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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Thursday, 7 June 2007 Issue No: 2612


  • [01] FinMin briefs Inner Cabinet on exit from excessive deficit procedure
  • [02] Bakoyannis and Egyptian president meet at Red Sea resort
  • [03] Roussopoulos on the bonds affair and JP Morgan
  • [04] Roussopoulos on public administration
  • [05] Developments in bond issue a 'victory for PASOK', Papandreou says
  • [06] PASOK party officials criticise government over structured bonds issue
  • [07] Papandreou calls for off-the-agenda debate on 'family finances'
  • [08] Papandreou meets environmental groups, scientific bodies
  • [09] Karamanlis-Ries meeting
  • [10] US envoy makes farewell visit to PASOK leader
  • [11] US envoy touches on Greek-US relations in address before Iraq posting
  • [12] Government on Euro-Parliament report on FYROM passports
  • [13] Political party leaders to visit Peloponnese
  • [14] KKE leader calls for hiring of contract workers
  • [15] Premier Karamanlis sends condolences to former Cyprus president Clerides
  • [16] Agriculture minister provides data on agriculture in past years
  • [17] Deputy FM Sylianidis visits Jerusalem; Greece-Israel trade agreement signed
  • [18] Parliament ratifies bill on public real estate
  • [19] International conference on real estate development
  • [20] Parliamentary Economic Committee ratifies bill on customs code reformation
  • [21] Country's municipalities, communities to receive 114,880,000 euros
  • [22] Innovation key to Greek economic growth
  • [23] Strong recovery of exports will continue, Panhellenic Exporters Federation president says
  • [24] Greece, China boost tourism relations
  • [25] FinMin meets PPC president
  • [26] Greek railway link with Russia, Ukraine begins Thursday
  • [27] Greek stocks end 0.52 pct lower
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Greek bond market closing report
  • [30] Foreign Exchange Rates - Thursday
  • [31] Filio Haidemenou, symbol of Asia Minor Greeks, dies at age 108
  • [32] President Papoulias continues visit to Karpathos island
  • [33] 15th journalism conference taking place in Samothraki between June 21-24
  • [34] Australian fugitive Tony Mokbel arrested in Athens
  • [35] Former university rector, faculty members sentenced to jail
  • [36] Former PASOK minister Alekos Papadopoulos hospitalised with coronary problem
  • [37] Former US president George Bush visits Lesvos
  • [38] 'Founding Forum of Global Hellenic Medical Network' to be held in Kos
  • [39] SYN leader calls for release of imprisoned student
  • [40] La Trobe University NCHSR benefactors and sponsors honored
  • [41] Anna Papoulias photography exhibition to open in Stockholm
  • [42] Heavy rains cause flooding in central Macedonia
  • [43] Border guards arrest truck driver for transporting 42 illegal immigrants
  • [44] Greece beats Moldova 2-1 in European Championship qualifying match
  • [45] Rain on Thursday
  • [46] Cabinet decides to bring forward natural gas supply procedures
  • [47] Russia welcomes Cyprus' decision to join Initiative against nuclear terrorism Politics

  • [01] FinMin briefs Inner Cabinet on exit from excessive deficit procedure

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday called a decision by EU finance ministers' to officially end the excessive deficit procedure (EDP) against Greece a "landmark" for the country.

    Alogoskoufis had earlier briefed a meeting of the Inner Cabinet, chaired by Premier Costas Karamanlis, on the decision a day earlier by the EU ministers' council.

    According to the finance minister, the important thing about this development was that the effort had been accompanied by structural reforms that led to high growth rates and a reduction in unemployment.

    "The fiscal adjustment that took place in our country is unprecedented in the annals of the Eurozone, as it is unprecedented to make such a major effort for strong economic growth and reduction of unemployment simultaneously," he said.

    Noting that Greece had entered the excessive deficit procedure in 2004, after the European Commission confirmed the country's excessive deficit figures, Alogoskoufis said the government had made a huge effort to reduce the public deficit from 7.9 percent of GDP to levels below 3 percent, finally bringing it to 2.6 percent of GDP.

    He underlined that the EU decision gave the country the opportunity to make a new start in the EU and especially in the eurozone.

    "We must with every means maintain the credibility that we have won and in the next years we must proceed with the second phase of fiscal reform, which is to achieved balanced budgets. This, of course, demands a major effort but smaller than that we have been making in the last three years and will give us the option of carrying out policies that will assist economic growth and social cohesion even further," he added.

    Later on Wednesday, Alogoskoufis said the government was continuing its fiscal consolidation in tandem with efforts to boost economic growth, as it was encouraged by the positive results of a successful economic policy implemented over the last three years.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said Greece had for a long period failed to take advantage of landmark decisions, such as its participation in EMU, and he stressed that this should not be repeated.

    "The government surely is fully conscious that we have not reached the end of a fiscal consolidation effort. Our structural deficit remains slightly above 3.0 pct of GDP. Henceforth, we must continue our course towards fiscal adjustment and structural reforms".

    Alogoskoufis said fiscal adjustment was continuing through structural measures of permanent nature, aiming to achieve balanced or slightly surplus budgets by 2010, while he stressed that the general government's deficit would reach 2.4 pct of GDP this year, based on non-revised GDP figures. The government, he added, announced a package of initiatives, such as spending cuts worth 430 million euros and additional revenues of temporary nature, to ensure the strict execution of this year's budget. "We have made a big effort in the last three years but more significant effort is needed in the next three years on fiscal consolidation," he said.

