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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-01

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

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

Friday, 1 June 2007 Issue No: 2607

CONTENTS

  • [01] Considerable reforms already producing results, Premier Karamanlis says
  • [02] Institute of Int'l Finance meeting in Athens this week; PM to open sessions
  • [03] Putin calls Greece a 'strategic partner'
  • [04] Europe must not return to dividing lines, President Karolos Papoulias says
  • [05] Greek and Russian FMs sign two-year Greek-Russian joint action plan
  • [06] Bakoyannis opposed hasty and supported concerted and consensual solutions.
  • [07] Defence Minister Meimarakis meets Russian counterpart Serdyukov
  • [08] Greek-Russian business forum in Moscow
  • [09] Karamanlis meets EU Commissioner Poto Anik
  • [10] PM Karamanlis confers with justice minister
  • [11] Karamanlis, interior minister discuss party pre-conference event
  • [12] PM Karamanlis holds telephone talks with German Chancellor Merkel
  • [13] PASOK leader renews call for early elections
  • [14] PASOK leader hosts dinner for former German chancellor Schröder
  • [15] PASOK MPs table question on foreign policy issues
  • [16] KKE leader lashes out at ND, PASOK
  • [17] OECD proposals not binding, government spokesman reiterates
  • [18] Government decision for special categories of residence permits
  • [19] Zagoritis meets with ESC presiding board
  • [20] Gov't takes Papandreou to task over 'fenced in' coastal properties, mobilisations
  • [21] KEDKE backs free public access to beaches
  • [22] Interior minister addresses conference on 'public administration, electronic governance'
  • [23] Former German chancellor Schröder presents book in Athens
  • [24] Greek Ambassador to US speaks on Greece's role in the Balkans
  • [25] Alavanos to tour Corinth prefecture
  • [26] Employment minister, industry leaders discuss social security
  • [27] FinMin addresses 8th Brussels Economic Conference
  • [28] OECD proposals not binding, government spokesman reiterates
  • [29] GSEE rejects OECD report on Greek economy
  • [30] Development minister meets European Science and Research Commissioner
  • [31] Bank officials make clarifications on structured bonds
  • [32] Industries and social committee officials discuss social dialogue
  • [33] Greek budget deficit down 19.3 pct in Jan-April, yr/yr
  • [34] Greek retail sales index up 7.2 pct in March, yr/yr
  • [35] Greek GDP up 4.6 pct in 1st quarter, yr/yr
  • [36] Hellenic Technodomiki TEB says turnover up, profits down in Q1
  • [37] Selonda reports improved Q1 results
  • [38] Creta Farm signs agreement to expand in US market
  • [39] Greek stocks jump 1.17 pct on Thursday
  • [40] ADEX closing report
  • [41] Greek bond market closing report
  • [42] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday
  • [43] Minister chairs fire protection meeting, warns of 'difficult' summer ahead
  • [44] Transport minister Liapis addresses 91st ECMT in Sofia
  • [45] Health minister on occasion of World No Tobacco Day
  • [46] Eurobank, WWF present programme to protect Mount Parnitha
  • [47] Exhibition of ancient art photographs at Greek Embassy in Washington
  • [48] Foreign couple arrested on drug charges in Athens
  • [49] Italian pupil drowns during school excursion
  • [50] Arson attacks in Thessaloniki
  • [51] Road death statistics
  • [52] Sunny on Friday
  • [53] Spokesman critical of Turkish stance
  • [54] Turkey has to pay compensation in property case, says European Court Politics

  • [01] Considerable reforms already producing results, Premier Karamanlis says

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing over 500 senior executives of powerful internatiaonal fiscal organisations on Thursday, in the framework of the Institute of International Finance's spring 2007 meeting in Athens, referred to the positive steps taken by the Greek economy over the past three years.

    "Considerable reforms have already been implemented and are already producing tangible results. Our option is to continue in the same direction. What we have achieved until now is only a sample of what will follow in the future," the prime minister said, outlining the achievements of the Greek economy.

    Karamanlis placed emphasis on fiscal stability, "which was attained in a reliable and sustainable way in only 3.5 years, since the deficit was decreased from 7.8 percent in 2004 to 2.6 percent of GDP and pointed to the new goal of achieving balanced budgets by the year 2010."

    "It is, indeed, an extremely important fact that fiscal adjustment was combined with strong development, which remained one of the highest in the eurozone, reaching 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2007. And it is also important that development is based mainly on exports and investments," the prime minister further said.

    Karamanlis also referred to the drop in unemployment below 9 percent, which is the lowest rate to be achieved in the past 12 years and to the increase in exports, which increased over 18 percent in 2006, that is the biggest increase in the past 20 years, as well as to direct foreign investments that exceeded 2 percent of GDP in 2006.

    Focusing on the Greek economy's extroversion, the prime minister said that investments abroad amounted to 3.3 billion euros, with emphasis being placed in southeastern Europe, and stressed the important role played by the Greek fiscal sector.

    "Chronic problems, such as the sector's social security issue, found a viable solution at last. As a result, the sector is expanding considerably today and, in parallel, considerable buyouts and mergers are taking place," he added, while mentioning that Greek bank branches in the wider region exceed 2,300 and form a strong network of services.

    Karamanlis also focused on agreements and infrastructure projects that are being promoted in the energy sector in Greece, with the aim of securing energy adequacy for the future, promoting renewable energy sources and protecting the environment.

    Commenting on issues examined by the meeting, such as the possibility of problems being conveyed from one fiscal market to another, Karamanlis said that "the response to this challenge requires a collective effort, both by national governments and fiscal organisations."

    The IIF currently has over 350 members from over 70 countries and has been operating for 25 years.

    [02] Institute of Int'l Finance meeting in Athens this week; PM to open sessions

    The Institute of International Finance's (IIF) spring 2007 membership meeting opened in Athens this week with the participation of hundreds of the world's top banking, finance and investment executives.

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis will speak at the IIF meeting on Friday.

    Earlier on Thursday, Deutsche Bank CEO and chairman Josef Ackermann spoke at a press conference on the occasion of the IIF gathering, where he praised the recent performance of the Greek economy, underlining that the country has maximized benefits from its participation in the European Union.

    He also cited the country's high growth rates, dropping inflation rate and the "substantive", as he said, reduction in fiscal deficits.

    Ackermann also announced that IIF reports, released the same day, cite positive estimates of increased growth rates and falling inflation in developed countries, with continued progress in emerging markets as well.

    Conversely, he said risks in the international economic outlook are linked with geopolitical issues and uncertainties in powerful economies, such as those of the United States and China.

    Finally, Athens-based Alpha Bank president Yannis Kostopoulos said the holding of the meeting in Greece promotes the country's upgraded role in the region and as a member of the euro-zone.

    [03] Putin calls Greece a 'strategic partner'

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA / D. Konstantakopoulos)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin received President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias here on Thursday, calling Greece a significant strategic partner of his country, weeks after a final agreement for a crude oil pipeline linking the two countries was finalised.

