|Thursday, 14 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-10-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 9, 2004
 Greek inflation rises to 2.8 percent in September, yr/yrGreece's annual inflation rate rose to 2.8 percent in September from 2.7 percent in August, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
NSS, in its monthly report said that the consumer price index rose 2.0 percent in September from August, while the harmonised consumer price index dropped to 2.9 percent in September from a 3.3 percent increase in September 2003.
The statistics service attributed the 2.8 percent rise in the inflation rate in September to a 5.1 percent rise in clothing-footwear prices, an 1.6 percent increase in durable goods, a 5.3 percent rise in healthcare prices, a 2.5 percent increase in enterntainment and a 4.5 percent rise in education. The hotel-coffe-restaurant group also recorded a 3.8 percent increase in September, the housing group a 4.8 percent rise and transportation group recorded a 5.0 percent increase due to higher fuel prices.
The monthly CPI figure reflected a 13.8 percent increase in clothing-footwear (after the end of the August sales season), a 4.1 percent rise in education prices and a 5.2 percent increase in durable goods.
Harmonised inflation rose 2.1 percent in September from August.
NSS secretary-general Manolis Kontopyrakis, commenting on the inflation figures said he expected the consumer price index to remain below 3.0 percent in the last quarter of 2004 even if international oil prices remained around 50 dollars per barrel. Kontopyrakis said the most probable scenario was for the inflation rate to stay at 2.9 percent and international oil prices to fall from their current record-high levels.
Greece's Economy and Finance ministry expects international oil prices to gradually fall to around 40 dollars per barrel.
 Karamanlis conveys condolences over Taba bombingsPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday conveyed the Greek government's and his personal condolences towards the families of victims from a series of terrorist attacks late Thursday evening at the Sinai resort city of Taba, in Egypt.
In a telegram to Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Kara-manlis said he felt "profound grief for the terrorist bombing attacks in Taba."
"I would like to express, personally, and on behalf of the Greece government, my deepest condolences and my sincere compas-sion towards the families of the victims.
"Allow me, moreover, to assure you of Greece's unlimited moral backing to Egypt and our commitment to firmly deal with similar acts of despicable violence," he added.
PASOK press spokesman condemns terrorist attacks in Taba
Main opposition PASOK party Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis expressed his party's "complete condemnation" of the terrorist attacks in Taba, Egypt.
"We stress that the Middle East is going through a particularly critical phase where the current situation is being aggravated and it is time that international initiatives to solve the Middle East problem be undertaken as this is a crucial issue for all the region" added Athanassakis.
 Turkey expresses its regrets on Patriarchate bombingANKARA (ANA/A.Abatzis)
The Turkish government expressed its regrets on Friday regar-ding the bombing of the Patriarchate in Phanar on Thursday.
In a statement issued by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office, the government stated that security measures around the Patriarchate have been reinforced, while investigations are being carried out regarding the attack and its perpetrators.
Meanwhile in Athens, Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis said that the Greek government unequivocally condemns the acts of extreme fanatical groups against the Ecu-menical Patriarchate, as well as any act that goes against religious freedom.
"We do not believe that such isolated acts of violence and intolerance are representative of Turkish society, which has be-gun on a course towards EU accession, a course which the Greek government supports," Skandalakis said.
Main opposition PASOK party Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis in a statement also condemned the attack. ''Such acts of inoleran-ce, violence and fanaticism contradict the Turkish society itself, which is now trying to find its way towards Europe and reinforce its European prospects,'' he said.
Gov't: PASOK systematically altered economy's figures
The government on Friday sharply criticised the main opposition PASOK party for what it called its (PASOK) distortion of the truth and the true condition of the Greek economy.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros added that the main opposition party's efforts, of late, are merely aimed at shifting the blame from its shoulders for the current state of the economy.
"The truth is that PASOK over the past years systematically altered the economy's figures, something for which Eurostat repeatedly responded through official reports and statements by its officials," Antonaros said, while also charging that past PASOK governments unveiled so-called budget surpluses which, in effect, were budget deficits.
"They were hiding debts, unemployment and the true state of the Greek economy," he added.
Nevertheless, the government spokesman repeated that there is no thought of early elections being called, "the economy will be restructured, expenditures will be cut and commitments will be met".
Finally, the spokesman said erroneous impressions were being circulated - press reports were featured in some Athens papers on Friday -- regarding the government's standing commitment to resolve the thorny issue of bank-imposed penalty interest rates. He stressed that provisions to resolve the matter will be fully implemented.
Eurostat's experts to visit Athens next week
A Eurostat group of experts is expected to visit Greece next Tuesday, 12 October, to cooperate with the country's National Statistics Service over the method used by Greek authorities in recording certain budget figures.
