|Monday, 18 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-09-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 7 September 2007 Issue No: 2691
 PM says country needs government to force ahead with necessary reformsPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Thursday night, speaking during a televised discussion between the six political party leaders, that the government is in the middle of a difficult and uphill path and it must continue to move forward with greater determination.
"We can achieve a great deal if we move forward united. I believe that a government is necessary that will go ahead with the necessary interventions, the necessary changes and the necessary reforms to enable our country to become competitive. This is the great challenge. This is the truth and I wish to tell the Greek citizens that if they show trust in me this is my decision, for us to move with even greater determination," Karamanlis said.
He also clarified that if no party wins a majority in the elections set for September 16, new elections will be held.
"If there is no majority in the elections on September 16, new elections will be taking place," the prime minister said, adding that no objective preconditions exist for cooperation with other parties.
Karamanlis said he respected the left and its criticism, but there is no ground for cooperation. "PASOK refused to support the government's positions and come to an understanding with it, even on the most elementary of issues," he said, adding that he will not be cooperating with the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) because, "generallly speaking, the government does not cooperate with extremes."
Referring to main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, the prime minister said that his criticism was "divisive and polarising, while the government has chosen a different course because it defends a mild climate."
On the question of the recent wildfires that ravaged regions in the country, Karamanlis said that all experienced difficult moments with feelings of grief. However, he added, "nobody takes decisions in the heat of the moment. There are decisions on administrative changes, that the government will consider calmly but not in the moment of crisis."
The prime minister also focused on the state, saying that it is the great patient, adding that considerable steps have been taken, bureaucracy has been curbed, but a great deal has yet to be done and reforms are moving ahead.
Coming to the bonds issue, Karamanlis said that it is an issue that the government revealed, it referred it to justice and changed the institutional framework.
He reiterated that the need to change the institutional framework was late in being realised, but stressed that the money was returned to the social security funds through the governbment's moves. He further said that the property of the funds increased by 42 percent during his governance, while noting that the judicial investigation is under way and the government is awaiting and insisting on responsibilities being administered.
Lastly, focusing on the issue of foreign policy, Karamanlis stressed that Greece has a leading role in the region and constitutes a bridge for the countries of southeastern Europe, as the European Union also acknowledges.
Commenting in particular on the question of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), he said that the country's transactions with Skopje are at a very good level. The country has shown its good disposition on the issue of the name and FYROM must take steps towards finding a solution.
Karamanlis clarified emphatically, however, that Skopje will not join any international organisation, including NATO and the EU, if a mutually acceptable name for the landlocked republic is not found. He concluded his statement on the issue by saying that during negotiating, the country will not abandon any of the weapons it has at its disposal.
 Papandreou says PASOK represents 'a new course of responsibility, hope and prospects'In a televised debate of political party leaders of Thursday night, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said that "I have proven in the past that I stay by my commitments."
He called on Greeks "to go along with PASOK to a new course of responsibility, hope and prospects," adding that at the end of his tenure he wants to be able "to look at the citizens in the eyes, because together we will have rid ourselves of the past and changed Greece."
The PASOK leader called for an opportunity to be given to him, not to prove that he is the best, something which he himself views easy, "but because we are different."
He criticised the New Democracy (ND) party of having received "Greece of the Olympic Games and instead of building on what it found or to correct the mistakes of the previous ones and instead of us speaking about new achievements, we are talking about the greatest catastrophe of the post-dictatorship period and the covering up of unprecedented scandals."
He also criticised the ND "of not yet having presented a program" as well as that "it did not accept to cooperate on any issue, despite the fact that the main opposition had offered to do so."
Papandreou accused Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that "he is the only Greek who is not aware of his great responsibilities and spoke as if he was speaking about another country."
To a question on the measures PASOK will take on the social insurance system, in the event that PASOK wins the general elections, he accused the government that "it undermined the social insurance system and left the social insurance funds deficient."
On foreign policy, Papandreou said that "No one gives us favours, if we do not have a strong position and negotiating capability, prestige and strength on the international scene." He accused the Karamanlis government of "denigrating the country with the auditing and undermining its prestige over the so-called asymmetrical threats in the case of the wildfires." He noted that "I shall not make such mistakes," adding that he will assume "initiatives for strengthening Greece's international presence."
Regarding Turkish claims concerning 180 islets, the PASOK leader stressed that that he never accepted and does not intend to accept the term "grey zones."
 KKE addresses voters who are ready to abandon two main parties, Papariga saysCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said Thursday night her party was addressing voters who "understand that they must abandon" the two mainstream parties, the ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK, and that "are looking for security in an alternative solution which will stimulate and reinforce action."
During a televised debate of political party leaders ahead of the September 16 general elections, Papariga also noted that the Greek people knows her party's positions and its positions for today and for the future, that is "the perspective of socialism, the people's power. We remain steadfast on our positions."
The communist leader said that the policy of alliances her party supports is "a policy of open doors, and not a policy of temporarity."
Responding to a question whether her party would observe a more pro-European stance in the future, Papariga said that she did not see any reason to do so.
