|Monday, 11 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-11-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 2 November 2007 Issue No: 2738
 PM: Developmental and environmental policies "communicating vessels"Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday rejected the "development versus environment" dilemma as "untimely and invalid" as he addressed Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate between the party leaders on environmental policy. The debate was initiated by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos and was also attended by EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas.
Karamanlis told the 300-member House that developmental and environmental policies were like "communicating vessels" and that the prosperity emanating from irresponsibility, the squandering of natural wealth and the waste of natural resources was not only ephemeral but also destructive in the long run.
"Whatever harms the environment, in the end also harms society and the economy. Whatever benefits the environment, also benefits growth and the quality of our lives," the prime minister said.
Karamanlis said that the essence of environmental responsibility was the "fundamental guideline" pervading all the new developmental policies of his government and was shared by all its members, while noting that both the present and preceding New Democracy governments had inherited environmental problems accumulated over decades.
"[Concern for the environment] is the new, non-negotiable element with which we will imbue every business activity, every personal attitude. This is the safest, most optimistic road before us," he said.
Karamanlis also referred to the common efforts of European countries for protection of the global climate and to a Greek proposal for a European Rapid Reaction Force for handling environmental disasters, which he said had been well-received.
Referring to areas in Greece facing environmental problems, such as Lake Koronia and the Asopos River, Karamanlis said that strict implementation of the laws and the required interventions "are a commitment that is being put into action".
He emphasised that the government had meant everything it said in full: "There will be constant inspections, the relevant case files will be referred to a prosecutor, high fines will be imposed and collected, the business activities of repeat offenders will be discontinued, and the necessary projects advanced".
Karamanlis further said that supporting the citizens and reconstruction of the areas that were devastated by August's massive wildfires was a fundamental priority for his government.
"I made clear, from the very first moment, our decision to designate the forests that were destroyed as reserved for reforestation. The regional authorities that have not yet completed the procedure have received instructions to accelerate the relevant decisions. Where there was forest, there will once again be forest," Karamanlis stressed.
Replying to criticism from the opposition party leaders, meanwhile, he noted that the accumulated problems of several years could not be dealt with overnight, while pointing out that the critics also bore a heavy share of responsibility for the current problems through their actions and omissions in past decades.
He emphasised that the government "dared to see and highlight the challenges facing the country" and referred specifically to the national and special spatial planning laws introduced by the previous ND government, calling on the opposition parties to admit that the government had done something that "no one had touched for half a century".
The prime minister also dismissed accusations that the spatial plan for tourism, in particular, would lead to over-development, saying these fears were "groundless" since this plan viewed the environment as a basic condition for sustainable development.
Karamanlis similarly rejected criticism of government plans to give about 10 percent of the Elliniko Metropolitan Park for development in order to fund the construction and maintenance of the rest, stressing that this would also generate funds for other green-space projects around the capital, and said that ND's proposals for revising article 24 of the Constitution sought to provide better protection of forests that existed at the time that the present Constitution came into force in 1975, with strict penalties for any change in land use after that time.
"In any case, we are ready to proceed with a synthesis of opinions in order to ensure common goals, such as sustainable development and especially protection of the environment," Karamanlis added, sharply criticizing refusal to participate in dialogue on reforming the Constitution as "proof of the utmost political weakness and a foremost expression of deeply undemocratic attitudes".
 Souflias defends proposed changes to article 24 of ConstitutionEnvironment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Thursday defended a government proposal for revising article 24 of the Constitution and invited the opposition parties to vote in favour of the measure. Speaking during an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on environmental policy, Souflias asserted that the government's proposal to replace aerial photographs taken in 1945 and insert later photographs taken closer to 1975 was the only realistic way to protect Greece's forests.
"There should be no other change, apart from one. To not take into account the aerial photographs of 1945 because land use changed drastically in Greece in the 1950s and 1960s. We should base ourselves on aerial photographs closer to 1975 when the Constitution was voted for. The aerial photographs of 1945 are unenforceable in practice and I say frankly that [supporting their use] is proof of either ignorance or of hypocrisy and populism. We will never create a complete land register and never have a forestry register if we follow this line of thinking and therefore, we will be unable to effectively protect forests," Souflias underlined.
He emphasised that compiling land and forestry registers was "very, very important" and made it clear that neither of these two major projects could be carried out unless all sides were prepared to be realistic and to work together.
In his rejoinder, meanwhile, he offered to amend the text in order to take into account aerial photographs of 1960, if the opposition parties agreed.
