinal during an event, Wednesday, at the Byzantine Museum for the presentation of a Byzantine book. The book was published by the Church of Greece in cooperation with the Vatican Library and the Spanish Publishing House Testimonio.
The cardinal read the letter sent to Archbiship Christodoulos by the Pope which noted that "a new step has been achieved on the road to reconciliation and cooperation."
On departure, from the event, Archbishop Christodoulos told reporters that "an official invitation" would be extended.
 Boom in public projects sectorEnvironment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Wednesday spoke of a 'boom' in the public projects sector and stressed that some must stop speaking about dangers regarding public projects.
Speaking at a conference organised by the newspaper Express, Souflias said that the ministry's leadership can neither be pressured nor blackmailed, adding that in this conflict of interests, which is tough due to the size of projects, the only thing he and his associates hear and see is the public interest.
Referring to reforms brought about in the projects production system, the minister said that the first major step was the fair project-awarding system which is that of tendering. The process is absolutely transparent and projects are awarded in record time.
Souflias said that secondly the process of the contractor's termination is objective and speedy, while invoices constitute the third security valve. "Consequently, tendering takes place with absolute transparency and appropriate specifications," he said.
He also pointed out that the majority of projects awarded with the new law move ahead without any objection being raised. Objections currently raised concern, in their majority, projects having a big budget which are not taking place with the new law but with the study and construction system, while participants in tendering abuse this right of theirs.
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