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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-11-07

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

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

Wednesday, 7 November 2007 Issue No: 2742

CONTENTS

  • [01] Bakoyannis reports 'positive response' over FYROM in UK
  • [02] FM ending two-day working visit to Britain
  • [03] Inner cabinet discusses Zoniana incident, livestock farming sector
  • [04] Gov't on the Zoniana incident, school sit-ins
  • [05] Local authorities on Crete call for effective measures against crime
  • [06] Papandreou calls for mandate for new beginning for PASOK and Greece
  • [07] Venizelos calls for massive participation in PASOK leadership election
  • [08] Valinakis on results of Euro-Med foreign affairs conference
  • [09] Parliament President Sioufas addresses 9th Euro-Mediterranean meeting
  • [10] EU Commissioner Rehn on FYROM
  • [11] Kosovo President Sejdiu rejects Hong Kong-type solution
  • [12] President Papoulias in Budapest for World Scientific Forum
  • [13] Deputy foreign minister Kassimis meets Romanian counterpart
  • [14] Illegal migration dominates talks between Greek gov't, Turkish coast guard chief
  • [15] LAOS leader briefed on defense issues
  • [16] Eurobank cites completion of merger between Postbank, DZI Bank in Bulgaria
  • [17] Inauguration of Turkey-Greece natgas pipeline this month
  • [18] Papandreou chairs meeting on social insurance issue
  • [19] Civil servants' union pulls out of pension reform talks, announces strike
  • [20] Transport and Communications Minister Hatzidakis meets with taxi driver union
  • [21] Greek budget deficit up 54.2 pct in Jan-Sept, yr/yr
  • [22] Economic sentiment index down in October, report
  • [23] PPC, S&B sign memorandum of cooperation
  • [24] Building activity off 4.5 pct in Jan-Aug, yr/yr
  • [25] Closed-end investment funds' assets up in October
  • [26] Gov't on OPAP contract
  • [27] Greek mutual funds' assets slightly up in October
  • [28] Greek stocks jump 1.21 pct on Tues.
  • [29] ADEX closing report
  • [30] Greek bond market closing report
  • [31] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday
  • [32] Coast guard reports three instances of illegal migrant arrests in eastern Aegean
  • [33] Drug arrests in Kilkis Prefecture
  • [34] Cloud, showers on Wednesday
  • [35] Olympiakos Piraeus draws 0-0 with Real Madrid in Champions League match
  • [36] Commission urges Cyprus leaders to step up efforts to relaunch negotiations Politics

  • [01] Bakoyannis reports 'positive response' over FYROM in UK

    LONDON (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday said that Greece's positions regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) had met with a "positive response" in London. She was speaking after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Tuesday morning, which both sides described as "excellent".

    In statements after the meeting, Miliband noted that Greece's concerns over the issue of FYROM's name were understandable and said that it was very important to find a solution that respected these concerns.

    Asked about the prospect of a Greek veto to FYROM joining NATO, Miliband replied that Greece was able to fully exercise its rights as a NATO member.

    Bakoyannis insisted on the positive approach taken by the Greek side and under-lined the benefits that would be gained by its neighbour to the north, but also the improvement in bilateral and regional relations that would result if the outstanding dispute were resolved.

    "Greece presents a positive proposal. The Greek State steadfastly believes that problems should be dealt with and not covered up. This is our proposal today and I think this finds great support among friends and partners," she stressed.

    Miliband also underlined, in response to questions, that the UK's position regarding the Cyprus issue had not changed and that London steadfastly supported the July 8 process. The questions had referred to an agreement signed between the UK and Turkey in which the illegal regime in the occupied northern third of Cyprus, which is not recognised by any country apart from Turkey, was referred to as the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus".

    On her part, Bakoyannis stressed the Greek side's satisfaction at the statements made by Miliband regarding the UK-Turkey agreement and the UK's desire to contribute to a solution of the Cyprus issue based on the July 8 process, adding that "our support for the process of July 8, which is also supported by the European Union, is exceptionally important" and noting that Athens had "observed foot-dragging" on the Turkish side.

    Referring to talks with her UK counterpart on Kosovo, Bakoyannis said they had both noted that this was a European issue needing a common European policy that would "indicate that Europe was taking responsibility for one of the most difficult problems that it faces".

    The two ministers also agreed on the need for deeper cooperation on major global challenges like climate change and a joint approach to new threats created by environmental problems.

    During her visit to London, Bakoyannis met with the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles and thanked them for their tremendous and ongoing efforts over the past years, stressing that Athens' goal was to reunite the Marbles being held at the British Museum in London with those in Greece.

    "They do not only belong to Greece but the world has a right to see them united at the new Acropolis Museum," she said.