To drive home his point and the importance of reaching an agreement, he pointed out that a significant proportion of the Attic basin now covered by buildings was forest based on the aerial photographs of 1945.
"Are you prepared to knock down the buildings there? Will you knock them down? And our country is full of such cases. Thousands of farming families now have cultivated land that was forest in 1945. Will you take this land away from these families?" the minister asked the opposition parties.
Referring to environmental policy in general, Souflias noted that the government had done a huge body of work and made significant progress in dealing with problems during its past term, though much still remained to do.
He also played down the extent of environmental problems within the country - at least those on a strictly national rather than global level - saying that they could not be described as an 'environmental crisis'.
"The important environmental problems in our country are specific and can be dealt with and are being dealt with at a good rate," the minister stressed, while providing assurances that Greece would fully meet targets under the Kyoto Protocol and restrictions imposed by the EU.
Finally, he warned against what he called "disaster-mongering and exaggeration" in presenting environmental problems, saying that these drove people away and failed to encourage individual citizens to behave in an environmentally responsible way, which was vital to the overall effort.
 Papandreou announces new environmental policy for PASOKMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday announced plans to mobilise the party in order to promote a new environmental policy, which he also linked to a goal for broader social alliances against the choices made by the government. He was speaking during an off-the-agenda debate on environmental issues held in Parliament.
Among these initiatives would be the collection of signatures, starting next week, in support of creating a separate and autonomous environment ministry, while PASOK would also submit a proposed draft bill on the same issue by November 20, Papandreou said.
The main opposition leader underlined his objections to proposed revisions of article 24 - which affords protection to forests and "forest land" - and stressed that even discussion on revising the specific article was the "litmus test" for environmental protection. He criticised the government for refusing to withdraw what he called the "forest-murdering" proposed revision of article 24, "even though it knows that the Constitutional revision is already dead after PASOK's decision to withdraw from the process".
He stressed that PASOK would not accept the legalisation of unauthorised buildings or any attempt to undermine the country's forests and the quality of its built environments.
"Our goal is to abolish the model of building outside the town plan. The NATURA areas need funding and scientific support. The first priority must be energy conservation and reducing energy intensity, with immediate provision of incentives to save energy in existing and new buildings, specifications and incentives for a new generation of homes that utilise Greece's bioclimate, combined transport and low-consumption private cars, reduction in the volume of wastes, composting of domestic waste on a domestic level and connecting policies to restructure agriculture with water policy," Papandreou said.
He accused the government of essentially moving in the opposite direction to the above and said that several environmental initiatives were essentially stalled, while the government was in charge of and failing to clean up Greece's top polluter, the state-run Public Power Corporation (PPC).
 KKE's Papariga cites 'environmental nightmare' predictions for 21st centuryCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday called environmental predictions for the 21st century a "nightmare", speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on the environment, where she added that people should take matters "into their hands."
Papariga also charged that Greece's two major political parties bear huge responsibility for the environmental situation in the country, referring to postwar development and public health.
"Capitalist industrial development is the main factor for the commercialisation of land, energy and water," she said.
The KKE leader mentioned that her communist party has no confidence in the current and previous governments' choices and intentions.
She also stated that earthquake protection is a major issue that her party intends to bring to Parliament.
 Leftist leader sharply criticises gov't environment policy during Parliament debateRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos on Thursday accused the government of fielding a non-existent environmental policy, calling for a "head-on collision" with major private interests to put a stop to what he called arbitrary practices around the country.
Alavanos, who initiated the off-the-agenda debate in Parliament, called on the government to withdraw an Article 24 amendment regarding the definition of forestland, as well as ending the practice of using Ottoman-era ownership titles to exploit public land.
The SYRIZA president also pointed out that in spite of the major problems and non-existent environmental policy he is optimistic because society has been awakened and that younger people have become more active.
Commenting on the prime minister's speech, Alavanos stressed that he was probably referring to some other country and not to Greece, which is plagued by enormous environmental problems.
Alavanos also referred to the ecological and environmental problems on Crete, using as an example the Kandanos Gorge, a historical region of exceptional natural beauty, which will soon be turned into a quarry, as he claimed
He stated that there is a need for the adoption of a new perspective and called for a response by the prime minister on whether a 100-million-euro project on drawing up high precision environmental maps was removed from the Community Support Framework funding.
Alavanos also referred to huge environmental problems in Lake Koronia, northern Greece, and to the Asopos River, north of Athens, accusing the state and local government of total indifference.
