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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-11-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 9 November 2007 Issue No: 2744


  • [01] Time to solve FYROM name issue is now, Bakoyannis tells MPs
  • [02] PM Karamanlis briefed by foreign minister on London, Berlin talks
  • [03] Gov't on leftist leader's comments during FYROM visit
  • [04] Gov't on situation in police raided village of Zoniana
  • [05] Gov't on environmental inspections
  • [06] Humanity on brink of disaster over environment, Papoulias warns
  • [07] EU Council of Justice, Interior Ministers convenes in Brussels
  • [08] PASOK setting out for major social alliances on November 12, Papandreou says
  • [09] Papandreou attends Arcadi Monastery memorial service
  • [10] Interview with PASOK leadership candidate Skandalidis ahead of Sunday's election
  • [11] Frigate HYDRA to take part in Bright Star 2007 multinational exercise in Egypt
  • [12] FM Bakoyannis sends condolences message to Afghan counterpart over suicide attack
  • [13] FM Bakoyannis sends condolences message to Finnish counterpart over school tragedy
  • [14] New U.S. envoy sworn in
  • [15] Dep. FM meets separately with envoys of Luxembourg, Belgium, Japan
  • [16] Italian ambassador visits Ioannina area
  • [17] FinMin opens session at NYSE on Thurs.
  • [18] Transport minister refers to government goals for new technologies
  • [19] Greek annual inflation rate rose to 3.1 pct in October
  • [20] Survey on middle level management trends in Greece
  • [21] OTE cable damage disrupts Internet access
  • [22] Gov't declines comment on Iranian bank press reports
  • [23] Frigoglass reports improved nine-month results
  • [24] Eurobank's report on developments in int'l commodities market
  • [25] Credit expansion slowed slightly in September
  • [26] Car registrations up 5.4 pct in Jan-Oct, yr/yr
  • [27] Greek stocks end 1.46% down on Thurs.
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Greek bond market closing report
  • [30] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday
  • [31] No concern for Lake Marathon's water quality, gov't says
  • [32] International exercise for tackling marine pollution held in Elefsina
  • [33] Greek coast guard: More than 7,000 illegals intercepted in 2007 alone
  • [34] Macedonia-Thrace minister attends Florina liberation celebrations
  • [35] Greek poet's work to be presented at U.S. literary translators' congress
  • [36] Albanian national fatally shot in border incident
  • [37] Couple arrested at airport with 7 kilos of cocaine
  • [38] Red Star fans attacked in Thessaloniki
  • [39] MEPs stress need to open Ledra Street
  • [40] UN reiterates interest in Cyprus Politics

  • [01] Time to solve FYROM name issue is now, Bakoyannis tells MPs

    The time for Greece to press for a solution regarding the international name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was now, before its application to join NATO came under consideration in six months, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed while briefing Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.

    "We have said: 'You will join NATO from the moment that you fulfill the terms of good neighborly relations and this means finding a composite name," Bakoyannis told MPs.

    She underlined that Greece's policy on this issue had been clear and steadfast, with Athens making it clear that relations of alliance and partnership could not be developed in conditions of obstinacy and with one side presenting irredentist positions.

    The minister also stressed that Greece was not prepared to put off a resolution of the issue until 2015. "The time for a solution is now - and before [the NATO summit] - we have six months for negotiations," she added.

    Asked about the possibility that FYROM join NATO under its current temporary name, Bakoyannis noted that the Skopje government seemed to think it could have things both ways:

    "The latest developments have shown that Skopje considers that it can follow a double policy: On the one hand they consider that they can join [all international organizations] with the name FYROM and, on the other hand, they directly dispute this name. This became clearly evident at the last United Nations assembly, where the FYROM official presiding referred to FYROM's president as 'President of Macedonia'. In practice, this means that this entire affair is a deception," she said.

    She also pointed out that, in terms of seeking a proper basis for relations of alliance, the name issue was not a psychological problem but a political issue linked to the requirement to actively seek good neighbor relations and terms that were self-evident in relations between allied states.

    "This position of ours is put forward and is understood because it is consistent in the direction of encouraging countries in the region to join NATO and the EU but without a carte blanche," Bakoyannis added.

    Main opposition PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos criticised the minister's statement that Greece was seeking a solution based on a composite name, while fellow PASOK MP Panos Beglitis described the composite name solution as a "last boundary" in negotiations, provided that there was one common international name for all uses.

    Beglitis also warned that Greece would first have to back out of the interim agreement of 1995 at least a year before exercising its veto to FYROM's entry into NATO, asking whether the government had considered the timing involved.

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos also caused a stir, when he claimed a "Skopjenization" of Greece's foreign policy and claimed that the affair with FYROM was being pursued at the expense of the country's interests regarding Turkey, which was accruing negotiating advantages because of its role while Greece was undermining its position by its constant preoccupation with its neighbours.

    Bakoyannis denied that Turkey was "accruing advantages" and pointed out that the European Commission had for the first time referred to the problems with the ethnic Greek islands of Imvros and Tenedos, the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Turkey's ongoing 'casus belli' threat against Greece.

    Alavanos also criticised the government for failing to explain FYROM's true significance to the Greek people.

    "This is a country that is at risk of division, or absorption. What do you want? Do we want a 'great' Bulgaria or Albania on our borders?" Alavanos asked, suggesting that the name issue was a minor problem that was being exaggerated by "phobic syndromes".

    In her reply, Bakoyannis said that Greek foreign policy did not have the luxury of forgetting some issues in favour of others and denied that Athens was behaving in a "phobic" fashion.