    In Lisbon, meanwhile, speaking on the sidelines of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership's foreign affairs conference, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis repeated Greece's steadfast support for the European prospects of the Balkans provided that the countries in the region complied with the conditions and criteria set by the EU. He made the statement in a comment on the European Commission's report on FYROM's progress toward accession.

    Valinakis clarified that Greece did not welcome the negative report on FYROM's progress since "we want these countries to comply with the conditions, chief of which is good neighbour relations".

    "The Greek government has supported the European prospects of all our neighbours and wants the conversion of the Balkans into a European neighbourhood. In order for this to happen, however, the candidate states must comply with the specific terms and criteria set on the part of the European Union. Today's report by the European Commission exactly shows the way, the way of such compliance, and certifies that this compliance has not existed up until today and, thus, in its own way is very simply telling Skopje that they cannot progress toward the European prospects that they desire," Valinakis said.

    Regarding FYROM's stance, Valinakis said that Athens was anxious that Skopje understand that "obstinacy would not lead to a solution of the problem" and was not part of European culture, while also noting that the European Commission "rightly attributed crucial importance" to the good neighbour criterion in its report.

    "We want our neighbours' European policy but our neighbours must respect all the criteria that have been set on the part of the EU and other organisations, when this concerns other organisations," the minister added.

    Greece and FYROM recently launched a new round of negotiations to find a solution to their dispute over FYROM's use of the name 'Republic of Macedonia' that Greece objects to on strategic grounds. Athens fears that use of the name may give rise to future irredentist claims on the northern Greek province of Macedonia that shares a border with land-locked FYROM while it also rejects as historically inaccurate the attempts by FYROM's Slav population to claim an association with the ancient Macedonian king and general Alexander the Great, who was born in an area that is well within the borders of the Greek province of Macedonia and whose legacy is considered by Greeks consider an inalienable part of their culture and heritage.

    [02] FM ending two-day working visit to Britain

    LONDON (ANA-MPA/N. Melisova)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was due to conclude her two-day working visit to London on Tuesday night with her address in Oxford on "Europe's message to the world" and be leaving for Berlin on Wednesday morning.

    Briefing Greek reporters on her programme in Berlin, the foreign minister said that she would be meeting her German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The agenda will again include a briefing on the course of negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as well as an assessment of Skopje's positions.

    Asked on the possibility of the NATO alliance not extending an invitation to FYROM in April, Bakoyannis said that the issue is open, nothing can be ruled out and Greek strategy has taken this possibility into consideration, but an effort is taking pace at the moment and what is most probable is for all three countries (Croatia, Albania and FYROM) to be either summoned or invited.

    Talks with Steinmeier will focus on prospects of solving the issue of Kosovo, as well as the need for a comprehensive European position for every eventuality. She will also be meeting with Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic during her stay in Berlin for the same issue.

    She will also be discussing with Steinmeier Europe's proposal on the Middle East in light of the Annapolis conference in the United States.

    Lastly, commenting on the EU Commission's progress reports for FYROM and Turkey, Bakoyannis said that "we sent clear messages to our partners and we met with a response."

    [03] Inner cabinet discusses Zoniana incident, livestock farming sector

    The Zoniana incident on Crete, in which three police officers were shot and injured during a drug raid, dominated Tuesday morning's meeting of the inner cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos briefed the cabinet on the current situation in Zoniana, where one of the officers shot was taken to hospital in critical condition, and underlined that there had to be a political decision to finally take long overdue measures to impose law and order, while stressing that these should not put human lives at risk.

    Pavlopoulos underlined that the political will to do this existed, adding that the police and judicial authorities would choose the time and place that law and order would be imposed and that the operational details were the business of the police.

    He also stressed that both the police and judicial authorities would do their job and impose order in a region that had for years been left without state control, so that crime of the most serious sort developed there, while adding that "we all know who is responsible" for this.

    Pavlopoulos underlined that the lack of state intervention in the region over several years had essentially acted to cover up criminal activity.

    "Everyone can understand who is responsible when justice and the police do not intervene to impose the law for so many years," he added.

    Referring to the young police guard now fighting for his life in hospital, Pavlopoulos said he had the support of the prime minister, the government and his own and expressed hope that he would prevail in his battle to live and that his injury would not leave permanent damage.

    "We stand beside him and his family and the state honours its responsibility toward the people who serve law and order," the minister added.

    The rest of the cabinet meeting dealt with livestock farming issues, with Agricultural Development Minister Alexandros Kontos briefing the government.

    Kontos underlined that the Greek livestock farming sector was growing as a consequence of the measures taken by the government in previous years but was facing problems during the current year because of a sharp increase in prices of animal feed worldwide.

    He stressed that the government was supportive of Greek livestock farmers, pointing out that payment of 155 million euros in compensation had begun on Monday even though under normal procedures the money would have paid in August 2008. He also announced a decision to give a five-year interest-free loan to livestock breeders of up to 300 million euros.