 Karatzaferis on environmental policiesPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party leader George Karatzaferis on Thursday outlined his party's views on the situation of the environment in Greece, during an off-the-record debate in Parliament on the issue, held at the party leaders' level.
Karatzaferis, a one-time New Democracy deputy and up until recent a LA.OS Euro-deputy, called for the declaration of all forestland as national parks, a clear legal framework for land use, incentives for renewable sources of energy and keeping the Public Power Corp. (PPC) in the state's hands.
Karatzaferis also sharply criticised both main parties, ND and PASOK, for their record in the environmental sector for the past few decades, while charging is practically the only country in Europe that still employs open landfills.
 Greece, FYROM talks resume; UN's Nimetz to visit Athens and SkopjeNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Special United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz said here on Thursday that he intends to visit Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the "near future".
Nimetz was speaking to reporters after meeting Greek UN ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov, in a new round of talks between Greece and FYROM to settle their dispute over the use of the name 'Macedonia' by FYROM.
Nimetz said that he handed over to the two envoys suggestions for criteria on the name issue to be studied by the two sides.
The new round of negotiations began at 15:30 Greek time and lasted two and a half hours. Nimetz, as well as Vassilakis and Dimitrov, said that the meeting was held in "a very good climate" and was, as the Greek envoy added, "honest".
Vassilakis said that "each one presented his proposals as you know them and the meeting will be useful to both to think over the future."
Responding to a question whether Thursday's meeting showed anything different from the previous ones, Vassilakis said that "it presented some improvements", underlining that "both want to find a solution."
Nimetz made the following statement at the end of the meeting:
"At our meeting Ambassador Vassilakis presented the position of his government and Ambassador Dimitrov presented the position of his Government, in both cases with respect to the difference with respect to the 'name' and related issues.
"For my part I urged the Parties to consider all possibilities so that a solution to this dispute can be found within a reasonable time frame. I believe a solution to an issue that divides two neighbouring countries is very much in the interests of both Parties and would also greatly contribute to regional peace and security.
"In an effort to assist the Parties in this process I respectfully made some suggestions in the form of a draft framework for their consideration as a basis for an honorable and fair resolution. I have urged Ambassadors Dimitrov and Vassilakis to bring these suggestions to their Governments for study.
"These discussions under the Secretary-General's auspices will continue in an effort to reach a resolution. I have indicated a willingness to go to Athens and Skopje in the near future to consult with the two Governments more intensively. Both Ambassador Dimitrov and Ambassador Vassilakis will discuss such a mission with their Governments."
Shortly before the new round of negotiations began, Greece's Vassilakis said in a statement:
"Greece has a positive approach to today's talks. We will try, as in the past, to find a solution that is mutually acceptable".
Greece objects to the use of the name "Republic of Macedonia" by FYROM, saying this may give rise to irredentist claims against a northern Greek province of the same name that shares a border with tiny and landlocked FYROM. It has also objected to FYROM's adoption of symbols associated with the ancient Macedonian king and general Alexander the Great as historically inaccurate.
 Greek, FYROM representatives make statements after New York talksNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece's representative in talks on the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) name, Adamantios Vassilakis, said after Thursday's meeting in New York that "it was an honest meeting which took place in a very good and friendly climate," adding that "each side submitted its proposals, that you are aware of."
According to Vassilakis, "today's meeting will constitute an incentive for both sides to think and schedule their moves in the future" and stressed that "I presented the positions of the Greek government clearly."
Replying to a relevant question, Vassilakis said "I do not think that there is absolutely no coincidence of views, what is certain, however, is that both of us desire the finding of a mutually acceptable solution."
Asked further whether Thursday's meeting had anything different from previous meetings, Vassilakis said that "it had improvements" and noted that "both want to find a solution."
FYROM's representative, Nikola Dimitrov, said on his part that "it was a long discussion, where our differences over the name are continuing."
Dimitrov said that the upcoming visit to Athens and Skopje by UN representative Matthew Nimetz is "useful", claiming that "Greece, being a member of NATO and the European Union, is an ally of Skopje and we desire good relations with it and for this reason we are trying to overcome the last difference left for us."
He went on to say that "we are seeing the name as a means for the recognition of our national identity, as well as a guarantee for stability in the wider region. We are flexible in connection with bilateral communication with Greece, but we shall insist on our position over the name, since we have the right of our consitutional name being used internationally."
Lastly, Dimitrov said that "we cannot have tangible results after every meeting and we must continue communication between us."