    Moreover, during a subsequent press conference at the Kremlin, the Russian president bluntly condemned what he called "imperialism" in international affairs and warned that Moscow would boost its arsenal in the face of military developments in central and eastern Europe.

    In an outspoken tone, Putin also sharply criticised the United States and other NATO members for failing to ratify an amended version of the 1990 CFE treaty, saying Russia is already complying with the treaty but would bow out of the CFE treaty altogether if NATO countries failed to ratify its amended version.

    "Either you ratify the treaty and start observing it, or we will opt out of it," he warned.

    "And what about our partners? They are filling Eastern Europe with new weapons. A new base in Bulgaria, another one in Romania, a (missile defence) site in Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic ...What we are supposed to do? We can't just sit back and look at that," he said, while chiding those "who want to dictate their will to all others regardless of international norms and law."

    In a direct reference to Washington, Putin said it was "dangerous and harmful ... Norms of the international law were replaced with political expediency. We view it as diktat and imperialism."

    Earlier, in welcoming the Greek President to the Kremlin, Putin underlined the dynamic development of bilateral relations, whereas Papoulias pointed to the cordial understanding between Athens and Moscow and the absence of problems in relations.

    The Russian president referred to heightened bilateral relations in the sectors of economy, humanitarian affairs and cooperation for the exchange of military know-how, with the latter contributing greatly to the creation of a climate of confidence, given Greece's NATO membership.

    Papoulias stressed, on his part, that Greek-Russian activities were founded on deep historical roots, underlining the speedy development of bilateral relations in a relatively short period of time.

    President Putin stressed the significance of military and technical cooperation, supported the expansion of energy cooperation to the electric energy sector and underlined the widening of tourist relations (more than 250,000 Russian tourists last year).

    Russia has a great energy potential and Greece has the suitable geographical position, the Russian President pointed out and concluded that the "two" can play an important role in securing Europe's energy security.

    The Greek president stressed that Russia "is a great European power," adding that "a democratic, prospering and powerful Russia is essential not only for its people," while stressing the need for a strategic alliance between the EU and Russia and underlined the new threats and provocations for whose confrontation the role of Moscow is irreplaceable.

    "The participation of your great country in the handling of these problems is major and indispensable," President Papoulias further said and stressed the contribution of the Greeks and Russians to the defeat of fascism.

    President Putin said on his part that it is not his country that is taking aggressive initiatives but it is reacting to such ones, such as the renouncing of the ABM treaty, the non-ratification and implementation of the treaty on conventional weapons (CFE) and the installation of new weapons and bases in Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria and Romania.

    President Putin also underlined the importance of a balance as a cornerstone in global security.

    Earlier, the Greek president had a meeting with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and attended the unveiling of a monument dedicated to the Lihoudis brothers, scholars from the Ionian island of Cephallonia. He also met Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and other dignitaries.

    [04] Europe must not return to dividing lines, President Karolos Papoulias says

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA - D. Konstantakopoulos)

    President Karolos Papoulias, replying to an address by Russian President Vladimir Putin who hosted an official dinner for him here on Thursday, stressed the need for Europe not to return to dividing lines.

    President Papoulias termed the "strategic alliance" between the European Union and Russia one of the "foundations of global stability and peace."

    He further stressed that Greece adopts and shares the vision of the creation of a joint European place of friendship, democracy and prosperity, adding that the position of Russia, a European country by definition, in this place must be considered a foregone conclusion from every point of view.

    Relations between the EU and Russia are falling short of real possibilities and it is imperative that they should be upgraded further, overcoming whatever individual obstacles, President Papoulias said and underlined Greece's particular sensitivity over Russian concerns and the scepticism of Moscow.

    President Papoulias said that contributing to the finding of a mutually acceptable solution to the problem of the name is a precondition for the conclusion of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) accession course to the EU, while underlining that the international community must avoid a solution in Kosovo that will be the product of imposition.

    Lastly, President Papoulias termed the present period the best in the history of Greek-Russian relations.

    [05] Greek and Russian FMs sign two-year Greek-Russian joint action plan

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/D. Konstantakopoulos)

    The Foreign Ministers of Greece and Russia, Dora Bakoyannis and Sergei Lavrov, signed a two-year (2007-2009) joint action plan between Greece and Russia at the Kremlin on Thursday, in the presence of Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    The two ministers held a private meeting in an "excellent climate" for over an hour, according to foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos.

    The two ministers discussed the issue of Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the international security environment (anti-missile defence and treaty on conventional forces in Europe), the Middle East question, issues concerning Europe and Euro-Russian relations and the issue of Cyprus.

    The Greek foreign minister stressed the need for a viable solution to be found for Kosovo that will secure regional peace and stability and that a new decision by the Security Council is necessary to enable a European position to exist as well.

    [06] Bakoyannis opposed hasty and supported concerted and consensual solutions.

    Lavrov and Bakoyannis coincided in pointing out that provocations and threats know no boundaries and that a coordination of efforts to confront them is necessary, a substantive dialogue between Russia and NATO, while the need was also stessed for dangers and threats to be analysed and for the concerns of Russia not to be downgraded.

    Bakoyannis is accompanying President Karolos Papoulias in his four-day Russian visit.

    [07] Defence Minister Meimarakis meets Russian counterpart Serdyukov

    Greece's National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis met his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov in Moscow on Thursday.

    In a joint statement after their meeting, they expressed the will for the further strengthening of bilateral military, defence and technical cooperation between Greece and Russia and the intention "to proceed in this direction mainly through the implementation of inter-state agreements so as to fulfill this target."

    The joint statement also said that "the ministers agree to encourage the promotion of mutual cooperation in the military sector," which could include the exchange of informations, the procurement of armament systems for the fulfillment of the needs of both countries for the securing of their defence, the improvement of the system of guarantees and support, repair and modernisation of the armament systems of Russian manufacturing as well as the training of experts in the handling and the technical support of specific systems, cooperation between businesses of the two countries which are active in the defence industry and the transfer of technical know-how in the sector of the securing of quality and coding of armament systems, exhange of delegations on various levels and visits by warships, mutual exhange of observers in military exercises, continuous dialogue on military positions regarding security issues and the fight against international terrorism.

    Meimarakis invited his Russian counterpart to visit Greece and the exact date will be determined through diplomatic channels.

    Meimarakis is accompanying President Karolos Papoulias in his four-day Russian visit.

    [08] Greek-Russian business forum in Moscow

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Thursday addressed a business forum held in Moscow organised by the Russian Federation's Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Greek Federation of Industries and Enterprises.

    In his brief speech, the President of the Republic underlined the strong business dimension of his visit to Russia and urged the business communities of both countries to expand their cooperation, while he underlined the significance of creating a Greek-Russian Business Council.

    Thanasis Lavidas, secretary-general and head of international actions in the Federation of Industries Enterprises, in his speech presented Greece's advantages as a business center in Southeastern Europe. "Greece emerges as a leading force in a dynamically developing region thanks to bold and effective business actions. Our country has presence in telecommunications, IT, constructions, food industry and services -particularly financial services- while it strengthens its position with the introduction of new investment plans," Lavidas stressed.