    Another announcement made by the minister was that 2008 would be a year for promoting Greek feta after the European Union firmly established the name of the cheese as a 'protected designation of origin' exclusive to Greece.

    Kontos also outlined plans to extend the remit of the Greek dairy organisation, one of the most efficient services at the agricultural development and foods ministry, to also monitor production and promote Greek meat products.

    Efforts to encourage the development of Greek livestock farming were continuing with the simplifying of investment plans and a decision to induct Greek livestock farming investments in the national developmental law, he added.

    [04] Gov't on the Zoniana incident, school sit-ins

    Government spokesman Thodoros Rousopoulos on Tuesday referred to the previous day's shootout in the village of Zoniana, Crete, saying that police are "not at war or have unresolved issues" with anyone.

    He also said there is a "no tolerance policy" by the government, while he declined to comment on press reports that the assailants are "protected" by local political figures.

    Responding to a question concerning possible links between police and organised crime, Roussopoulos said isolated incidents should not mar the entire force.

    In an unrelated development, namely, the scores of sit-ins at secondary schools around the country by disgruntled groups of pupils, he noted that free public education is state-guaranteed and "those who look for excuses to stay out of school are free to do so."

    [05] Local authorities on Crete call for effective measures against crime

    Rethymno Prefect George Papadakis on Tuesday appealed to the government for "immediate, dynamic and effective solutions" to fight organised crime in the area, in the wake of an ambush of a police convoy outside the mountainous village of Zoniana.

    The prefect pointed out that he has personally briefed the interior minister on the case, stressing that he is fully aware of the problem's aspects and intensity.

    Meanwhile, Zoniana community president Costas Parasiris denied press allegations that police authorities on the large island had tipped him off days earlier about the police operation.

    One police officer was shot in the neck and remains in serious condition at a Irakleio hospital, while another two officers sustained less serious injuries in the attack.

    [06] Papandreou calls for mandate for new beginning for PASOK and Greece

    PASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing an open rally in the eastern city of Halkida on Tuesday, ahead of Sunday's leadership elections in the party, called for a mandate for a new beginning for PASOK and for Greece.

    Papandreou called for a "clear mandate so that the message can be sent of the new, longterm, political dominance, the dominance of a great centre-left progressive majority."

    The PASOK leader also called for mass participation in the November 11 elections "so that a reply will be given dynamically and decisively to those who want politics to be the servant of the economy, a field of personal ambition, a smiling public relations employee and a matchmaker of untransparent deals, agreements and vested interests."

    Papandreou said he guaranteed that as of November 12 he will forge ahead with reforms and changes that will place PASOK on new foundations and structures, with new persons and a new attitude and ethics.

    He further stressed that PASOK "needs a great, powerful and strong mandate so that yesterday's crisis can be turned into the hope of tomorrow and yesterday's defeat into tomorrow's victory and, at the same time, to become a party of the people again."

    [07] Venizelos calls for massive participation in PASOK leadership election

    PASOK party leadership contender Evangelos Venizelos, addressing supporters in the Athens suburb of Maroussi on Tuesday evening, called on citizens to take the issue of PASOK into their hands and to participate massively in the election process on November 11.

    Venizelos added that Sunday's "dilemma does not concern persons." He said it would be a mistake to give an opportunity to persons, an opportunity should be given to the party and to the country.

    The leadership contender also criticised Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, saying that he has a marginal majority and he is "the hostage of disgruntled cadres of his." He further said that "he has led medium-income households to economic deadlock," terming the situation a "timebomb".

    [08] Valinakis on results of Euro-Med foreign affairs conference

    LISBON (ANA-MPA - F. Karaviti)

    Commenting on the results of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Foreign Affairs Conference that ended here on Tuesday, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis pointed to efforts on both sides of the Mediterranean to "make the Mediterranean Sea something that unites rather than divides".

    He said this cooperation was taking place on both a political and economic level, in sectors such as energy, transport, culture and immigration. Valinakis particularly underlined the progress made in creating a joint area of higher education and training, adding that this would mean "that a Euro-Mediterranean university will be created in which we want Greek universities to participate".

    He said interest had already been expressed by the University of the Aegean and that the aim was exchanges between these universities and their contribution to a common purpose.

    On a political level, Valinakis noted the need for progress on the Middle East peace process.

    "There is a shared conviction that we have before us an opportunity with the Annapolis [Middle East] meeting in the United States that can truly give a way out and a substantive solution to the Palestinian issue. We want to support this effort and support every activity in this direction," the minister said.

    Regarding a French proposal for the creation of a Mediterranean Union, Valinakis repeated that this "cannot be a substitute for Turkey's European course".