 Greece's representative meets with UN chief ahead of FYROM name talksNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Adamantios Vasilakis, had a brief meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday evening (local time) in New York, ahead of Thursday's meeting on the FYROM name issue.
According to a statement issued by the UN, the Secretary General was briefed on Greece's position on the name issue of FYROM in view of Thursday's talks in New York, which will be mediated by the UN secretary general's special envoy on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz. Cyprus was also briefly mentioned, the statement concluded.
 Interior minister discusses illegal immigration with Cypriot counterpartInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday discussed illegal immigration and local administration reform in Athens with his Cypriot counterpart Christos Patsalides.
Speaking after the meeting, Pavlopoulos said that "the problem of illegal immigration must be handled with human rights terms in accordance with the culture of Europe, according to the culture of Greece, Cyprus, according to the terms and preconditions imposed by our democracy."
Patsalides said on his part that "the numbers and the rates of illegal immigrants that come to Cyprus, to a great degree mainly through the Turkish occupied territory, creates great difficulties for deportation afterwards or for re-entry to the country from where they came from."
Pavlopoulos also referred to Cyprus' extensive assistance during the recent wildfires, reminding of the self-sacrifice with which Cypriot firefighters had worked.
 Venizelos continues campaign tour, commentsMain opposition PASOK leadership contender Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday continued his ongoing campaign ahead of the Nov. 11 internal party election to elect a new president.
Venizelos, a Thessaloniki-area deputy and former minister, gave a handful of answers to press questions, saying, among others, that a solution to the social security issue is "not one of expenditures, but a problem of revenue".
He said PASOK policy to date in the education sector merely caused confusion, while laconically saying he supports the "public university" and the establishment of a four-year junior high school with a "two-year academic high school".
Additionally, Venizelos said a change of government is necessary in Greece, saying that the major issue is not the election of a new PASOK president on Nov. 11 but the "campaign climate" cultivated by the government, as he said.
 PASOK's Skandalidis holds press conferenceMain opposition PASOK leadership candidate Costas Skandalidis told a press conference on Thursday that his party should work, the day after the Nov. 11 vote, for its unity.
"The main opposition must rapidly find its way, the crisis should not last for long and the day after the election of a leader a new course towards the people should begin with all party cadres in the front line," Skandalidis told reporters at the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Athens.
"Because we come out of a heavy defeat (in the Sept. 16 general elections), unity is not just a simple wish, it should have been the element of a political commitment, the element of a political agreement, something which could not have been arranged with serenity one day after the (general) elections," he said, adding that "this political commitment should have existed before the election of a new leader."
 Greece and Lebanon sign cooperation memorandumDeputy Interior Minister Christos Zois and Lebanon's Minister of State for Administrative Reform Jean Oghassabian on Thursday signed a cooperation memorandum anticipating the coordination of activities, closer bilateral cooperation and an exchange of know-how in the sector of public administration, decentralisation, a more qualitative management of state affairs and providing friendly services for citizens, as well as additional training, education and specialisation for manpower through the National Public Administration Centre.
Zois was also received by the Prime Minister of Lebanon Fouad Siniora.
The Greek deputy minister said during his meeting with Oghassabian that "the coordinated effort being jointly made by Greece and Lebanon, with the signing of the cooperation memorandum being a tangible example, gives a new impetus and prospect to the longstanding relations of friendship, cooperation, solidarity, mutual respect and confidence between the two countries at political, diplomatic and economic level."
Lastly, he referred to friendship existing between the two countries and to Greece's solidarity for Lebanon with the sending of humanitarian aid.
 National Defence General Staff chief holds talks with Serb counterpartBELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)
National Defence General Staff chief Dimitris Grapsas on Thursday held talks here with his Serb counterpart Zdravko Ponos, focusing on bilateral military cooperation in the new year.
According to a joint statement by the two leaders, 20 military cooperation programmes were implemented in 2007. They included the training of 40 Serb officers in the northern Greek city of Kilkis, while men from the special Greek forces participated in a join training programme in Serbia.
Greece, apart from hosting Serb officers, also participated in the equipping of a hall to enable the Greek language to be taught at the military academy in Belgrade.
In 2008, according to the joint statement, emphasis will be placed on joint training for men of the special forces and training for Serb officers will be continued in Greece.
Grapsas visited the military academy in Belgrade on Thursday, the peace missions centre and the special forces brigade, while on Friday he will be visiting the cemetery of first World War Greek officers and soldiers in the city of Pirot.