    Alogoskoufis underlined that a strong economic growth rate allowed the government room for actions to strengthen the social state and to support growth process through spending on research, technology and education. The Greek minister underlined that the government not only managed to avoid a recession after the Athens 2004 Olympic Games -as many feared at the time- but managed to achieve a huge fiscal consolidation, unprecedented in euro zone's history, and to change the way of economic growth by shifting more to private investments and exports.

    The general government's deficit fell by 5.3 percentage points in the last two years (2005 and 2006) mainly though restraining spending and improving tax agencies' operations, while Greek economic growth reached 3.7 pct in 2005 and 4.3 pct in 2006, exceeding all forecasts. Alogoskoufis noted that GDP grew by 4.6 pct in the first quarter of 2007 and stressed that foreign investments totalled 4.3 billion euros in 2006, or 2.0 pct of GDP.

    The Greek minister said Greece was given a second chance to be fully consistent with its commitments towards the EU. He reiterated that the government would strictly adhere to its 2007 budget plan, which included social measures, while he added that more initiatives would be announced in the coming years towards supporting the social state in the country.

    [02] Bakoyannis and Egyptian president meet at Red Sea resort

    SHARM EL SHEIKH (ANA-MPA - N. Melissova)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh for talks focusing on bilateral political and economic issues.

    According to the two sides, there was an exceptionally warm climate during the meeting, with emphasis on promoting the delineation of an Exclusive Economic Zone between the two countries as soon as possible.

    Following a meeting with the Greek delegation on Tuesday, Egyptian authorities finalised the concession of a region in Egypt's western desert to Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) in an agreement signed by ELPE Board chairman Panos Kavoulakos and Egyptian Minister for Petroleum Sameh Fahmy.

    The talks between Bakoyannis and Mubarak also focused on regional issues, such as the revival of the Middle East peace process and strengthening Egypt's ties with the European Union.

    The two countries confirmed that bilateral relations were at an excellent level, as confirmed by the fact that Mubarak agreed to a meeting with Bakoyannis, even though he rarely receives visiting foreign ministers.

    [03] Roussopoulos on the bonds affair and JP Morgan

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos responded to questions related to the bonds affair in the regular press briefing on Wednesday.

    Regarding a news report in the Athens newspaper Eleftherotypia on a secret one-billion-euro loan the government took out from the investment bank JP Morgan, Roussopoulos commented that this is not the first time the specific issue comes to light, adding that National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis will give a detailed response in a press conference.

    The government spokesman stated that the country cooperates with many financial institutions, stressing that cooperation with certain of them cannot be isolated in a selective manner, responding to a question on selective cooperation between the government and JP Morgan.

    On the head of the Appeal Court Prosecutor's Office Giorgos Koliokostas' request to assign the further investigation of the bonds affair to two appeal court examining magistrates appointed by the appeal court judges plenary session, Rousopoulos stated that the gravity of the bonds affair was acknowledged by the prime minister when he described it as very serious case.

    [04] Roussopoulos on public administration

    Government spokesman Thodoros Rousopoulos on Wednesday underlined that the government of PASOK left the country without public administration planning in the duration of the 3rd Community Support Framework. He was referring to a news report in the Athens newspaper "To Vima" on the interior ministry-issued report on public administration.

    In view of the 4th CSF the government has proposed a special plan that was first presented for approval before the EU bodies since early 2006, stressed Roussopoulos.

    He pointed out that the interior ministry report analyzes the lasting pathogenesis of public administration until the end of the country's governance by PASOK in 2004.

    The government's positive performance in the public administration sector is obvious in the ASEP (Supreme Staff Selection Council) report, and the reports issued by the Ombudsman and Transparency International, he pointed out.

    [05] Developments in bond issue a 'victory for PASOK', Papandreou says

    The latest developments surrounding pension fund investments in state-issued structured bonds were described as a "major victory" for main opposition PASOK by party leader George Papandreou on Wednesday, during a meeting of PASOK's Parliamentary Council.

    According to Papandreou, the contracts for seven such bonds submitted in Parliament on Tuesday by Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas, along with a request by judicial investigators that the Appeals Court Council be convened over the case, confirmed that there had been an attempt at a cover-up.

    PASOK's leader was also highly critical of the contracts themselves, saying that they were unacceptable.

    He said the government had made a "grave political mistake when it tried to dupe Parliament and the Greek people by giving little and inadequate information on the contracts" and said that the judicial investigation, after 90 days, had arrived at the same conclusions that PASOK reached on day one.

    The terms used in the public prosecutor's report also made it abundantly clear that the criminal activity could not have been carried out without political planning and coordination, Papandreou added.

    Referring to Tuesday's decision by the ECOFIN Council to let Greece exit the excessive deficit procedure, Papandreou repeated that the country should never have entered this in the first place. He said the government was responsible for placing the Greek economy under EU supervision with the "colpo grosso" of the government audit, which it initiated as revenge on PASOK.

    The cost of this "low trick", however, ended up burdening Greek citizens and had undermined the country's prestige, he said, stressing that PASOK would not honour any behind-the-scenes agreements made by New Democracy in order to exit EDP.

    Papandreou also pointed out that exit from EDP would not affect the present government's economic policies, since these were not dictated by the effort to exit EDP.

