|Friday, 16 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 12 June 2007 Issue No: 2616
 FM Dora Bakoyannis visits Ramallah, holds talks with Palestinian leadershipRAMALLAH (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held a series of meetings with the Palestinian leadership here on Monday afternoon. She initially met with Palestinian Authority Finance Minister Salem Fayyad, followed by meetings with the head of the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, while the Palestinian delegation headed by Abbas also hosted a luncheon for the foreign minister.
Bakoyannis had the opportunity of discussing issues concerning the Patriarchate during the luncheon, that was also attended by members of the Presidential Christian Affairs Committee.
Highlighting Greece's mediating role as a European Union member-strate, the foreign minister said that a "momentum" currently exists that must not be lost. The Arab Initiative, the "Quartet" initiative, meetings in the framework of the EU are aimed at a resumption of the peace process.
"I encouraged Mr. Abbas to continue meetings with (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Mr. Olmert," Bakoyannis said, stressing that dialogue is always the only reply to force.
Erekat termed the meeting between the Greek foreign minister and the Palestinian president as being "in-depth and productive."
Bakoyannis will be meeting on Monday night, before leaving for Damascus, with the Israeli government's vice president Shimon Peres, who might be elected president of the country by the Knesset in the days to come.
 Israel PM receives FM Bakoyannis; latter meets with Jerusalem PatriarchJERUSALEM (ANA-MPA/N. Melisova)
The Greek government on Monday again reiterated its support for Jerusalem Patriarch Theofilos III, with visiting Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis meeting the Patriarch here in person weeks after the Jordanian government abruptly said it was lifting its recognition of the pre-eminent Orthodox cleric in the Holy Land.
Bakoyannis' meeting with Theofilos comes on the heels of coordinated efforts by Athens to defuse the crisis that arose in relations between the venerable Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Amman government.
"On behalf of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the Greek government, as well as the entire Greek people, I would like to assure you that Greece is always a supporter of the Patriarchate's efforts," Bakoyannis said.
Theofilos, on his part, cited Athens' interest over the issue and its contribution towards keeping the Orthodox Christian places of worship operating, and not merely as monuments.
Earlier, Bakoyannis was received by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Talks centred on the current Middle East situation and prospects for peace in the region, with Greece's standing as a reliable and honest broker vis-à-vis all parties again reaffirmed, according to foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos.
 Jerusalem Patriarchate issues statementJERUSALEM (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)
The Jerusalem Patriarchate endorsed a statement late on Monday afternoon that refers to all issues for which the Jordanian government had objections towards the Patriarch and which had led to the recent decision by the Jordanian government to lift recognition.
Following this development, a Jordanian government spokesman termed the development "perticularly positive."
Positive developmenbts regarding the issue of the recognition of the Patriarchate by Jordan are expected, in the wake of this statement, in the days to come.
The development was preceded on Sunday night by continuous contacts and consultations by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, both with the Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Jordanian government and with Foreign Minister Abdelelah Al-Khatib in particular.
Bakoyannis will arrive in Jordan on Tuesday night for meetings with the country's civil leadership.
 US Under Secretary Burns focuses on Kosovo, Balkans in talks with Greek leadershipUS Undersecretary of State for political affairs Nicholas Burn on Monday pointed directly to the Kosovo issue, as well as the situation in the Balkans in general, as dominating his talks here with Greek leadership, as the State Department's "No. 3" diplomat reiterated that Washington is "anxious to have a resolution that would lead the way for (Kosovo's) independence".
Burns arrived in Athens for a whirlwind round of talks with Greek leadership, including Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and main opposition leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou, as he twice stressed that Washington considers Greece as both a "friend and ally".
Burns clarified that ongoing debate at the United Nations revolves around a possible resolution allowing for an interim period dedicated to negotiations, something he said has Washington's support on the condition that independence follows for the Serbian province. He added that 11 out of 15 UNSC members currently want a vote "now", while noting towards the end of his comments that Russia "is quite isolated" on the specific issue.
Burns added that Washington nevertheless agrees with a Russian demand for a special emissary for Serbian affairs in any future Kosovo regime, saying such a proposal is "normal".
Conversely, he said the US administration is against an "open-ended" arrangement without a specific deadline to move from a transitional period to independence.
"It's hard to know exactly how long this period will be, (French President Nicholas) Sarkozy's proposal had been six months, ours had been 120 days, which is in line with the Ahtisaari plan," he said, adding that the exact period is unimportant as long as there is an understanding that independence will come in the end. "We believe that the final outcome should be independence," he again stressed.
FYROM "name issue"
Regarding the nagging "name issue" still preventing a full normalisation of relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and its repercussions on FYROM's prospective NATO membership, Burns said:
"I think that it's too early to try to force the question on the name, NATO and all that, because there have been no invitations extended by NATO. Now, that could happen, or, it could not next year, depending on the pace of reform in (the Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia ... It's only then that this issue has to be decided upon. In the meantime, it makes more sense for us that the United States not interject itself publicly into something and make things difficult for either government.