 SYRIZA party leader emphasises defence for youth mobilisationRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alekos Alavanos, speaking during the televised debate between political party leaders on Thursday night, placed emphasis on defending the mobilisation of youth and the need for the recognition of its struggles for education, the environment and society in general.
Alavanos expressed support for the poor and the marginalised and overindebted families, while dissociating his position from those who have participated in violent incidents.
He reiterated that SYRIZA will not cooperate with the main opposition PASOK party at government level and pointed out that many differences exist with PASOK and mentioned characteristically privatisations, education and the European constitution.
Alavanos also expressed satisfaction because the two mainstream parties are "concerned and afraid" about the outcome of the elections and this, as he said, can change the setting the day after the elections with the strengthening of SYRIZA.
He also expressed support for negotiations on the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the problem being resolved in the framework of the UN.
 Intense criticism by Karatzaferis, PapathemelisPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis, in a televised debate of political party leaders on Thursday night stood in favour of "a broad dialogue for solving the social insurance system problem," while he also proposed "the creation of a unified agency in which farmers will also be incorporated" and "a unified national pension."
He also said that "America is not the best ally of Greece and we do not have a common future," referring to both the violations in the Aegean by Turkey as well as to the name issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Democratic Revival leader Stelios Papathemelis assessed that "an issue of autonomous first party resulting from the September 16 general elections does not exist."
He added that "the public character of health is a prerequisite of a strong welfare state, which has the strength to take decisions and impose them."
On the economy and development, Papathemelis correlated economic development with social justice.
 PASOK spokesman on party-leader debateCommenting on expectations from the televised debate between the party leaders on Thursday night, main opposition PASOK's party spokesman Yiannis Raggousis said that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was already being judged by the Greek people for his actions and failed promises. He noted, meanwhile, that the overall political presence and political arguments presented during tonight's debate would be "crucial for the election result".
"The true reading of tonight's televised dialogue is that there are not six political leaders participating in it but five plus one. Not five against one but five plus one, with five that will be judged for what they say tonight and to what extent this convinces the Greek people. One is being judged already for all that he said but did not do," Raggousis said.
The spokesman added that PASOK believed there should be a different procedure for the party leaders' dialogue and called on all the parties to work together on this after the elections.
Regarding the fact that the environment had been omitted from the list of subjects in the debate, Raggousis said that PASOK had never received a proposal from the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) calling for its inclusion:
"If this had truly been the case we would not have had any objection to including it," he stressed.
He clarified that the proposal had been put to Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos who had turned it down, saying that the rules for the debate had been established in 2004.
"That is where the discussion stopped and for this reason the proposal never reached us," the spokesman added.
Raggousis repeated PASOK's demand for a one-on-one debate between the prime minister and PASOK leader George Papandreou and once again linked the decision to call early elections with an attempt to cover up the bonds scandal.
 Karatzaferis holds press conference in SerresPopular Orthodox Rally, LAOS, President George Karatzaferis, while speaking at a press conference in the northern city of Serres on Thursday, predicted that the ruling New Democracy (ND) party will win the elections on September 16 with a 2-2.5 percent lead over the main opposition party PASOK and form a one-party majority government.
Responding to a question by a member of the press on the likelihood of post-election collaboration with ND, he commented that his party will back a government of personalities.
He said the government bore heavy responsibility for the fact that the recent wildfires in Greece had resulted in a national disaster and stressed that the two major political parties followed identical policies when dealing with major national issues.
 PM and Chancellor Merkel discuss civil protection, emergenciesGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel contacted Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the telephone at 13:20 on Thursday in order to discuss issues related to civil protection and emergencies.
 US House of Representatives passes Resolution of solidarity with Greece over firesWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
The US House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed a Resolution extending sympathy to Greece over the loss of life and destruction caused by the recent devastating widlfires, and pledging full support and solidarity to Greece.
House Resolution 629 notes the destruction of thousands of homes, tens of villages and hundreds of thousands of acres of forestland and farmland, with damages estimated between 1.6-5.4 billion dollars, and the loss of lives, and stresses the ties between the two countries in meeting the challenges of the 20th centry as well as the US government's and Greek American community's support for the Greek people in this difficult time.
The Resolution expresses sympathy to the government and people of Greece over the losses, stressing support and solidarity to the "ally and strategic partner", support for the US government and other US agencies' initiatives for assistance to Greece, and expresses the House's conviction that Greece will succeed in overcoming this tragedy.
The Resolution was presented to the House by Congressman John Sarbanes, and was co-signed by 14 Congressmen. The session was attended by Greek ambassador to the US Alexandros Mallias, at the invitation of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus.
Full text of the RESOLUTION:
Extending the condolences and sympathy of the House of Representatives to the Government and the people of Greece for the grave loss of life and vast destruction caused by the devastating fires raging through Greece since June 2007.