    [06] PASOK party officials criticise government over structured bonds issue

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Petros Efthymiou and the party's economy sector rapporteur Vasso Papandreou, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, accused the government of "systematically and methodically misleading the Greek people and Parliament on the structured bonds issue."

    Efthymiou, referring to the tabling in Parliament of the bonds contracts by Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas, pointed out that JP Morgan's contract that was tabled was not complete, "since it is not the final one, while it is also lacking the signatures of the contracting parties, while for the remaining contracts only two pages were tabled out of the over 100 pages that each contract has."

    PASOK's spokesman called on the government to table in Parliament the contracts on the "remaining seven structured bonds that were directed to 21 funds," stressing that it is "a question of a deception operation by the government, (Prime Minioster Costas) Karamanlis, (Finance Minister George) Alogoskoufis, Doukas and (finance miistry secretary) Kouris.

    Speaking in general about the economy and the country's exit from excessive deficit procedure, Papandreou said that "we have entered a new supervision that we should not have entered, at the government's exclusive responsibility," while all data on the Greek economy "shortly before the elections had been approved by the European Union's relevant authorities. The aim was to reduce the reliability of PASOK governments and an excuse not to fulfill election pledges that they knew they would not be implementing."

    [07] Papandreou calls for off-the-agenda debate on 'family finances'

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Wednesday requested an off-the-agenda debate on "family finances" to be held in Parliament.

    In a letter addressed to Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda, he stressed that the family budget had suffered successive blows as a result of government policy.

    Papandreou stated that Greek households were experiencing the so-called "third week syndrome" and were unable to meet their basic needs with dignity with their monthly paycheck.

    "Family income shrinks each year that New Democracy stays in government," Papandreou said, making a special reference to unemployment among women and the young, high prices and taxation that were leading those on medium and low wages to an impasse.

    He also stressed that families were forced to pay from their own budget for goods and services such as healthcare, education and social insurance because these were underfunded by the government.

    Over-borrowing had become part of the everyday life of Greek households, a situation that the government was treating with indifference, Papandreou added.

    He concluded by accusing the government of anti-social and unfair policies that undermined the interests of the Greek family and the country's growth.

    [08] Papandreou meets environmental groups, scientific bodies

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Wednesday met representatives of non-governmental environmentalist and scientific organizations and institutions.

    In comments he made prior to the meeting, Papandreou stressed that this is the first time such a move was made, adding that the meeting with NGOs and social institutions reflects the party's desire for broad-based consultation.

    Environmental protection demands a new attitude, he commented, adding that the programme adopted by PASOK opens a new chapter by putting the protection of the environment at the top of the list with the country's priorities. The PASOK leader pledged to carry out a new programme making environment a comparative advantage for growth, employment, quality of life and competitiveness.

    [09] Karamanlis-Ries meeting

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met at Maximos Mansion on Wednesday with outgoing US ambassador to Athens Charles Ries. No statements were made after the meeting.

    [10] US envoy makes farewell visit to PASOK leader

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met Wednesday with outgoing US ambassador to Greece Charles Ries, at the former's office in parliament.

    During Ries' farewell courtesy call, the two men discussed the Cyprus issue, developments in the Balkans, with the main focus on Kosovo and FYROM, and also the situation in Turkey with respect to the Kurds of Iraq.

    Ries further informed Papandreou on his new posting in Baghdad, where he will serve following his departure from Athens in a few days.

    [11] US envoy touches on Greek-US relations in address before Iraq posting

    Outgoing US ambassador to Greece Charles Ries touched on a variety of issues, Greek-US and regional, in a more-or-less farewell address here on Wednesday evening prior to his assumption of a top diplomatic post in Iraq.

    In an address to the Piraeus Propeller Club, Ries referred to heightened Greek-US diplomatic contacts over the past few years in the form of direct meetings between the two countries' foreign ministers, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' official visit to Washington in May 2005 and cooperation on a handful of international issues, all within the prism of Greece's successful two-year stint on the United Nations Security Council.

    Days after a positive ECOFIN decision terminating an "excessive fiscal deficit procedure" against Greece in light of official EU figures showing an under-3 percent budget deficit and a euro zone-leading growth rate, Ries also heaped praise on the east Mediterranean country's recent economic performance.

    Regarding regional issues, he cited Athens' decision to support Turkey's continued course towards EU membership during a crucial December 2006 summit, while adding that Turkey's accession will eventually depend on its meeting the Union's acquis.

    In other comments, Ries lamented the fact that a shadowy terror group fired a rocket at the US embassy in early January 2007, while however, citing the excellent cooperation between law enforcement agencies of the two countries to fight the perpetrators. Along those same lines, he cited the professionalism, as he said, of an appeals court process that recently reaffirmed convictions of several "November 17" terrorists.

    Moreover, Ries said he regretted the fact that he wasn't able to speak at a public Greek university during his tenure in Greece, something he said he hopes his successor will achieve.

    Finally, the US envoy also announced that the US Air Force will sign a US$44 million contract on Thursday with the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) for the upgrade of several USAF F-16s.

    [12] Government on Euro-Parliament report on FYROM passports

    Commenting on the adoption by a European Parliament committee of a report calling for free use within the European Union of passports issued by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday stressed that "decisions of this sort are not binding for EU member-state governments".

    The decision on Tuesday would mean that the circulation within the EU of passports using FYROM's constitutional name "Republic of Macedonia" - which is disputed by Greece.

