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Athens News Agency: News Bulletin in English, 06-12-28

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek FinMin optimistic over 2007 economic performance
  • [02] PM and interior minister discuss trimming bureaucracy
  • [03] Papandreou slams gov't for party-politics within police
  • [04] Public order minister reacts to Papandreou statements
  • [05] PASOK leader has telephone talks with UN's Annan
  • [06] Measures against sports violence to begin operating soon
  • [07] Police launches pilot operation of 'Mobile police unit'
  • [08] Coalition's Alavanos visits food safety agency EFET
  • [09] Cyprus-Greece to sign cooperation memorandum on education
  • [10] FPA acquires new presidium
  • [11] Condolence books for late President Ford at US Embassy, Consulate
  • [12] Greek budget revenues up 9.6 pct in Jan-Nov
  • [13] Greek trade deficit up 27 pct in October, yr/yr
  • [14] Minister meets with representatives of Greek tourism industry
  • [15] Maritime foreign exchange to Greece increases
  • [16] 'New Igoumenitsa Port - B Phase' project incorporated in Cohesion Fund
  • [17] Greek stocks end 0.30 pct higher
  • [18] German couple's CCTV helps police nab robbers
  • [19] 90-year-old faces homicide charges after shooting intruder
  • [20] Albanian-flag motorship runs aground on Gavdos island; crew rescued
  • [21] Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy on Thursday
  • [22] Greek press review
  • [23] Papadopoulos not concerned about seeking re-election

  • [01] Greek FinMin optimistic over 2007 economic performance

    The consolidation of fiscal reform, reinforcement of the development process and greater social cohesion are the main characteristics of the economy for 2007, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told ANA on Wednesday.

    "A mild fiscal adjustment policy and a broad reform programme aimed at dealing more effectively both with problems inherited from the past and future challenges, are being implemented since taking over the country‚s government", Alogoskoufis noted. Such problems are high fiscal deficits, a very large public debt, declining competitiveness, high unemployment, particularly among the young, and the counterproductive public sector, stated the finance minister, adding that all these undermined the country‚s future leading the economy to introversion and low productivity.

    Dynamic growth, notable decline of unemployment, considerable improvement of public finances and greater social cohesion were achieved through the reduction of taxation rates for businesses within ataxation reform framework. In addition, more incentives for new investments were offered -particularly in the country‚s regions- within the framework of a new investment law, as well as through public and private sector partnerships, new generation privatizations and a 3rd Community Support Framework reform.

    Growth rate

    The progress made in the economy is proven by the existing figures, Alogoskoufis added. In spite of difficulties such as high oil prices and low growth rates in the Eurozone, unemployment dropped from 11.3 percent in the first quarter of 2004 to 8.3 percent in the third quarter of 2006. Growth rate is strong, he stressed, at 3.7 percent in 2005, and 4.1 percent in the first half of 2006, while in the third quarter of 2006 it reached 4.4 percent putting to rest all post-Olympic Games recession scenarios. Competitiveness shows notable improvement based on the course of exports and the reports issued by foreign organizations.

    Fiscal deficits are steadily declining. From 7.8 percent of GDP in 2004 the deficit will drop to 2.4 percent in 2007. Competitiveness in the banking system was boosted thanks to the settlement reached in the bank employees‚ social insurance problem and the privatizations done by the government benefiting households, businesses and the economy in general. After many years, Greece is again on the international investment map attracting major investments. Foreign investments in the first nine months of the year reached 3.7 billion euros and are tenfold compared to the same period in 2005. The progress observed was achieved at a time when not all reform initiatives had given fruit meaning that the Greek economy will preserve its dynamic characteristics and further improve its performance.

    The basic characteristics of the economy in 2007, according to the finance minister, will be the consolidation of fiscal reform with the deficit being considerably under the 3 percent limit, at 2.4 percent of the GDP, for a second year in a row. Development process will be reinforced with growth being based on investments and exports which considerably increased in the first 9 months of 2006 with a 9.5 percent and 20.2 percent rate respectively. The amended investment law passed in December offers more incentives for investments, while the funding of projects placed within the National Strategic Reference Framework will get underway in 2007 with 82 percent of them being directed to the country‚s regions.

    [02] PM and interior minister discuss trimming bureaucracy

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had a meeting with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday focused on combating red tape and improving the services provided to the people.

    Pavlopoulos stated that they also discussed the implementation of the special operational plan on public administration within the framework of the 4th operational period.

    He pointed out that this is the first time that a special operational plan on public administration exists aimed at combating red tape and exploiting e-governance.