Whereas more than 3,000 forest fires have been recorded in Greece since June 2007;
Whereas over a 10-day period, an estimated 4,000 people saw their homes destroyed by the wildfires, which razed dozens of villages, destroyed livestock and charred an estimated 469,000 acres of mostly forest and farmland;
Whereas dozens of Greek families have lost their loved ones to the fires;
Whereas thousands of Greeks have been left homeless and hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine forest have been destroyed;
Whereas hundreds of thousands of mature olive trees, vineyards and thousands of animals perished in the flames;
Whereas damage to the Greek economy is estimated at between $1,600,000,000 and $5,400,000,000;
Whereas the United States and Greece have stood side by side in confronting world challenges throughout the 20th century, and will stand together in confronting this new challenge; and
Whereas the United States, through its government, its people and its Greek-American community, has already extended significant support to the people of Greece during this difficult time: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives
(1) extends its condolences and sympathy to the Government and the people of Greece for the grave loss of life and vast destruction caused by the devastating fires raging through Greece;
(2) vows its full support and solidarity to a close friend, a strategic partner, and a longstanding ally in this painful and difficult hour;
(3) fully supports the Administration's initiatives to provide assistance and relief to the people of Greece, including its pledge of $1,500,000 in aid as well as expert and technical assistance;
(4) encourages public institutions, specialized agencies, as well as private citizens, to offer their resources; and
(5) expresses confidence that Greece and its people will succeed in overcoming the hardships incurred through this tragedy.
 AHEPA applauds U.S. House of RepresentativesWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)
The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the leading association of 1.3 million American citizens of Greek ancestry, and Philhellenes, commended on Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives on its unanimous passage of H.Res.629, extending the condolences and sympathy of the House of Representatives to the Government and the people of Greece for the grave loss of life and vast destruction caused by the devastating fires raging through Greece since June 2007. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3-MD) and it had 15 co-sponsors.
"We thank the leaders of the Hellenic Caucus and the leaders of the Committee on Foreign Affairs for fast-tracking this important resolution," said National President Ike Gulas. "The resolution allows for the body of the House of Representatives to express their condolences to the people and Government of Greece," AHEPA said in a relevant announcement.
 Commissioner for agriculture pledges help for Greek farmersSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA - O. Tsipira)
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel on Thursday signaled her desire to help Greek farmers in any way possible through the funds available for agricultural development and under the EU's 2008 budget.
In an interview with the ANA-MPA, Fischer Boel expressed her "deep solidarity for the double disaster, both human and ecological" that last month's devastating fires inflicted on Greece.
"I believe all Europeans held their breath considering the consequences. In a few minutes human lives were lost, homes and property destroyed," the Commissioner stressed.
She also stated her intention to soon visit Greece herself in order to examine the situation at close hand.
"I think that about 45,000 hectares of the Greek countryside suffered damage, the greater part of which was to olive trees and vineyards. We already have some capacity to help from the Rural Development budget. We must also look at the possibility of finding capital by transferring it from other funds and we are also thinking of the amendments we can incorporate in the new 2006-2013 programme for the use of funds in the best possible way for assistance to the Greek farmers," Fischer Boel said.
"Provided there is agreement between the [European] Parliament and the [European] Council on the framework of possibilities within the new budget, we will try to find the best solutions for Greek farmers," the Commissioner added.
Regarding the fire victims' immediate needs for food, shelter but also the lack of animal feed, Fischer Boel explained that in similar situations the member-states are allowed to provide assistance of up to 3,000 euros in cash immediately and without any explanations.
"I believe that this is a good way as a first step to help people that are truly in need. Of course, afterwards, when we have more accurate information, we will look into what other possibilities there are," she added.
Referring to the visits to Greece carried out immediately after the fires by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Commissioner for regional policy Danuta Hubner, Fischer Boel said that the extent of the disaster in Greece was unprecedented.
"Mrs Hubner told us that never before in her life had she seen similar pictures of destruction. We discussed what we can do for prevention so that something like this never happens again, not just in Greece but in any other European country. It is worth noting, however, the level of solidarity shown to Greece by 14 member-states that immediately sent forest fire-fighters or other means that they possessed. What happened to Greece was a lesson for us in Europe that we paid for dearly in human lives and ecological catastrophe," the Commissioner concluded.
 WTTC chief optimistic on increased tourism to Greece despite firesTourism development minister Fani Palli-Petralia met Thursday with visiting World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) president Jean-Claude Baumgarten, who expressed optimism on the development of Greek tourism.
Referring to the recent wildfires that devastated the Peloponese, and the ramifications for the Greek tourist product in general, Baumgarten stressed that no decline in the number of reservations for the coming winter have been recorded, nor for the next summer.
In fact, Baumgarten predicted that tourism to Greece would continue increasing in the following years at a rate of 4-5 percent.
"There is absolutely no negative image of Greece abroad. There is a steady number of reservations, and there is intention among travellers to visit Greece," the WTTC chief said.
Petralia stressed that Greece was a safe and modern country, adding that no one can disbute the fact that Greece remains high among the tourists' preferences.
She said that Greece will receive a total of 17 million tourists in 2007, while efforts would be undertaken so that a new record of arrivals would be achieved in 2008.
Petralia also said that her ministry stood at the side of the fire-stricken regions of the country and, in that direction, priority was being placed on their tourist projection.
 FinMin addresses European Real Estate Company Union's 8th sessionFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis was the main speaker at the 8th annual session of the European Real Estate Companies Union on Thursday, that is taking place in Greece this year.