    "We believe in this course, though always in terms of the need for Turkey to conform with the terms and criteria set by the European side. We want the Mediterranean Union to aim at practical ways of cooperation between Mediterranean countries in the sectors of energy, maritime transport and a series of other areas that we will consider in the period that follows in order to arrive at specific practices and feasible ideas and results," he added.

    On environmental policies related to the Mediterranean, Valinakis repeated the line about the Mediterranean being "the sea that unites us" and added that it should therefore be clean and accessible to all.

    [09] Parliament President Sioufas addresses 9th Euro-Mediterranean meeting

    Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly President and Greek Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas addressed the 9th Euro-Mediterranean meeting of 37 foreign ministers in Portugal on Tuesday, stressing that in March, 2004, Athens hosted the opening session of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, while in March, 2008, the plenum will be held in Athens on completion of the tenure of its first presidency.

    Sioufas underlined that the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly is the Parliamentary organ of the Barcelona process, aimed at supporting initiatives for consolidating peace in the region and the balanced development of the participating countries.

    He added that Euro-Mediterranean dialogue, at present, is a priority for Europe and the region's countries. However, it must be supplemented with initiatives and actions and lead to specific results.

    [10] EU Commissioner Rehn on FYROM

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, speaking here on Tuesday on the occasion of the publication of progress reports for EU accession canditate countries, expressed support for a solution to the issue of the final name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) "as soon as possible."

    The Finnish Commissioner, replying to a relevant question, said that the pending issue between Athens and Skopje on the issue of FYROM's final name has now become a longstanding one and expressed the hope "for there to be light at the end of the tunnel soon."

    "It is an important bilateral issue, whose solution belongs to the jurisdiction of the UN and I hope that progress will be achieved soon so that it will cease to be an obstacle in relations between FYROM and the EU," Rehn said.

    [11] Kosovo President Sejdiu rejects Hong Kong-type solution

    BELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)

    The political leadership of Kosovo categorically rejects the proposal for a "Hong Kong type solution" tabled by Belgrade in Monday's negotiations in Vienna.

    Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu told ANA-MPA that Kosovo is a sui generis entity and therefore cannot be compared to other cases such as Hong Kong or post WWII Germany. He said that Kosovo has an ethnically concrete population with the Albanians making up 90 percent while all ethnic minorities present, with the exception of the Serbs, support independence. "Anything that keeps a conflict situation 'frozen' facing the risk of an outbreak at any moment is not a solution for us", he said.

    The Serb delegation proposal, tabled during the talks on the final status of Kosovo held in Vienna, suggested the implementation of a solution modeled after the one adopted by Britain and China in the case of Hong Kong.

    According to the proposal outlined by Serbia President Boris Tadic, there will be a single constitutional framework and each entity should have an autonomous administration but no unilateral decisions will be made concerning the Constitution and sovereign rights. Internationally recognized borders will be unchangeable and will be controlled in cooperation with the international community. Security forces will have a localized authority and their role will be limited to maintaining public order.

    According to Tadic, the Hong Kong model will offer guarantees for a solution that will strengthen stability and favor European integration.

    [12] President Papoulias in Budapest for World Scientific Forum

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias departs on Wednesday for Budapest to take part in the World Scientific Forum held in the Hungarian capital at the initiative of the country's President Laszlo Solyom.

    "The group of Heads of States on environmental issues, known also as group of "Green Presidents", is an initiative by Hungarian President Mr. Laszlo Solyom who undertook its organisation in order for European countries' leaders to promote issues on the Protection of the Environment," a presidency's press office announcement said on Tuesday.

    Participating in the group are the presidents of Austria, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Lithuania, Hungary and Finland.

    In this year's Forum, expected "to put forward questions and concerns regarding the Responsibility toward Future Generations", the Presidents of Austria Heinz Fischer, Federal Republic of Germany Horst Kohler and Croatia Stjepan Mesic are also participating, the announcement added.

    [13] Deputy foreign minister Kassimis meets Romanian counterpart

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis held talks on Tuesday with his visiting Romanian counterpart Mihai Gheorghiu, with the two ministers saying afterwards that they had ascertained "the exceptional momentum of bilateral relations," according to a foreign ministry press release.

    The two also discussed inter-Balkan cooperation and European Union and NATO issues.

    "We have agreed that it is a good thing having all Balkan countries cooperate in the same agencies and that the Former Yugposlav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) can be accepted in NATO and Europe only if a mutually acceptable solution over its name is first reached," Kassimis noted.

    On his part, Gheorghiu said that his country "wants to continue its cooperation with Greece and I consider that this will be a privileged relationship."