 KKE leader Aleka Papariga visiting MinskCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga will be heading a party delegation that will be participating in the 9th Meeting of Communist and Labour Parties that will take place in Minsk, Belarus, on November 2-8.
According to an announcement by KKE, the meeting will focus on the issue of the "90th anniversary of the October Revolution. Current developments and the longstanding value of its ideas. The communists in the struggle against imperialism, for socialism."
Over 80 Communist and Labour Paraties have already declared their participation in the International Meeting.
 Data Protection Agency reiterates ruling against CCTV monitoring of street demonstrationsGreece's independent Data Protection Agency (HDPA) on Thursday announced that its decision prohibiting the use of CCTV traffic cameras by police for any other purpose that traffic control was still in force.
The announcement came on the heels of a decision by a top Supreme Court prosecutor a day earlier to allow law enforcement authorities to record and photograph demonstrations, in order to identify and prosecute troublemakers at various protests.
The watchdog agency also noted that an appeal of the ruling has been filed with the Council of State by Greek Police (EL.AS) and the relevant public order minister.
 FinMin presents development interventions billFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday presented the Parliamentary Economic Affairs Committee with the bill on the management, control and implementation of development interventions over the next six years.
"With the appropriate utilisation of European Union funds on the development interventions for the 2007-2013 period, we can achieve real convergence with the European Union," he said.
Alogoskoufis further said that the National Strategic Reference Framework for the 2007-2013 period "constitutes the last opportunity for our country to have funds of such an amount at its disposal (24.6 billion euros), since it constitutes a transitional stage during which the country's development will be separated gradually from European Union funds."
The minister also mentioned that "on November 26 the Commission will be signing all the operational programmes in Brussels and, at the same time as the signing, the activation of the process will begin for the disbursement of the advance payment of the European Union's contribution, in the region of 400 million euros."
 Tourist development minister inaugurates 23rd Philoxenia exhibitionTourist Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos inugaurated the 23rd Philoxenia tourism exhibition in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Thursday night, placing the weight of his policy in the coming years on the development of "green" tourism in Greece.
Spiliotopoulos announced the creation of ecological campings in Skotina, Paliouri, Asprovalta and Fanari, as well as an ecological marina at Paliouri. He said that northern Greece must constitute the dominant tourist pole in the Mediterranean basin and, referring to Halkidiki in particular, said that "in our immediate plans, Halkidiki will be turned into a modern golf destination."
He reiterated that his ministry's overall policy focuses on quality, entrepreneurship and investments and stressed that "the environmental dimension of tourist development constitutes new ethics and new aesthetics for the ministry."
The ministry's goal of promoting social partnership responsibility is part of the same framework, while the minister proposed the enactment of two new tourism awards in Philoxenia as of 2008: "Environmental Conscience" and "Social partnership responsibility."
 Greek, Tunisian entetrprises seek closer cooperationThe Federation of Greek Industries on Thursday signed a protocol of cooperation with UTICA, the Union of Enterprises of Tunisia, during a forum organised in Tunis, aimed to expand its partnerships with employer unions in the Mediterranean.
Commenting on the protocol with Tunisia, Dimitra Mitrogiannopoulou, vice-chairman of the Federation said it aimed at offering useful and focused information for the investment environment, law, tenders and products needed in the local market. "Our aim is to increase our exports, currently at 65 million euros, and to see more Greek investment initiatives to the region," she said.
Tunisia offers the opportunity of rapid launch of business activity, rapid custom services, freedom of capital movement and a credible banking system. Infrastructure projects are currently underway, while the country offers incentives for regional development, farming and environmental protection, along with the opportunity of setting up off-shore enterprises.
The business forum in Tunis highlighted the need to invest in alternative energy sources, farm products, packaging, textiles, machinery equipment, electronics and participating in construction works.
 Greek PMI rose to 87-month high in OctoberGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index rose to its highest level in 87 months in October supported by a significant increase in production and new orders in the country. The seasonally adjusted PMI rose to 55.3 points in October, from 53.8 in September, underlining a strong improvement in operational conditions in the manufacturing sector, the strongest since July 2000.
Greek manufacturers reported a significant increase in production, as a result of a rise in the volume of new orders. Greek enterprises moderately raised their workforce in October, with the employment growth rate rising to the highest rate in three months.
Import prices' growth rate was unchanged in October from September, with increases reported in the sectors of timber, oil, plastics and other raw materials.
Greek manufacturers continued raising their factory gate prices in October, although at a slower pace compared with September. Inventories fell for the fifth consecutive month.