The minister stressed the considerable progress being achieved in Greece by the real estate sector. He mentioned that with the introduction of Value Added Tax in building and with the gradual decrease of the real estate transfer tax the market is becoming more effective.
"With the law on the sale and leasing of state real estate property we achieve the active and effective management of real estate belonging to the public sector. With the improvement of the legal framework on Real Estate Investments SA companies and the Real Estate Mutual Funds we provide the market with greater depth, where more and more specialised businesses are entering. This increases the transparency of the market and helps it mature," Alogoskoufis said.
 Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 72nd TIFThe companies of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) Group will present their products and services at the 72nd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) from September 8-16 (Pavilion 13, Stand 9) with particular emphasis on the implementation of broadband.
Among others, the visitors will have the opportunity to get acquainted with the "family" of Conn-x, Conn-x View and School powered by Conn-x, the Wireless Connect Card Broadband (HSDPA card) of Cosmote and the 3G mobile TV.
 GSEE president promises peaceful rally at ThessalonikiGeneral Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Yiannis Panagopoulos told reporters in Thessaloniki on Thursday that his union "is determined to ensure the peaceful character" of the all-workers rally scheduled for this Saturday, opening day of the 72nd Thessaloniki Internatinal Fair (TIF)".
"The city of Thessaloniki will be absolutely respected by the trade unions during all events we are organising," Papangopoulos said.
He added that the rally will highlight the workers' demands. "We are coming to Thessaloniki to demand and not to beg," the head of the country's biggest umbrella trade union noted.
Panagopoulos rejected rumours and rampant speculation that the rally would be marked by violence or the use of petrol bombs, while criticising "public statements characterised by an anti-democratic mentality."
He also said that policemen, port officials and firemen, "all in their uniforms will take part in the rally thus showing how determined workers are to ensure the peaceful character of the rally."
 Greek workers to seek 9.0 pct pay rise in 2008GSEE, Greece's largest trade union umbrella, on Thursday said it would seek a nominal pay increase of 9.0 percent during talks on a new national general collective labour agreement for 2008, its president Giannis Panagopoulos said in Thessaloniki.
Speaking to reporters, during a news conference, Panagopoulos said recent talk over a 7.1 pct pay increase demand was not correct, and noted that pay increases should enter the core of enterprises' hyper-profits.
Commenting on the country's pension problem, he said it would reach its climax in 2021 and noted that state funding of the pension system should reach at least 2.37 pct of the country's new revised GDP next year. Panagopoulos also warned of new stronger confrontation between trade unions and the government, if the new government tried to undermine workers' rights.
Professor Savvas Robolis, commenting on a report published a few days ago on the Greek economy by the Labour Institute, warned that any recession in the construction and house market, combined with a condition of industrial downgrading could underming the country's economic growth rates. Robolis said informal employment accounted 1.1 million people in Greece, while low competitiveness (with only 13 pct of demand coming from abroad) and high tax burden of employment (38 pct in Greece in 2005, compared with 35.2 pct in the EU) were the main hurdles for the Greek economy.
 Vodafone to donate 4 mln euros for wildfire-affected inhabitantsVodafone announced on Thursday that it will donate an initial total amount of four million euros for the relief of people affected by the recent wildfires in northwestern Greece and the island of Evia in central Greece.
Specifically, in cooperation with the prefectures and relevant agencies of the wildfire-ravaged regions, Vodafone is proceeding in the placement of 50 specially transformed telephone booths in the wildfire-affected regions of western Greece and Evia Prefecture, from which all the inhabitants will be able to have free access and free communication towards all national calls.
Vodafone will maintain the specific measure until January 2008.
Finally, Vodafone Group Foundation will donate the symbolic sum of 100,000 pounds sterling for the support of the wildfire affected inhabitants.
 Greek budget revenues up 11.8 pct in AugustThe Greek government on Thursday reported a significant increase (11.8 pct) in budget revenues in August, almost double the 5.5 percent annual target set by the 2007 budget. A finance ministry announcement said VAT proceeds rose by 10 percent last month. The ministry said budget revenues in the eight-month period from January to August rose 5.9 pct.
Tax agency revenues jumped 19.9 percent in August, customs' revenues were 6.6 percent up, while combined revenues were up 16.1 percent.
Regular proceeds of the budget were up 7.5 percent in the January-August period, slightly up from an annual budget target of 7.2 percent.
 Greek annual inflation unchanged at 2.5 pct in AugustGreek annual inflation rose 2.5 percent in August, compared with the same month last year, but was unchanged from July, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The statistics service in its monthly report said the inflation rate, measured by the consumer price index, fell 0.7 pct in August from July 2007. NSS attributed the annual 2.5 percent inflation figures to a 6.7 pct increase in alcohol-tobacco prices, a 4.3 pct rise in hotel-restaurant prices, a 4.1 pct increase in clothing and footwear, a 3.8 pct rise in education prices, a 3.3 pct rise in food prices and a 3.1 pct increase in healthcare prices.
Greece's harmonized inflation rose to 2.7 pct in August, compared with the same month in 2006, while it was down 1.0 pct from July 2007.