    [14] Illegal migration dominates talks between Greek gov't, Turkish coast guard chief

    The visiting commander of Turkey's coast guard, Rear Adm. Can Erenolu, on Tuesday was successively received by Merchant Marine & Island Policy George Voulgarakis and by his Greek counterpart, Ilias Sionidis, for talks that expectedly focused on the issue of seaborne illegal immigration.

    Greece has vociferously called for stricter patrolling by Turkish authorities of their side of the sea borders the two countries share in the eastern Aegean, as several Greek islands have over the past few years have become favorite targets of migrant smugglers operating from the Turkish coastline. Athens has also repeatedly taken up the issue with its European Union partners and called for the creation of an EU-wide coast guard.

    Following his meeting with Voulgarakis, Rear Adm. Erenolu told reporters that the purpose of his official visit to Athens is to increase mutual trust between the two neighbouring countries' coast guard services.

    We are aware of the problem of illegal immigration and we are dealing with it. It is the problem of our century, and the countries most affected are Greece, Turkey and the European Union, Erenolu said, adding that his government is serious about dealing this global problem, as he noted.

    & we understand that illegal immigration affects our (Greece and Turkey) relations, as this is also a matter of security. The Turkish coast guard arrested 4,250 illegal immigrants in 2007 alone, triple the number of the last three years. When an issue involving illegal immigrants arises we exchange information and coordinate the operation," he said.

    Asked by local reporters if problems exist in search-and-rescue operations (in the Aegean), Erenolu merely noted that all issues are open (for discussion) without any problem. Search-and-rescue is a humanitarian issue. To rescue someone from the sea is one of our primary duties, whereas there is good cooperation between the two countries' search-and-rescue centres."

    On his part, Voulgarakis, whose ministry holds the coast guard and harbour corps portfolio, said the issue of search-and-rescue operations was not discussed.

    [15] LAOS leader briefed on defense issues

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis visited the ministry of national defense and was briefed by the ministry's political leadership and military staff chiefs on issues concerning the country's defence policy. "I am confident that the Greek people can feel good", Karatzaferis commented afterwards.

    Financial News

    [16] Eurobank cites completion of merger between Postbank, DZI Bank in Bulgaria

    Eurobank on Tuesday announced the completion of a merger between its subsidiaries in Bulgaria, Postbank and DZI, creating one of the largest financial institutions in the Balkan and EU member-country.

    After a legal ratification of the new company on Nov. 1, the two banks completed their legal merger under the brand name Postbank. The legal name of the new bank is Eurobank EFG Bulgaria AD.

    Postbank operates the third largest branch network in Bulgaria (264 units) and holds a market share of around 10 percent. Its workforce numbers 3,000. Consolidated results in Bulgaria showed a 60 percent increase in its loan portfolio to 2.1 billion euros in September.

    Postbank holds a 16 percent market share in the Bulgaria mortgage market (second) and a 12-percent share in the consumer credit market (fourth). Saving deposits totaled 1.5 billion euros, up 30 percent, while Postbank is the leader in the Bulgarian credit card market.

    Eurobank Group purchased DZI Bank in 2006.

    [17] Inauguration of Turkey-Greece natgas pipeline this month

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA)

    The inauguration of a natgas pipeline connecting Turkey with Greece is scheduled for for Nov. 18, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler announced here on Tuesday.

    Guler said that following a ceremony at the Greek-Turkish frontier, natural gas will begin flowing via the pipeline.

    According to reports here, the Greek and Turkish prime ministers will be on hand for the inauguration ceremony.

    The pipeline is projected to extend to Italy and western Europe via the Adriatic.

    [18] Papandreou chairs meeting on social insurance issue

    Main opposition PASOK president George Papandreou on Tuesday called on the government to enter into social security reform dialogue with "substantiated proposals".

    Papandreou made the comment after a wide-ranging meeting he chaired on the issue in his Parliament office.

    He also stressed that his party will defend the wage-earners' and pensioners' rights and will expose, as he said, ruling New Democracy party's negative policy. He also accused the government of not being sincere in its objectives for social security reform and for refusing to implement existing legislation.

    [19] Civil servants' union pulls out of pension reform talks, announces strike

    The civil servants' union ADEDY on Tuesday announced that it was pulling out of the government-initiated dialogue on pension system reforms in a letter sent to Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Employment Minister Vassilis Magginas, noting that its participation in the discussion in Parliament would be essentially "without content".

    An announcement by ADEDY's leadership said that "there is no point to a dialogue without productive content that is basically turned into parallel monologues," while adding that the government's failure to submit a specific proposal on the issue of funding did not allow real dialogue to take place.

    The union also announced a 24-hour strike on December 12 in protest against planned social insurance reforms and the draft budget, which it said continued wage austerity and underfunding of social services like education, health and social insurance.