    "We do not have any phobic syndrome, nor suffer from immodesty or arrogance; we have self-confidence and this may cause annoyance to the people that you spoke with yesterday," Bakoyannis said, referring to Alavanos' trip to Skopje.

    Responding to criticism over the government's alleged "tolerance" of inflammatory statements by a Greek cleric on the FYROM issue, meanwhile, the minister said that she had made it clear on Wednesday that these did not reflect the position of the government, the Greek people and the country's political forces.

    "Greece does not seek any change in borders, particularly in the Balkans," she underlined.

    Referring to Kosovo, Bakoyannis repeated Athens' position in support of a "clean and stable solution" that was compatible with European values and principles and would allow or even impose a European perspective for the region, as well as enhanced international legitimacy that would ensure its viability.

    On the Cyprus issue, she repeated that relations between Greece and Turkey could never be fully normalized until this was justly resolved, while she criticized the Turkish side for failing to stick to the July 8 agreement.

    Commenting on a recent agreement signed between London and Ankara that referred to the illegal state set up in the occupied northern territories of Cyprus as though it were legitimate, Bakoyannis made the following statement:

    "Developments such as that arising with the memorandum signed by the United Kingdom and Turkey do not contribute to the processes for a solution but indicate how important it is to seek a new mobility on this issue, so that we are led to the reunification of the island. During our recent meeting, my British counterpart was clear that British policy has not changed on the issue and that Britain remains steadfast in seeking implementation of the agreement of July 8. And that the references that were made did not seek to leave open to interpretation or misinterpretation the things that were written. I am particularly glad, because from the first I judged this to be a misunderstanding," Bakoyannis said.

    [02] PM Karamanlis briefed by foreign minister on London, Berlin talks

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Thursday with foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, who briefed him on her recent contacts in London and Berlin.

    Replying to press questions after the meeting on whether the developments in Kosovo were linked with FYROM's desire to join NATO, Bakoyannis said that there was "a mobility" and events, which were being closely monitored, but added that "the one is not linked with the other".

    "We live in a particularly sensitive region, which requires very great caution, understanding and dialogue so that we may be able to resolve problems that must not remain unsolved," she said.

    [03] Gov't on leftist leader's comments during FYROM visit

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday merely reiterated that Greece's position regarding the outstanding FYROM "name issue" is well known.

    He added that Athens respects the negotiation process taking place within the UN framework, while he cited relative statements made by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday.

    Antonaros made the comments when queried over statements by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos during his visit to Skopje a day earlier, as the latter opined that the "loudest voices" of intransigence are emanating from within Greece, ostensibly a reference to controversial statements this week by Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Anthimos.

    [04] Gov't on situation in police raided village of Zoniana

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday said a police operation is still in underway when asked to comment if the government is satisfied with results of a police raid launched Wednesday in the village of Zoniana, on the island of Crete.

    The raid was launched in search of gunmen who opened fire on a police convoy three days ago, dispatched to the region to track down local drug traffickers.

    When asked, he also repeated that the government does not consider that political responsibilities are involved.

    [05] Gov't on environmental inspections

    "Environmental protection is a major issue for the government," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reiterated on Thursday, adding that Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Wednesday announced fines against 20 industries located near the small Asopos River -- and mostly involved with aluminium-related activity -- of nearly 1.4 million euros.

    "Since 2004 environmental inspectors have recorded 23 violations and imposed fines of up to 530,000 euros, while inspections have intensified since early August when pollutants was detected in the region," he said.

    Antonaros also mentioned that inspections will spread to other areas, while the maximum fine imposed on violators has increased to two million euros from 500,000 euros.

    [06] Humanity on brink of disaster over environment, Papoulias warns

    BUDAPEST (ANA-MPA - N. Megadoukas)

    Humanity was hovering on the brink of disaster caused by increasing environmental problems, President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias warned on Thursday in his address to the World Science Forum held in Budapest. He stressed that governments had to immediately adopt measures to reverse a course leading to the destruction of the environment.

    "Now is the time of decisions. We must join our forces so that there are express commitments by governments to specific measures," he said.

    According to the president, the path before the European Union for protecting the environment involved a head-on clash with major economic interests.

    "The illusion is finished. The catastrophe is here, before us: Overheating of the planet, desertification, extreme weather phenomena, rise in sea levels, recession of glaciers, dangerous atmospheric pollution. Today everyone is in agreement, politicians of all shades and citizens in all classes, that something must be done," Papoulias underlined.

    The president said the international political community and society had delayed too long in recognizing the problem and stressed politicians' responsibility toward the people that they represented and future generations to join forces in order to turn the worldwide discussion on environmental protection into political action.

    "The market cannot be the absolute regulating factor," the Greek president stressed, pointing out that most environmental destruction was wrought in the name of profits and growth unrestrained by rules.

    "A short-sighted view of economic progress and a passion for increasing wealth, regardless of the consequences, in combination with the apathy of politicians, have created the conditions for the arrival of a punishment that does not discriminate between the guilty and the innocent," he added.

    Papoulias also stressed the need for a global approach to a global problem and referred to "serious efforts" being made by the United Nations that would have to be further intensified.

    Among the measures he proposed were a faster and more widespread promotion and use of alternative energy sources, binding agreements with the participation of all countries - especially the heaviest polluters - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stricter deadlines for achieving targets, greater promotion of environmentally-friendly technology in the developing world, a stop to the destruction of the world's forests, protection of biodiversity and treating countries with policies destructive to the environment in the same way as those that violated human rights.