"We'd much rather say 'it would be good to have direct contacts between the two governments'," he underlined, again reiterating Washington's support for UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz's mediation on the "name issue" between Athens and Skopje, in tandem with the US's volition, as he stressed, not to become an intermediary in this dispute.
Furthermore, he said Nimetz's efforts should be allowed to proceed so that a compromise may be found, while reminding, in answer to another press question, that Washington has officially only officially supported Croatia's bid to join NATO.
"We have not yet made that decision about Albania and (FYR) Macedonia," he said, citing US President George W. Bush's comment a day earlier in Tirana. Bush said "we hope" the two countries will join NATO as long as they meet criteria vis-à-vis the Alliance and proceed with necessary reforms.
Finally, on the same issue, Burns said a Bush administration decision in late 2004 to recognise FYROM as "Macedonia" was an effort by Washington to support the previously strife-plagued, land-locked country, a decision taken on a completely "bilateral" level.
Queried on the increasingly important domain of "energy politics" in Europe of late, and given that Greece's has recently made its presence felt on the regional energy map with separate oil and natgas pipeline deals -- the latter connecting Turkey with Greece and western Europe via an undersea pipeline to Italy -- Burns echoed standing US policy of avoiding dependence on one energy supplier, i.e. Russia.
"...it is more advantageous to have diversified energy sources and transit routes, pipeline routes...," Burns said, while clarifying that this issue was only brought up in general terms with Greek leadership over the past two days.
Asked if he requested a larger military presence by Greece in a NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, Burns said Washington is requesting more military trainers "in country" from NATO member-states, including Greece.
On a lighter note, the one-time US ambassador to Greece cited what he called the "extraordinary changes" he saw in terms of infrastructure in the Greek capital.
"I think Greece is at a great moment, as an outsider and as a philhellene; to me Greece is very successful, very stable, and a full member of the EU and NATO; it's a good time for Greece; it's a good time for the Greece-US relations," Burns said in prefacing his comments during a press briefing at the US ambassador's residence.
Burns' official talks in Athens coincide with an event on Monday evening at outgoing US ambassador Charles Ries' residence honouring the 60th anniversary of the influential Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of war-devastated Europe.
In a later statement referring to the US Undersecretary's visit in Athens, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said that "the Greek people and all the peoples of the Balkans should return the 'gifts' brought by George W. Bush to the Balkans and N. Burns to Greece," an announcement read.
The communist party also charged that Washington was attempting to create "protectorate statelets" in the Balkans with the pending independence of Kosovo, as well as the accession of more Balkan states to NATO, expansion of US bases and the Balkans' inclusion into the anti-missile shield, which means new and greater threats and dangers for peoples."
"The antagonism between the US, European Union (EU) and Russia for greater influence, penetration and control in the region does not only shape the ground for instability, tension and war to develop, but also has consequences on the entire life of the region's peoples. The imperialist organisation introduces new reactionary measures against the incomes and rights of the working people," the statement read.
 PM meets with US undersecretary of state BurnsPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with visiting US undersecretary of state for political affairs Nicholas Burns.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 Defence minister meets U.S. undersecretary Nicholas BurnsDefence Minister Vangelis Meimarakis met visiting US undersecretary of state for political affairs Nicholas Burns on Monday.
Their talks were expected to focus on the latest developments in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the expansion of the NATO alliance, with Meimarakis reiterating the standing Greek positions on these issues.
No statements were made after the meeting.
Burns also met with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.
 Prime minister confers with former PM MitsotakisPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with former prime minister and ruling New Democracy (ND) party honourary president Constantine Mitsotakis.
Asked by reporters after the meeting on whether there was US pressure for an immediate solution of the FYROM name issue, Mitsotakis said that "I don't understand what you are saying, nor have I perceived such pressure by the Americans".
"That which I want to say is that the country is now approaching elections. As for when they will take place, that will be decided by the prime minister," Mitsotakis added.
Queried whether elections would be called for September or October, Mitsotakis said he did not know, but reiterated that "when we enter the final half-year (before the expiration of the current four-year term in office), elections are no longer early elections", adding that "consequently, we are heading to elections, which will not be slowed down and cannot be slowed down beyond the four-year term".
The former premier said that ND was preparing itself, and would definitely win the elections, adding that "Mr. Papandreou (main opposition PASOK leader) is taking care to ensure the victory for us, with his extreme positions and street jargon".
"Unfortunately, the level of our political life has fallen very low. I, as an old politician, shudder when I hear that which is being said, when the main opposition leader comes out and says that a party with the history and contribution to the land such as ND became government in order to steal. This is no longer politics. This, even for a brothel or the streets, is foul-mouthed".
Mitsotakis opined that ND would form a self-sufficient government, stressing at the same time that the elections would not be held "with benefits as the slogan".