    Pavlopoulos also added that e-governance will help in the efforts to combat red tape and improve the services provided to the people.

    [03] Papandreou slams gov't for party-politics within police

    In a visit to Kallithea police station on Wednesday, the leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) George Papandreou strongly criticised the ruling New Democracy government for allowing party political criteria to interfere with the running of the police force.

    "We honour the Greek policeman, who has a difficult task before him. On the other hand, we decry the intense party patronage and lack of meritocracy that the present government of New Democracy has imposed within the police, resulting in a lack of planning since we cannot have only 40% of the officers foreseen in units on active duty and on patrol, because in this way they cannot deal with real events that occur in neighbourhoods and in society," he said.

    Papandreou promised to radically redesign the operation of the police force once PASOK was in power, so that the required force on active duty was available, and ensure that this was done based on merit, without party political bias.

    During his visit to Kallithea police station, PASOK's leader was received by Attica General Police Director Asimakis Golfis, station chief Vaios Barbarousis and Kallithea Mayor Constantinos Askounis.

    Papandreou toured the passport department and was briefed on the general running of the police station. During the meeting, Golfis called for restoring the organisation of the police force to the planning made in 1995 and reported problems in technical support for police vehicles.

    [04] Public order minister reacts to Papandreou statements

    Replying to the main opposition leader's claims of politicisation within the police, Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras expressed hope that he was "not nostalgic for the Soldatos' lists" and noted that these examples of promotions, transfers, detachments and return of retirees to active duty were now gone for good.

    The minister also stressed that crime was decreasing, albeit slowly.

    Polydoras also conceded that the police force was undermanned but accused Papandreou of hypocrisy for failing to support the containment of small demonstrations to one lane of traffic, in spite of its recent statements, pointing out that the 711 such small demonstrations that took place in the centre of Athens in 2005 had occupied 96,000 police officers.

    [05] PASOK leader has telephone talks with UN's Annan

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou had on Wednesday a telephone conversation with outgoing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, according to a party press release.

    Annan, who called upon Papandreou, thanked the main opposition leader for their cooperation all along the former's tenure as UNSG, expressing his hope that this cooperation will be extended in the future, the press release said.

    On his part, Papandreou thanked Annan for the cooperation they had, assuring him that both as PASOK leader and SI president, he would always be "at the disposal of those who work for peace, the defence of human rights and the struggle against inequalities," the press release concluded.

    [06] Measures against sports violence to begin operating soon

    Two special departments set up by the public order ministry to help tackle sports violence - the Sports Police Liaison and the Bureaus for the Prevention of Organised Sports Violence - are due to go into operation over the next few days, police announ-ced on Wednesday.

    The Sports Police Liaison will be made up of 32 police officers that will take on the Super League teams. These officers will all be well-known former athletes that have earned a place in Greek sporting annals by winning important distinctions in major competitions and their mission is to establish communication between club officials, organised fan associations and the authorities, with a view to avoiding tension and violent incidents during sports events.

    Following a training period in the first third of January, the Police-Sports Liaisons will then be introduced to soccer and basketball club officials.

    The Bureaus for the Prevention of Organised Sports Violence will be responsible for collecting information concerning the risk of violence at each sports event and identify the people that are suspected of causing incidents.

    [07] Police launches pilot operation of 'Mobile police unit'

    The Greek Police (ELAS) on Wednesday announced the launch on December 31, 2006 of a new pilot programme - the "Mobile Police Unit" - designed to enhance the "human face" of the police force.

    An announcement by the public order ministry said that each mobile police unit will be staffed by a small team of four uniformed officers, that will include one officer of higher rank, two ordinary policemen and one driver.

    They will be issued with a specially designed, closed police van that will be able to travel to selected areas determined on the basis of specific needs, such as areas far from police stations or with specific population profiles, socioeconomic development and crime rates.

    The units will be on duty six days a week between 7:00-15:00 and will travel to at least two different locations during the day, such as central streets, shopping high-streets or squares.

    Initially, three such units will be deployed in the centre of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki. Authorities stressed, however, that they will only carry out routine administrative tasks, such as testifying that signatures or photocopies are genuine, in exceptional cases and for vulnerable groups, such as the disabled, pregnant women or the elderly.

    [08] Coalition's Alavanos visits food safety agency EFET

    The president of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday stressed that the need for greater state support to Greece's Unified Food Control Body (EFET) so that it was better staffed and covered all areas of Greece, after a meeting with the agency's leadership.