    The president's speech included a reference to the mega-fires that swept Greece the previous summer, which he said had revealed the tragic truth that ecological destruction touched everyone and was the world's "collective destiny unless humanity's course toward disaster is not checked".

    Papoulias also pointed out that environmental protection was directly linked to peace and prosperity, since the specter of wars over scarce resources like water was now apparent to all, while protection of the environment was a "mirror of the quality of democracy" and "tantamount to civilization".

    "Humanity returns to barbarity when it kills life in nature," the Greek president said, underlining the debt to the next generations, to justice across generations and the responsibility to history.

    "Democracy has absolutely no meaning in a desert, nor improved economic indicators in cities choked in concrete and carbon dioxide," he added.

    At another point, he said the environment was a "deeply philosophical issue" in which the illusion of "an all-powerful humanity was a bad guide".

    "Balance cannot be found unless there is a shared awareness that personal happiness cannot exist in overall disaster. If we do not restore logic to the centre of our approach - after many years of true paranoia. Let us not forget that not even the powerful can evade our common fate," he stressed.

    He also asked that the next World Science Forum be held at ancient Olympia, a site of worldwide historic value and strong symbolism, which itself came near the brink of disaster during the August fires in Greece.

    In closing remarks after the speeches, Papoulias repeated that the environment was "the essence of Democracy and the highest human right, the right of humanity to life" while thanking Greece's European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas for his efforts within the framework of the EU and for "having the courage to clash with the major European industries".

    The World Science Forum was held in Budapest under the auspices of Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom and was addressed by the so-called group of "Green Presidents", that in addition to Papoulias include Solyom, Croatian President Stjepan Mesic and Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

    [07] EU Council of Justice, Interior Ministers convenes in Brussels


    The extension of the Schengen Zone to the eight new member-states of central and eastern Europe and Malta, as of December 21, 2007, as well as the strategy on the common handling of illegal immigration in the European Union were the main issues examined by the EU's Council of Justice and Interior Ministers that convened here on Thursday.

    Greece was represented at the Council by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis.

    The EU's 27 Justice and interior ministers decided that the eight new member-states of central and eastern Europe and Malta fulfill preconditions to join the Schengen Zone.

    The Council decided that as of December 21, 2007, checks will be abolished on the land and sea borders of these countries, while as of March 30, 2008, checks at airports will be abolished.

    On the question of tackling illegal immigration, the Greek interior minister said that "it is an encouraging fact that joint efforts have been made in the framework of the EU over the past few years."

    [08] PASOK setting out for major social alliances on November 12, Papandreou says

    PASOK party leader George Papandreou concluded his two-day tour of the island of Crete with an address in the city of Hania on Thursday night, ahead of Sunday's leadership elections in the party, saying that "on November 12 we shall set out for a PASOK of major social alliances."

    Elaborating on his statement, Papandreou included in the social alliances "the weak who want to depend on us, every Greek family that wants to have mass social rights, the creators and producers of innovation and of responsible private initiative," while stressing that this alliance will resist the paraeconomy, clientele protection, lack of transparency and meritocracy.

    The PASOK leader also spoke of a new model of growth that "must be inspired by the strength of the PASOK of major majority waves, of the centre-left, of ecology, of social sensitivity."

    Papandreou stressed that the new model of growth requires a party with a will to change the political system and spoke of a popular party system and a representative political system that "will not turn public dialogue into a television window confrontation, nor will it deliver political consciences to television news bulletins."

    He further pointed out that "a strong mandate on November 11 means an irresistible social front against the dominance of the media, the disputing of political autonomy and the shrinking of real democracy."

    Lastly, Papandreou called on people to participate en masse in the election on November 11, saying "all of us must place our signature under the new and great message that we have received and have sent these days and which is that politics shall win."

    [09] Papandreou attends Arcadi Monastery memorial service

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday laid a wreath at the historic Arcadi Monastery in the mountainous portion of Rethymno Prefecture on the occasion of the commemoration of the 141st anniversary of its destruction in 1866, during yet another Cretan revolt against Ottoman rule.

    Deputy Defense Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis represented the government at the ceremony, while the armed forces were represented by V army division commander Brig. Stavros Dermitzakis.

    Papandreou, who arrived on Crete a day earlier for a two-day visit ahead of this weekend's leadership election in PASOK, stressed that the self-sacrifice at Arcadi served as a distinguished example of the Greek people's struggle for independence and freedom.

    According to accounts from the era, some 964 people had found refuge inside the monastery, of which 846 were killed on Nov. 9, 1866 when they decided to blow themselves up instead of being captured by a besieging Ottoman contingent.

    [10] Interview with PASOK leadership candidate Skandalidis ahead of Sunday's election

    November 11 should be the sprinbgoard for a new victorious course for PASOK, Costas Skandalidis, a main opposition PASOK deputy and one of the three candidates for Sunday's internal election for a new party leadership said on Thursday, in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA, adding that the issue was not who would be elected PASOK president, but "which PASOK" the leader elected would be leading.

    Skandalidis also attributed PASOK's defeat in the September 16 general elections to the fact that it became "lost in the management", and pledged that, if elected to the party helm, his first job would be the restructuring of the party and its victory in the next general elections.

    To a question on whether the PASOK rank and file would be able to put behind it the division and at times extreme arguments and forge ahead together, Skandalidis said that the rank and file, PASOK's overwhelming majority of thinking voters, has not been divided.