The PMI measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 FBBank says 9-month profits up 33%FBBank on Thursday reported a 33-percent increase in after-tax profits to 5.012 million euros in the January-September period, compared with the corresponding period last year, reflecting a 19.1-pct increase in revenues and a 10.1-pct rise in expenses over the same period.
Net income from interest rose 10.5 pct, while revenues from commissions jumped 57.1 pct. Assets rose 16.6 pct to 1.37 billion euros, with loans totaling 1.074 billion euros (up 21.1 pct) and savings deposits grew 17.4 pct.
FBBank operates a network of 16 branches in Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Heraclio, Corfu, Larissa and Rhodes. The bank plans to open a new branch in Hania, Crete and another four branches over the next few months.
ATEBank holds 49 pct of the bank's equity capital with shipowner Victor Restis the majority 51 pct.
 Greek exports rise 3.2 pct in Jan-Aug, yr/yrThe value of Greek exports rose 3.2 percent to 11.109 billion euros in the eight-month period from January to August, up from 10.77 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, despite a continuing strengthening of the euro/US dollar currency rate, the Hellenic External Trade Organisation (HEPO) announced on Thursday.
In a report, HEPO noted that the value of exports - excluding oil -- grew by 4.3 pct to 999.5 million euros in August, from 958.7 million euros last year, while including oil products the value of exports fell by 1.2 percent.
Greek exports to the EU jumped 23.4 pct in the eight-month period to 7.146 billion euros, with Germany (11.6 pct) the top export destination, with significant increases recorded in the export of transport materials and machinery, or telecommunications equipment (291 pct) and electricity distribution equipment (232 pct). Exports to Romania and Poland jumped by 35.5 pct and 30.2 pct, respectively.
Greek exports to third countries, however, fell by 20.4 pct to 3.964 billion euros in the January-August period, reflecting the fact that Bulgaria and Romania had entered the European Union.
Exports to Russia rose 7.6 pct to 196.1 million euros, mainly clothing and accessories (25 pct of total exports), while air conditioning systems soared 147.7 pct.
Exports to China rose 25 pct, reflecting higher exports of telecom equipment and fur products.
 Local authority workers to begin strike on FridayStaff at local authorities throughout Greece, including garbage collection crews, will on Friday begin a strike that is set to continue until next Tuesday, when they plan to hold a rally and a march to the interior ministry. Their main demand is that their work be included in the list of professions classified as heavy and hazardous labour for social insurance purposes.
 Greek stocks end 1.31 pct lowerGreek stocks lost substantial ground on Thursday, as investors took profits after a several-day rally in the Athens Stock Exchange, following a pattern in other European markets. The composite index dropped 1.31 percent to end at 5,264.71 points with turnover a strong 545.9 million euros.
Sector indices ended lower, with the Utilities (3.46 pct), Constructions (2.80 pct) and Food/Beverage (2.69 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Telecoms (0.52 pct), Oil (0.41 pct) and Travel (0.11 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index fell 1.31 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.57 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 2.45 percent. ANEK (9.52 pct), Galis (5.04 pct) and Vis (9.39 pct) were top gainers, while Elfico (12.43 pct), Boutaris (9.09 pct), Varagis (8.81 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 227 to 40 with another 35 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.41%
Personal & Household: -1.53%
Raw Materials: -1.35%
Travel & Leisure: +0.11%
Food & Beverages: -2.69%
Financial Services: -1.77%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, DEH, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 25.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 27.00
HBC Coca Cola: 41.66
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.86
Emporiki Bank: 21.00
National Bank of Greece: 46.62
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.74
Titan Cement Company: 32.48
 Greek bond closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.147 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.095 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.052 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was again the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 848 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.27 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.53 pct and the German Bund 4.25 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved lower. National Bank's overnight rate eased to 4.09 pct from 4.15 pct on Wednesday, the two-day rate fell to 4.09 pct from 4.10 pct, the one-month rate eased to 4.15 pct from 4.17 pct and the 12-month rate was 4.62 pct.
 ADEX closing reportTurnover in the Athens Derivatives Exchange soared to 235.958 million euros on Thursday, while futures contract prices maintained their discount. The December contract on the Big Cap index was traded at a discount of 1.32 percent, while the November contract on the Mid Cap index at a discount of 0.14 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 10,417 contracts and on the FTSE 40 index volume was 1,310 contracts. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,232 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,766), followed by Eurobank (567), Marfin Investment Group (1,348), PPC (1,071), Piraeus Bank (1,161), Marfin Popular Bank (1,582), Alpha Bank (1,609), Intracom (1,412), GEK (490) and ATEbank (451).