    Roussopoulos also reminded reporters of his statement earlier that linked "possible developments on the FYROM issue with the declaration of early elections".

    [13] Political party leaders to visit Peloponnese

    Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou will visit Corinth, in the Peloponnese southern Greece, on Sunday and in the evening of that day he will address a gathering of party members and friends.

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) President George Karatzaferis is scheduled to visit Messinia Prefecture in Peloponnese the coming Saturday. He will tour the Kalamata city market and in the afternoon he will give a press conference on current political developments.

    [14] KKE leader calls for hiring of contract workers

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Wednesday called for the permanent hiring of various categories of public sector contract workers fulfilling standing and continuous tasks -- including at state-run utilities -- in the country, workers whose numbers over the past decade reached into the hundreds of thousands.

    Papariga made the statement, echoing her party's standing policy, during a tour of the working-class Egaleo district in west Athens.

    In reference to general elections in the country, set for March 2008, Papariga said the "working classes and all the other popular strata must reach their conclusions and condemn (ruling) ND and (main opposition) PASOK, which ahead of elections are promising benefits that are outdated, even by 1950s-era criteria."

    [15] Premier Karamanlis sends condolences to former Cyprus president Clerides

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday sent a condolences telegramme to former Cyprus president Glafcos Clerides on the death of his wife Irene.

    Irene Clerides passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 86 in Larnaca.

    PASOK leader

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou and his wife Ada on Wednesday sent a condolences telegramme to former Cyprus president Glafcos Clerides on the death of his wife Irene, according to a party press release.

    Financial News

    [16] Agriculture minister provides data on agriculture in past years

    Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos, giving an account of government policy in the agricultural sector on Wednesday, said that the active farming population decreased by 20.5 percent (from 33.8 percent to 12.5 percent) over the 1994-2004 period, while during the 2002-2003 period agricultural income decreased by 11.2 percent, while during the first two years of the New Democracy party governance, 2005-2006, agricultural income increased by 2 percent.

    The minister further said that in the framework of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), 46 public drainage projects having a total budget of 470 million euros are being implemented since 2004.

    Timely preparations are being made for the 4th Programming Period (2007-2013) with the aim of achieving agricultural and sustainable development.

    Promotion programmes are being implemented in the European Union and world market for olive oil, apples, eggs, processed peaches, Nevrokopi potatoes, poultry and other products.

    The result of the government's coordinated policy was the considerable increase in the exports of Greek farm products by 33.1 percent over the past two years.

    Moreover, public investments in the agricultural sector increased from 433 million euros during the 2002-2003 period to 823 million euros during the 2004-2005 period.

    [17] Deputy FM Sylianidis visits Jerusalem; Greece-Israel trade agreement signed

    JERUSALEM, Israel (ANA-MPA/P. Haritos)

    Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis began a two-day official visit to Israel on Wednesday, accompanied by Greek entrepreneurs, within the framework of the first joint inter-ministerial committee which is visiting the region.

    It is the first time that such a large Greek business delegation visits Israel. Taking part are more than 30 entrepreneurs and directors of organizations who are holding bilateral contacts, while at the same time, they are taking part in a business conference which is jointly organized at a central hotel in Tel Aviv.

    Visiting Jerusalem, Stylianidis met with Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai with whom he signed a bilateral agreement for the improvement of cooperation in the sector of trade. This agreement will constitute the framework for the implementation of all the previous agreements, which due to technical reasons, remained inactive, while it is expected that the agreement will facilitate the activity of more entrepreneurs in the two countries, creating a basis which will restrict bureaucratic obstacles which exist in the bilateral trade relations.

    [18] Parliament ratifies bill on public real estate

    The debate and ratification of the bill on selling and leasing public real estate was completed at the Parliamentary plenum on Wednesday. The bill was supported by the deputies of the government majority and opposed by the three opposition parties.

    Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas reassured that no contract will be signed if it does not fully safeguard the interests of the Hellenic state, stressing that it is a practice that is already being applied in Europe.

    On their part, opposition party deputies spoke of serving the interests of our "friends" and of a plan to sell out public property.

    [19] International conference on real estate development

    The local real estate market provides considerable opportunities both in the investments and development sectors, according to conclusions reached during an international conference held in Athens and organised by the Lykourezos law office.

    A message by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, read during the conference, pointed out that the initiatives undertaken in the real estate sector over the past three years, combined with town planning being promoted by the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry, have boosted activity in the real estate market, that is expected to become one of the Greek economy's main development levers.

    Addressing the conference, Bank of Piraeus vice president George Provopoulos referred to the great increase in crossborder investments in real estate, stressing that direct European investments in real estate totalled 63 billion euros in the year 2000, while in 2005 they increased to 151 billion euros, with great interest existing in investments in southeastern Europe, Turkey, Greece and Russia.

    Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Petros Doukas also addressed the conference, relating the high growth rates of the Greek economy to strong demand in the real estate market.

    [20] Parliamentary Economic Committee ratifies bill on customs code reformation

    The Parliamentary Economic Committee on Wednesday ratified the bill on reforming the customs code. The bill was backed by the deputies of the ruling New Democracy party and the main opposition PASOK party and rejected by the Leftist parties.

    ND rapporteur Anastasios Liaskos focused in his closing address on the rest of the bill's clauses, stressing that they satisfy demands made by various social groups.

    PASOK's rapporteur Costas Geitonas said on his part that his party supports the bill, but clarified that despite the "election benefits" it contains it does not constitute an implementation of ND's pledges to sensitive social classes.