    He conceded that they felt bitter over the electoral result, and by the "foolish, in my opinion, clash between the camps and the lack of political dialogue" the voters wanted, but still believed that a better day can come for the party and that the November 11 election can be the sprinboard for a new, victorious course.

    "That is the direction I am working in, and will continue to work towards," he said, adding that PASOK owed it to the country, the citizens and the people who believe in its principles and values, to remain united, on a different course, which will enable its re-establishment with the society whose interests it is pledged to serve.

    "There is no other road. This is the path we will follow," Skandalidis stressed.

    He said that the prospective candidates had some significance, but more important was the policy they expressed and were committed to following. This is why, from the first moment, "I have been repeatedly saying that the issue is not who will head PASOK, but which PASOK he will head".

    "All three of us can win if PASOK changes. None of us wins, however, if PASOK remains the same," Skandalidis added.

    Asked whether he believed that PASOK would have a better result if it presented itself to the electorate as a different party, or as a better manager of power, Skandalidis replied that PASOK has successfully passed the "management test" with results that were unattainable for the government of prime minister Costas Karamanlis. "We did not lose because we were not good managers. We lost because we became lost in the management, distanced ourselves from the society, from its needs and wants," he said.

    "PASOK is not a power management party. It is a Movement of changes and upsets that stands for a different kind of exercise of power and governance model," Skandalidis explained, adding that the 2004 general elections campaign slogan "We're changing PASOK in order to change Greece" had been a "correct diagnosis", which, however, was not followed through. "We did not change, so we lost" the elections, he added.

    Asked to comment on recent media reports on the economic interests and their "interventions" in the political life of the country and on whether that had played a part in the outcome of the latest general elections, Skandalidis said he did not endorse the rationale of "pushing my mistakes and weaknesses on others".

    He said the faster, but more difficult, path was that of "honest self-criticism, of looking the truth in the eye". Interests exist. They existed and will exist, and will do their job, he said, but the question was whether "we are doing our job correctly".

    "We didn't," he continued, adding that only a robust, democratic and collective PASOK can ensure its political autonomy.

    Asked what his first priority would be if elected PASOK president, Skandalidis said he would implement all the positions and proposals he has presented for the rebirth of PASOK, for its reconstruction, in order to lead it to victory, through consolidation of a new collectivity and a new relationship with the citizens and society. "To create a governing Left, spearheaded by PASOK, that will implement those policies which will lead to the democratic upset that the country needs. And to formulate, together, a contract of confidence with the citizens on how we will ensure their right to prosperity. Because everyone has a place under the sun of progress and in the country's prosperity," Skandalidis concluded.

    [11] Frigate HYDRA to take part in Bright Star 2007 multinational exercise in Egypt

    The frigate HYDRA, one of the Hellenic Navy's most modern vessels, is due to arrive on Friday in Alexandria to take part in a multinational army, navy and airforce manoeuvre code-named "Bright Star 2007" -- an exercise held every two years in Egypt - which is being jointly organised by the US and Egypt, with the participation of 13 countries.

    The Greek frigate, with Lt. Commander Ioannis Drymousis at the helm and manned by a 200-strong crew, will be greeted at Alexandria port by the Greek embassy's defence attache in Egypt Captain Apostolos Bastas.

    The Greek military delegation, headed by Drymousis, will lay a wreat at the Monument of the Unknown Sailor in Alexandria on Saturday, while official meetings have also been scheduled with the Chief of the Egyptian Naval Staff and the Governor of Alexandria.

    On Sunday, the Greek delegation will be received by Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria at the Aghios Savvas Monastery and the Patriarchal Mansion, while on Monday Drymousis will host a lunch in honor of the Patriarch, attended by the president of the Greek Community of Alexandria Haralambos Katsimbris, and on Monday night he will host a reception for the Greek community and authorities.

    The frigate HYDRA will depart from Egypt on Tuesday, November 13.

    [12] FM Bakoyannis sends condolences message to Afghan counterpart over suicide attack

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis sent a message of condolences to the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Rangin Dadfar Spanta on Thursday concerning the suicide bomb attack in the province of Baghlan that cost the lives of over 100 people, including members of Parliament.

    In her message, the foreign minister "unequivocally condemns acts of blind violence that undermine social structures and expresses her solidarity for the families of the victims and for the injured."

    [13] FM Bakoyannis sends condolences message to Finnish counterpart over school tragedy

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis sent a message of condolences to the Foreign Minister of Finland Ilkka Kanerva on Thursday concerning the tragic murder of seven pupils and a professor at a senior high school in the city of Tuusula.

    In her letter, the foreign minister expresses her abhorrence over the crime and her warm condolences to the families of the victims.

    [14] New U.S. envoy sworn in


    New U.S. Ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard was sworn in on Thursday in the presence of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Under Secretary Nicholas Burns.

    The 48-year-old envoy's appointment was approved by the Senate on October 26, and he is expected to arrive in Athens possibly next week.

    [15] Dep. FM meets separately with envoys of Luxembourg, Belgium, Japan

    Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas on Wednesday held successive meeting with the ambassadors of Luxembourg, Belgium and Japan in Athens, Conrad A. Brush, Pierre Vaesen and Takanori Kitamura, respectively.

    Brush thanked Athens for its support of the Duchy's candidacy as a non-permanent member of the United Nations' Security Council for the 2013-2014 period.

    Bilateral trade and investment ties as well as cooperation in implementing developmental programs dominated talks between the Greek minister and the Belgian envoy.