 Greek market watchdog approves operation of Alternative MarketGreece's Capital Markets Commission on Thursday approved the operation of a multi-party trading mechanism, named Alternative Market, under the management of the Athens Stock Exchange. In a regular meeting, the Greek market's watchdog also approved the information bulletin for a public offer by Marfin Investment Group SA Holdings to the shareholders of Vivartia to acquire the remaining of the latter's shares. The board also approved a supplementary to Lavipharm's information bulletin and the information bulletin by PanCretan Cooperative Bank.
 Work begins on new Egnatia Motorway sectionWork began on Thursday on the section of the Egnatia Motorway lying between Komotini-Nymfea-Greek-Bulgarian borders.
The new section will have a length of 22.5 kilometres, the budget for the project amounts to 85 million euros and the timetable anticipates its completion in 2010.
A meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Bulgarian Deputy Development Minister Mihalevski, who both attended a ceremony organised on this occasion, also covered other issues concerning the two countries, such as cooperation in handling wildfires along the borders and the utilisation of waters through the Interreg programme.
 Axios Bridge linking Eidomeni and Evzoni opens to trafficThe "Axios River Bridge, with access to Eidomeni and Evzoni" project, one of the seven major road projects in the Central Macedonia periphery, opened to traffic on Thursday.
The new road, budgeted at 12.6 milion euro, links Eidomeni and the Railway Station customs house with the Evzoni customs house and the Patras-Athens-Thessaloniki-Evzoni (PATHE) motorway.
Travellers up until now had been required to drive around a 20 kilometre route to go from the Eidomeni customs house to the Evzoni customs house -- a physical distance of just 3.4 kilometres. The new road -- which crosses the Axios River via a 300-metre-long bridge -- now enables travellers to drive directly from the one customs area to the other.
 August CPI posts rise yr/yrThe General Consumer Price Index (GCPI) in Greece rose 2.5 percent in the month of August 2007, against August 2006, the National Statistics Service (ESYE) announced on Thursday.
ESYE also said that the harmonised CPI in August 2007 rose by 2.7 percent against the same month last year (August 2006).
 Aegean Airlines raises its Airbus order to 25 aircraftAegean Airlines on Thursday said it has placed an order for an additional six Airbus A320 aircraft, raising its total order to 25 aircraft (23 A320 and two A321). The listed airline company said it has already received three aircraft in early 2007, while another 10 aircraft will be delivered in 2008 and full renewal of its fleet will be completed by early 2010. The order for the 25 Airbus order exceeds 1.5 billion US dollars. The A320 aircraft will carry V2500 engines by International Aero Engines.
Aegean Airlines said the new aircraft will help to expand its flights to new international destinations and to upgrade its services throughout its network, domestic and abroad. The renewal of the fleet will also raise flight capacity, reduce operating expenses per offered seat and save fuel consumption.
Theodoros Vasilakis, chairman of the company, commenting on the order said: "Our successful course give us confidence and the motivation to continue investing in a larger and modern aircraft. After completion of the order, our company will have the youngest fleet in Southeastern Europe".
John Leahy, Airbus' chief operating officer customers, said: "We are very proud for receiving another order by Aegean Airlines and happy to contribute to the company's dynamic growth".
Aegean Airlines flies to 15 Greek destinations and 10 international destinations, while it also offers charter flights. Its turnover totaled 401 million euros and pre-tax profits were 34.4 million euros last year.
 Manpower Employment Organisation prepares Integrated Intervention Programme for Thessaloniki prefectureThe time limit for submitting applications for participation in the Special Integrated Intervention Programme prepared by the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) for the prefecture of Thessaloniki began on Thursday.
The Intervention Programme concerns the subsidisation of private businesses to employ 1,200 unemployed people in the prefecture of Thessaloniki, aged between 18-64, in new jobs.
The total expenditure for the implementation of the programme is expected to amount to 17,280,000 euros and will be shouldered by OAED's LAEK sector.
 Greek car registrations up 11.6 pct in August, yr/yrThe Greek car market grew strongly in August, with new car sales up 11.6 percent compared with the same month last year, although August figures were down by 30 percent compared with July 2007. New car registrations totaled 21,524 units in August, up from 19,271 in August 2006, but down from 27,868 in July 2007.
Toyota remained top of the list with 2,124 sales, followed by Opel (1,600), VW (1,579), Ford (1,525) and Hyundai (1,476).
 Greek stocks end slightly higher on ThursdayGreek stocks rose slightly in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, ending a three-day decline in the market. The composite index rose 0.10 percent to end at 4,863.35 points with turnover a strong 325.65 million euros.
Sector indices moved higher with the Constructions (1.45 pct), Commerce (1.18 pct) and Industrial Products (0.82 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Telecommunications (1.13 pct), Healthcare (0.72 pct) and Oil (0.39 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.13 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.30 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.29 pct.