    "The issue of food quality is not just an issue for this season, it is a matter for the entire year," he said, calling for better coordination with the other agencies involved in inspecting food safety until Greece had a truly unified system for food quality control.

    Alavanos also commented on rising crime statistics and the handling of the public order ministry, saying that the ministry "has set a wrong course for the ship and already run it aground".

    He repeated criticism of Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, especially his recent statements concerning the parties of the Left and SYN, in particular.

    [09] Cyprus-Greece to sign cooperation memorandum on education

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)

    Cyprus and Greece will sign a cooperation memorandum on education, during a two-day official visit to Cyprus by

    National Education and Religious Affairs Ministar Marietta Yiannakou, who arrives on the island on Thursday.

    During her visit, Yiannakou will be received by Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and House President Demetris Christofias. She will meet with Cypriot Minister of Education and Culture Pefkios Georgiades, with whom she will sign the memorandum of cooperation.

    Yiannakou will also meet Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II and hold separate meetings with party leaders.

    The Greek minister leaves on Friday.

    [10] FPA acquires new presidium

    The Athens-based Foreign Press Association (FPA) announced on Wednesday the composition of its new board.

    Didier Kunz (Agence France Press-AFP) is the new President. Panagiotis Tsafos (Deutche Presse Agentur-dpa) was elected Vice-President, Dimitris Messinis (Associated Press) was elected Secretary General, while Eftimios Tsiknis (ADAC, STERN, Xinhua News Agency) holds the post of treasurer.

    [11] Condolence books for late President Ford at US Embassy, Consulate

    The U.S. Embassy in Athens and the U.S. Consulate in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki will both open condolence books on Thursday for the 38th United States President Gerald R. Ford, who died in California on Boxing Day, December 26.

    Those wishing to sign the condolence books can visit the Embassy in Athens at Vassilisis Sofias 91 from 10:00-15:00 on Thursday and from 10:00-13:00 on Friday.

    In Thessaloniki, those wishing to sign the condolence book can do so at the Consulate in the 'Platia' mall on Tsimiski 43 on Thursday between 12:00-15:00 and on Friday between 10:00 -13:00.

    Financial News

    [12] Greek budget revenues up 9.6 pct in Jan-Nov

    Greek budget revenues rose 9.6 pct in the January-November period pushing the budget deficit down 22.1 percent over the same period, official figures showed on Wednesday.

    The 2006 budget forecast a 9.9 pct growth rate in budget revenues, a goal likely to be achieved in December, the Economy and Finance ministry said in an announcement. Budget spending rose 3.5 pct in the first 11 months of the year, with primary spending up 5.8 pct (slightly down from a 6.0 pct budget provision). Spending on interest payments fell 1.0 pct compared with a 2.5 pct decline budget provision, while public investment programme‚s revenues grew 33.7 pct exceeding a 32.2 pct budget provision for the year. Spending in a public investment programme grew 18.5 pct in the January-November period, sharply up from a 7.7 pct budget provision.

    [13] Greek trade deficit up 27 pct in October, yr/yr

    The Greek trade deficit jumped 27 percent in October to 2.921 billion euros from 2.300 billion euros in the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the value of import-arrivals rose 21.8 percent in October while the value of export-deliveries rose by 12 percent over the same period.

    [14] Minister meets with representatives of Greek tourism industry

    Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia on Wednesday met at the ministry with representatives of tourism agencies.

    According to a ministry press release, during the meeting, the representatives of the tourism industry raised to the minister issues which concern their sector, among them being the new developmental law, and asked for solutions to be promoted to matters which directly concern the tourism industry and which would contribute to the improvement of infrastructures, the solution of problems and in general the development of Greek tourism.

    [15] Maritime foreign exchange to Greece increases

    Maritime foreign exchange which entered Greece during the 10-month period January-October 2006 increased in comparison to the corresponding period in 2005.

    The Merchant Marine Ministry announced on Wednesday that according to initial data by the Bank of Greece, maritime foreign exchange which entered Greece during the 10-month period January-October 2006, came to 11,911.9 million euros compared to 11,522.0 million euros in the corresponding period in 2005.

    In the month of October 2006, maritime foreign exchange came to 1,232.4 million euros against 982.9 million euros in the corresponding month of October 2005.

    [16] 'New Igoumenitsa Port - B Phase' project incorporated in Cohesion Fund

    The European Commission, by decision E (2006) 6946/15.12.2006, approved the inclusion of the "New Igoumenitsa Port - B Phase" project in the Cohesion Fund. The total cost of the project amounts to 58 million euros. Construction work must be completed by December 31, 2010, while the contribution by the Cohesion Fund amounts to 33 million euros (57 per cent).