    Finally, during a dinner at the Japanese embassy in Athens, Doukas and Amb. Kitamura reportedly touched on interest by Japanese banks and insurance funds in the Athens Stock Exchange and the prospects for increased Greek exports to the massive Japanese market, particularly of brand-name Greek products.

    Kitamura also cited interest by Japanese architects in closer cooperation with Greek colleagues and professional associations.

    [16] Italian ambassador visits Ioannina area

    Italy's ambassador to Greece, Gianpaolo Scarante, on Thursday arrived in the northwest lakeside city of Ioannina for a two-day visit complete with meetings with local government, municipal, academic and business leaders.

    Scarante also met with members of the expatriate Italian community of Ioannina at the Italian consulate in the city on Thursday afternoon.

    Brisk traffic on the ferry boat routes between the nearby port of Igoumenitsa and a handful of Italian ports in the Adriatic as well as the envisioned construction of a Greece-Italy natgas pipeline through the Epirus province have increased Ioannina's economic importance, according to a press release issued by the Italian embassy.

    Financial News

    [17] FinMin opens session at NYSE on Thurs.

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/A. Lidorikis)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis rang the opening bell at Thursday's session of the New York Stock Exchange.

    Speaking to reporters ahead of the opening of the session, the Greek minister said the impact on Greek and European economies from international uncertainty on the future of the US economy will be very limited, since both Greek and European economic fundamentals were strong.

    "With the policies implemented in the EU, all uncertainties will be dealt with successfully," Alogoskoufis said.

    During his stay in New York City, the Greek minister and the members of an accompanying business delegation will meet with foreign institutional investors and large international bank's executives in order to present the Greek economy's prospects, business and investment opportunities, especially during the annual Capital Link conference.

    Alogoskoufis is accompanied by Economy Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, ministry officials and local business executives.

    Nine Greece-based companies are currently traded in the New York Stock Exchange (Aegean Marine Petroleum Inc, Danaos Corp., Diana Shipping, Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd, Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd., Navios Maritime Holdings, National Bank, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. S.A.

    [18] Transport minister refers to government goals for new technologies

    Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis referred to the government's priorities and goals regarding the strengthening of new technologies, while addressing the inauguration of the DTE digital technology exhibition at the EXPO Exhibition Centre on Thursday evening.

    Hatzidakis focused his address on the infiltration of the broadband and on the country's preparation for the development of digital television.

    As regards the first issue, the minister said that the Broadband Development Plan is fully under way, with a horizon reaching 2008, and whose total budget amounts to 450 million euros and is being financed by the 3rd Community Support Framework.

    On the question of digital television, Hatzidakis spoke of "a wager that our country must win, particularly if one thinks that in other countries of Europe the analogical signal has been replaced completely by the digital one," while adding that the effort to create antenna parks has already begun in cooperation with television channels.

    [19] Greek annual inflation rate rose to 3.1 pct in October

    Greek annual inflation rate rose to 3.1 percent in October, from 2.9 pct in September, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in its monthly report, said the country's harmonized inflation rate also rose to 3.0 percent. The inflation rate, measured by the consumer's price index rose 0.7 pct in October from September.

    The statistics service said the 3.1 pct reading of the inflation rate in October reflected a 4.6 pct rise in education prices, a 4.4 pct increase in hotel-coffee-restaurant prices, a 4.1 pct rise in housing prices, a 3.9 pct increase in transportation prices, a 3.9 pct increase in food and beverage and a 2.9 pct rise in clothing and footwear prices. Durable goods prices also rose by 2.5 pct and other goods and services recorded a 2.3 pct increase in prices.

    NSS said that bread (14.3 pct), pasta (13.8 pct), heating oil (19.3 pct), fuel (12.5 pct), flour (9.5 pct), eggs (9.4 pct) and fresh fruit (7.7 pct) recorded the biggest percentage price increases in October. Manolis Kontopyrakis, NSS's secretary-general, commenting on the inflation figures said the core inflation rose to 3.0 pct in October from 2.8 pct in September and 2.4 pct in October 2006. Kontopyrakis noted he would refrain from making any forecasts over the consumer price index in November because of the volatility in international oil markets.

    [20] Survey on middle level management trends in Greece

    The majority of junior executives in Greece (61.28 pct) are very satisfied with their work careers, while a 23.31 pct of middle level management said they are slightly satisfied and anotehr 1.88 pct said they are not satisfied with their careers so far, according to a survey of middle level management by Adecco Hellas.

    The survey showed that junior executives would seek a new job in order to achieve a higher responsibility position (36.14 percent), higher salary (27.45 pct) and better work conditions (18.75 pct). Junior executives in Greece said the would seek new jobs mainly through the Internet (42.45 pct), human resources companies (38.09 pct), their environment (37.96 pct) and through newspapers ads (7.73 pct).

    A 31.8 percent of respondents in the survey said the biggest period of time they remained in one job was 3-5 years, while a 19.16 pct said 7-10 years. The majority (27.99 pct) of junior executives said they have changed two jobs so far in their career with 26.87 pct three jobs.

    [21] OTE cable damage disrupts Internet access

    Internet access was disrupted on Thursday for thousands of users due to a serious cable malfunction in the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) central network, which chiefly affected the mainland, with Northern Greece the hardest hit.

    The damage to the OTE network was pinpointed at two different points.

    According to an OTE announcement, optical fiber cables were accidentally cut at around 11:00 a.m. during work being carried at at Kastro in Viotia prefecture and at Hiliomodi in Corinth prefecture, disabling Internet connection in the specific regions as well as many other parts of the country, and slowing down connection elsewhere.