Unibrain (11.96 pct), Parnassos (9.28 pct) and Eltrak (8.33 pct) were top gainers, while Tria Alpha (9.51 pct), Sarandopoulos (6.27 pct) and Desmos (5.56 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 142 to 105 with another 54 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.39%
Personal & Household: +0.34%
Raw Materials: +0.70%
Travel & Leisure: +0.45%
Food & Beverages: -0.25%
Financial Services: +0.40%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.56
Public Power Corp (PPC): 22.10
HBC Coca Cola: 35.42
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.30
Emporiki Bank: 20.64
National Bank of Greece: 43.78
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 24.90
Titan Cement Company: 35.46
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover a strong 187.02 million euros.
The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.40 percent and the August contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.76 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 10,244 contracts worth 131.634 million euros, with 45,385 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 622 contracts worth 19.282 million euros, with 1,172 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 19,709 contracts worth 36.102 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Hellenic Petroleum's contracts (5,963), followed by Coca-Cola (500), Cosmote (968), Alpha Bank (258), National Bank (1,759), Intracom (568), Viohalco (1,269) and Post Savings Bank (287).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.381 billion euros on Thursday, of which 676 million were buy orders and the remaining 705 million were sell orders.
The 10-year Greek benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was again the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 505 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bond was stable at 0.34 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.54 pct and the German Bund 4.22 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates fell. National Bank's overnight rate eased to 4.15 pct from 4.65 pct on Wednesday, the two-day rate fell to 4.16 pct from 4.65 pct, the one-month rate eased to 4.47 pct from 4.50 pct and the 12-month rate was 4.78 pct from 4.81 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.377
Pound sterling 0.682
Danish kroner 7.506
Swedish kroner 9.419
Japanese yen 158.58
Swiss franc 1.655
Norwegian kroner 7.970
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.454
Australian dollar 1.670
 Telethon yields nearly 12 million euros for fire victimsA telethon (televised fundraising marathon) for the fire victims in Greece, jointly organized by the country's seven private television stations broadcasting nation-wide, yielded 11,727,296 euros in phone-in donations.
The telethon got underway on Wednesday evening, lasting into the early morning hours, and was broadcast simultaneously by the private television stations Skai, Mega, Ant1, Alpha, Alter, Star and Macedonia TV.
Thousands of television viewers were provided with the opportunity to contribute any amount of money they could spare to the enormous effort for the regeneration and restoratin of the fire-ravaged regions in the country.
 Athens public transport system improved, OASA survey showsThe public transport system in Athens has improved significantly in the past three years according to a survey carried out by the Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) that was released on Thursday.
The survey sought to gain a picture of the opinions and needs of commuters and determined what changes could be made to the system in order to persuade more people to use public transport for their travel needs. The conclusion was that there had been a significant improvement, though there was still room for improvement.
Beginning in 2006, the survey was comprised of 150,000 interviews with drivers, passengers and households and included 6,600 measurements of public transport routes and the completion of 6,900 individual questionnaires.
The results released on Thursday showed that 43 percent of commuters in Athens use public transport, 37.2 percent use private cars, 5.2 percent use motorbikes, 9.5 percent walk and 5.1 percent use other means of transport.
Eight out of 10 people, specifically 79 percent, agreed with the establishment of bus lanes and 74 percent said that the overall picture presented by Athens' urban transport was improved.
Regarding the share of commuter traffic carried by the various forms of public transport, the bulk or 50.7 percent appears to use the buses, followed by the metro with 21.8 percent, the overland electric railway with 14.2 percent, trolley buses (ILPAP) with 11 percent, the tram with 1.7 percent and the suburban railway with 0.6 percent.
According to OASA, the urban transport system has been improved through the coordination of the various forms of mass transit into a unified network, the addition of 48 new bus lines that increased coverage, the removal of bus terminals from traffic-laden points in the centre of Athens and Piraeus, the extension of bus lanes by 13 kilometres and improved information for passengers through an upgrade of OASA's information centre at the 185 line.
Further convenience for commuters were the introduction of the one-euro travel pass valid on all public transport for 90 minutes, the weekly travel card and the one-day travel card, the fare reductions on the Proastiakos line and the new fleet of 283 low-pollution buses and another 121 fuelled by natural gas, with another 520 due to be delivered within 2008.
 Mt. Grammos being deminedThe risk for trekking fans and hunters of wandering onto an old minefield in the region of Mt. Grammos, northwestern Greece, has become minimal thanks to the digital recording of old minefields and suspect regions conducted by regional authorities in Western Macedonia and Epirus, northern Greece.
The initiative will make Mt. Grammos safe for firefighting forces in case of an emergency, investments will receive a boost, and farmers and stockbreeders will live and work in a safe environment, according to the local authorities.
A total of 310,000 sqm have also been demined near the city of Grevena and the Metsovo ski resort within the framework of a pilot project.
The mapped regions have been marked with metal poles bearing triangular red-colored signs featuring a skull and crossbones image with the word "Landmines" written in Greek and in English.
According to the Western Macedonia regional authorities, the objective set is to receive 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) funds to proceed with further deminings in the following years.
 Romanian local government officials visit ThessalonikiA delegation of 30 Romanian city mayors and Bucharest local government officials are currently visiting Thessaloniki within the framework of the Balkan Cities Network (BALCINET), an institution founded in 2001 with the aim to establish relationships of friendship and co-operation among major Balkan cities.