    [21] Country's municipalities, communities to receive 114,880,000 euros

    Following a decision signed on Wednesday by Deputy Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Athanasios Nakos, the country's municipalities and communities will receive 114,880,000 euros.

    It concerns the 2nd installment of the regular distribution of credits of the Collective Local Government Decision (S.A.T.A.), for 2007.

    The entitled agencies will use the S.A.T.A. credits exclusively for investment activities.

    [22] Innovation key to Greek economic growth

    Innovation is the key to Greece's economic development and competitiveness, while it is also the driving force of business activity, education evolution and improvement of living quality, that was one conclusion of an event organised by Microsoft Hellas on the Innovation Day on Wednesday.

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, addressing the event, said the government was expected soon to announce a package of strong incentives to boost innovation.

    "Research and innovation mean growth advantage. They mean progress advantage. We want and we are able to conquer all these advantages together," Sioufas said, adding that a government commitment was to raise state contribution to basic research and efforts to boost private contribution on research. The draft legislation envisages drafting of a long-term national policy and the creation of new institutional agencies, such as the National Organisation for Research and Technology.

    Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, in his address, noted the need to link the country's research resources with the demands and needs of the market.

    Spyros Efstathopoulos, special secretary for competitiveness, said the percentage of private investments in research totaled 28.2 percent in Greece, compared with 54.6 pct in the Eurozone and 54.3 pct in the EU-25, while Ioannis Fessas, vice-president in the Federation of Hellenic Industries and Enterprises, noted that Greece ranked 47th in the world competitiveness list, while it ranked 45th in the list of innovation contribution to competitiveness

    [23] Strong recovery of exports will continue, Panhellenic Exporters Federation president says

    Panhellenic Exporters Federation President Christina Sakellaridi, addressing the general assembly of the Federation's members on Wednesday, said that the strong recovery of exports taking place over the past three years will continue this year as well.

    "Exports, on condition that the trends of the first three months will continue, will near 19 billion euros or 26 billion dollars, from 16.7 billion euros or 20.9 billion dollars last year," she said.

    Sakellaridi stressed that it is essential that the increase in exports is supplemented by a policy of backing the production of competitive products. In this context, she added, the main problem of exports policy are the restrictions imposed by the size of exports businesses "which, with an overwhelming percentage, does not provide the possibility of undertaking initiatives to highlight and promote the products that each business exports."

    Consequently, exporters believe that what is necessary to boost exports is an integrated strategy that will begin from production level, meaning offering competitive products, and will continue in trade and in promotion in international markets.

    [24] Greece, China boost tourism relations

    Greece and China on Wednesday agreed to a series of actions aimed to boosting bilateral tourism relations, starting with finalising a date on holding a joint Greek-China commission on tourism in October.

    The issue was discussed during a meeting between Greek Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli Petralia and her Chinese counterpart Shao Qiwei. The two ministers agreed that Greece would host Chinese journalists and tourism school students from China during the summer.

    Greece will be the honoured country in Beijing international trade exhibition, June 21-23, with China organising a Greek cultural year in 2007.

    Speaking to reporters, Sho Qiwei praised the very good cooperation between the two parties and noted that each meeting resulted to something very important.

    [25] FinMin meets PPC president

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday afternoon met with Public Power Corporation (PPC) president Takis Athanassopoulos who briefed him on the company's course, in view of the general assembly of its shareholders.

    [26] Greek railway link with Russia, Ukraine begins Thursday

    Greece has acquired a railway link with Russia and Ukraine and as of Thursday the direct, regular weekly railway link between Moscow-Kiev-Thessaloniki sets off.

    According to a Greek Railways Organization (OSE) announcement on Wednesday, through this link the role of railway transport in the broader region of southeastern Europe is upgraded, which is henceforth directly linked with Russia and Ukraine for the 2007 summer period. At the same time, Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, is further projected as a hub of international passenger transport.

    The announcement added that the link will last until September 2, 2007, with departures every Sunday from Thessaloniki and every Thursday from Moscow.

    The second-class fare, with transport in a double-bed compartment, costs 138.30 euros.

    [27] Greek stocks end 0.52 pct lower

    Greek stocks ended lower on Wednesday, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange 0.52 percent down to 4,873.13 points. Turnover was a strong 379.2 million euros.

    Most sector indices lost ground with the Chemicals (2.31 pct), Raw Materials (1.41 pct) and Media (1.13 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the Technology (1.36 pct), Insurance (0.75 pct) and Personal/Home Products (0.43 pct) scored gains.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.45 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.56 pct lower and the Small Cap index rose 0.95 pct.

    Altec (11.64 pct), Galis (9.0 pct) and Allatini (7.65 pct) were top gainers, while Hadzioannou (10.80 pct), Lanakam (9.79 pct) and Levenderis (9.57 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 182 to 89 with another 32 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.75%

    Industrials: -0.79%

    Commercial: +0.06%

    Construction: +0.06%

    Media: -1.13%

    Oil & Gas: -0.31%

    Personal & Household: +0.43%

    Raw Materials: -1.41%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.27%

    Technology: +1.36%

    Telecoms: -0.83%

    Banks: -0.39%

    Food & Beverages: -0.64%

    Health: -0.15%

    Utilities: -0.29%

    Chemicals: -2.31%

    Financial Services: -0.77%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Kloukinas-Lappas and Piraeus Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 22.94

    ATEbank: 3.86

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.08

    HBC Coca Cola: 33.50

    Hellenic Petroleum: 11.36

    Emporiki Bank: 20.96

    National Bank of Greece: 41.68

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.50

    Intralot: 23.80

    Cosmote: 23.24

    OPAP: 28.40

    OTE: 22.94

    Titan Cement Company: 43.50

    [28] ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices saw their discount shrinking in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, while turnover rose to 187.454 million euros.