The EU executive's statistics agency's experts will depart the next day. Greece's National Statistics Service secretary-general
Manolis Kontopyrakis, speaking to reporters, said that Eurostat's experts have not made any request to examine budget figures for the period 1997-1999. Kontopyrakis, however, stressed that in a letter sent to NSS, Eurostat claimed that a sum of 8.7 billion euros covering defence spending by the Greek government has not be included in the fiscal deficits in the period of 1997-2003.
 G. Papandreou comments on Turkey's EU prospectsBRUSSELS (ANA/M.Spinthourakis)
"The EU's new borders should not create new dividing lines. Drawing dividing lines within EU enlargement would only be a missed opportunity for the European Union and a heavy blow to the Balkan countries for which the prospect of EU accession constitutes a significant incentive for renewal and reform," main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) President George Papandreou wrote in an article published in the Belgian daily "La Libre Belgique," on Friday.
Papandreou went on to explain PASOK's strategy in Greece's rapprochement with Turkey during his tenure as foreign minister. While the PASOK government was then criticised for this approach, "after five years, the results speak for themselves," he wrote. As a result of the rapprochement, both countries have signed dozens of agreements beneficial for both, in areas such as business transactions, energy production, environmental protec-tion and organised crime. This, Papandreou supported, has bene-fited Greece's economy and security. However, he explained that this was not only done for national interests but within a broader vision the then government had for promoting stability in the region.
Speaking of Turkey's EU candidacy, Papandreou noted that the country has made substantial reforms at a quick pace, but pointed out that Turkey still needs to accomplish more in terms of human rights, minority rights, and excessive military power. However, he said that Greece supports Turkey's EU candidacy and expects that Turkey and its ruling party will fulfill their obligations.
Papandreou also addressed the issue of religion, stating that, "Denying Turkey a European future based on religious reasons would be tantamount to denying the EU's diversity. Democracy is a worldwide value and under no circumstances does it belong only to certain religions." On the contrary, he supported that "Accepting a country that shares our democratic values and human rights, regardless of nationality or religion, is a positive indication towards the Muslim world and will relieve the increasing tensions between Christianity and Islam, which are being fuelled by international terrorism and nationalism," he added.
As for the Cyprus issue, Papandreou stated: "It truly is sad that 15 years after the end of the Cold War, a 'Berlin Wall' still divides Cyprus' capital Nicosia, dividing the island's Muslim and Christian communities," adding that the island's reunification would strengthen stability in the region.
In closing, Papandreou urged the international community to continue supporting Turkey's European future, by participating in solving the Cyprus issue.
 Turkish FM promises to boost religious freedom in TurkeyANKARA (ANA)
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Thursday promised that his government will do everything necessary to ensure freedom of religion for all its citizens, "including non Muslims".
Speaking only a day after the European Commission gave Tur-key a qualified "yes" to its long-standing request to begin acces-sion talks, Gul said a Turkish government decision to allow the re-opening of the Halki School of Theology wouldn't be just a "goodwill gesture".
"We will do what we believe is right, what should be done. We will do what is necessary for the religious freedom of all our citizens, including those that are non-Muslims. If there are obstacles, our duty is eliminate them," Gul was quoted as saying in a television interview with a local station.
Turkish authorities shut down the Orthodox school on the small Sea of Marmara island of Halki in 1971. The school had served as the primary seminary for the Ecumenical Patriarchate before that time.
Gov't reduces red tape in residence permit process
The government on Friday announced that it was eliminating four red tape-laden certificates previously needed by most non-EU nationals to obtain renewals of residence permits from municipalities and prefectures.
According to a decision by Deputy Interior Minister Thanassis Nakos, the relevant documents will not be mandatory for renewing residence permits if they have previously been submitted to a prefectural entity during the process to renew a work permit.
Eliminated documents include a copy of the previous fiscal year's tax statement or a tax bureau's confirmation of the applicant's good standing; a work contract by the employer with a verification of the employer's signature by a public sector notary; a signed declaration by the employer certifying that the contract is still in force, again with verification of the employer's signature by a public sector notary, and finally, verification of the applicant's good standing (no arrears) by a relevant public sector insurance fund.
Pavlopoulos visits Institute of Immigration Policy
Minister of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation, Prokopos Pavlopoulos, visited the Institute of Immigration Policy on Friday, where he was briefed by the institute's
leadership on its polices, research studies and activities, all of which focus on foreign migrants living and working in Greece.
Karamanlis briefed by deputy sports minister on related issues
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday was briefed by Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos on issues related to the latter's portfolio, namely, publicly financed sports federations and the country's sports leagues, among others.
According to reports, Orfanos may have also briefed the premier on his meeting a day earlier with the president of the debt-ridden AEK Athens football club, former star striker Demis Nikolaidis.