The Romanian delegation was briefed by Thessaloniki local government authorities on the actions, programmes and prospects of the municipality of Thessaloniki in the sectors of sanitation, social policy, waste management and European programme implementation.
 Cypriot reconstruction specialists complete inspection of Artemida villageA team of reconstruction specialists from Cyprus has completed the inspection of the fire-ravaged village of Artemida, in the Peloponnese, the rebuilding of which has been undertaken by the Republic of Cyprus.
The team's primary goal is to inspect the buildings, the surrounding environment and cultivated land to fully assess the damage caused, said Athena Aristotelous, head of the Cypriot team. The next step will be to draw up preliminary studies and an action plan, followed by detailed studies and cost assessments that will soon be presented to the Cypriot government for approval.
"We were overwhelmed by what we have witnessed. Sixty percent of the houses have been completely destroyed or suffered extensive damage. No trees were left standing, the environmental damage is enormous", she said.
 Fine Arts and Design School in Thessaloniki's Institut FrancaisA three-year Fine Arts and Design School offering a French Culture Ministry-certified DNAP (Diplome National d' Arts Plastiques) diploma will be operating on the Thessaloniki Institut Francais premises starting this academic year.
Students will be taught by Greek and French professors and artists in French, English and Greek based on a Saint-Etienne University curriculum.
Prospective students should be secondary education graduates under the age of 26 coming from any EU country. The application deadline ends on September 28.
 Madame Tussauds waxworks exhibited at TIFThe Madame Tussauds Museum's wax figures of Greek statesmen Eleftherios Venizelos, Constantine Karamanlis and Andreas Papandreou, who marked Greece's political history from 1910 to 1996, will be exhibited at the 72nd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) which opens its doors for the public on Sunday.
This will be the first time that the wax figures are exhibited outside the famous London wax museum, while a special location has been prepared for them with controlled temperatures not exceeding 17 degrees Celsius and strong security.
The three wax figures were unveiled at the museum last November in a ceremony attended by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
 Drug arrests in ThessalonikiThree Greek nationals, aged 51, 42 and 45, were arrested in the district of Dendropotamos in Thessaloniki when one of them attempted to sell 3.7 grams of heroin to a plainclothes officer for the sum of 200 euros.
A police search in the apartment of the 45-year-old revealed small quantities of heroin and cannabis, while roughly 2 kilos of heroin were found hidden near the house of the 42-year-old, planted by him and the 51-year-old.
 Nineteen illegal migrants arrested on SamosNineteen foreigners with no travel documents were arrested at the port of the eastern Aegean island of Samos in the past two days, authorities reported on Thursday.
According to the arrested illegal migrants (17 adult males and 2 minors), they came from the Turkish coast on two rowboats that were destroyed in their attempt to reach a rocky shore.
All of them were taken to Samos Hospital for medical tests.
 Scattered showers, windy on FridayOvercast weather with westerly, northwesterly winds are forecast throughout the country on Friday with wind velocity reaching 6-7-6 beaufort. Scattered showers and storms in the afternoon mainly in central Greece, in the north and west of the mainland, the islands of the eastern Aegean, the Dodecanese and the eastern Peloponnese.Temperatures will range between 12C and 29C. Overcast in Athens, with westerly, northwesterly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17 to 28C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 22C.
 Cypriot President: UN must persuade Talat to abide by July AgreementNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Greek Cypriot side is asking the UN to persuade Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to abide by what he had signed last year in a UN-brokered agreement, President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos said Thursday evening.
Papadopoulos said "I believe the proposals which he has (Talat) aim to abolish the Gambari process, we propose that this process continues".
Invited to say whether the Gambari process will be maintained with proximity talks, the president remarked "there are no proximity talks underway", adding that "proximity talks means there is an issue under discussion".
Our position is clear, the president stressed, "we want implementation of the Gambari Agreement - Talat wants to change it".
We are asking the UN, said the Cypriot President, "to try to persuade Talat to abide by what he had signed, because that is the agreed procedure".
He reminded that the last Security Council decision had called for preparation before talks get underway.
President Papadopoulos met Talat at the residency of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative Michael Moller on Wednesday.
Spokesman: No concrete outcome during leaders' meeting
The meeting that took place on Wednesday between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities did not yield any concrete results, Government Spokesman Vasilis Palmas said Thursday.
President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met Wednesday in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Cyprus Michael Moller.
Palmas added that President Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on the need to start the procedure for Cyprus talks as soon as possible.
"It is clear that there has been a discordance of opinions. This is a fact. President Papadopoulos tried to persuade the Turkish Cypriot leader to implement the July 8th Agreement, but Talat made every effort to distance himself from the Agreement", the spokesman said.
Furthermore, he noted that Talat "made indirect efforts to bring the Annan plan back to the negotiating table", a UN envisaged plan that was rejected by the Greek Cypriot community, but accepted by the Turkish Cypriots during the 2004 referendum.
Talat's effort to revive the Annan plan has been rejected by President Papadopoulos, who reminded him that the only agreed procedure right now between the two sides is the July 8th Agreement which provides for the basis of the substantive Cyprus discussions that would result from the implementation of the above Agreement, he added.