"There are no margins for benefits. These elections must be held under the slogan of the reforms. The necessary changes -- some were made during the first four-year term -- must be realised decisively and quickly in the next four years. Because ND must not suffer that whch was suffered by (preceding PASOK prime minister Costas) Simitis with the second four-year term,since it is our party and we care about it, but chiefly because the country has no more reserves. It is a one-way street. ND's second term in office must be successful and give solutions to the major problems," Mitsotakis said.
The former prime minister declined response to a question on what would happen in PASOK after the elections, saying that he does not make prophecies regarding the main opposition party.
 PM meets with former ND leader EvertPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with ruling New Democracy (ND) party former president Miltiades Evert.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 PM accepts invitation to attend climate change int'l conference in AthensPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with Andreas Papandreou Jr., son of the late main opposition PASOK party founder and former prime minister Andreas Papandreou.
Andreas Papandreou Jr. is a member of the organising committee of an International Conference on climate change and energy security that will be held in Athens on October 14.
Papandreou invited the prime minister to attend the conference, which will be held under the aegis of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, stressing that "the presence of all the institutional powers of the country is important on such a major issue'.
Papandreou told reporters after the meeting that Karamanlis accepted the invitation and would be attending the conference, adding that invitations would also be addressed to PASOK leader George Papandreou (his brother) and the other political parties.
 Roussopoulos on PM's visit to selected farms on SundayA visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to two farms over the weekend intended to demonstrate that farmers could find new, environmentally-friendly ways to farm viably and successfully, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Monday in response to questions.
"One unit that the prime minister visited yesterday began operating in 1974 and the other in 1992. What the prime minister intended to demonstrate through his visit to the two units was how farmers can switch to new crops, how they can become dynamic players outside the country and how they can produce products in new, environmentally-friendly ways," Roussopoulos said.
Questioned about the government's "respect for the environmental aspects of farming," Roussopoulos said that this was demonstrated by the difference in the money allocated for environment-linked actions.
As an example, he said that previous PASOK governments had only spent two million euros to combat denitrification in Thessaly's agricultural land, whereas the ruling New Democracy government had devoted 46 million euros to the same effort, benefiting the water table, agricultural lands and the quality of the crops produced.
 FinMin blasts PASOK leaderNational economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis launched a scathing attack Monday on main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, who "for many years has been the 'political pet' of the domestic and international establishment", and accusing the latter of "proceeding with slander against government members, without evidence".
"It is unallowable for Mr. Papandreou to be turning into a lsanderer", Alogoskoufis said, adding that "what bothers Mr. Papandreou is that the government is successfully tackling the problems accumulated under (the preceding governments of) PASOK".
 PASOK leader briefed on healthcare sectorMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, accompanied by members of his party's health sector department, including former labour minister Christos Protopapas, visited the Laiko state hospital in Athens on Monday, where he met with hospital administrators and the president of the employees union.
Papandreou was briefed on the problems faced by staff, saying afterwards that PASOK's goal was to put forward and "cure" problems in the health sector, and not to "sweep them under the rug".
He said he was aware of the problems in the National Healthcare System (ESY), many of which, he conceded, were rooted in the years of preceding PASOK governments.
"We have the political volition to support and modernise the national health system," Papandreou said, accusing the present government of a "flippant" handling of the health sector issues.
Papandreou outlined his party's platform for the health sector, and pledged to render the ESY strong and financially viable through an increase in public spending on health by 1 percentage point of GDP, implementation of a new policy of preventative care, year-round healthcare, introduction of electronic health cards, and an integrated system of social care and provision of effective and quality health services.
He further promised to introduce a new salary scale in the ESY, new working hours for doctors, and expansion of the afternoon outpatient services at the state hospitals.
Turning to the matter of hospital supplies, Papandreou said that for the past two years procurements have been made through direct assignment, resulting in profiteering at the expense of the citizens, and promised to establish a new procurements system that would be transparent and decentralised.
 Health and finance ministries respond to statements by PASOK leaderThe Health and Social Solidarity Ministry in an announcement on Monday evening responded to statements made by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou during his visit earlier in the day to Athens' "Laiko" Hospital.
"Yet again, Mr. Papandreou confesses and recognizes PASOK's great responsibilities for the situation which we found as government in the health sector. If, however, he was briefed, he would have known that the government is putting an end to the fragmented, disorderly, unsettled and corrupt situation which PASOK left us as a legacy, institutionalizing, with a new system of procurements, transparency, proper management and the saving of funds," the announcement said.
On its part, the Economy and Finance Ministry in an announcement on Monday evening responded to statements made by Papandreou of a "so-called dispute" between Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.
"Yet again, the leader of the main opposition party attempts to distort reality and slander, as he usually does recently, the government's policy. Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis fully supports the effort by Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos for the cleansing of the health sector from the many problems which were accumulated by the PASOK governments," the finance ministry announcement said.