The deputy minister declined to comment on Friday, merely noting that the government is determined to implement a recently ratified bill governing pro sports teams.
Govt expands composition of National Council of Competitiveness and Development
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday announced the inclusion of Greece's regional chambers and industry federations to the composition of a National Council of Competitiveness and Development.
Speaking in parliament, during a debate of a draft legislation envisaging the creation of the Council, Sioufas said he accepted proposales by parliament deputies, a move that "confirmed the basic principle of the new government to listen to each fruitful proposal and to highlight its particular interest in the country's regions".
The Greek minister said it would include the presidents of Greece's Technical Chamber, Economic Chamber, Geotechnical Chamber and the president of the Greek Investment Centre. Also, the heads of the Industry Unions of Peloponese and Western Greece, Thessaly and Central Greece and Crete.
PASOK MPs want report on downed Chinook released
Eleven main opposition PASOK deputies on Friday demanded that the government release a recently completed defence ministry report on last month's crash of a military helicopter off a northern Greece promontory.
The accident claimed the life of 17 passengers and crew-members, including Patriarch of Alexandria and All Egypt Petros VII.
The deputies charged that failure to disclose the report, which focuses on delays in activating search and rescue procedures rather than on the actual cause of the accident, implies an attempt to conceal political responsibilities.
The government has previously stressed that it will release an announcement containing all of the information listed in the report, sans certain passages dealing with confidential personal data.
 EU report cites major industrial polluters in EuropeBRUSSELS (ANA/A.Simatos)
A report reviewing the performance of EPER, the European Pollutant Emission Register, which was recently published by the European Union's executive Commission, called on member states to harmonise their measuring and calculation methods, and include emissions from landfills and pig and poultry farms, which are not yet entirely covered.
The report also concludes that for many pollutants a high proportion of industrial pollution is caused by a few single plants.
The Commission on Friday cited 73 companies as major pollu-ters, including three Greek companies - Phosphoric Fertilizers Industry SA (Thessaloniki factory), Hellenic Steel Co-Riva Group, and Aluminium de Grece.
EPER was launched by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency in February 2004.
The first EPER Review report evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of data collection and reporting process for the first EPER reporting cycle, which includes emissions in 2001.
Further to the completeness and the quality of the reported data, EPER data are analysed with regard to 50 pollutants, activity sectors and the countries that are covered. The share of emissions to air, direct to water or indirect via a sewer system have also been investigated.
The Review report also urges major polluters to evaluate their potential for improving environmental performance.
Data for the second EPER reporting cycle, which will cover emissions in 2004, will be released at the end of 2006 and include data from all 25 member states as well as Norway. Norway and Hungary are currently participating on a voluntary basis.
 Deputy foreign affairs minister meets Chinese delegationDeputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Evripides Stylianides on Friday met with a delegation from China on Friday at the ministry. The Chinese representation included a government official and businessmen who were accompanied by the President of the Industries Association of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, Lefteris Kaltapanides.
During the meeting, a presentation was made of a joint Greek-Chinese venture which is due to operate in China and which will produce industrial products using Greek technology.
 Tourism minister Avramopoulos, SYN leader Constantopoulos discuss future of Greek tourismTourism minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met Friday with Coalition of the Left (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos for an exchange of views on tourism matters, and particularly on the future of Greek tourism.
Avramopoulos said after the meeting that emphasis was placed on the developmental programmes, while he also said that he breifed Constantopoulos on the new perception on which the strategy for tourism was founded.
Constantopoulos, in turn, said he had presented his parties views on the problems in the development sector and in tourism policy to the minister, adding that SYN was interested in a self-sustained development, and growth with a human face.
 Ministers meet with regions' general secretariesA meeting was held Friday between the general secretaries of the country's 13 regions and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, with discussion focusing on the means of better promoting development in the provinces.
Specifically, talks centred on the policies of promoting develop-ment in cooperation with the central government ministries.
 KKE leader Papariga opens international meeting of communist and labour parties in AthensA three-day meeting of some 70 communist and labour parties from all over the world opened Friday in Athens with an address by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, who focused on the international situation that has evolved following the September 11, 2001 terrorist hits in the US, as well as on the present-day workers' demands.
Papariga opined that the reactions against the "imperialistic ag-gressiveness" were growing internationally, noting that it was a particularly positive development that movements and resistance were developing that also encompassed popular demands such as tackling unemployment and poverty, and opposition to wars.
These movements, she said, could be more effective if there was a better condition in the labour and trade union movement, particularly in their executive bodies which, she noted, were trapped in the management of the system.