President Papadopoulos and Talat agreed on July 8 2006, in the presence of senior UN official Imbrahim Gambarri, to set up technical committees and working groups to discuss issues that affect the day to day life of the people and substantive issues of the question of Cyprus.
Their top aides, Tasos Tzionis and Rasit Pertev, have held over 50 meetings in the past 14 months to this effect. So far, this has not been achieved.
The July agreement 2006 also provided for periodic meetings between Papadopoulos and Talat to help push the process forward.
Wednesday's meeting between Papadopoulos and Talat was made possible upon an initiative of the Cypriot President who wrote to the Turkish Cypriot leader in early July this year inviting him to a meeting aiming at making headway for the implementation of the July 8th Agreement (Gambarri Agreement) they reached under UN auspices.
Referring to Talat's positions, the spokesman said that "the Turkish Cypriot leader insisted on setting timeframes for the commencement of daily and direct meetings between the Cypriot President and himself, independently on whether there would be any progress or not regarding the Committees' work and proposed as a final date for solving the Cyprus problem the end of 2008".
Invited to say what would have happened if no progress could be achieved, Palmas said "there would have been the absolute deadlock, rupture and the creation of facts and preconditions for all those positions expressed by Talat and his associates regarding the existence of two entities, and surely the absolute disappointment that there is no prospect and no positive stance for a final solution of the Cyprus issue".
The spokesman said that no new meeting has been set between the leaders, but added that "it has been agreed to continue the contacts of the leaders through Mr. Moller, so that a new meeting between them takes place, with the objective to start the procedure".
He also confirmed that President Papadopoulos proposed to Talat to meet again next Monday, but the Turkish Cypriot leader declined the invitation.
"President Papadopoulos then proposed a date in October but Mr Talat said he would answer at a later stage", Palmas added.
Answering to questions, Palmas said that the statement issued after Wednesday's meeting refers to the July 8th Agreement, "not by name, but rather by the procedure".
The spokesman reiterated that "the only procedure on the table right now is the July 8th Agreement".
He also expressed the view that it would not be right to speak about proximity talks.
"Mr. Moller will continue the consultations with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities. Our views have been submitted. Mr Moller and Mr Talat are well aware of our views", he said.
Regarding statements made by the Turkish Cypriot leader Wednesday night, that during the meeting they also discussed other issues, the spokesman said that the main issue of discussion was the implementation of the July 8th Agreement.
"Other issues have been raised and discussed in brief, but the main issue of discussion was the July 8th Agreement", he noted, and added ''no other issues have been discussed in depth".
Answering to questions, Palmas said that during the meeting they ascertained the common opinion that there are a lot of differences and that they should make a new effort to meet again.
Cyprus, an EU member state since May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
 UN pursuing same process on CyprusUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The UN are pursuing the same process on Cyprus, the UN Secretary-General's spokeswoman said here Thursday following Wednesday's meeting between President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
The spokeswoman told reporters during Wednesday's briefing that "Cypriot leaders Tassos Papadopoulos and Mehmet Ali talat and the Secretary-General's Special Representative Michael Moller met yesterday (Wednesday) in Nicosia and Mr. Moller said afterwards that the discussions were held in a constructive atmosphere".
She also said that they "agreed on the need for the earliest start of the process and discussed all the issues leading to a comprehensive settlement. They have agreed to continue their contacts through the United Nations and to meet again when appropriate".
Asked whether Moller is trying to implement the July 8 2006 agreement or he is looking for something else, the spokeswoman said "right now I will stand with what I just said about the fact that they met and that they have decided to continue to meet-that's all I can say".
To a question if the July 8 Agreement is still valid, she replied "we are pursuing the same process".
Cyprus, an EU member state since May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
 State Department spokesman: US want to see permanent solution in CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The United States along with the rest of the international community would like to see a permanent resolution of the long-running disputes in Cyprus, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said during his daily briefing when asked about the meeting on Wednesday between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Casey added that "we're supportive of UN efforts to engage on that issue and we'll look forward to seeing what, if any, conclusions come out of these meetings."
"Certainly, we are always pleased to see contacts among these individuals. The United States along with the rest of the international community would like to see a permanent resolution of the long-running disputes in Cyprus," he noted.
President Papadopoulos and Talat met on Wednesday in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Cyprus Michael Moller, with a view to promote efforts for a Cyprus settlement.
According to a press release issued after their meeting, the two leaders "agreed on the need for the earliest start of the process and discussed other issues leading to a comprehensive settlement.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 British official expected to visit CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Joan Ryan, Britain's Special Representative to Cyprus, is likely to visit Cyprus in October for a series of meetings.
Since her appointment, Ryan has attended a gathering at the House of Parliament of the National Federation of Cypriots in the United Kingdom to mark the continued Turkish occupation of Cyprus' northern third and had a useful, as she described it, meeting with Cyprus' High Commissioner to Britain George Iacovou.
She also held private meetings with the chairman of the National Federation, Peter Drousiotis and Turkish Cypriots Ahmet Barsin, Teberruken Ulucay and Kadri Fellahoglou, members of the so called parliament in the occupied north.
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