    [09] Karamanlis meets EU Commissioner Poto Anik

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Poto Anik in Athens on Thursday afternoon. Poto Anik was accompanied by Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and the president the National Council for Research and Technology Prof. Dimitris Nanopoulos.

    After the meeting, Sioufas said they had examined all issues linked to the effort to create a European area for science, research and innovation and aspects of the 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) that will be officially presented by the Commissioner in Greece on Friday.

    The minister stressed that Poto Anik's efforts are supported by the prime minister and the Greek government and that Greece is seeking to strengthen its position in science, research and innovation so as to boost its competitiveness and create more wealth, social prosperity and assist the country's overall development.

    The Commissioner, on his part, stressed that Greece still has a long way to go in the area of research, development and technology.

    He added, however, that the government's commitment and full support for this goal was apparent and that a programme of reforms might be undertaken and successfully carried out that would lead Greece to the position that is foreseen and demanded, so that it acquires some ability in these areas.

    According to Poto Anik, the 7th Research Framework Programme that will be officially unveiled in Greece on Friday has a budget of 55 billion euros, which will be invested in research and made available at the "base of competitiveness".

    He stressed that collaboration by Greek scientists and researchers in applying for these funds would greatly benefit the country.

    [10] PM Karamanlis confers with justice minister

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Thursday to be briefed on issues falling under the ministry's competency.

    Papaligouras told reporters after the meeting that the judiciary appeared to be under fire lately by the main opposition PASOK party, adding that "over the past few weeks it has been undergoing an unprecedented attack, as its credibility is being questioned by the main opposition, aimed at downgrading the institution, at a time when we are proceeding with determination to root out the parajudicial networks, and a time when the Greek citizens look to an independent justice system and its judgement on a number of current matters".

    Papaligouras concluded that the Greek judges could be "neither intimidated, nor coerced by anyone", adding that PASOK had once again chosen the wrong target.

    [11] Karamanlis, interior minister discuss party pre-conference event

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had a meeting with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday. After the meeting, Pavlopoulos said they discussed topics related to a New Democracy pre-conference event that will be held in Thessaloniki on Sunday and will be dedicated to public administration, particularly decentralisation and local government.

    He said the prime minister will carry out an evaluation of the government's work that was also in preparation for the dialogue that is due to begin regarding the future administrative structure of the country.

    Answering questions regarding measures for public-sector contract workers, the minister stressed that the legislative framework introduced by the government was final. He also noted that a definitive answer had been given to main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou in Parliament on Thursday regarding the rumours of appointments as political favours.

    "It became apparent there what appointments were carried out under PASOK in the last three years and what happened under the Karamanlis government," he told reporters.

    Fielding questions about the prospect of early elections and whether the interior ministry was prepared to hold elections now, the minister replied that the ministry was ready but that the elections would take place at the end of the government's term.

    [12] PM Karamanlis holds telephone talks with German Chancellor Merkel

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis held on Thursday afternoon a lengthy telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is currently European Union President.

    Talks focused on the EU's Constitutional Treaty in view of the upcoming EU Summit in Brussels on June 21-22.

    [13] PASOK leader renews call for early elections

    Main opposition leader George Papandreou on Thursday renewed his call for early general elections "so as to rid the country of a prime minister who is a hostage and close a right-wing parenthesis (in government) as soon as possible", in an address to the parliament plenary.

    Intervening in a Parliament debate on a draft law tabled by PASOK on the public sector hiring process, Papandreou also referred to the structured bonds affair, accusing the government of holding back information in order to impede a judicial investigation.

    "The political and criminal responsibilities have no statute of limitations. The return of the looted monies does not abolish the theft, nor does it absolve the perpetrators. Who stole the money? Who bears the political and criminal responsibilities? Why isn't prosecution being set in motion? Which and where are the contracts for all the bonds? Mr. Karamanlis (prime minister) has shamelessly, for 93 days, been refusing to release the figures. Ninety-three days of concealment and collusion," Papandreou said.

    Turning to other matters, Papandreou accused the government of "365,000 (public sector) appointments over a three-year period, more than 200,000 of which were opaque appointments of 'friends'. Over the past three years, 33,000 public projects contracts were signed with physical entities," Papandreou said, inter alia, adding that 330 new committees and task groups, with paying positions, were created by the government, as well as 165 positions of consultants to ministers, "whereas when I would take on a consultant at the foreign ministry (under the preceding PASOK government), you would create a furore".

    Referring to the prime minister's recent visit to Australia, Papandreou said that "foreign strategy has been abandoned by Mr. Karamanlis", adding that his meetings with the Greeks of Australia comprised a "campaign stroll in Australia, in order to avoid increasing public dissatisfaction".

    Gov't reaction

    Responding to Papandreou's statements, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the level of political discussion was discouraging, adding that the PASOK leader had not brought anything to the discussion other than rumours, speculation and press claims.

    "Even if the PASOK leader's numbers, concerning 365,000 appointments, are correct, during the last three years of the Simitis (PASOK) government, the approvals were many more, numbering 436,992," Pavlopoulos said.

    "There is no 'blue' state. There had been a 'green' state, however, and it is apparent from Mr. Papandreou's words that he misses that," he said.

    Pavlopoulos further expressed displeasure with Papandreou's comment on the prime minister's visit to Australia, saying that "the prime minister was not taking strolls in Australia, but went there to see the ethnic Greek community, which no Greek prime minister before him went to see, and to solve long-standing problems".

    As for the contracts for structured bonds, Pavlopoulos said they were all listed on the Bloomberg website. "Doesn't PASOK have people to see them?".

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) rapporteur N. Gatzis spoke of a "bi-partisan argument lacking substance, one that uses the parliament podium as a campaign speech podium".

    Coalition of the Left, (Synaspismos) rapporteur Fotis Kouvelis said the two mainstream parties were to blame for the fact that the public sector had lost its ability to participate productively in the development of the country.

    In comments on Papandreou's speech, meanwhile, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros accused the main opposition leader of "trying to divide Greeks".

    "He is resorting to abuse and creating conditions of polarisation because he believes that, in this way, he is serving his personal interests. By dividing Greeks he is dividing the country and taking it decades back. We will not follow him. We will leave him alone on this downhill course," Antonaros said.

    Regarding the structured bonds affair, meanwhile, the spokesman stressed that the government "has already said everything it has to say".

    "This affair is now on its way to justice and the appropriate authorities," he added in response to questions.

    [14] PASOK leader hosts dinner for former German chancellor Schröder

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday hosted a dinner for former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is currently in Athens for the launch of his book in Greek.

    In statements to the press after the dinner, Schröder said that Greece was a country that was especially dedicated to Europe and expressed hope that Papandreou "will carry out everything that he wants, because it will undoubtedly be good for both Greece and Europe".