    "The essential parameters for carrying on dialogue and, more specifically, our being informed about the government's positions on the issue of funding so that we are able to participate productively in dialogue with a view to supporting solutions for social insurance and workers' rights and not simply be present for parallel monologues, do not exist. This is what has for four days now been raised by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) without any response until today. For the above reasons, precisely, our participation is not permissible," the union said.

    [20] Transport and Communications Minister Hatzidakis meets with taxi driver union

    Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis met with the Taxi Drivers' Federation board on Monday night and discussed the sector's demand to be allowed to keep their professional license until the age of 67 instead of the current age limit of 65. They also discussed issues concerning traffic violation penalties imposed on taxi drivers.

    Hatzidakis announced that a relative draft law will be tabled in parliament by the end of the year harmonizing the professional drivers' age limit with the European standards.

    [21] Greek budget deficit up 54.2 pct in Jan-Sept, yr/yr

    Greek regular budget revenues rose by 7.4 percent in the nine-month period from January to September, compared with the corresponding period last year, with total revenues (pre-tax returns) rising by 6.0 percent over the same period, the Finance ministry said in a report on Tuesdsay.

    Net revenues grew 5.1 pct, down from a budget target for a growth rate of 6.2 percent, reflecting higher tax returns and a 482-mln-euro extra revenue last year.

    Budget spending rose 10.3 percent, with primary spending up 12 percent (surpassing a 7.4 pct budget target), reflecting higher payments on pensions, social benefits, farm subsidies and a 613-mln-euro payment to Olympic Airways. Interest payments grew by 4.4 percent in the January-September period.

    Spending in a Public Investments Program totaled 6.528 billion euros in the nine-month period, while revenues totaled 3.131 billion euros, up 29.7 pct. The finance ministry said that the budget deficit grew by 54.2 percent in January-September to 9.682 billion euros.

    [22] Economic sentiment index down in October, report

    Economic sentiment in Greece fell to 109.3 points in October, from 111.9 points in September, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Tuesday. In its monthly report, IOBE said the economic sentiment index fell from its highest level this year in September and was currently moving around July's and August's levels, very near the EU average level and significantly above the Eurozone average.

    IOBE said a decline in the index mainly reflected a correction of business expectations in the manufacturing and services sectors, while consumer confidence rose to its highest level in the last three years.

    Business forecasts in the manufacturing sector were less favourable in October, compared with September, mainly due to lower expectations over production and new orders and an increased level of inventories. The climate worsened in the services sector, with less optimistic forecasts over business activity in the sector as well as lower demand.

    In the retail sector, business expectations remained low, while in the construction sector conditions improved slightly in October from September.

    The consumer confidence index jumped to a new three-year high to -22 points in October, from -26 in September. The index continues improving in Greece while consumer confidence fell in the EU and was unchanged in the Eurozone.

    [23] PPC, S&B sign memorandum of cooperation

    Public Power Corporation Renewable SA, a subsidiary of Greece's electricity utility PPC, on Tuesday announced a decision to sign a memorandum of cooperation with S&B Industrial Minerals SA to work together in research, management and exploitation of a geothermal field in the island complex of Milos-Kimolos-Polyaegou.

    The memorandum of cooperation envisages the drafting of a visibility study and of a long-term business plan for the geothermal field. Final decision over the plan and details of the cooperation between the two enterprises will be finalized after completion of the above mentioned actions.

    Greece has a very significant geothermal sector, with the main field located in the island of Milos.

    [24] Building activity off 4.5 pct in Jan-Aug, yr/yr

    Building activity fell by 4.5 pct (in permits) and by 6.0 pct in volume, in the eight-month period from January to August this year, compared with the corresponding period in 2006, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service said Central Macedonia (-16 pct), Southern Aegean (-11.5 pct) and the Ionian islands (-6.0 pct) recorded the biggest percentage declines (in the number of permits), with Western Greece (-5.1 pct) and the Peloponese (-5.6 pct) also recording declines. Central Greece (+5.3 pct) was the only region to record an increase in building permits in the eight-month period.

    [25] Closed-end investment funds' assets up in October

    Greek-listed eight closed-end investment funds' assets rose to 425 million euros at the end of October, from 415 million euros a month earlier, a report by the Union of Institutional Investors said on Tuesday.

    The average numerical return of the sector was 13.32 percent in the first 10 months of 2007, while the average weighed return 18.02 percent, with all companies in the sector reporting positive internal value returns, ranging from 4.41 percent to 26.19 percent.

    The average discount of the sector was -23.62 percent, with all eight companies in the sector trading at a discount ranging from 15.79 percent to 27.89 percent.

    [26] Gov't on OPAP contract

    The government spokesman on Tuesday, in response to a relevant question regarding a football pools organisation (OPAP) contract with Athens-based Intralot, said a coming announcement will be issued by state-run OPAP S.A. itself, "which is a copmany with an administration, and listed on the stock market ..."