    OTE crews rushed to the two sites to repair the damage, and the company announced that network access was gradually being restored.

    Connection was expected to be fully restored by the afternoon, according to OTE.

    [22] Gov't declines comment on Iranian bank press reports

    The alternate government spokesman on Thursday said he had no comment to make when asked about press allegations, published in Athens this week, alleging that the US administration was pressuring Greece to close a branch of Iran's Saderat Bank in Athens.

    [23] Frigoglass reports improved nine-month results

    Frigoglass on Thursday reported a 13.1 pct increase in its nine-month sales to 382.1 million euros, while its pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) rose 12.1 pct to 83.7 million euros over the same period.

    Operating earnings rose 14 percent to 69 million euros, while pre-tax profits rose 17.8 pct to 65.4 million euros. Net profits rose 19.5 pct to 44.8 million euros in the January-September period.

    [24] Eurobank's report on developments in int'l commodities market

    International commodities markets have witnessed significant developments in the last five years, with prices of most commodity categories soaring to all-time highs, while investment capital inflows rapidly grew in the market, a report by Eurobank stated on Thursday.

    The report, by Eurobank's analysts, said the energy and industrial metal sectors have recorded the biggest percentage increase since 2002 (+305 pct and +192 pct, respectively), followed by the precious metals and food sectors (up 155 pct and 42 pct, respectively). The report, citing figures by the International Monetary Fund, said international capital invested in the commodities market totalled 200 billion US dollars this year, several times more compared with the previous decade.

    Changes in the prices of gold and crude oil were around the 1970 oil crisis, while industrial metals' prices were up five times compared with the average increase in previous economic cycles. Finally, wheat and corn prices have soared to all-time highs.

    This surge in commodities prices is attributed to increased demand from powerful economies such as China and India, currently in the stage of industrialization and infrastructure construction.

    Rising prices in commodities prices attracted a large part of new investors in the market, who -following the crash of the 2000 Internet bubble- sought for a new investment product with high returns. The number of hedge funds investing in energy derivatives was 500 in 2006, triple the number of 2004, with assets under management totalling 60 billion US dollars.

    Eurobank's analysts said the inclusion of commodities to equity and fixed-income portfolios raised the portfolio's return and reduced risk for investors. The maximum percentage of commodities in a portfolio was valued around 10-11 percent.

    [25] Credit expansion slowed slightly in September

    Greek households' and enterprises' debt totaled 23.3 billion euros in the nine-month period from January to September, including securitized loans and corporate bonds, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday. In its monthly report on credit expansion in the country, the central bank said credit expansion slowed slightly in September to 11.8 pct, from 12 percent in August, reflecting a 20.2 pct drop in credits to the public sector, while credit towards the private sector slowed to 20.8 pct in September from 20.9 pct in August.

    The Bank of Greece said enterprises' debt, including corporate bonds, reached 104.065 billion euros at the end of September, up 18.6 pct from the same month last year. Households' debt, including securitized debt, totaled 99.2 billion euros, up 23.3 pct from the corresponding month in 2006.

    Loans in foreign exchange jumped 76.8 pct to 13.017 billion euros.

    Mortgage loans grew 23.3 percent in September to 66.1 billion euros, consumer loans rose 22.1 pct to 30.4 billion euros, with both figures slightly slower compared with August's 23.5 pct and 22.6 pct, respectively.

    [26] Car registrations up 5.4 pct in Jan-Oct, yr/yr

    Car registrations rose by 5.4 percent in the 10-month period from January to October, totaling 249,378 units, up from 236,582 units in the corresponding period last year, official figures showed on Thursday.

    A report by the Association of Car Importers and Dealers, said car registrations were up 7.5 percent in October from the same month last year to 21,088 units, with Toyota at the top of the monthly list with 2,272 sales (up 16.2 pct from 2006), followed by Opel with 1,694 (+24 pct) and VW with 1,573 (-4.5 pct). VW's Golf was the most popular vehicle in October, followed Opel's Corsa.

    [27] Greek stocks end 1.46% down on Thurs.

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower on Thursday, hit by a sharp drop of prices in Wall Street the previous day on fears that rising oil prices could boost inflationary pressures around the world.

    The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange fell 1.46 percent to end at 5,228.19 points with turnover a strong 410.47 million euros, of which 32.8 million were block trades.

    Most sectors ended lower, with the Food/Beverage (2.41 pct), Travel (2.08 pct), Oil (1.73 pct) and Banks (1.71 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the Financial Services (0.77 pct), Insurance (0.59 pct) and Healthcare (0.42 pct) scored gains.

    The Big Cap index fell 1.65 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.10 pct and the Small Cap index ended 0.04 pct down. ANEK (9.22 pct), Ippotour (8.96 pct) and Hatzikraniotis (8.82 pct) were top gainers, while Elbisco (9.23 pct), Xylemporia (6.83 pct) and VIS (6.02 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 161 to 83 with another 53 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.59%

    Industrials: -1.33%

    Commercial: +0.38%

    Construction: -1.62%

    Media: -0.29%

    Oil & Gas: -1.73%

    Personal & Household: -0.48%

    Raw Materials: +0.27%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.08%

    Technology: +0.32%

    Telecoms: -0.22%

    Banks: -1.71%

    Food & Beverages: -2.41%

    Health: +0.42%

    Utilities: -1.32%

    Chemicals: -1.01%

    Financial Services: +0.77%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 25.10

    ATEbank: 3.92

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 26.42

    HBC Coca Cola: 41.64

    Hellenic Petroleum: 10.68

    Emporiki Bank: 21.08

    National Bank of Greece: 46.10

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.00

    Intralot: 29.00

    Cosmote: 25.00

    OPAP: 27.20

    OTE: 25.00

    Titan Cement Company: 33.08

    [28] ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices ended Thursday's session with a discount while turnover rose to 209.962 million euros in the Athens Derivatives Exchange.