    Reminiscing about his "excellent cooperation" with both Papandreou and former Greek premier Costas Simitis, he offered to assist in attaining the goals of the Socialist International.

    "George is a worthy successor of Willy Brandt and I will support his efforts, not because he is a friend but because I am convinced that it is for the best," he said.

    Papandreou said that he had asked the former chancellor to participate in the efforts to develop the socialist movement, especially its relations with Russia and China.

    He said that their talks during the dinner had focused on international affairs, with emphasis on the future of Kosovo, Turkey's European course and the Cyprus issue.

    [15] PASOK MPs table question on foreign policy issues

    A group of 33 MPs from the main opposition PASOK party, led by the party's foreign affairs and defence officer on the PASOK Parliamentary Council Theodoros Pangalos, on Thursday tabled a question in parliament directed at foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis over the "impasses to which the country is being led in foreign policy issues", and accusing the government of inertia and "public relations-oriented management" of reality.

    The MPs, in the text tabled, say that although Bakoyannis has stated that "the FYROM name issue does not offer itself as a reason for recourse to elections", at the same time prime minister Costas Karamanlis, from Australia (which the prime minister visited last week) made statements "on a completely different wavelength".

    The MPs said that "Turkey, despite the development of personal relations between Karamanlis and Erdogan (Turkish prime minister), and of the consecutive appeasing statements by the Greek side, appears increasingly aggressive".

    Also, with respect to Kosovo, the MPs said that "the era when the Greek foreign minister was an interlocutor and a participant in the formulation of developments in the Balkans is, unfortunately, over...Today, the Greek foreign policy simply watches the US policy, and, in fact, without this being part of a strategic alliance that would give us other benefits".

    They further criticised that, on the FYROM name issue and the Cyprus problem, "the government is letting time solve the problem".

    "All these developments in our foreign policy are due to a dangerous combination comprising blind devotion to US policy, lack of policy on the part of the Greek government, and management of the national issues with the terms of short-term public relations impressions", the PASOK deputies concluded.

    [16] KKE leader lashes out at ND, PASOK

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Thursday accused the country's two main parties -- ruling New Democracy party (ND) and main opposition PASOK -- of attempting to disorient the working classes ahead of general elections.

    "In the pre-election period, disorientation and the securing of consciences have one goal, that working people go to the polls having forgotten what has taken place over the last three years, over the last seven years, in the last 15-20 years," Papariga said upon arrival at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport for a four-day tour of the Thessaly region.

    "ND is sporting the profile of a party that honors the national resistance, pensioners, the popular strata. But at the same time, it is preparing rubber bullets and color pellets because it knows very well that its policy gives rise to demonstrations, strikes. As for PASOK? It has literally strapped on the bandoleer. It is proceeding with takevoers on coastal property, forgetting that for many years it did not advance the national land registry and forest registry. It did not proceed with them because it wanted forests, coastlines, free spaces to be sold off first, and then to proceed with the land and forest registries to legitimise it," she said.

    Kozani visit

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Thursday visited Kozani, northern Greece, where she called on working people to strengthen her party.

    "The (general) elections are not a star system between (Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis and (main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement leader George) Papandreou as to who is better, cleverer and more honest. The ethics and capability in politics is shown only through the irreconcilable struggle against plutocracy," Papariga said in a press conference.

    For KKE, she noted that "it strives to get stronger, not to bargain for 'chairs', but to contribute in the movement's growth, in the alliances, in the effectiveness of the struggle, for a different prospect for the people to start being shaped."

    [17] OECD proposals not binding, government spokesman reiterates

    The government is not bound by the proposals of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters on Thursday and referred them to the "absolutely clear" statements made by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    He was responding to questions regarding the statements made by visiting OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria on Wednesday.

    "[The government] is proceeding to implement its reform programme with a plan, with dialogue and consensus," Antonaros added.

    Regarding a comment by Alogoskoufis that praised the "good work" in the OECD report, Antonaros said that this had "highlighted the great problems created by PASOK governments and the great problems left in the economy by 20 years of PASOK governance".

    [18] Government decision for special categories of residence permits

    The government on Thursday issued a decision on the granting and renewal of residence permits for special categories of foreign nationals living in Greece, particularly young people of foreign nationality that live in Greece with their families and have to leave for studies abroad or to carry out military service in their country of origin.

    Individuals in this category will be able to get a one-year work and residence permit, that can then be renewed for any reasons allowed by law.

    The measure will also cover those who entered Greece legally but now live here without a residence permit, provided that they submit their application and necessary documents by September 30 this year at the municipality where they live.

    Deputy Interior Minister Athanassios Nakos said the decision was aimed chiefly to ensure that immigrants and their children were able to reside legally in Greece and sought to promote the social integration of these sensitive groups.

    In addition to the above decision, the ministry has also decided to extend until September 30 a decision giving legal residence to the under-age children of legal immigrants and to any adults studying at Greek state high schools or tertiary education, and adult foreign nationals that have completed a three-year course of study and graduated from a Greek state high school or tertiary education institute and are now living in Greece.

    [19] Zagoritis meets with ESC presiding board

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) party Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis on Thursday met with the new presiding board of the Economic and Social Council of Greece (ESC), headed by former labour leader Christos Polyzopoulos.

    Zagoritis termed the discussion as very constructive, stressing that ND recognises the ESC's role and contribution to social dialogue.

    The opinion of the ESC as the representative of the majority of social partners will be particularly useful in the promotion of economic and social sector changes and reforms, as well as in view of the ND party congress, he added.

    [20] Gov't takes Papandreou to task over 'fenced in' coastal properties, mobilisations

    The government assailed main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday for his brief appearance, a day earlier, at a mobilisation in coastal SE Athens organised by local residents and municipal authorities to tear down fences blocking beach fronts.

    "Obviously Mr. Papandreou went there (Helliniko municipality) to take part in the demolition of fences erected during periods when governments, in which he was a member - and I am certain he does not forget - were in power," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Thursday, adding:

    "Let me just clarify that, as far as I know, the public works and town planning ministry will soon announce the unification of this entire area, including the Aghios Kosmas sports complex ... efforts to merely impress do not solve problems," he added.

    Crews from the tiny Helliniko municipality on Wednesday cut down sections of iron fences built around nightclubs, go-cart racetrack and other businesses along a prime stretch of southeast Athens' coastline.

    The latest mobilisation has jumped to the forefront of public attention with an ongoing 13-day hunger strike by Helliniko Mayor Christos Kortzidis, as Papandreou and Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos, among other politicians, arrived at the scene on Wednesday to lend their solidarity.

    Both Papandreou and Alavanos spoke of "a historic moment, during which the citizens impose the implementation of the Constitution and demand their share to the beaches."

    [21] KEDKE backs free public access to beaches

    The board of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) on Thursday expressed its solidarity to the mayor of a small coastal municipality in southeast Athens whose ongoing hunger strike aims to ensure free public access to the beachfront properties within the municipality.