 Foreign Exchange Rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.453
Pound sterling 0.697
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.296
Japanese yen 167.62
Swiss franc 1.686
Norwegian kroner 7.892
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.377
Australian dollar 1.575
 EUTIC international conference in AthensThe International Colloquium EUTIC 2007 on "Challenges and Uses of ICT - Media and Information Diffusion: towards an open society" will take place in Athens on November 7-10 and focus on applications of information and communication technologies in the sector of media and their future.
The EUTIC 2007 Colloquium is the third in a series of events organized by the European Interdisciplinary Group on Challenges and Uses of ICT.
The four-day meeting is hosted by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens' Communications and Mass Media Department Workshop on New Technologies in Communication, Education and the Mass Media.
 Greek university leaders meet in KalamataThe 56th meeting of university rectors and trustees opened Wednesday in the southern city of Kalamata to discuss funding problems plaguing the higher education institutions in the country.
Education Minister Evripides Stylianidis will address the meeting on Saturday.
 Papoulias meets with largest family in GreeceGreek President Karolos Papoulias on Thursday met with the largest family in Greece, which numbers a whopping total of 181 members, in view the Nov. 4 day dedicated to families with many children.
Panagiotis and Maria Psarommati from the town of Elafonissos, in the southern Peloponnese, aged 97 and 89, respectively, have 14 children, 58 grandchildren and 82 great grandchildren.
Papoulias received the family at the presidential mansion, where he praised their example and thanked the elderly couple.
 Customs office employees charged with smugglingThree Evzoni customs office employees are accused of participating in an international smuggling ring.
Based on the charges lodged against them, the three are involved in a sham export case to Kosovo involving 54 containers of tobacco.
The investigation, launched by the prosecutor's office in Kilkis, northern Greece, revealed that even though the containers' documents showed that they had been exported to Kosovo, they in fact never crossed its borders. Based on inspections conducted by European law enforcement authorities, the specific tobacco haul was finally located in Austria and Germany, where members of the ring were put under arrest.
The three Evzoni customs office employees are charged with fraud, issuing false certificates and destroying official documents.
 Illegal migrants from Kashmir suffered inhumane treatment by smugglersTwenty eight of the 63 illegal migrants from Kashmir, all male aged 20-25, found last week stacked inside a liquid fuel truck by Volos police are being temporarily hosted at the Illegal Migration Enforcement Division in Elassona while the rest of them were transferred to Trikala and Karditsa, central Greece.
The truck driver had picked them up in Alexandroupolis, northeast Greece, with the purpose of transporting them to Athens.
Their very bad state as a result of traveling for two days inside the fuel truck, without food and water, mobilized the authoritative illegal migration division in Elassona, as well as local authorities, the Holy Metropolis and the Red Cross, to provide them with the best possible living conditions for the duration of their stay in the region.
 Municipal employee victim attackA 43-year-old municipal employee was injured in a gun attack on Thursday morning while leaving his house accompanied by his wife.
Two unidentified individuals riding a private car opened fire with a handgun against the employee of Aghios Dimitrios municipality, Athens region, and took off. The victim is hospitalized and his condition is characterized as not life threatening.
The motives of the attack are unclear. A preliminary police investigation is underway.
 Cloud, showers on FridayCloudy weather with showers and storms are forecast on continental Greece, the Ionian Sea and the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 14C to 22C, and in Thessaloniki from 13C to 17C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAreios Paghos (Greek supreme court) prosecutor George Sanida's ruling permitting the use of surveillance cameras by authorities during demonstrations in order to spot perpetrators of unlawful acts, the sit-ins at high schools throughout the country, the FYROM name issue and infighting in main opposition PASOK party ahead of the November 11 internal election for a new party leader dominated the front-pages of Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS:"Highschool sit-ins whims - Minorities and marginal elements bring chaos to education sector."
APOGEVMATINI:"Sit-ins without a cause."
AVGI:"Sanidas' decision against freedoms".
AVRIANI: "Alert sounds in the PASOK rank and file in favour of Venizelos (PASOK incumbent leader George Papandreou's main opponent for the party leadership".
CHORA:"Confrontation between government and LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally party) over FYROM name issue."
ELEFTHEROS:"George Karatzaferis' (LAOS leader) sudden infatuation with PM Costas Karamanlis' post-electoral strategy."
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS:"Sit-ins at 400 high schools raise fear for loss of hundreds ofteaching hours."