    On the occasion of the project's accession in the Cohesion Fund, Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Antonis Bezas said on Wednesday:"With the B Phase of the new port, Igoumenitsa is being transformed into a major western port gateway of northwestern and central Greece towards the European Union. The port installations are being strengthened for the better service of passenger and cargo movement and the better exploitation of the infrastructures which have already been constructed, is secured."

    [17] Greek stocks end 0.30 pct higher

    Greek stocks ended 0.30 percent higher on Wednesday in thin trading conditions after a four-day Christmas holiday in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index ended at 4,378.33 points, up 0.30 pct, with turnover at 146.5 million euros.

    Sector indices ended higher with the Chemicals (2.95 pct), Food-Beverage (1.84 pct) and Raw Materials (1.51 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Utilities (0.92 pct), Telecoms (0.58 pct) and Commerce (0.31 pct) suffered the heaviest losses.

    The blue chip index rose 0.17 pct, the mid cap index ended 0.63 pct higher and the small cap index rose 0.33 pct.

    Sanyo Hellas (7.69 pct), Kleeman Hellas (6.92 pct) and Karamolegos (6.8 pct) were top gainers, while Hellenic Acquaculture (9.27 pct), Tasoglou (7.89 pct) and Hitech (6.9 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers and decliners were evenly distributed with another 63 issues remained unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.06%

    Industrials: +1.11%

    Commercial: -0.31%

    Construction: +0.18%

    Media: +0.86%

    Oil & Gas: +0.59%

    Personal & Household: +1.12%

    Raw Materials: +1.51%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.14%

    Technology: +0.40%

    Telecoms: -0.58%

    Banks: +0.03%

    Food & Beverages: +1.84%

    Health: +0.92%

    Utilities: -0.92%

    Chemicals: +2.95%

    Financial Services: -0.10%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Sato, National Bank, OTE and Eurobank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 22.98

    ATEbank: 3.86

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 19.18

    HBC Coca Cola: 29.92

    Hellenic Petroleum: 10.40

    Emporiki Bank: 23.42

    National Bank of Greece: 34.90

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 27.10

    Intralot: 24.94

    Cosmote: 22.50

    OPAP: 29.50

    OTE: 22.76

    Titan Cement Company: 41.50

    Greek bond market closing

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totalled 848 million euros on Wednesday of which 370 million euros were buy orders and 478 million sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (maturing on July 20, 2016) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 528 million euros followed by the 10-year bond (July 20, 2015) with a turnover of 155 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.267 percent with the Greek bond yielding 4.18 pct and the German security yielding 3.88 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank‚s overnight rate was 3.71 pct, the two-day rate fell to 3.71 pct from 3.72 pct, the one-month rate rose to 3.67 pct from 3.66 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.01 pct from 3.99 pct.

    ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices ended with premium on Wednesday in the Athens Derivatives Exchange in thin trading conditions with turnover a low 44.9 million euros.

    The January contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.45 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.24 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totalled 2,141 contracts worth 25.522 million euros with 14,540 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 339 contracts worth 8.757 million euros with 1,263 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 1,400 contracts worth 3.026 million euros with Intracom the most heavily traded derivative (352 contracts), followed by Eurobank (39), OTE (65), PPC (49), OPAP (141), Piraeus Bank (54), National Bank (169) and Mytilineos (183).

    Volume in stock repors totalled 382 contracts and in reverse stock repos 810 contracts.

    Foreign Exchange Rates

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.326

    Pound sterling 0.676

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 9.095

    Japanese yen 157.35

    Swiss franc 1.618

    Norwegian kroner 8.293

    Cyprus pound 0.582

    Canadian dollar 1.541

    Australian dollar 1.689

    General News

    [18] German couple's CCTV helps police nab robbers

    A closed-circuit TV channel installed by a Greek-German couple helped police catch two of four robbers that broke into their home in Amarynthos, Evia on Christmas Day, robbing the couple and two friends that were staying at their house.

    The two couples were attacked by three masked men armed with knives, while a fourth waited outside in a car. They grabbed 1,000 euros, a mobile phone and various valuable items before fleeing the scene.

    The footage taken by the CCTV cameras allowed police to identify the culprits as two Albanians resident in Eretria, who were still wearing the same clothes that they wore during the robbery. They were placed under arrest and led before a Halkida public prosecutor.

    Another Albanian living in Eretria and another living in Athens are being sought in connection with the case.