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.39 pct while on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.67 percent.

    Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 11,099 contracts worth 143.687 million euros, with 38,791 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 767 contracts worth 23.512 million euros, with 1,407 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,446 contracts worth 20.254 million euros, with investment activity focusing on Intracom's contracts (1,604), followed by PPC (590), OPAP (1,020), Cosmote (433), National Bank (841), Alpha Bank (1,075), Emporiki Bank (538) and ATEbank (1,544).

    [29] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.831 billion euros, of which 1.321 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.510 billion were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 550 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.22 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.68 pct and the German Bund 4.46 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.70 pct, the two-day rate fell to 3.70 pct from 3.75 pct on Tuesday, the one-month rate rose to 4.05 pct from 4.03 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.49 pct from 4.47 pct.

    [30] Foreign Exchange Rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.362

    Pound sterling 0.683

    Danish kroner 7.506

    Swedish kroner 9.414

    Japanese yen 164.98

    Swiss franc 1.658

    Norwegian kroner 8.144

    Cyprus pound 0.587

    Canadian dollar 1.445

    Australian dollar 1.618

    General News

    [31] Filio Haidemenou, symbol of Asia Minor Greeks, dies at age 108

    The state and political leadership on Wednesday extended condolences to the family of Filio Haidemenou, following her death in Athens at the age of 108. She was born in Vourla on the coast of Turkey in 1899 and came to Greece in the early 20th century, becoming a symbol of the Greeks expelled from Asia Minor. Her funeral will be held on Thursday at public expense.

    Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias stated on her death that her life's goal was to keep the flame of the Asia Minor culture burning, stressing that each day, with her unique character and pure presence, she had waged a great battle to keep the memory of the lost homelands alive.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who had met with her, stated in his message that she was a unique Greek woman and stressed that she contributed greatly to keeping alive the historic memory and cultural wealth of the Asia Minor Greeks.

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou underlined that she was aware of the value of keeping the memory of the Asia Minor Hellenism alive.

    Culture Minister George Voulgarakis stated that she showed in an exemplary manner that historical truth is a priceless inheritance and a source of inspiration for future generations.

    Condolences were also extended by Archbishop Christodoulos.

    The personal efforts made by Filio Haidemenou had resulted to the establishment of the "Filio Haidemenou" Museum of Asia Minor Hellenism in Nea Philadelphia.

    Exhibited in the museum are 500 of the 1,500 objects and photographs belonging to the Greeks that were expelled from Asia Minor in the early 20th century that were collected by her.

    [32] President Papoulias continues visit to Karpathos island

    President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday continued for the second consecutive day his visit to the island of Karpathos, east of Crete and near Rhodes.

    The president attended a luncheon hosted in his honor by Karpathos-Kasos chief Michalis Erotokritos who thanked Papoulias for his particular interest in the border islands.

    At a ceremony in the evening, the President of the Republic was proclaimed honorary citizen of Karpathos. Present at the event were Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis, Southern Aegean Region Secretary General Haralambos Kokkinos and Dodecanese Prefect Yiannis Maheridis. On Tuesday evening, the president was proclaimed honorary citizen of Karpathos' Olympos community.

    On Thursday morning, the President of the Republic will travel by helicopter to Kasos to attend events marking the 183rd anniversary of the island's holocaust.

    [33] 15th journalism conference taking place in Samothraki between June 21-24

    The 15th journalism conference, organised by the Evros prefecture, the municipality of Samothraki and the country's six journalists unions, will be taking place on the northern Aegean island of Samothraki between June 21-24 on five topics and with the participation of 400 journalists.

    The conference will be held under the auspices of the Union of Prefectural Administrations of Greece and will have the support of the General Communication Secretariat-General Information Secretariat.

    The conference's agenda will focus on the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, interstate energy paths and the role of the mass media being the first topic, followed by "Lawsuits to muzzle the press", "The free press", "The press with gifts. A trend that will not pass or a necessity?" and "Journalists, copyrights and freelance work."

    [34] Australian fugitive Tony Mokbel arrested in Athens

    Greek authorities on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of wanted Australian fugitive Antonio (Tony) Mokbel, 41, who appeared before a public prosecutor and was officially charged.

    They said Mokbel was arrested in the Athens suburb of Glyfada and was wanted in Australia in connection with serious drugs and homicide cases.

    The charges brought against him by Greek authorities involve the use of fake documents, which constitutes a misdemeanour under local laws. Because he was caught in the act, he faces trial before a special police court where he is expected to seek a continuance.

    According to police, the 41-year-old Australian national was using a wig as a disguise at the time of his arrest and was carrying a fake passport and driving licence, while he had presented himself as a shipping firm employee.

    He is also to appear before a extradition prosecutor at an Athens appeals court on Wednesday evening, since there are outstanding warrants for his arrest that require his extradition to Australia.

    According to an ANA-MPA correspondent from Melbourne, the news of Mokbel's arrest was headline news in the Australian media and earned praise from Australian authorities for the Greek police.