    "I have nothing to add to that," spokesman Theodoros Rousso-poulos said.

    [27] Greek mutual funds' assets slightly up in October

    Greece's mutual funds market assets totaled 26.2 billion euros at the of October, from 26.3 billion euros a month earlier, for a decline of 0.52 percent, official figures showed on Tuesday.

    A report said that 23.23 billion euros, or 89 pct of total assets, accounted for Greek mutual funds of all categories, with the remaining 2.96 billion euros (11 pct of total assets) beging foreign capital markets funds' managed by Greek mutual fund management companies.

    Foreign money market funds (3.1 pct), foreign capital markets funds (2.5 pct), foreign combined (1.9 pct) and domestic combined funds (1.0 pct) recorded increases in assets in October, while Foreign bonds (5.9 pct), combined Funds of Funds (4.6 pct) and domestic money market funds (4.2 pct) recorded declines in assets.

    Twenty domestic equity funds surpassed the ASE composite indexe's return (21.40 percent) with returns ranging from 21.76 pct to 36.24 pt.

    [28] Greek stocks jump 1.21 pct on Tues.

    Greek stocks jumped 1.21 percent on Tuesday, recovering after a two-day decline at the Athens Stock Exchange as buyers took the upper hand in the market.

    The composite index ended at 5,309.92 points with turnover a strong 457.21 million euros, of which 118.97 million were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher with the Construction (3.33 pct), Technology (2.03 pct) and Industrial Products (1.84 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Healthcare (0.41 pct), Travel (0.22 pct) and Financial Services (0.15 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.32 percent, the Mid Cap index ended 0.70 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.64 percent. ANEK (9.97 pct), Microsystems (8.16 pct) and Intrakat (7.58 pct) were top gainers, while Ippotour (6.76 pct), Texapret (5.08 pct) and Space Hellas (5.03 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 186 to 64 with another 48 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.63%

    Industrials: +1.84%

    Commercial: +0.76%

    Construction: +3.33%

    Media: +0.82%

    Oil & Gas: +1.13%

    Personal & Household: +1.14%

    Raw Materials: +1.48%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.22%

    Technology: +2.03%

    Telecoms: +1.05%

    Banks: +1.35%

    Food & Beverages: +1.56%

    Health: -0.41%

    Utilities: +1.05%

    Chemicals: +1.22%

    Financial Services: -0.15%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and DEH.

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

    Alpha Bank: 25.66

    ATEbank: 3.90

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 26.80

    HBC Coca Cola: 42.24

    Hellenic Petroleum: 10.92

    Emporiki Bank: 21.02

    National Bank of Greece: 47.74

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.68

    Intralot: 30.00

    Cosmote: 24.84

    OPAP: 27.90

    OTE: 25.10

    Titan Cement Company: 33.98

    [29] ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices ended mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover an improved 148.555 million euros. The December contract on the Big Cap index was traded at a discount of 0.34 percent, while the November contract on the Mid Cap index at a premium of 0.46 percent.

    Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 8,849 contracts while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 358 contracts. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,454 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (909), followed by Marfin Investment Group (549), OTE (583), OPAP (245), Piraeus Bank (278), Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (282), Cosmote (382), Marfin Popular Bank (234), Alpha Bank (724) and Intracom (683).

    [30] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.456 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 816 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 640 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was again the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 620 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.30 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.50 pct and the German Bund 4.20 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rates eased to 4.08 pct from 4.09 pct on Monday, the two-day rate was 4.06 pct, the one-month rate 4.16 pct and the 12-month rate 4.62 pct.

    [31] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.466

    Pound sterling 0.702

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 9.324

    Japanese yen 168.24

    Swiss franc 1.679

    Norwegian kroner 7.842

    Cyprus pound 0.588

    Canadian dollar 1.359

    Australian dollar 1.582

    General News

    [32] Coast guard reports three instances of illegal migrant arrests in eastern Aegean

    A total of 35 illegal immigrants, including two minors, were intercepted in two separate instances by the coast guard on Monday on and near the tiny eastern Aegean island of Farmakonissi, a "favorite" destination by Third World migrants attempting to reach Greek territory from the opposite Turkish coast.

    The entire group was transported to nearby Leros island.

    Meanwhile, three illegal migrants were spotted and intercepted roughly 500 metres from the eastern Aegean island of Samos overnight. The would-be immigrants said they attempted to cross over from Turkey with a small inflatable dinghy.

    Finally, a 43-year-old lorry driver was arrested in the extreme northwest port of Igoumenitsa early Tuesday morning when authorities located six illegal immigrants hidden in his truck, moments before it was about to board an Italy-bound ferry boat.