    According to a petition, illegal construction of nightclubs on coastal tract of land in the greater Athens area, plans for the greater exploitation of Aghios Kosmas venues and pricey admission rates for organised beaches are not limited to one region but are encountered across the country.

    KEDKE called on the central government to enter into a dialogue with local administration officials, stressing that it will support all legal mobilisations for the implementation of the laws and Constitution on the matter of free access to beaches.

    The mayor in question is Helliniko Mayor Christos Kortzidis.

    [22] Interior minister addresses conference on 'public administration, electronic governance'

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos addressed in Athens on Thursday a conference organised by the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) on the theme "Public Administration and Electronic Governance. Repercussions-Prospects".

    "The government's efforts aim at highlighting public administration as a supporter of every initiative for the strengthening of entrepreneurship, competitiveness, healthy competition and mainly of legality and transparency, particularly through the combating of bureaucracy and the lifting of every type of administrative obstacles," the interior minister said.

    "The most substantial and necessary support of this effort derived from the implementation of the new technologies, informatics and communications and of Electronic Governance, mainly though the work of the Operational Programme 'Society of Information'," Pavlopoulos added.

    He also referred to the voting of the new civil servants' code, with ADEDY's consensus.

    [23] Former German chancellor Schröder presents book in Athens

    Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder said here on Thursday, regarding the prospects of a French-German "axis" in relation to the European Union's further intergration and in light of Nicolas Sarkozy's election to the French presidency, that "not much can be done if we are not united."

    Presenting his book titled "Gerhard Schröder: Decisions. My Life in Politics", the former German leader also called on his government to be careful "because of Sarkozy's tendency to allure others to his positions."

    Schröder referred to what he called "nationalistic policy" of some new EU member-states such as Poland, saying that this country's leadership "is against Europe, against Russia and against Germany."

    Referring to the planned installation of U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems in the Czech Republic and Poland, he said that it "affects Russia's rights" calling at the same time on the EU and NATO "to make clear that they do not want something which could lead to a new armaments race."

    Schröder said relations between the EU and Russia were of "strategic importance" and referring to U.S. policy, said that "the encirclement of Russia could be fatal" and that "the non pro-European governments of some EU member-states are supported by the U.S., which was never aflame with enthusiasm for the EU's unity."

    Regarding Kosovo, the former chancellor expressed support for a solution that "would not turn against (Serb) President Boris Tadic, who represents the pro-European faction of Serbia, even if this requires more time."

    On the Cyprus issue, Schröder said that the Annan plan for the solution of the problem was "reasonable" and that it "was not rejected by the Turkish Cypriots but by the Greek Cypriots." The Annan plan "was and is the only proposal for the reunification of the island and for it to enter united in the European Union."

    In relation to Turkey, he hailed Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's reforms and defended the EU's decision to open accession talks with the neighbouring country leading to full accession. He wondered, however, whether Erdogan's pro-western stance would be maintained or would be suspended, declaring that a combination of a non-fundamentalist Islam with European values would benefit Europe and particularly the countries of the South.

    [24] Greek Ambassador to US speaks on Greece's role in the Balkans

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)

    Greek Ambassador to Washington Alexandros Mallias, during a session organised by the Hellenic-American Institute in Congress on Thursday morning, spoke about Greece's policy for the achievement of stability in the Balkans and to its great economic contribution to the region's growth.

    Ambassador Mallias underlined that "the future of the region's countries is found within the European Union and NATO and their accession to the Euro-atlantic institutions depends on the course of the reforms and the implementation of good neighbourly relations."

    Particularly regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Mallias presented documents of the American secret services which were prepared in 1990 (National Intelligence Estimate) which wrote of the upsurge of "Macedonian nationalism" and claims by Skopje against Greece and Bulgaria, assessing that they constitute a factor of the region's instability.

    Ambassador Mallias said that the only matter existing today between Greece and FYROM is the solution of the FYROM name issue. He noted that FYROM is continuing to use propaganda against Greece, violating the interim accord between Greece and FYROM.

    [25] Alavanos to tour Corinth prefecture

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos began a tour of the Corinth prefecture, southern Greece, on Thursday, with his first stop being the town hall of the coastal Aghii Theodori township west of Athens.

    Financial News

    [26] Employment minister, industry leaders discuss social security

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Vasilis Magginas on Thursday had a meeting with the heads of the two largest Greek federations representing industry and employers, SEV and GSEBEE, to discuss funds for social security and how these are managed.

    After the meeting, Magginas said the discussion was conducted in a "climate of good understanding and constructive dialogue," while the head of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) Dimitris Daskalopoulos said that the political will exists and steps have been taken, which must now be completed, to establish the principles of transparency and efficiency in the management of this money.

    Both men also echoed earlier statements by the government concerning a call for pension reforms from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), stressing that the OECD's recommendations were not binding.

    "We don't need to catch pneumonia every time the OECD sneezes," Daskalopoulos replied in response to reporters' questions.

    "Society's concern is not due to the OECD but to our own awareness that there really are issues that must be dealt with, but this must be with our own forces, through dialogue, with solutions that suit us," Daskalopoulos underlined, calling for the start of dialogue on the issues that had arisen as soon as possible.

    Magginas also stressed that the OECD had the right to put forward its opinions but that the Greek government was not bound by them.

    "We will deal with the problems in the most opportune and effective way, for the good of Greek society and Greek workers," he added.

    Commenting on his meeting with the head of GSEBEE Dimitris Assimakis - whose federation represents entrepreneurs, merchants and small-scale manufacturers - Magginas said this group "form the backbone of the Greek economy" and stressed that the problems they raised would be handled in a spirit of good cooperation and understanding.

    Asimakopoulos said they had discussed the sector's new social insurance fund OAEE and that GSEBEE was ready to begin talks at once in order to ensure the viability, funding and the search for new funds for the organisation but also on ways to restrict undeclared labour.

    [27] FinMin addresses 8th Brussels Economic Conference

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis addressed the 8th Brussels Economic Conference on Thursday, organised by the European Commission, on the theme of "Global adjustment and EMU", referring to the successful functioning of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), since the goals regarding monetary stability and price stability have been achieved.

    Alogoskoufis said that the growth rate in the eurozone has been speeded up over the past two years and is reaching satisfactory levels, while the elimination of the cost of transactions in the EMU has improved the performance of businesses and of the economies of its countries in general.

    He added that the euro is a strong currency protecting the economies of the eurozone considerably from negative external factors, such as price increases of raw materials and of oil in particular.

    Alogoskoufis further stressed that great progress has been achieved with regard to the implementation of the revised Stability and Development Treaty, since fiscal deficits have been decreased and all countries with excessive deficits have reduced their deficits considerably.

    [28] OECD proposals not binding, government spokesman reiterates

    The government is not bound by the proposals of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters on Thursday and referred them to the "absolutely clear" statements made by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    He was responding to questions regarding the statements made by visiting OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria on Wednesday.

    "[The government] is proceeding to implement its reform programme with a plan, with dialogue and consensus," Antonaros added.