    The Victoria State Police had offered a one-million Australian dollar reward for information leading to the capture of Lebanese-born Mokbel, who has been wanted since March 19, 2006, just before he was sentenced by a Melbourne court for cocaine trafficking. In addition to other charges, meanwhile, Mokbel also faces trial for the murder of a prominent member of the Australian underworld and is a suspect in several more killings during a gang war that left 30 people dead.

    The process for his extradition to Australia is already underway.

    According to the reports, drug trafficking in Australia had earned him an estimated 40 million dollars and roughly half of the money was channeled abroad. He was also involved in the production of ecstasy (XTC) pills and a police had found quantities with an estimated street value of 78 million Australian dollars in a raid on his lab.

    As soon as the news of his arrest in Greece was out, police in the State of Victoria raided a number of houses in Melbourne belonging to members of his family or friends and arrested 14 individuals.

    [35] Former university rector, faculty members sentenced to jail

    A three-member criminal appeals court on Wednesday sentenced a former rector, vice-rector and staff of Panteion University in Athens to prison terms ranging from 12 years to three times life, after finding them guilty of embezzling eight million euros in university funds between 1992-1998.

    It ordered that five of the 10 defendants found guilty in the case - former Panteion rector Aimilios Metaxopoulos, former vice-rector Panagiotis Getimis and the defendants Anastasios Koutsodimitropoulos, Mihalis Papadokostakis and Vassis Veikontis - be led directly back to prison, refusing to accept their applications to have their sentences suspended on health grounds.

    The request was admitted for the other five defendants found guilty in the case, however, in spite of a recommendation by the prosecutor on the bench that it be rejected for all the accused.

    The charges against them included fraud, embezzlement, providing false certification and forgery, compounded by laws on public-sector embezzlement.

    The longest sentence, three times life and 15 years, was imposed on the former head of the university's accounts department Anastasios Koutsodimitropoulos. The former rector Metaxopoulos was sentenced to 25 years, vice-rector Getimis to 16 years, and two members of the university's administrative staff, Papadokostakis and Veikontis, to 16 and 15 years respectively.

    Prison sentence of 14 years were also imposed on former Panteion rector Dimitris Konstas and vice-rector Constantinos Papathanassopoulos, while another member of the university's administrative staff Haralambos Boutsikos was sentenced to 13 years and suppliers Ioannis Gratsanis and Panagiotis Orfanos were each sentenced to 10 and 12 years, respectively.

    The court acquitted a member of the university's staff, a Court of Audit commissioner and an employee in the Panteion university accounts department.

    The trial had begun in November 2005.

    [36] Former PASOK minister Alekos Papadopoulos hospitalised with coronary problem

    Former PASOK party minister and Deputy Alekos Papadopoulos was diagnosed with an acute coronary syndrome, according to an announcement by the Attikon Hospital's Cardiological Department on Wednesday afternoon.

    The announcement, signed by the attending doctor, cardiology professor and director of the hospital's Second University Cardiological Clinic, Dimitris Kremastinos, said that Papadopoulos "underwent a series of diagnostic tests, he is being subjected to continuous therapy and treatment and the situation is good."

    Papadopoulos was accompanied to the hospital by Deputy Health Minister Athanassios Yiannopoulos, while he was visited by PASOK leader George Papandreou, Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, ruling New Democracy party Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis and many PASOK officials.

    Papandreou later said that "he is better and soon he will be ready again to struggle."

    Speaking briefly before the announcement was issued, Kremastinos said he hoped that everything would go well, medication would be provided at this stage and he would be staying in hospital for a few days.

    [37] Former US president George Bush visits Lesvos

    Former US president George Bush on Wednesday visited the Aegean island of Lesvos.

    He disembarked from the yacht "Turama" of the Latsis family at Eressos, in western Levsos, in the morning.

    "I feel welcomed here. It's the third time that I have come to your island and everyone makes me feel welcomed," Bush said.

    He also said that he felt safe. "Not only is it the safest but is also a most beautiful part of your island for one to visit," Bush stressed.

    At Eressos' Sapfo Square, George Bush was welcomed by a delegation from Eressos Municipality, headed by Deputy Mayor Loukas Kovras, who offered him flowers. He later returned to the yacht and shortly after 1 p.m. he departed for Plomari.

    The American former president arrived in Greece on Monday for a cruise of the Greek islands. He has already visited Thassos and Limnos, while he is also expected to visit Chios, Samos and Mount Athos.

    [38] 'Founding Forum of Global Hellenic Medical Network' to be held in Kos

    Distinguished expatriate doctors of the diaspora, from all the medical specialties, will take part in a World Forum on the island of Kos, from June 7-10.

    It was an initiative by Greece's Health and Social Solidarity Ministry to convene the Founding Forum of Global Hellenic Medical Network, as was announced at the 6th Regular Assembly of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) last December.

    The Forum is organized in cooperation with the Hellenic Medical Society of New York, the Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America and the Hellenic Academy of Medical Training, based in Athens.

    Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos is expected to open the sessions of the congress.

    [39] SYN leader calls for release of imprisoned student

    Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday called for the immediate release of a student accused of taking part in violent incidents outside Thessaloniki University on May 5, who is being held on remand at Avlona prison.

    Alavanos had earlier visited the prison and spoken with the student.

    Afterward, he stressed that the 19-year-old student had been arrested and was being held on remand based solely on the fact that he was wearing green shoes, in spite of the fact that students, faculty and the Thessaloniki Prefecture Council had testified to his character.