 PASOK party spokesman on bonds issueMain opposition PASOK party spokesman Petros Efthymiou said on Monday that PASOK believes that the decision to have interest covered by the state "is a proof of the government's desperate effort to close in any way the bonds issue."
PASOK's spokesman spoke of a "grave double government responsibility. Firstly, for the looting of the social insurance funds and, secondly, for the effort to cover up the whole issue."
Efthymiou accused the government of, "instead of acting against those who deceived the funds with penal and civil suits, undertaking itself to pay interest, meaning that the insured will pay twice for what has been stolen."
The spokesman also accused the ruling New Democracy party in general of using "abusive and slanderous tactics and rhetoric in an effort to cultivate tension and polarisation in accordance with the traditions of the Right.
 Cabinet to discuss development ministry issues on TuesdayThe inner cabinet will convene on Tuesday morning with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in the chair to discuss issues concerning the development ministry.
Karamanlis is later scheduled to meet visiting Moldova President Vladimir Voronin, who will carry out an official visit to Greece on June 12-13.
 Alavanos meets visiting foreign officials, attacks KKECoalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) party president Alekos Alavanos on Monday had meetings with foreign government officials, including Venezuela's vice-minister for Europe Rodrigo Oswaldo Chaves Samudio and the Cuban ambassador in Athens Hermes Herrera.
Following his meeting with the Venezuelan minister, Alavanos said that events in Venezuela and other Latin American countries showed that the world can change and that "Bush's law is not the law of God".
He expressed his party's support for Venezuela's efforts to open "a road of development and social justice that will be useful for all the world, and to withstand pressures from the United States that, among others, wanted to restrict freedoms and democracy in that country".
Samudio said that "Latin America, the Caribbean and Venezuela are today rebuilding the road they had lost, rebuilding and rediscovering their historic memory, winning back the right to freedom and self-determination, winning back their independence".
Latin America was "emerging from a corner of isolation and exclusion in international relations," and opening new avenues of cooperation with the peoples and governments of Europe, Asia and Africa, he added.
During the meeting with Herrera, Alavanos expressed SYN's opposition to the U.S. embargo imposed on Cuba and exchanged views on developments in Latin America, as well as the course of Greek-Cuban relations.
SYN's leader also commented on domestic developments, accusing the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) of an obsessive emphasis on attacking his party:
"Unfortunately, for the current leadership of the KKE, their first concern is to attack the Coalition, their second concern is to attack the Coalition and their third is to attack the Coalition," he said.
"For us, the first concern is free access of young people to state universities, the second concern is open access to free beaches, the third is the right of young people to work and satisfactory pay," he added.
 KKE SG inaugurates 'Harilaos Florakis' educational centerCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Monday evening inaugurated the educational center "Harilaos Florakis", two years after the death of the KKE's honorary president and historic leader of the communist movement.
The educational center is housed at the home where Florakis lived at the Athens suburb of Halandri.
"With the operation of the center we honor the communist leader, the party's history and mainly we show the great importance of scientific research regarding the history of the labor movement and the general history of the popular struggles in our country," Papariga said in her speech.
 Moldovan president to be honored by City of Athens on TuesdayVisiting Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin will be honored by the City of Athens and Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Tuesday with the Gold Medal of Merit, during a ceremony at City Hall.
 Greece closes in gap with EU on per capita GDPGreece is reducing a gap with the European Union on per capita Gross Domestic Product, as with an average growth rate of 4.2 pct in the period 2002-2006 the country was included among EU member-states nearing convergence with the average community rate, although Greece significantly lagged behind foreign investment inflows and combating corruption, Constantinos Aivalis, ICAP's Economic Environment Studies' director, said on Monday, presenting the annual competitiveness report for 2006 in Thessaloniki.
The presentation was made in the presence of Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou.
"The report will be studied," Sioufas said, adding that the report expressed views.
"It does not express the government, nor the Development ministry, it is a useful development tool," he noted.
The report said that productivity growth rates in Greece were higher compared with community rates (Greek productivity totaled 99.3 pct of average EU-25 with the country ranking 13rd among 25 countries). Employment grew to 60.1 pct last year from 59.4 pct in 2005, with a prospect of rising by 1.8 pct annually in the next two years. The Finance ministry expects the employment rate to reach 62.5 pct in 2008 with a realistic goal of 64.1 pct by 2010.
Greece ranked at the bottom of a rating in the transparency-corruption sector in the EU-15, while in the EU-25 was one notch higher leaving Poland at the bottom.
In the economic-business environment ranking, Greece remained at very low places (17th in anti-monopoly policies and 23rd in state efficiency).
The country's situation was improving in the private investments sector (third in the EU-15), in public investments (second in the EU-15 and fourth in the EU-25).
In the foreign direct investments category, the report said "a weak development of inflows directly reflected a lack of competitiveness and attractiveness of the Greek economy".
Greece was also at the bottom of the EU-15 in administrative procedures and the number of days required to set up new businesses, administrative costs and minimum required capital.