In that light, a main topic at the upcoming KKE Congress would be how the party can move into a new phase of counter-attack so as to contribute to a rise of the class struggle in Greece and making the people realise the need for a deep-rooted solution in the field of authority, Papariga said.
At the same time, more focus would also be placed on the development of its internationalistic contribution to the commu-nist movement, and also to the anti-imperialism movement in general.
The KKE leader further said that although strikes would break out in the near future, they were not enough to achieve conquests since, due to the correlation of powers, due to the nature of the capitalist restructuring, the workers were putting foward reduced demands.
Papariga anticipated that the crisis in the region would intensify in the near future -- referring to a prospect of attacks on Iran and Syria -- and for that reason proposed an intensification of cooperation among the communist and labour parties.
More specifically, she proposed meetings of communist and labour parties by region in order to examine specialised issues, and meetings of these parties when major international events arose, while she also urged that wider meetings be aspired to with anti-imperialism and anti-monopoly forces in each region.
 G. Papandreou attends Olympic Truce meeting in LausanneMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou attended a board meeting of the International Centre for the Olympic Truce, of which he is vice-president, on Friday in Lausanne.
After the meeting, Papandreou expressed his satisfaction with congratulations he received from IOC President Jacques Rogge and other board members regarding Greece's excellent organisa-tion of the Olympic Games. "This is a legacy for our country, for the Olympic Movement and of course we need to utilise this" said Papandreou, adding that included in this legacy, was the effort to further promote the Olympic Truce whose permanent headquarters are now in Athens.
Papandreou also added that one of the most important proposals discussed at the meeting, was that candidate host countries for the Olympic Games should be evaluated on how much they contribute to the idea of the Olympic Truce. He added that "our aim is to reach areas where there is conflict, such as the Middle East and elsewhere, so that the meaning of the Olympic Truce can catch on".
Papandreou also said that the truce was widely accepted in Greece and that all parties were co-operating on this matter.
 Greek-Turkish initiative promotes "peace on both sides of Aegean"The mass media and younger generations have a role to play in improving relations between the people of Greece and Turkey and promoting their understanding of each other, according to members of the Institute "Nikos Poulantzas" and the Turkish Foundation of Cinema and Audiovisual Culture (TURSAK), who held a joint press conference on Friday.
The press conference was held within the context of a series of events that will take place in Greece and Turkey under the programme "Writing about peace on both sides of the Aegean."
"The core of the programme concerns young people from both countries, since we believe that young generations can contribute significantly to the fight against nationalism," Director of the Nikos Poulantzas Institute Charalampos Golemis said. He also added that the two institutes' cooperation had been planned long before the latest developments regarding Turkey and the EU.
"The cooperation with TURSAK falls within the framework of trying to develop political thought, mutual understanding and contributing to public dialogue, since both countries - and I emphasise both countries - are facing problems of democratisa-tion," Vice President of the N. Poulantzas Institute Economics Professor at Athens University Nikos Petralias said.
"The programme's strength is that it focuses on the mass media and the young generations," Petralias said, citing the mass media's portrayal of the Imia crisis of 1996 as an example of its influence, which he said "made me feel embarassed for the irrational handling of the issue by the media which cultivated a climate of nationalist hysteria and talk of being on the verge of war." On the flipside of this example, Petralias also mentioned the media's positive portrayal of the solidarity and cooperation that developed between the two countries when an earthquake hit Turkey in August 1999.
"This programme is the most important for us, while we'll be placing great emphasis on 'unwritten history,'" TURSAK Presi-dent Engin Yigitgil said. Asked by the Athens News Agency (ANA) what he meant by 'unwritten history,' Yigitgil clarified: "That which would also be called the 'other history' or 'a different history' or 'unofficial history.' It is the history that is not included in school textbooks which are written based on the rationale of power, but history that emerges through research, thought and social dialogue."
Petralias agreed with Yigitgil on the school books, saying that "I read them all and was ashamed of how they handle history, but other subjects as well."
TURSAK General Manager Sevinc Baloglu explained that "the programme is under the umbrella of social dialogue between Greece and Turkey," and includes the following events:
A symposium will be held in Istanbul December 13 and 14 with the participation of Greek and Turkish journalists who will discuss the media's role in writing "unofficial hisotry," as well as training new journalists in covering national crises, and discus-sing problems women journalists face in both countries.
A documentary of two journalists' separate journeys in Greece and Turkey. The participating journalists will be Eje Temel-kouran of the newspaper Millyet and Andreas Papadopoulos of the newspaper Avgi and the radio station Athens 9.84.
A writing contest for a 1,200-word article based on "Greek-Turkish frienship during the era of globalisation," targeting young journalists (up to 30 years of age) and students of journalism and social sciences.