    [33] Drug arrests in Kilkis Prefecture

    Two men, aged 51 and 56, were arrested in Kilkis Prefecture, northern Greece, on drug charges after police found in their possession roughly 54 kilos of hashish.

    The 51-year-old was arrested for possession of 125 grams of hashish while a police search in a house he shared with his 56-year-old accomplice revealed roughly 54 kilos of the drug.

    Weather Forecast

    [34] Cloud, showers on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and showers are forecast, particularly in the south of the country, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 6C to 16C, and in Thessaloniki from 4C to 13C.

    Soccer

    [35] Olympiakos Piraeus draws 0-0 with Real Madrid in Champions League match

    Olympiakos Piraeus drew 0-0 with Real Madrid in a Group C Champions League match played at Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus on Tuesday night.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [36] Commission urges Cyprus leaders to step up efforts to relaunch negotiations

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The European Commission has urged the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities in Cyprus to step up their efforts to relaunch negotiations on a comprehensive settlement under UN auspices.

    In its Enlargement Strategy 2007 Report issued on Tuesday along with the Progress Reports for the EU candidate countries (Croatia, FYROM and Turkey) and EU potential candidates (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo), the Commission said it was implementing the instrument of financial support for encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, facilitating the future re-unification of the island.

    "Enhanced use of the Green Line Regulation, which allows for the movement of persons and goods throughout Cyprus, will serve the interests of both communities," the Commission said, adding that "the regulation on direct trade with the northern part of Cyprus, proposed by the Commission to further reduce the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community remains to be adopted by the Council."

    In its text for Turkey in the same Report, the Commission said that with regard to regional issues, Turkey has expressed continued support for UN efforts to find a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    "However there has been no progress towards normalization of bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey has not fully implemented the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not removed all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport links with Cyprus," it added.

    Speaking during a press conference in Brussels, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said that the Commission expects progress in the accession negotiations with Turkey in the course of the year, adding that at least two chapters could be opened in the coming weeks, that of Consumer and Health Protection and of Trans-European Networks.

    He also recalled that "8 chapters will not be opened until Turkey has fulfilled the commitments related to the Ankara protocol in line with the Council conclusions of 11th of December last year."

    Turkey which is aspiring to become an EU member state has been occupying 37% of Cyprus territory since 1974 and refuses to implement the Customs Union Protocol by opening its ports and airports to Cyprus, and EU member state since May 1, 2004.

    The EU General Affairs Council agreed unanimously on Dec 11, 2006, to sanction Turkey for failing to respect its trade obligations to Cyprus by freezing eight chapters of the acquis communautaire, covering the policy areas relevant to Turkey's restrictions as regards the Republic of Cyprus, a decision that has been endorsed by EU leaders.

    In the 2007 Progress Report for Turkey the Commission noted that this country maintained its restrictions on direct transport links with Cyprus.

    Furthermore it said that Turkey has further improved its ability to take on the obligations of membership, recalling that owing to Turkey's non compliance with its obligations related to the additional protocol to the Ankara Agreement in December 2006, the EU decided to freeze eight chapters of the negotiations, but to continue with the other chapters.

    "Progress was made in most areas, in particular in the chapters on free movement of goods, financial services, trans-European Networks, and science and research. However, alignment needs to be pursued, in particular in areas such as, free movement of services, state aid, agriculture, fisheries, food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policies, and environment. Fulfillment of short-term priorities under the Accession Partnership is lagging behind in many areas," the Commission said.

    It added that Turkey continues to sufficiently fulfill the Copenhagen political criteria and has overcome smoothly its political and institutional crisis, noting that there has been some progress in legislative reform of the public administration, and some progress has been made in improving the efficiency of the judiciary. "More action has been taken to improve women's rights. The reported number of cases of torture and ill-treatment continued to decrease. Turkey has made progress on the ratification of international human rights instruments and in implementing the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgments", the Commission said.

    However, it noted "there was limited progress on political reforms in 2007. Significant further efforts are needed on freedom of expression and on the rights of non-Muslim religious communities. Further progress is needed on the fight against corruption, the judicial system, trade union rights, children's and women's rights, cultural rights, as well as civilian oversight of the security forces."

    It is now important that the new government takes immediate action on these priority areas, the Commission stressed, adding that freedom of expression and freedom of religion are the most urgent issues, on which we want to see the government take action without delay.

    It also underlined that there has been a further increase in terrorist attacks by the PKK adding that it is crucial that Turkey and Iraq continue to tackle this problem through cooperation between the relevant authorities and by respecting international law.

    Rehn said "the EU condemns all terrorist attacks and understands Turkey's need to protect its citizens" stressing at the same time the need for the respect of the rule of law.

    As regards economic criteria the Commission said Turkey can be regarded as a functioning market economy and it should be able to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union in the medium term, provided that it implements its comprehensive reform programme to address structural weaknesses.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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