    [19] 90-year-old faces homicide charges after shooting intruder

    A 90-year-old man who shot an intruder with a double-barrelled shotgun was charged with attempted homicide, illegal weapons possession and illegal weapons use by a public prosecutor on Wednesday.

    He is due to appear before an examining magistrate on Thursday at 11:00.

    The 90-year-old, a resident of Crete, told authorities that he was startled from sleep when he became aware that someone had entered the house and had fired the shotgun to stop him. The shot hit the suspected would-be thief in the stomach, inflicting serious, life-threatening injuries.

    The intruder was a 25-year-old Moldovan man who had worked for the 90-year-old as a farmhand in the past. Police suspect the man entered the bedroom through an unsecured entrance with the intent of stealing.

    A lawyer representing the elderly man on Wednesday said that the shot was fired by his client as a warning when he saw a human shadow in his room, without realising who it was. He also stressed that the 25-year-old has been in trouble with the law before.

    The young man on Tuesday underwent operations to remove his spleen and one kidney and is now in the Hania Hospital Intensive Care Unit, where doctors say he is out of danger.

    [20] Albanian-flag motorship runs aground on Gavdos island; crew rescued

    Eight foreign seamen, members of the Albanian-flag motorship "Cyprus" which was abandoned when at dawn on Wednesday, under unknown causes, the vessel ran aground on the coast of the small island of Gavdos, off Crete, were rescued later in the day by members of the Greek Fire Services Rescue Team (EMAK) who had landed with a Super-Puma helicopter.

    The seamen were offered first aid and were later transported by the helicopter to Souda's military airport.

    Meanwhile, six foreign nationals who had no travel documents in their possession, were finally found safe by port officials in the region of Sykamia, on Lesvos island, on Wednesday. They declared that they had arrived from the Turkish coast with a dinghy on Tuesday night.

    Found in their possession was a mobile phone with which, they admitted, they dialed on Tuesday night emergency number 112, resulting in a Super-Puma helicopter conducting a search operation.

    The six were transported to Mytilini General Hospital for tests and it was ascertained that they are in good health.

    [21] Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy on Thursday

    Partly cloudy weather will prevail in all parts of the country on Thursday. Frost in the morning and night on the mainland. Sharp rise in temperatures. Winds northerly, northeasterly, moderate to strong. Temperatures in Athens from 6C to 14C; and in Thessaloniki between 1C and 9C.

    [22] Greek press review

    The development ministry-sponsored bread draft bill tabled in parliament, the EU enlargement from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea after Bulgaria‚s and Romania‚s accession, the wider public sector agency mergers and the record number of break-ins during Christmas were the main front-page items in Wednesday‚s dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government reshuffle or early elections - Decision days for the prime minister".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Cyprus Republic President Tassos Papadopoulos lashes out at certain European Union member-states for their subservient stance".

    AVRIANI: "A 90-year-old Cretan shoots burglar - Instead of being congratulated by the State for being bold and brave he is arrested".

    CHORA: "The legislation settling the unlicensed buildings issue - To be approved in parliament early next year".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Eleven social insurance changes to be into effect on January 1, 2007".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The bread battle is on - Bakers on a collision course with industries-supermarkets".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Balkan EU: the minuses and pluses for Greece - Two of our neighbors, Bulgaria-Romania, become full members".

    ESTIA: "Economic progress recorded in 2006 - Notable improvement in most economic indexes".

    ETHNOS: "New trick involving agency mergers - Public sector: the government‚s pre-election plan made public".

    TA NEA: "ELAS (Greek Police) is nowhere to be found while break-ins are on the rise - 8,800 police officers only on paper".

    VRADYNI: "Subsidies of up to 60 percent to small-size enterprises - Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias‚ interview".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [23] Papadopoulos not concerned about seeking re-election

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President Tassos Papadopoulos has said that he is not, at present, concerned with the prospect of seeking re-election in the 2008 presidential elections.

    Asked during a special function at the presidential palace about a possible bid for re-election, the president referred journalists to earlier statements he had made to the daily 'Xaravgi' on the matter, adding that at this stage he does not allow himself to deal with such a prospect.

    He told the daily that before he considers the matter, he would consult with the parties that support his government, noting that so far no word has been mentioned about the subject.

    "I have said what I wanted to say, and it is very clear," he told journalists Wednesday.

    Asked when he will start thinking about it, he said he had nothing to add on the matter, noting that the scenarios for presidential elections have started from press reports.

    The issue was raised in a front-page report in another daily on wednesday which suggested that former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides is seriously thinking of running for the presidency, in February's elections in 2008.


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