Spyros Makrydakis, head of an Experts' Commission, urged for measures to combat bureaucracy and corruption in public administration. Makrydakis also urged for actions to reduce informal economy, improving the credibility of public administration and the competitiveness of existing enterprises. Exploiting venture capital activities and improving the quality of education, reducing unemployment among young people, boosting research and innovation and deregulating closed markets.
Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou noted that significant progress was made in 26 out of the 38 actions urged by the Experts' Commission in its last year's report.
Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Greek Industries and Enterprises (SEB) reiterated his call that all competitiveness reports to be studied by state and private sector agencies before the beginning of talks.
 Greek FinMin on flexibility, security in labour marketNational economies must monitor developments in international economy and that not only needs efforts but the widest possible social consensus through an exhaustive dialogue, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday.
Addressing a seminar organized by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce on structural unemployment, employment trends and flexibility and security in labour, the Greek minister said Greece could become a similar to Ireland in Southeastern Europe and reminded that the economy has become more export-oriented with Greek enterprises playing a decisive role in the development of the wider region. "Our country has the ability to become a financial, commercial, educational and cultural centre of the wider region," he noted.
Commenting on the flexibility and security in labour, Alogoskoufis said the labour market has to balance between the European social model and policies followed by emerging economies and called for a safety net to protect workers without undermining investments.
 Permanent jobs for 600 contract personnel at Olympic Airlines decidedBy decision of the Transport and Communications Ministry on Monday, more than 600 contract personnel at Olympic Airlines will be granted permanent jobs.
A meeting was held on Monday between the board of the Federation of Civil Aviation Associations (OSPA) and Transport Ministry Secretary General Mr. Stavropoulos and the latter announced the government's political decision to proceed in the permanency of 609 contract personnel.
According to OSPA, the whole procedure is expected to be concluded by early July.
 Tourism minister on Athens becoming leading international tourist destinationTourist Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia attended an event organised by the Athens municiplaity on Monday night, in the framework of the "City Break Expo 2007" exhibition and the annual conference of the European Cities Tourism Network, and stressed that making Athens a leading tourist option, speeding up the creation of new infrastructures, is a goal.
The minister said that in past years Athens has succeeded in dynamically entering the group of major European capitals that are claiming an ever-increasing share of visitors.
"The capital is characterised today by new self-confidence," she said, adding that "promoting the capital to a tourist destination of an international calibre is a priority of tourist policy. Our decision to proceed with the reshaping of the sea front from Mikrolimano to Varkiza, to a pedestrian and bicycle street 42 kilometres long, is moving precisely in this direction."
Petralia finally stressed that "we are currently shaping the terms and preconditions for making Athens a 12-month first-option tourist destination for visitors of an average and higher financial level, as well as promoting the differentiation of the tourist product through the development of all the modern and popular forms of tourism."
 Deputy FM Stylianidis on upcoming Thessaloniki Int'l Trade FairDeputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and HELEXPO president Aristotelis Thomopoulos on Monday evening in Athens presented to representatives of foreign missions the upcoming 72nd Thessaloniki International Trade Fair in September.
The main slogan of the special event was "One world, one market".
In his speech, the deputy foreign minister made particular reference to the importance of the Thessaloniki trade fair, underlining that "this constitutes an important centre of economic cooperation."
Particularly about Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, he noted that "it is a commercial, transition, exhibition, and education centre of the broader region of southeast Europe."
Referring to the achievements of the government's policy in economic diplomacy, he presented a series of data which confirm Greece's extroversion.
Specifically, in 2004, exports increased by 9%, in 2005 by 14% and in 2006 by 18%. He expects a greater increase in 2007.
 Foreign investors raised participation in ASE to 50.23 pct in MayForeign investors raised their participation in the Athens Stock Exchange in May to 50.23 percent, owning stock shares worth 94.6 billion euros, official figures said on Monday.
A monthly report by the Central Depository said that foreign investors raised their positions in the Big Cap index to 54.63 percent in May from 54.11 pct in April, in the Mid Cap index to 41.25 pct from 40.38 pct and in the Small Cap index to 14.22 pct from 13.36 pct over the same period, respectively.
Foreign investment capital inflows totaled 470.94 million euros in May, for a total of 4.115 billion euros in the first five months of 2007.
On the other hand, Greek investors were sellers in May, with outflows totaling 514.58 million euros, of which 339.84 million were from private investors, 96.56 million institutional investors and 43.22 million euros financial institutions. Greek investors' capital outflows totals 4.71 billion euros in the first five months of the year.
Turnover in the Athens Stock Exchange totaled 8.196 billion euros in May, up 7.5 pct from April, but down 18 pct from May 2006, while average daily turnover totaled 390.29 million euros in the month and 434.75 million euros in the five month period.
Active members' codes totaled 100,918 in May, unchanged from April, but down 13 pct from May 2006.