ELEFTHEROTYPIA:"Keeping files on citizens with prosecutor's permission. Green light for surveillance cameras during demonstrations."
ESTIA:"Massive demonstrations ready to begin as government displays inexplicable tolerance."
ETHNOS:"Head-on collision between goverment and LAOS over FYROM name issue ."
KATHIMERINI: "Use of surveillance cameras, by order of prosecutor, provided unlawful acts take place".
LOGOS:"Eighty-five tons of food unsuitable for consumption confiscated by authorities."
NIKI: "Watch out - Surveillance cameras on the streets, with prosecutor's permission"
RIZOSPASTIS:"Struggle for abolition of surveillance cameras by youth and populace."
TA NEA:"Big Brother joins the demonstrations."
TO VIMA:"Big Brother is coming" .Prosecutor permits authorities to set up surveillance cameras everywhere.
VRADYNI:"Turmoil in education over pretextuous demands."
 Cypriot President will visit AthensNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos will pay a two-day working visit to Athens from 27-28 November.
Government Spokesman Vasilis Palmas said here Thursday that President Papadopoulos will hold meetings with the Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
He will also meet the leaders of the parliamentary political parties, while on November 28 he will pay a visit to the area of Artemida which suffered extensive damage by the devastating fires that broke out in many areas of Greece during the summer.
The government of Cyprus decided on August 29 to reconstruct the Greek village of Artemida, in Peloponnesus, which was razed to the ground by the forest fires. Around mid December the Government is expected to assign the project for the reconstruction, after the opening of bids.
The cost of rebuilding of the Greek village is estimated to reach 14.5 million euro.
The evening of his arrival in Athens on November 26, President Papadopoulos will attend a musical event in memory of Cypriot hero against British colonialism (1955-1959) Kyriakos Matsis. The event is under the auspices of the Greek and the Cypriot Presidents.
 UK Cypriots urge British PM to end Turkish occupationLONDON (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriots living in Britain have sought assurances from the British government that its objective is to work for a reunited Cyprus, free of the Turkish military.
The demand was put forward in a letter by the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the United Kingdom Peter Droussiotis to the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
He called on Brown to issue a full policy statement condemning and calling for an end to the occupation of the north of Cyprus by the Turkish army, reiterating his commitment to UN resolutions on Cyprus and reaffirming support for the UN process laid down by the 8th of July 2006 agreement, reached between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
The letter was handed over to 10 Downing Street, during a demonstration held Thursday evening outside Downing Street to protest the signing of a Strategic Partnership Agreement between Britain and Turkey.
Droussiotis stressed that the agreement "entirely ignores the fundamental nature of the problem of Cyprus which stems directly from Turkey's invasion in 1974 and its ethnic cleansing of more than 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees from their homes in the occupied northern part of the island."
He noted that the agreement advocates the promotion of direct, commercial, economic, political and cultural contacts between the UK, the EU and the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in Cyprus' occupied areas and the maintenance of high level contacts with this regime.
"This approach wholly undermines the ongoing positive, unilateral efforts of the Republic of Cyprus to promote a negotiated settlement and the reunification of the island," he said.
There is no doubt that this Agreement undermines the good relations which should exist between the Republic of Cyprus and the United Kingdom, two countries with historic links and a multitude of common interests reflected in their mutual membership of the Commonwealth and in their respective capacities as partners within the EU, he added.
He expressed hope that the British Prime Minister will respond positively to their request for a meeting with him and his colleagues to discuss this issue.
The partnership agreement commits Britain and Turkey to take forward work on ending what the Turkish Cypriots call "isolation" and to encourage others in the international community to join them in their efforts.
In the document, London and Ankara say they will work within the UN, the EU and bilaterally to promote direct commercial, economic, political and cultural contacts between the UK, the EU and the Turkish Cypriots.
They will also provide "continued help for "TRNC" authorities/universities in their attempts to engage with the Bologna process" and will uphold "the right of representation of the Turkish Cypriots in the European Parliament."
Ryan says no change in British policy regarding puppet regime
Britain's Special Representative for Cyprus Joan Ryan has assured that there is no change in British policy on the subject of recognition of the puppet regime in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.
In remarks on London Greek Radio regarding the memorandum of strategic cooperation signed between Britain and Turkey, Ryan said that ''there is no question of a change to our policy on the subject of recognition'' and reassured the Greek Cypriots that '''this is not in any way a move towards recognition'' of the puppet regime.
''We express full support to the good offices of the UN Secretary General. Our priority is a settlement,'' she added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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