    Regarding a comment by Alogoskoufis that praised the "good work" in the OECD report, Antonaros said that this had "highlighted the great problems created by PASOK governments and the great problems left in the economy by 20 years of PASOK governance".

    [29] GSEE rejects OECD report on Greek economy

    The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) in an announcement on Thursday totally rejected the report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the Greek economy.

    "GSEE declares in all directions that whoever attempts to pass such policies will meet the united and steadfast reaction of all the working people. OECD's indications are unacceptable one by one from an economic and social view. What is extremely dangerous is that these neo-liberal options are justified or are being adopted by the government, with the consequence of us being led to a new anti-labour raid," the announcement said.

    The Confederation noted that the OECD report "yet again moves in the same direction of anti-labour solutions which concern the social insurance system, income, labour relations and taxation."

    [30] Development minister meets European Science and Research Commissioner

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas met on Thursday with European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik, who is currently on a three-day visit to Athens.

    Talks focused on European policy regarding research, technology and innovation, the preconditions for achieving a European Research Sector, the National Research and Technology System, the policies and measures taken by the government for its full harmonisation with European mandates and the Lisbon targets.

    The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, Research and Technology Secretary General Yiannis Tsoukalas, National Research and Technology Council President Dimitris Nanopoulos and Dimitris Iliopoulos, Greece's alternate permanent representative at the European Union.

    [31] Bank officials make clarifications on structured bonds

    Greek Postal Savings Bank President Panayiotis Tsoupidis and Agricultural Bank of Greece Governor Dimitris Miliakos on Thursday made clarifications regarding the investments of the banks they are heading for the Parliamentary Economic Committee.

    Both Tsoupidis and Miliakos spoke of disinformation existing over the issue and stressed that the investments initiatives they undertook for the purchase of structured bonds were beneficial and denied that they paid commissions.

    "We always purchase all structured or complex bonds with a board decision. We always purchase upon their issuing and in no case do we pay commissions," Tsoupidis said.

    Miliakos said on his part that there is nothing reproachable and that some are exploiting the issue for their own reasons.

    [32] Industries and social committee officials discuss social dialogue

    Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos and members of the Executive Committee met on Thursday with the directorate of the Economic and Social Committee (OKE), headed by its President Christos Polyzogopoulos. The purpose of the meeting was to strengthen and widen social dialogue in the country, with particular reference being made to the joint effort for economic and social development.

    Speaking after the meeting, Polyzogopoulos said that OKE outlined its views for SEB's leadership, pointing mainly to the need for an effort to be made to achieve an understanding on the major problems of the economy and of society.

    Daskalopoulos said that "SEB places great importance on joint action and on initiatives and the contribution of social partners and in this framework OKE is an enacted considerable institution for consultation."

    [33] Greek budget deficit down 19.3 pct in Jan-April, yr/yr

    Greece's budget deficit shrank by 19.3 percent in the first four months of 2007, compared with the same period last year, down to 2.2 billion euros from 2.735 billion euros in the January-April period in 2006, the General Accounting Office announced on Thursday.

    The agency, in a report, said that regular budget revenues rose 9.8 pct in the first four months of the year, exceeding a 7.2-pct annual target cited in the budget, while net budget revenues grew 4.9 pct from a budget target of 6.2 pct.

    Budget spending grew 6.0 pct, slightly up from a budget target of 6.3 pct, with primary spending up 10.7 pct (7.4 pct) and capital spending down 11.7 pct compared with a budget target for an 1.7 pct growth rate this year.

    Public Investment Programme's revenues (covering mainly EU fund inflows) soared 95.7 pct in the January-April period, sharply up compared with a 4.7-pct budget target for the year, while spending grew 31.5 percent compared with a 6.9 pct budget target.

    [34] Greek retail sales index up 7.2 pct in March, yr/yr

    Greek retail sales turnover index jumped 7.2 pct in March compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    The statistics service attributed the March increase to a 4.0 pct rise in foodstores and a 9.9 pct increase in other stores.

    The retail sales volume index (turnover in fixed prices) rose 3.5 pct in March from the corresponding month in 2006.

    [35] Greek GDP up 4.6 pct in 1st quarter, yr/yr

    Greece's Gross Domestic Product grew by 4.6 pct in the first quarter of 2007, compared with the same period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    The statistics service said investments rose by 15.8 pct in the January-March period. Exports grew 9.8 pct in the three-month period contributing 1.3 percentage points to final demand growth, while imports were up 15.1 pct in the same period.

    Spending on final consumption grew 2.8 pct in the first quarter, contributing 1.8 percentage points to final demand growth.

    [36] Hellenic Technodomiki TEB says turnover up, profits down in Q1

    Hellenic Technodomiki TEB on Thursday reported a 37.5 percent increase in its first quarter consolidated turnover to 186.2 million euros, from 135.4 million euros in the corresponding period in 2006.

    Pre-tax and interest earnings totaled 11.6 million euros in the January-March period, from 27.7 million euros last year, for a decline of 58 percent, while consolidated pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) fell 51 percent to 16.4 million euros.

    Consolidated after tax profits fell 32.4 percent to 17.5 million euros, while profits after tax and minorities dropped 34.8 percent to 16.1 million euros.

    The construction sector of the Group reported a 35 percent increase in turnover to 159.2 million euros, while operating earnings fell by 78 percent to 4.3 million euros and net profits plunged 82 percent to 2.5 million euros in the first three months of the year.

    The energy and environment sector reported an increase in operating and net profits to 6.4 million and 4.3 million euros, respectively, while the real estate development sector reported net profits of 300,000 euros in the first quarter.

    Parent turnover fell 79.7 percent to 481,000 euros, EBITDA were down 84 percent to a loss of 224,000 euros and net profits totaled 202,000 euros, down 83.8 percent from last year.

    The board plans to pay a 0.18 euros per share dividend to shareholders.

    [37] Selonda reports improved Q1 results

    Selonda Group on Thursday reported a 43.02-percent increase in its consolidated turnover to 17.19 million euros in the first quarter this year, up from 12.02 million euros in 2006, adding that 81.7 pct of total fish sales were export activity.

    Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) grew 31.6 percent to 6.45 million euros in the January-March period, and pre-tax profits rose 21.66 pct to 5.29 million euros.

    After tax profits rose 20.94 pct to 3.95 million euros, while earnings after tax and minorities rose 20.2 pct to 3.87 million euros.

    Selonda Group holds around 19 pct of Greek acquculture production and the board aims to boost its share to 30 pct in the next two years and to 50 pct of European production in the next three years. This will be achieved through acquisitions, partnerships and mergers in Greece, Turkey and Spain.

    Selonda recently acquired a 46 pct equity stake in Fjord Marin Turkey, the integration of Lesvos Aquaculture SA and the purchase of a 35 pct equity stake in Astraea AEBE.

    The company will launch production line in its new investment in Wales this summer and plans an investment programme totalling 15 million euros.