The Greek stock market's capitalisation totaled 180.855 billion euros in May, up 3.6 pct from April.
 J&P-AVAX purchases 47.37 pc stake in Athina ATE companyJ&P-AVAX has purchased 23,324,453 shares of the Athina ATE company, from shareholders and members of Athina, for 1.67 euros per share and a total sum of 38,951,837 euros in cash, obtaining a 47.37 percent stake in its share capital.
As a result of the deal, J&P-AVAX is obliged, according to the mandates of legislation, to make a compulsory public proposal for the buyout of all shares of the Athina company within the legal time duration.
According to a relevant announcement, the deal is an important strategic development for J&P-AVAX and Athina in the wider development framework of the construction sector in Greece.
 Greek bond yields rose in MayGreek bond yields rose in May, mainly in short-term securities, following a similar trend in Eurozone markets reflecting investors' expectations of a new interest rate increase by the European Central Bank, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
In a monthly report, the central bank said the three-year benchmark bond's yield jumped 21 basis points to 4.44 pct at the end of May, from 4.23 pct a month earlier, while the 30-year benchmark bond yield rose by 12 bps to 4.84 pct from 4.71 pct over the same period, respectively. The 10-year benchmark bond yield rose by around 16 bps to 4.60 pct at the end of May, from 4.45 pct a month earlier, while the average monthly yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 23 bps in May from 24 bps in April.
The Greek state issued a syndicated 15-year bond offering a coupon of 4.70 pct. The yield rose to 4.76 pct by the end of May.
Benchmark bond prices fell by 33 to 200 bps in May, with the 30-year bond price ending at 95.99 points, from 97.99 in April, while the 10-year bond price eased to 97.49 from 98.73 over the same period, respectively. The three-year bond price fell by 33 bps to 97.99 in May 31, from 98.32 in April 30.
Turnover the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 56.56 billion euros in May, from 59.98 billion in April and 51.10 billion euros in May 2006, while average daily turnover was 2.69 billion euros, from 3.10 billion euros in April.
Investment interest focused on bonds with a maturity between seven to 15 years, which accounted for 32.49 billion euros or 57 pt of total turnover in May. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 20 billion euros.
 EIB approves 20-mln-euro loan to the city of KozaniThe European Investment Bank (EIB) on Monday approved a 20-mln-euro loan to the municipality of Kozani. The money will be used to fund small and medium-sized infrastructure projects in the city in view of increased demographic pressures and the need to financially develop the city.
Gerlando Genuardi, EIB's vice-president, in a statement said: "EIB offers a loan to a Greek municipality organisation for the first time, for a pioneer project. The project will further enhance the city's role as a hub city in Southeastern Europe."
 Conversion of specific duration contracts into indefinite unconstitutionalThe Supreme Court Plenum ruled with two decisions that according to constitutional clauses regarding the public and wider public sector, the conversion of contracts of a specific duration into contracts of an indefinite duration is forbidden, as well as those concerning project contracts into indefinite duration ones, even if those employed cover permanent and continuous needs of a business.
According to the Supreme Court Plenum, the granting of permanent status to contract employees also violates the constitutional mandates concerning equality and of providing equal work opportunities for all citizens, since exceptions and distinctions are introduced, without them being necessitated by reasons of social or public interest.
 International Forum on fisheriesThe present and future of fisheries is preoccupying about 150 scientists from Greece and foreign countries who are participating in the two-day international Forum being organised by the Patra Scientific Park.
An address was made on Monday by the Industry Secretary General of the development ministry Spyros Papadopoulos, who stressed that "fisheries are now among our main export activities with an annual turnover amounting to about 350 million euros."
Referring to the Forum, he said that "it aims at contributing to the further development of fisheries at local and national level, through the proposals that will cover the entire spectrum of research and innovation and of the most modern methods of technology in fisheries."
Papadopoulos also said that "Greek and European businesses will utilise the EU EUREKA programme, the 7th framework programme and the future technology platform for fisheries that gives many and unique opportunities for the local and the national economy and for an impetus to be provided for the implementation of innovations to enable the competitiveness of Greek fisheries to improve."
Other proposals made during the Forum stressed that fish production by fisheries is blossoming and has a great deal to contribute towards tackling the problem of food on an international level.
The Forum's work will continue and come to an end on Tuesday.
 Greek wholesale turnover index up 14.5 pct in Q1, yr/yrThe Greek wholesale turnover index jumped by 14.5 pct in the first quarter of 2007, compared with the same period in 2006, sharply up from a 7.9 pct rise recorded in the January-March period 2006, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the wholesale turnover was up 0.5 pct in the first three months of 2007 from the fourth quarter in 2006, after a decline of 3.4 pct in the correspondig period last year.
 Greek stocks end 0.34 pct higher on MondayGreek stocks ended higher on Monday, recovering more ground from last week's heavy losses. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange rose 0.34 pct to end at 4,867.35 points with turnover a moderate 324.4 million euros.