    The December contract on the Big Cap index was traded at a discount of 0.79 percent and the November contract on the Mid Cap index at a discount of 0.07 pct. Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 13,582 contracts while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 321 contracts. Volume in futures contract on equities totaled 10,256 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,447), followed by Marfin Investment Group (2,435), PPC (606), Marfin Popular Bank (913), Alpha Bank (325), Hellenic Petroleum (538) and ATEbank (833).

    [29] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.395 billion euros, of which 580 million were buy orders and the remaining 815 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security of the day, with a turnover of 535 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.305 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.46 pct and the German Bund 4.15 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were largely unchanged. National Bank's overnight rate was 4.08 pct, the two-day rate rose to 4.08 pct from 4.06 pct on Wednesday, the one-month rate eased to 4.15 pct from 4.16 pct and the 12-month rate fell to 4.57 pct from 4.61 pct.

    [30] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.478

    Pound sterling 0.701

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 9.336

    Japanese yen 167.23

    Swiss franc 1.673

    Norwegian kroner 7.802

    Cyprus pound 0.588

    Canadian dollar 1.373

    Australian dollar 1.590

    General News

    [31] No concern for Lake Marathon's water quality, gov't says

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Deputy Minister Themistocles Xanthopoulos on Thursday assured that construction of a new sewage line within Marathon municipality, northeast of the Greek capital, will not affect the quality of water in nearby Lake Marathon, a significant auxiliary reservoir for the greater Athens area's water needs.

    Responding to a question by main opposition PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos, Xanthopoulos said in Parliament that the project is expected to begin in December or January.

    Referring to the water quality of manmade Lake Marathon, he said lab tests conducted by the greater Athens area's water and sewerage utility (EYDAP) in 2007 showed no pollution, even though some urban waste was detected in local streams. He pointed to low soil absorbency for keeping pollution levels much lower than the maximum limits set by a Community directive.

    [32] International exercise for tackling marine pollution held in Elefsina

    An international exercise involving Greek authorities and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on tackling marine pollution was held in Elefsina Bay on Thursday, in the presence of Marine and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis and the head of the Greek coast guard Vice Admiral Ilias Sionidis.

    The five-stage exercise was described as a success, with all the participant services showing a high degree of readiness and training in combating every possible form of pollution in Greek seas.

    The exercise was based on a scenario of a massive oil spill caused by the impact of a tanker on the docks and its subsequent collision with a freighter that also spilled fuel into the sea. It involved the deployment of coast guard pollution clearing craft and the ultra-modern oil pollution response vessel "Santa Maria" chartered by EMSA, as well as local authority services.

    In statements afterward, Voulgarakis stressed that protection of the marine environment was a priority for his ministry: "We attribute great importance to prevention and, of course, to response. A proof of this was today's exercise in cooperation with EMSA."

    He also highlighted the fact that EMSA had chosen to carry out the exercise in Greece and that it believed that ministry's services had the required know-how and experience to handle incidents of marine pollution.

    Voulgarakis also announced that Greece was preparing a more general plan for protecting Greek seas and shores in preparation for the operation of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, which would bring large tankers carrying large quantities of oil into the Aegean.

    "We want to be ready and to have laid down rules when the pipeline begins operation," he added.

    [33] Greek coast guard: More than 7,000 illegals intercepted in 2007 alone

    The Greek coast guard on Thursday announced that it had arrested a total of 7,060 illegal immigrants and 145 migrant smugglers alone in 2007 in operations in and around Greek territorial waters, especially in the eastern Aegean sea regions.

    Additionally, the coast guard said it had intercepted 1,261 foreign nationals attempting illegally exit the country in the first 10-month period of the year.

    The figures were announced during a news conference at the merchant marine ministry, which oversees the coast guard.

    Greece has and recently and vociferously called for greater EU-wide action to stem the tide of seaborne illegal immigration targeting the Union, especially in the Mediterranean basin and Spain's Atlantic coast.

    [34] Macedonia-Thrace minister attends Florina liberation celebrations

    Macedonia-Thrace Minister Margaritis Tzimas on Thursday attended celebrations taking place in the northern Greek city of Florina to mark the 95th anniversary of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule.

    [35] Greek poet's work to be presented at U.S. literary translators' congress


    The work of Greek poet George Houliaras, who is also the director of the Greek press office here, will be presented at 30th congress of the American Literary Translators Association organized in cooperation with the University of Texas at Dallas that comes to an end on Saturday.

    According to observers, the congress is considered important in the association's history while it will offer the opportunity to redefine the role of translation in the sector of the arts and letters and to highlight it as an example of cross-cultural communication.

    Homero Aridjis (Mexico), Jose Manuel Prieto (Cuba) and Xiaobin Xu (China) are among those who will present their work during the congress, which is the most important meeting of writers, translators, academics and publishers.

    [36] Albanian national fatally shot in border incident

    An Albanian national was fatally shot on the Greek-Albanian frontier early Thursday morning following a run-in with border guards north of the border city of Florina, authorities announced hours later.