    [38] Creta Farm signs agreement to expand in US market

    Creta Farm ABEE on Thursday announced the signing of a partnership agreement with Clemens Investments LLC, a member of Clements Family Corporation, for the production and distribution of its products in the US market.

    Under the agreement, the two companies will set up a joint venture under the name Creta Farms US, LLC, with each owning 50 percent. Creta Farm will contribute exclusive use and management of patents' rights in the US, of its brand name, know-how and methods of advertising and promotion.

    Clemens Family Corporation will contribute its production facilities, its wide distribution network and all support services to promote Creta Farm's products in the US market.

    Creta Farm will begin distribution of its products in the Northeast coast of the US aiming to geographically cover the continent.

    [39] Greek stocks jump 1.17 pct on Thursday

    Greek stocks soared 1.17 pct on Thursday pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange to new seven-year highs, following a rebound in international markets. The composite index ended at 4,972.19 points with turnover a massive 639.8 million euros.

    Sector indices moved higher with the Financial Services (3.61 pct), Banks (1.76 pct) and Utilities (1.75 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Insurance (1.51 pct), Chemicals (0.61 pct) and Personal/Home Products (0.48 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index jumped 1.49 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.68 pct up and the Small Cap index rose 1.42 pct.

    Euroholdings (18.87 pct) and Klonatex (18.60 percent) were top gainers, while Plias (6.85 pct), Imaco (5.62 pct) and Hellenic Acquculture (4.76 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 194 to 79 with another 33 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.51%

    Industrials: -0.37%

    Commercial: +0.79%

    Construction: +0.80%

    Media: +0.86%

    Oil & Gas: +1.20%

    Personal & Household: -0.48%

    Raw Materials: +0.04%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.51%

    Technology: -0.15%

    Telecoms: +1.03%

    Banks: +1.76%

    Food & Beverages: +0.42%

    Health: +1.56%

    Utilities: +1.75%

    Chemicals: -0.61%

    Financial Services: +3.61%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 23.54

    ATEbank: 4.00

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.20

    HBC Coca Cola: 34.40

    Hellenic Petroleum: 11.32

    Emporiki Bank: 20.98

    National Bank of Greece: 44.38

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.42

    Intralot: 24.10

    Cosmote: 23.90

    OPAP: 28.40

    OTE: 23.70

    Titan Cement Company: 43.98

    [40] ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices on mid capitalization stocks were traded at a premium in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover a moderate 100.889 million euros.

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.30 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.10 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 5,819 contracts worth 76.645 million euros, with 38,295 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 241 contracts worth 7.463 million euros with 1,493 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,844 contracts worth 16.780 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Intracom's contracts (2,837), followed by OTE (1,276), Piraeus Bank (317), Hellenic Exchanges (336), National Bank (1,090), Alpha Bank (644), ATEbank (749) and Intralot (440).

    [41] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 3.021 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.563 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.458 billion euros were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 750 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose to 0.22 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.62 pct and the German Bund 4.43 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 3.87 pct from 3.84 pct on Wednesday, the two-day rate fell to 3.84 pct from 3.86 pct, the one-month rate was 4.0 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.45 pct from 4.44 pct.

    [42] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.356

    Pound sterling 0.685

    Danish kroner 7.508

    Swedish kroner 9.368

    Japanese yen 164.87

    Swiss franc 1.660

    Norwegian kroner 8.184

    Cyprus pound 0.587

    Canadian dollar 1.450

    Australian dollar 1.639

    General News

    [43] Minister chairs fire protection meeting, warns of 'difficult' summer ahead

    A meeting to check final preparations to protect against wild fires during the long, hot summer ahead was held by the Central Civil Protection Coordinating Body on Thursday, with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos in the chair.

    After the meeting, Pavlopoulos stressed that everything was prepared and warned that late rains in May could not solve the problems anticipated:

    "Today we just made sure that the last details have been settled. I repeat that this summer will be very difficult. Despite the recent, late rains the problems are not solved. For this reason, public services depending on their remit will be where they must at the right time. Firstly, so that we can prevent fires and, if necessary, so that we can put them out at the time this is needed," he said.

    He also stressed that local authorities had been supplied with the funds and means to hire the additional staff necessary during the summer months, earlier than in any other year.

    "Finally, I would like to appeal to each member of the public to take steps to help in this very important work for the environment, ourlives and for the future and lives of our children. We must not do things that can cause fires. And when we see even the smallest blaze, if we cannot put it out ourselves, then we must immediately call the authorities," Pavlopoulos said.

    Before the start of the meeting, the minister also referred to last Saturday's tragic accident in the Lousios River, where seven hikers died when they were swept away by the rain-swollen waters of the river and an eighth is still missing.

    Pavlopoulos expressed the government's and his own deep sorrow at the incident and support for the families of the victims, stressing that the search would continue until the last missing hiker was found.

    Finally, he said that congratulations were due to the members of the state services and the armed forces that were taking part in the search and rescue operation, and particularly to the many volunteers "who prove at this time the meaning of social solidarity".

    [44] Transport minister Liapis addresses 91st ECMT in Sofia

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA / B. Borishov)

    One in two Athens residents will be using public transportation (metro, tram, buses, etc) within a year, Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis said Thursday, addressing the two-day 91st European Conference of Ministers of Transport, ECMT which concluded in Sofia, Bulgaria on Thursday.

    Liapis referred to the renewal of the 2,100 vehicle-strong city bus fleet, 1/5 of which is natural gas-powered, noting that among the main steps taken to further improve traffic conditions in Athens is the stricter policing of bus lanes, the constant expansion of Proastiakos suburban railway and the introduction of telematics technology to modernize the unified urban transportation center of operations.

    Greece regards it as an obligation to play a leading role in development initiatives undertaken by the united Europe, stressed Liapis, referring to the high-speed railway transportation agreement signed at the initiative of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis within the framework of the summit meeting of ten SE European leaders held in Thessaloniki a year ago.

    Liapis also pointed out that a complete infrastructure modernization programme is being implemented at the five major Greek airports to meet the constantly rising use of air transportation means in the country.

    Dominating the bilateral meetings he had with his counterparts from Germany, Slovenia and New Zealand were issues of mutual interest with an emphasis on traffic decongestion efforts in metropolitan centers, given that delays caused by traffic jams correspond to a 1 percent loss in the global GDP.

    [45] Health minister on occasion of World No Tobacco Day

    More difficult times are ahead for smokers in Greece if judged by a new national anti-smoking policy announced on Thursday by Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos during a special conference held in Athens on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day.

    Avramopoulos stressed that the state has an obligation to protect the right to life, adding that smoking is a disease, while adding that it also affects the quality of everyday life.

    The one-time mayor of Athens also stated that a special draft law will be tabled soon for the implementation of a national anti-smoking policy, with a ban on the sale of tobacco products to minors envisioned as a basic clause in the new law. A special emphasis will also be given to public awareness campaigns.

    [46] Eurobank, WWF present programme to protect Mount Parnitha

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias and WWF Hellas on Thursday held a press conference to present a joint programme for the protection and proper management of the ecosystem on Mount Parnitha, the mountain range that skirts the west side of Athens, with the help of the public.