Sector indices moved up, with the Utilities (3.06 pct), Chemicals (1.62 pct) and Insurance (1.49 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Travel (2.08 pct), Technology (0.29 pct) and Oil (0.16 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.04 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.64 pct higher and the Small Cap index was up 0.99 pct.
Mohlos (20.0 pct), Progressive (18.97 pct) and Nexans (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while Elviemek (7.89 pct), Zampa (4.97 pct) and Ikona-Ihos (4.84 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 194 to 78 with another 33 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.16%
Personal & Household: +1.48%
Raw Materials: +0.54%
Travel & Leisure: -2.08%
Food & Beverages: +0.18%
Financial Services: +0.14%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Athina, National Bank, Alpha Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.16
Public Power Corp (PPC): 21.44
HBC Coca Cola: 32.96
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.24
Emporiki Bank: 21.02
National Bank of Greece: 41.94
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.20
Titan Cement Company: 43.96
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices saw their discount shrink significantly in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover an improved 264.111 million euros.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.25 pct, while on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.04 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 16,072 contracts worth 207.071 million euros, with 42,239 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 511 contracts worth 15.897 million euros, with 1,236 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 28,325 contracts worth 41.142 million euros, with investment interest focusing on ATEbank's contracts (4,065) followed by Hellenic Telecoms (783), Emporiki Bank (441), OPAP (370), Piraeus Bank (1,426), National Bank (1,810), Alpha Bank (2,493), Intracom (2,418), PPC (2,994), GEK (1,249), Attica Bank (1,320) and Hellenic Petroleum (1,417).
 World Congress of Greek Gastronomy held in Crete, SantoriniThe 2nd World congress of Greek Gastronomy and Partenariat of the Food Industry-Spirits-Beverages was organized by the Greek Exports Organization at Iraklio, Crete and Santorini from June 8-10.
It was the greatest meeting of buyers and producers of Greek food, spirits and beverages ever held in Greece.
Greek produce was the focus of interest by 230 foreign buyers from all over the world, enabling 154 Greek producers to exhibit their products and reach important agreements.
The congress, which was organized under the auspices of the Economy and Finance Ministry and the Development Ministry, was inaugurated by Economy and Finance Ministry secretary general Yiannis Spyropoulos and Development Ministry special secretary Spyros Efstathopoulos.
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.368 billion euros on Monday, of which 1.081 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.287 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017), was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 415 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.20 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.76 pct and the German Bund 4.56 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate fell to 3.80 pct from 3.85 pct on Friday, the two-day rate rose to 3.80 pct from 3.75 pct, the one-month rate rose to 4.10 pct from 4.09 pct and the 12-month rate was 4.49 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.346
Pound sterling 0.683
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 9.411
Japanese yen 163.85
Swiss franc 1.666
Norwegian kroner 8.184
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.429
Australian dollar 1.597
 Cooperation memorandum between Greek State and 'Stavros Niarchos' Foundation signedA memorandum of cooperation between the Greek State and the "Stavros Niarchos" Foundation was co-signed through a tele-conference on Monday, by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and foundation representatives Andreas Drakopoulos and Spyros Niarchos.
The memorandum foresees the realisation of three major works: of the National Library of Greece, the National Opera and the Cultural and Educational Park, in an expanse of 50 acres, ownership of the Greek State, at Delta Faliro, Piraeus.
The foundation will build and equip these new installations and the budget comes to 300 million euros.
"It's a great project which will operate as a modern centre of education and culture. It's a project which is added to the lengthy contribution to our country by the 'Stavros S. Niarchos' foundation. A project which shows that the lengthy traditional contribution of prominent Greek benefactors is continuing, of people who gave and give the surplus of their creative action for the collective good. I hope soon to have even the greater joy to sign the relevant contract for the start of the counstruction of the project," Prime Minister Karamanlis said after the signing of the memorandum.
The foundation's intention to finance the project in its entirety was manifested on March 16, 2006, during a meeting between its consultant committee of the foundation with the prime minister.
 International Constitutional Law conference opens in AthensThe 7th World Congress of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) opened at the Zappion Building in Athens on Monday, with several government ministers and officials attending. The conference was organised and hosted by the Greek Constitutional Law Union, under the aegis of the interior ministry, and will continue until June 15.
Opening remarks were made by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, followed by Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, Deputy Employment Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos, PASOK MP and constitutional law expert Evangelos Venizelos, Parliament Vice-President George Sourlas, speaking on behalf of Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, and Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Pavlopoulos declared the start of the conference and thanked the IACL for choosing to hold its conference in Athens. During his address, the minister stressed that "there are and should be no borders, as long as Constitutions return to their roots: the protection of human rights," while calling for international cooperation and organisation to deal with the threats to human rights, which he described as "subcutaneous, stronger and more dangerous".
He also expressed hope that the meeting in Athens would be a basis for promoting the EU Constitutional Treaty and the starting point for debate on a global level.