 Angelopoulos couple reject press claims of ties to Octagon firm; justify libel suitsThe head of the Athens 2004 Organising Committee (ATHOC), Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, and her industrialist husband, Theodoros Angelopoulos, on Friday flatly denied any involve-ment with a company that served as an intermediary for several Athens Olympics' sponsorship deals.
The couple also said it filed libel suits against two Athens news-papers, "Eleftherotypia" and "Avriani", because of a recent "systematic effort" aimed at the couple's utter defamation.
Their joint press release comes after an Athens first instance court prosecutor was ordered this week to investigate the press claims involving the firm Octagon, an intermediary for sponsors' agreements with ATHOC.
"We express our disappointment over the fact that our social relations are being exploited as 'indications of purported guilt' and are leading the judiciary to involve itself with absolutely baseless issues," the release read.
 Archbishop Christodoulos to postpone Vatican visitThe Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church on Friday voted for the postponement of the scheduled visit by Archbishop Christodoulos to the Vatican. Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, was due to to to meet with the Pontiff on the occassion of a planned visit to Rome where he was to be honoured by the University of Laterano.
62 metropolitan bishops took part in the secret vote, only 15 of whom were in favour of the archbishop's meeting with Pope John Paul II. 42 out of the 62 officials supported that the conditions for such a meeting were not favourable.
Christodoulos did not hide his annoyance regarding the outcome of the vote and when asked by journalists as to whether he continued to beleive that the Greek Church should be more open to progressive ideas, he replied: "What I believed then, I still believe now".
The church High Clergy also re-examined the matter of the ordination of deaconesses, a practice common in the Church during the 4th and 5th centuries which was later faded away. The synod decided that bishops could decide at their own discretion to ordain certain high-ranking nuns if no priest was available, for example in isolated monasteries. It was stressed that the role of deaconesses should be social, for example the granting of last rites to the sick. According to the Archbishop of Peristeri, deaconesses should "play a role in society and not in the monastery".
 Record number of applications in subsidised bio-farming programmeSustainable growth is increasingly gaining ground worldwide and environmental sustainability is one of its three pylons, Agri-cultural Development and Foods Minister Evagellos Basiakos said on Friday, adding that bio-farming was the basic form of implementing a successful sustainable growth policy.
The Greek minister stressed that a record number of 2,844 applications have been made in the framework of a government-sponsored programme to subsidise bio-farming in the country, and that efforts were made to speed up procedures to include bio-farmers to the programme. Financial support is based on the size of the cultivation area and the variety of the product, ranging between 33.50-90 euros per stremma (one stremma=1,000 square metres) and for a period of up to five years.
Basiakos noted that although bio-farming currently accounts for 0.9 percent of total cultivate areas in the country, the government was showing significant interest in the sector. "Our aim is to raise this rate to 3.0 percent in the next four years," the Greek minister said.
 Greek clothing sector reports good results in 2003The Greek clothing sector reported good financial results in 2003, the Union of Textile-Clothing Enterprises (SEPEE) said on Friday in a report based on the results of 200 companies in the sector.
SEPEE said that last year was a favourable year for the industry despite negative economic conditions worldwide and intensified competition faced by Greek clothing enterprises. Greek companies managed to raise their profits satisfactorily, and to increase their net profit margins.
The annual report of the sector showed that turnover of the total 200 enterprises rose 1.8 percent to 1.548 billion euros in 2003 from 1.521 billion euros in 2002, while 53.5 percent of the companies surveyed reported an increase in their turnover.
Average turnover per company totalled 4.7 million euros, while 144 enterprises reported a turnover of more than 3.0 million euros and the 10 largest enterprises (5.0 percent of surveyed companies) accounted for 31.1 percent of total turnover and 31.2 percent of total net profits.
The companies with the biggest annual turnover in 2003 were: Hajioannou Group (122.3 million euros down 6.4 pct), Fanco Group (92.2 million euros, down 5.3 pct), Sex Form (64 million euros up 20.1 pct), Fiera Group (50.2 million euros down 14.1 pct), Triumph International SA (31.8 million euros up 4.3 pct) and ELBE Clothing Group (29.1 million euros up 42.2 pct).
The report also showed that 122 companies (61 pct) reported profit growth in 2003 with only 18 (9.0 pct) losses. Domestic market companies accounted for 74.7 percent of total profit, while exporting companies reported triple profit growth rates (45.7 pct) compared with domestic ones (14.8 pct).
Hajioannou Group, Sex Form Group, Toi & Moi ABEE, BSB ABEE, Triumph Int'l and ELBE Clothing reported the biggest pre-tax profits in the sector. The sector's short-term debt rose by 9.2 percent in 2003, while long-term debt eased by 13.8 pct.