    Explaining the activities of the programme "Know-Participate-Protect-Parnitha National Forest", they also outlined their strategy for its further improvement.

    "Our goal is to create a model, protected area next to Athens that will also act as a tool for sensitising and involving the public in its management," organisers said.

    Among the envisaged actions is the study and observation of the red deer population in the forest, improvements in infrastructure and signposting the park.

    The programme has also supplies educational materials concerning Mount Parnitha to schools and will soon issue a "good visitor's guide" and "observation manual".

    Speaking for Eurobank, the bank's research and technology director Nikos Pavlidis referred to the environmental policy adopted by the bank and its commitment to reduce the impact of its activities on the environment.

    These include informing and increasing the public's awareness of the issues, waste recycling, conserving natural resources, developing "green products" and funding alternative energy sources.

    According to Pavlidis, the bank's recycling and conservation efforts in 2006 had saved 5,967 trees, save 11,583 cubic metres of water and 1,579,500 KW electricity.

    [47] Exhibition of ancient art photographs at Greek Embassy in Washington

    WASHINGTON ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)

    An exhibition of photographs of the collection of Greek antiquities of Boston Museum, was organised at the Greek Embassy in Washington, under the auspices of former governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis.

    The exhibition, which attracted the interest of a large number of Greek-Americans and Americans is titled, "Ancient Greek Masterpieces from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Photographs of highlights from the MFA's collection of Greek art".

    The 23 photographs which are included in the exhibition were selected by supervisor Dr. Christina Kontoleon among 20,000 exhibits from the bronze age to the Byzantine period.

    Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias closed the ceremony of the inauguration of the exhibition with the phrase "Our history is our identity."

    [48] Foreign couple arrested on drug charges in Athens

    An Albanian couple was arrested in Athens on drug charges in a coordinated operation undertaken by Thessaloniki and Athens police.

    The 34-year-old man and his 31-year-old female friend were arrested at Larisa Station in Athens with a small quantity of drugs in their possession after police managed to disarm the man who took out a handgun in his attempt to escape.

    A search of their apartment uncovered 3 kilos and 160 grams of heroin, 10 kilos of an unspecified powder and 1,100 euros in drug money, which were confiscated.

    [49] Italian pupil drowns during school excursion

    An 18-year-old Italian pupil drowned on Wednesday afternoon as he was swimming with schoolmates in the region of Karavostasi, in Perdika, Thesprotia prefecture, police said on Thursday.

    The pupils were on an excursion, and the 18-year-old boy left the hotel they were staying at and went to the beach for a swim, despite the high waves, and drowned before his friends could help him.

    The circumstances of the accident were being investigated by the local port authority, while the school excursion was cut short and the pupils returned to Italy on Thursday morning.

    [50] Arson attacks in Thessaloniki

    Early morning firebomb attacks were reported in Thessaloniki on Wednesday.

    A makeshift incendiary device planted outside a Eurobank branch in the district of Kalamaria damaged its glass faēade, while a few minutes later firebombs damaged two cars parked in the same area. One of the cars belonged to the Serb diplomatic mission.

    [51] Road death statistics

    The road accidents recorded throughout Greece causing deaths or injuries rose to 1,285 in March 2007. More specifically, 133 people died, 150 were seriously injured and 1,480 suffered lighter injuries in traffic accidents in that month.

    According to the figures released by the National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE), road accidents in March 2007 rose by 6.7 percent, road accident-related deaths increased by 20.9 percent, serious injuries marked a rise of 4.9 percent and lighter injuries also rose by 4.7 percent compared to March 2006.

    Weather forecast

    [52] Sunny on Friday

    Sunny weather will prevail in most parts of Greece on Friday, with local storms in the mountainous regions of eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Temperatures will range from 12C to 29C. Winds westerly, northwesterly, light to moderate.

    Sunny in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 16C and 29C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 16C to 27C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [53] Spokesman critical of Turkish stance

    NICOSIA (CNA?ANA-MPA)

    The government believes that the behaviour of the Turkish Cypriot side and that of Turkey indicate that their only consideration is to give credence and status to the illegal regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus and not to display the political will that would create prospects for progress towards a solution.

    Outlining the government's positions, Spokesman Vasilis Palmas said that the Greek Cypriot side is ready to contribute to the implementation of a UN-brokered agreement, last July, to pave the way towards a political settlement.

    Commenting on remarks by the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community that it is impossible to solve the Cyprus problem at present, the spokesman replied "judging by statements from the Turkish side, it is obvious that their sole concern at this stage is to try and upgrade the status of the Turkish Cypriot regime and not to have the political will to create prospects for progress towards a solution."

    Any objective observer, looking at things with good will, can understand that, he added.

    He expressed the government's readiness to help reactivate the provisions of the July agreement to make headway and help to reach a negotiated comprehensive settlement.

    Responding to questions about direct flights to and from the occupied areas, Palmas said he believed such attempts will not yield any results.

    "What such moves offer is to create divisive factors in Cyprus, and we strongly disagree with such ideas. We shall continue to strive against any such designs, which aim at the division of the country," he stressed.

    Replying to other questions, he said the government is monitoring developments in the Organisation of Islamic Conference, a forum where, as he acknowledged, is difficult for Cyprus.

    "Nonetheless, we cannot concede defeat in any outcome of any conference, we always fight back but if there is a clear disposition on the part of the member states of the OIC, then we have limited capabilities to have a decisive intervention to avert some adverse developments," he concluded.

    The reference was to attempts within the OIC, whose Secretary General is a Turk, to give an additional status to the Turkish Cypriot regime, which at present is an observer.

    [54] Turkey has to pay compensation in property case, says European Court

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    A property case, brought before the European Court of Human Rights against Turkey by a Greek Cypriot refugee, has concluded with a call on Ankara to pay compensation amounting to 885,000 euro by August 22 this year.

    A five-member chamber of the Court has decided not to refer the case before the plenary of the Court, as requested by Turkey and Greek Cypriot Myra Xenidi Aresti, who claimed her property in the fenced area of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta.

    The decision of the chamber is final and confirms violation of Aresti's right to property, as noted down in the Court decision of December 2006, in addition to making it clear that the issue of return and restoration of the said property is no longer a political matter but a court ruling which Turkey cannot but comply with.

    The chamberŌs decision also means that TurkeyŌs attempt to lay claim on property within the fenced area of Famagusta has been rejected and that the damages awarded are high.

    The Court notified the two parties in writing about the chamber decision.

    Aresti had asked the Court to examine the legality, the effectiveness and the compatibility, if any, of a self-styled property commission in Turkish occupied Cyprus with the European Convention of Human Rights.

    Turkey has asked, according to all indications, the Court to examine a claim on Famagusta property.

    The legality or not of the so-called property commission is likely to be brought up again before the Court in future cases against Turkey, filed by Greek Cypriots claiming their property in Turkish occupied Cyprus.

    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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