    "Imprisonment on remand cannot, finally, be used as a means of repression and for prosecuting the innocent. If the government is arrested those wearing green shoes, why doesn't it arrest Lakis Lazopoulos, who appears in them on television," Alavanos added.

    [40] La Trobe University NCHSR benefactors and sponsors honored

    MELBOURNE (ANA-MPA / S. Hatzimanolis)

    An event attended by 300 sponsors, benefactors and friends of Melbourne's La Trobe University National Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research (NCHSR) was held to honor all those distinguished for the assistance they offer to the centre.

    La Trobe University Rector Sylvia Walton praised the NCHSR stressing that it contributes greatly to the promotion of the education institute both in Australia and abroad. Rector Walton also praised the recent success by the NCHSR and the university's Centre for Linguistic Typology managing to win the largest research programme offered by the Australian government for the study of the Greek language.

    Addressing the event, Greece's consul general Christos Salamanis praised the NCHSR for its work and underlined the assistance offered by the Greek State.

    [41] Anna Papoulias photography exhibition to open in Stockholm

    An exhibition entitled "Children of Baghdad in 1999" by Greek photographer Anna Papoulia is to open at the Medelhavs Museum in Stockholm on June 13.

    It was organised by the museum and the Greek Embassy in Sweden, while both the museum's director and Greek Ambassador in Sweden Evangelos Karokis will be speaking at the opening, also to be attended by the photographer.

    The Medelhavs Museum is on Fredsgatan 2 in central Stockholm and the exhibition will run until September 23.

    [42] Heavy rains cause flooding in central Macedonia

    Heavy rains that fell early on Wednesday morning in central Macedonia caused extensive flooding and damages. The fire department was called out to pump water from flooded apartments and shops, while the floods also damaged the road network and to crops and fruit trees in the region.

    [43] Border guards arrest truck driver for transporting 42 illegal immigrants

    A 45-year-old truck driver was arrested at dawn on Wednesday for transporting 42 illegal immigrants.

    The driver, resident of Trikala, was arrested by the Kotyli Border Post Department at the 15th kilometer of the Xanthi-Kavala National Highway, northern Greece.

    The illegal immigrants who did not have in their possession travel documents, are nationals from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and are aged between 17 and 45.

    The truck driver and the illegal immigrants were led before the Xanthi Public Prosecutor.

    The border guards impounded the truck, a mobile phone and 630 euros which were in the driver's possession.


    [44] Greece beats Moldova 2-1 in European Championship qualifying match

    The Greek national soccer team beat Moldova 2-1 (halftime 1-0) in a Euro 2008 Championship Group C qualifying match played at the Pangritio Stadium in Crete on Wednesday night.

    Greece's goals were scored by Angelos Charisteas in the 31st minute and Nikos Liberopoulos 90+3.

    Viorel Frunza scored for Moldova in the 80th.

    Greece leads the group with 18 points in seven games.

    The other countries in Group C are Turkey, Bosnia, Norway, Hungary and Malta.

    Weather forecast

    [45] Rain on Thursday

    Rainy and stormy weather is forecast in most parts of Greece on Thursday, mainly in the afternoon on the mainland. Temperatures will range between 13C and 27C. Winds westerly, northwesterly, light to moderate. Scattered showers in Athens with temperatures ranging between 16C and 26C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 14C to 25C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [46] Cabinet decides to bring forward natural gas supply procedures


    The Cypriot government decided on Wednesday to invite tenders for the construction of a land unit to store liquefied natural gas and at the same time seek tenders for the supply of natural gas using floating methods for a period of five years, in order to better serve the country's economy and secure electricity for consumers at the lowest possible price.

    Speaking after a five-hour Council of Ministers meeting, Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said the Cabinet unanimously decided to bring forward the opening of tenders for the land terminal for the supply liquefied natural gas.

    He noted that the government's aim was to involve the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) in the whole process of procuring natural gas.

    Replying to questions, Palmas said the decisions were final and that the authority to decide on the matter was the Cabinet.

    ''The duty of the government is to secure the best possible benefits for every household and every citizen, and the Cypriot economy in general. In order for this to happen, the import of natural gas must take place the soonest possible with the lowest possible price. This is the aim of the government and today's unanimous decision fully guarantees, in our opinion, achieving this aim,'' he added.

    The Cabinet decision was taken after weeks of discussions among interested parties and following a public difference of opinion between EAC and the government, relating mainly to the cost of storing gas offshore for a limited period of time as opposed to storing gas in land terminals.

    [47] Russia welcomes Cyprus' decision to join Initiative against nuclear terrorism


    The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has welcomed a decision by the Republic of Cyprus to join the International Initiative to tackle nuclear terrorist acts, expressing certainty that Cyprus ''will have a great contribution in realising this initiative.''

    A press release by the Russian Ministry says Cyprus formally informed Russia and the USA, co-presidents of the International Initiative, that it accepts its relevant Statement of Principles and expresses hope that other states will join the Initiative.

    The common statement of the Presidents of the USA and Russia, George Bush and Vladimir Putin, who began the Initiative, was made at the G8 summit in July 2006 in Saint Petersburg.

    The letter of the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs, marking the decision of the Republic of Cyprus to join the Initiative, was handed to Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov by his Cypriot counterpart George Lillikas during the latter's visit to Moscow in April 2007.

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