 Mixed outlook for post-Olympics real estate market, survey saysReal estate in the post-Olympics era is seen stable in housing, declining in business premises, and rising in holiday homes, a survey conducted by Kapa Research showed.
Property management companies view the market as stable but construction firms see it as declining, according to the study released on Friday at the Prodexpo 2004 trade fair.
In addition, hosting of the Olympic Games by Athens last August had created a favourable outlook in terms of publicising the Greek real estate market but the best use had not been made of the opportunities, the survey said.
Sectors seen offering opportunities for development of new infrastructure are tourism and housing complexes; and major private sector infrastructure.
Areas of the country most likely to attract business interest in coming years are Macedonia, Attica and the country's islands.
Finally, other countries expected to attract interest in the real estate sector are Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, the survey said.
 Greece and Cyprus stock markets must cooperate, Greek Finmin saysCapital markets in Greece and Cyprus have the necessary tools, the ability and the range to play a "significant role" in the wider financial zone of Southeastern Europe and the Middle East, Greek Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Folias said on Friday.
Addressing a Stock Market Symposium in Nicosia, Cyprus, Folias stressed that Cyprus, as a member of the European Union and soon of the Eurozone "offered a significant playground for cooperation".
The Greek minister urged both the Greek and Cypriot capital markets to seek a bigger role in the development and prosperity of the wider region. "Past mistakes are now lessons," Folias said and added that both markets could cooperate in "promoting the idea of a financial network in Southeastern Europe, Near and Middle East".
"Emerging markets have difficulty in achieving their goals when following their own path," Folias said adding that the reality makes it necessary for the two stock markets to cooperate in attracting investors and export know-how and technology.
He stressed, however, that this goal would take time to be completed since it needed first a maturity process and a strengthening of both markets' credibility.
 Deputy Finance Minister discusses Greek economy and cooperation with CyprusNICOSIA (ANA/G.Leonidas)
Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias emphasised that the government's priority is to turn the Greek economy around immediately, speaking at the Bank of Cyprus here on Friday evening.
"We started working in this direction systematically and I think that we will manage to make the country attractive. We have an ambitious goal: To make Greece the number one choice for investment in Europe," he said.
He added that the government's immediate priority is to reinforce the dynamism of certain sectors which have sustained growth in recent years, such as construction, as well as those sectors in which Greece has competitve advantages. These include agriculture, tourism in all its alternative forms, a large part of industry and commerce, shipping, energy production, telecom-munications and transport.
Folias said that Greece and Cyprus could cooperate and create common structures in order to attract investment. The two countries can jointly promote their competitive advantages owing to geographical location to the international financial community. He emphasised that Cyprus' cooperation in this direction is crucial.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks nose up to hold support at 2,400 ptsStocks finished higher with the market consolidating its hold on support at 2,400 points, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,408.68 points, showing a rise of 0.08 percent. Turnover was 105.6 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalisation shares ended 0.12 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.42 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.82 percent down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 170 to 112 with 76 remaining unchanged.
On a weekly basis, the general share index gained 2.38%.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Base metals: -1.02%
Information Technology: +0.10%
IT solutions: -0.99%
Food & Beverages: -0.98%
Real Estate Management: +3.05%
Parallel Market for smaller cap stocks: -0.34%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, National Bank of Greece, Football Pools Organisation, and EFG Eurobank Ergasias.
Selected shares from the MSCI index closed in euros
Alpha Bank: 22.04
HBC Coca Cola 17.74
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 19.62
Public Power Corp: 19.98
National Bank of Greece: 20.52
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.88
Emporiki Bank: 18.32
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation 10.98
Titan Cement Company: 21.56
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 79.8 mln euros
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
• Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.4 bln euros
 6th Panhellenic Health Services Management Conference opens in AlexandroupoliThe 6th Panhellenic Health Services Management Conference, under the aegis of the Health and Social Protection Ministry, opened in Alexandroupoli on Friday and was inaugurated by Deputy Health Minister Yiorgos Konstantopoulos.
"It is an effort we are making in order to introduce administrative and health economics sciences to Greece, which are very advanced abroad, but in Greece are at an embryo stage," Yiorgos Stathis, Administrator of the Amalia Fleming Hospital in Melissia (Athens) said. The conference aims at bringing two things to the forefront: "Efficiency and patient satisfaction. [By that] I mean rational use of financial resources available to the health sector and placing the patient at the centre of attention. The system must function for the benefit of citizens not for the benefit of health care professionals, as is the case today."
Approximately 1,200 health care professionals from the private and public sectors are participating in the two-day conference which ends Saturday. The 5th Panhellenic Nurses' Conference is being held simultaneously.
On occasion of the conference, Konstantopoulos also visited Alexandroupolis' University Hospital and was briefed on its operation and problems, promising to address the issue of lack of staff.