    According to reports, border guards detected 11 suspected illegal immigrants attempting to enter the country via the Levea municipality on the Greek-Albanian border, taking into custody nine of the men and attempting to intercept the other two.

    The victim was shot in the back while fleeing from the law enforcement detachment, succumbing to his wounds at a nearby hospital, where he was rushed.

    The border guard, who was arrested and questioned following the night-time incident, told a judicial magistrate he fired into the air as a warning, without intending to hit the fleeing men.

    [37] Couple arrested at airport with 7 kilos of cocaine

    Police at dawn on Thursday arrested a couple, both foreign nationals, at Athens' Eleftherios International Airport after seven kilos of cocaine were found in their posession.

    The 28-year-old man and woman, both bulgarians living in Valencia, Spain, are believed to be 'mules' for an international drug ring responsible for trafficking large quantities of cocaine from Latin America to Greece and the rest of Europe.

    The Greek police narcotics squad officers were acting on information from foreign police and international organizations that a large quantity of cocaine was expected to be transported from Latin America, resulting in intense checks on suspicious individuals arriving in Atens on 'high risk' flights.

    During a customs check, the cocaine was located in the couple's luggage, hidden in seven home-wrapped packages covered with coffee paste in order to avert discovery of the drug by sniffer dogs and equipment.

    The detainees told police that they had been 'hired' by a Ukrainian national in Spain. They said they had changed several flights before arriving first in Sao Paolo, Brasil, where they picked up the cocaine, and then on to Athens via Amsterdam.

    Greek police were investigating to uncover the "recipient" in Greece, while, in collaboration with police authorities in other countries and with international organisations, efforts were being made to uncover the rest of the ring.

    [38] Red Star fans attacked in Thessaloniki

    Three fans of Belgrade's famed Red Star (Crvena zvezda) football team were stabbed by a group of unknown assailants in the centre of the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki on Thursday, hours before the Serbian club meets local Aris Thessaloniki for a UEFA cup football matchup.

    Authorities said the men were mostly stabbed in the legs and had sustained non-life threatening injuries.

    Another two Serbian fans were roughed up earlier at a seaside café in the city. A strong police contingent was dispatched to the scene and around the various central points in the city.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [39] MEPs stress need to open Ledra Street


    Members of the European Parliament High-level Contact Group for Relations with the Turkish Cypriots have stressed the need to open Ledra Street, in Nicosia, as part of efforts for reconciliation between the island's two communities.

    The MEPs, currently visiting Cyprus, toured on Thursday cease-fire-line posts at Ledra Street in the southern government controlled areas of the Republic and in the northern Turkish occupied part of the country.

    They said they would raise the issue with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat.

    Nicosia Mayor Eleni Mavrou briefed the MEPs on efforts to open one of the capital's main commercial streets, Ledra Street, saying that it was important to open up a crossing for civilians without the presence of Turkish troops in the vicinity.

    Earlier this year, the government of Cyprus demolished the wall, near the military observation post at the end of the street, which divides the capital, in an attempt to help efforts open a crossing point to and from the occupied areas that would allow people to cross in safety. The Turkish military, however, insists that army patrols in the area must continue and refuse to move their military posts.

    "Opening up Ledra Street will be a very important step, a symbol of hope and we need hope, even though we all understand that by opening up the street we are not solving the Cyprus problem, nor are we nearer a comprehensive settlement," Mavrou said.

    She said that as far as Nicosia is concerned it could be a step forward in that it will help revive the old city, encourage people to have more contact, adding that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos's most recent proposals on the matter offer a new window of opportunity.

    "For us there is one issue that is of vital importance: Turkish troops will have to move out of the way and allow civilians to cross without fear of the military," the Mayor stressed, recalling that the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides had backed efforts on a local level to agree on a demilitarized zone around Ledra street.

    "I hope that an agreement can be reached soon," Mavrou added.

    She handed over to the MEPs the Master Plan of Nicosia, noting that "we would like to see a special project, a reconciliation project being implemented in the buffer zone" and expressing hope that "with your help we will be able to find a solution in this issue as well."

    Coordinator of the Group, French MEP Francoise Grossetete said "we are here to support you in this issue, for the reconciliation and we want to support all the possibilities to try to reconcile the two communities and this here is really a very important symbol. So we hope, like you."

    Replying to questions, Grossetete expressed belief that Ledra Street will open.

    MEP and member of the High-level Group, Francis Wurtz, said that both communities in Cyprus want to get closer.

    In his statements, so called mayor of Turkish occupied part of Nicosia, Cemal Bulutoglulari, said that the Turkish Cypriots are ready to open Ledra Street, if the Greek Cypriot side agrees.

    Nicosia is the world's last divided capital. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [40] UN reiterates interest in Cyprus


    The UN continues to have an interest in Cyprus and in efforts to find a negotiated settlement that would reunite the country, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director General of the UN Office in Geneva, has said.

    Ordzhonikidze was speaking after receiving the credentials of Cyprus' new permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva, Ambassador Andreas Hadzichrysanthou, who is also accredited to other international organisations based in Switzerland.

    An official statement said that during a meeting between the two, the Cypriot ambassador briefed Ordzhonikidze on the latest developments in Cyprus.

    Ordzhonikidze reiterated UN interest in Cyprus and in efforts to solve the political problem on the island, which is divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. He referred to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

    He talked about the work carried out by the UN in Geneva, on a wide range of issues, including disarmament.

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