 Drug haul reported near Greek-Albanian border; one suspect arrestedA 24-year-old Athens man was charged with drug smuggling this week after authorities arrested him near the Greek-Albanian border moments before he was about to retrieve a hidden cache of hashish and heroin.
Police confiscated 50 tons of hashish and 550 grams of heroin at the spot.
According to reports, the suspect initially received the narcotics last week from an unidentified Albanian smuggler, who in turn returned back across the frontier.
Evangelos Papastathopoulos was charged in connection with the incident.
 Culture ministry contract employees march to government headquarters, demand meeting with PM KaramanlisContract employees at the culture ministry met on Friday with deputy culture minister Petros Tatoulis, who informed them that their contracts would end on their expiration date, just as all the other contracts in the rest of the public sector.
After the announcement, the contract employees marched to the government headquarters at the Maximos Mansion in central Athens, where prime minister Costas Karamanlis, who also retains the culture ministry portfolio, is scheduled to meet shortly with Tatoulis and ministry secretary general Christos Zacho-poulos.
The demonstrators are demanding to meet with the premier.
 Group rallies against extradition of Kurdish activistA group of protesters rallied outside the Supreme Court here on Friday to voice their opposition to the extradition to Germany of a Kurdish activist.
The man in question, Boskurt Sinan, alias "Taylan", was arrested last March in the northeastern town of Komotini after his involvement with three hunger-striking Kurds that had slipped over the Greek-Turkish border.
Berlin has requested Sinan's extradition on various charges connected to his activity as a member of a Kurdish solidarity committee and another Kurdish liberation group. He is listed as a German citizen.
A hearing on the matter was postponed until Oct. 15.
 Weather ForecastSunny on Saturday
Sunshine is forecast in all parts of the country, with early morning mist on the mainland. Winds northerly, light. It will be slightly warmer. Temperatures in Athens from 13C to 27C; and in Thessaloniki from 12C to 25C.
 The Athens dailies at a glancePrime minister Costas Karamanlis' against the special interests and the continuation of the confrontation over the matter in parliament, the bomb attack on the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, and the state of the Greek economy were the main front-page items in Friday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS (Mitsis): "My child, learn how to...drive - New regime in the issuance of driving licences".
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS (Rizos): "Clash to the limits with the special interests - Panic among the 'pimps' and their lackeys".
APOGEVMATINI: "Bonus points for the public sector contract employees (in examinations for tenured positions) - The interior ministry's final plan to be announced end-October".
APOFASI: "89 percent popular mandate that the stockmarket (scandals) file be opened up - New nationwide opinion poll by Alpha Research for Apofasi".
AVGHI: "Parliament turned into a 'reality show' Thursday - Cover-up of the aggravated problems".
AVRIANI: "Gianna (Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, ATHOC chief) and Theodoros (her husband) grabbed the billions from the Games sponsorships and procurements - They are the real owners of Octagon, and not the crooks appearing on the company papers".
CHORA: "Pensions: Calculation method changing in IKA - How you can gain another 300 euro per month".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Karamanlis, if you do not 'tie them up', they'll topple you - The Pimps and Guilds preparing counter-attack".
ELEFTHEROS: "Souflias: These areas will flood - The PASOK governments left Attica prefecture without anti-flooding works".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The special interests at a loss - PASOK and those touched by the statements concerned themselves only with the (word) 'pimps' ".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Uproar, without names - Pimping: The new word in political terminology".
ESPRESSO: "Mysterious experiments on cancer patients - Burning report by prosecutor".
ESTIA: "Double fraud with the deficit - First the data-doctoring, now the distortion".
ETHNOS: "Pimps, godfathers, stoolies in fashion in parliament - The 'political culture' introduced by the premier with his 'manifesto' enters the political life".
KATHIMERINI: "The truth about the economy - Eurostat was pressing for the Greek accounts since 2002".
LOGOS: "The essence remains, the phraseology denied - The 'pimps'...set fire to parliament".
NIKI: "Regulation/gift to big business, a day after the tackling of the special interests".
RIZOSPASTIS: "66 parties from all continents in Athens - International meeting of communist and labour parties".
TA NEA: "Striptease with amendment on the 'pimps' - They were giving away billions to big debtors".
TRAFFIC NEWS: "Revi's hell - After Tatiana, he also took Hios to task".
TO VIMA: "The decadance of politics - The tension escalating".
VRADYNI: "Another 6,500 families to acquire homes from the OEK (Labour Housing Organisation) - Clear order by Karamanlis to the employment ministry".
 Cyprus Commissioner to take initiatives on health and food safetyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
Markos Kyprianou, European Union Commissioner designate for Health and Consumer Protection, has promised to take initiatives with regard to public health, to enforcement of regulations on food safety, to campaigning against smoking and other related issues.
Speaking Friday at a press conference in Brussels, after a hearing before the European Parliament, he also said that he would work to create consumer confidence and ensure that European citizens enjoy the same or equal protection throughout the Union.
In his opening remarks, he said his priorities would be the protection of the consumer, the European citizen, whether this concerns public health or food safety or consumer protection.
''Emphasis will be given on creating consumer confidence based on the reality that the consumer has the same or equal protection in all the member states,'' he said, adding that consumer confidence is an important factor in all members for the internal market.
Kyprianou, a former finance minister in Cyprus, said emphasis will also be given on enforcement of all existing regulations, which, as he pointed out, should be more strictly applied, especially in the protection in the field of food safety and consumer protection.
Referring to public health, he said he would take initiatives, even if they cannot lead to legislation, and emphasis will be given on the campaign against smoking.
''I believe that there should be the same level of protection and treatment all over Europe. The Irish example is a very good one to be followed in the other member states,'' he added. Ireland has banned smoking in all public places.
The Commissioner designate talked about the three problems young people are facing, which he identified as tobacco, obesity and excessive alcohol consumption.
''In these three I will try and take an initiative with the cooperation of the stake holders, the industry, the NGOs and of course the member states,'' he vowed.
Replying to questions about GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) policy, he said if the member states continue to disagree, it will be up to the Commission to take the decision on this matter, based on scientific evidence.
''My position will be based on that evidence as well, whether this will be the same policy or a new one, it depends on each case separately and on the facts around it,'' he explained.
On initiatives to enforce existing rules and regulations, he said it was very important to ensure that existing legislation is applied properly and that there is control on member states whose authorities have to apply this legislation.
He said emphasis will be laid on health claims (various food products claiming they are good for health without scientific proof) and on the question of labeling of products to inform the consumer of the contents.
 Cyprus Commissioner designate complimented on hearing performanceBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA)
Markos Kyprianou, Cyprus' European Union Commissioner de-signate for Health and Consumer Protection, has received com-plimentary comments following Friday's hearing before two committees of the European Parliament, ahead of final approval of his nomination.
Statements issued after the hearing from the Socialist group, the Liberal group and the European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC) welcomed Kyprianou's positions with regard to public health, smoking and consumer concerns, noting that he has a good grasp of the issues at hand.
 British MPs reiterate firm support for justice in CyprusLARNACA (CNA/ANA)
British parliamentarians, who arrived here on Friday to partici-pate in an anti-occupation rally organised by Morphou munici-pality, said they would continue the battle for the reunification of Cyprus.
They also said that Turkey should meet its obligations towards Cyprus with regard to a political settlement and pointed out that Ankara's course towards Europe would not be easy, if it does not.
Welcoming the British deputies, Morphou Mayor Charalambos Pittas said there was unprecedented interest from foreign dignitaries in this year's rally and described Britain as ''the most important decision making centre with regard to the question of Cyprus.''
''We are here to show our ongoing support to the Republic of Cyprus but in particular to Morphou and its people,'' Tom Cox, chairman of the Cyprus-British Commonwealth parliamentary group, said on arrival.
Reiterating his commitment to Cyprus, he said ''we are now in very interesting times'' and repeated previous statements that, had he voted in the April referendum on a UN solution plan, he would have rejected the UN proposal.
Commenting on a recommendation by the European Commis-sion for the start of accession negotiations with Turkey, which occupies Cyprus' northern areas, Cox said ''I hope they do not think for a minute that it is going to be a very easy passage.''
''Until they face their responsibilities here in Cyprus and allow the people of Cyprus, be they Greek or Turkish Cypriots, to develop how they wish to live on this island, we in the British parliament and our colleagues in the European Parliament will make it very very clear to Turkey that you have a lot to do, especially with regard to Cyprus,'' he added.
He said the issues are known and added ''we will make it very very clear to Turkey and its leaders what their obligations are to this island.''
Roger Gale, Conservative House chairman of the parliamentary friends of Cyprus, expressed hope that the day will come when Cyprus will be reunited and described the UN plan unacceptable.
He said one could not expect the people of Cyprus to have stationed in their country foreign troops of an occupying force (Turkey). ''None of your friends will rest until a just solution has been achieved,'' he added.
Labour deputy Alan Meale, chairman of the British-Cyprus committee, said that ''the battle goes on'' to gain the return to their land (the people of Morphou), the removal of Turkish settlers and find out exactly what has happened to the missing persons.
Morphou Mayor Charalambos Pittas thanked the MPs for their continuous support and said personalities from Greece, Malta, France and Britain were set to participate in Sunday's march towards the occupied town.