 Defence minister, Tufts professor discuss possible cooperationGreek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Monday met Dr. Robert Pfaltzgraff, Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies at the Fletcher School, Tufts University in Boston, and discussed prospective cooperation between the defence ministry's Institute for Defence Analysis and the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis in Washington.
Dr. Pfaltzgraff was accompanied by the holder of the Constantine Karamanlis chair at the Fletcher School, Dimitrios Kairidis, and the vice-president of the Constantine Karamanlis Foundation Achilleas Karamanlis.
 Survey shows patchy penetration of new technologies in public sectorThe penetration of new technologies in Greece's public sector was deficient in several areas, according to a survey on new technologies and electronic government released by the Society of Information Observatory on Monday.
This showed that 53 percent of public sector bodies in central government had e-mail and 60 percent possessed an electronic protocol, but only 17 percent possessed some form of work flow or content management application.
Regarding the existing systems, 77.7 percent did not have maintenance contracts and only 1.68 percent had service-level agreements.
Problems were more acute in local government, where the majority of bodies are equipped with autonomous applications and ready-made commercial packages covering basic office automation functions, e-mail and protocol, financial and administrative tools and technical studies. Many prefectures are using outdated technologies, while the smaller municipalities and communities have major deficits in vital functions, such as the males' register, births, deaths and marriages register and the citizens' roll.
Regarding the level of IT skills among public-sector staff, the report showed that 92 percent of employees in central government have access to a computer supplied by the service but only one in three (37 percent) have a computer skills certificate or a work e-mail (35 percent).
In local government, 97.6 percent have access to a computer at work, 65.71 percent have an e-mail in regional authorities, 40.12 percent in prefectures and just 35.31 percent in municipalities and communities. Only 28.2 percent of local government staff have a computer skills certificate.
In terms of e-governance, Greece offered eight out of 20 basic public-sector e-services agreed and assessed annually by the EU member-states by the end of 2006, or 40 percent, placing it near the EU average. However, only 8 percent of the general public uses the Internet for transactions with the public sector, compared with 71 percent of businesses with 10-plus employees.
In local government, none of the regional authorities provided electronic services to the public and businesses, while only 14 out of the 51 prefectures (27.45 percent) and 18.29 percent of municipalities provided e-services.
The writers of the survey, which was conducted between November 2006 and April 2007, predicted that the existing situation will improve dramatically as a result of major IT and communications project that are currently underway, such as the National Public Administration Portal (ERMHS), the National Public Administration Network 'Syzeuxis', the National System for Electronic Public Procurements and the Integrated Regional Information System, as well as the further development of broadband.
 Crime levels low in Greece, Polydoras stresses in response to reportGreek Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras on Monday stressed that levels of serious crime in Greece were one of the lowest throughout the European Union. He made the comment in response to a Europe-wide survey showing that 49 percent of Greeks feared they would fall victim to a threft or a robbery, as opposed to 30 percent among EU residents on average.
"The level of security in Greece is very good, perhaps better than in Europe, as the statistics show," Polydoras underlined. He pointed out that Greece ranked 23rd among the 25 EU member-states for the incidence of serious crimes, indicating that it did not have a serious crime problem.
He also stressed that this was not an achievement restricted to the present government but applied to a "continuum of government terms".
Polydoras made the statements during an event for the signature of a memorandum between the Greek Police security studies centre and the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York, under which five police officers will attend the college for training in security issues and the handling of criminal cases.
 Minister of State addresses Aristotelio College graduation ceremonyMinister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos addressed the graduation ceremony of the Aristotelio College in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Monday.
Addressing the young students who were graduating, Roussopoulos called on them "not to be satisfied with the few and the mediocre, but to seek what is more and better."
Referring to education, the minister said that it "must not be downgraded to a purely usefulness-seeking education."
"I personally do not belong to those who believe that there is some sort of dilemma between the goals that education must serve. I do not believe that either useful citizens or qualified professionals will graduate from our schools. These two go together," he said.
 Thessaloniki hosts int'l symposium on viable growth in European citiesThe Development Ministry's Special Secretary for Competitieness, Spyros Efstathopoulos, on Monday addressed the 2nd International Symposium of the Commerce and Industry Chamber of Thessaloniki on viable development in modern European cities.
It was ascertained at the symposium that the transport infrastructure strengthens economic growth, while on the contrary, traffic problems have adverse effects on business.
Efstathopoulos stressed in his speech that "viable growth prerequisites an innovative manner of management, partnership and social responsibility, the combating of corruption and the maintenance of healthy competition."
 Archbishop Christodoulos to undergo surgeryThe president of Athens' Areteio Hospital, Christodoulos Stefanidis, on Monday announced that Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, who was admitted to the hospital for treatment on Sunday, will have to undergo intestinal surgery after undergoing medical tests.
Earlier on Monday, the archbishop was visited by ruling New Democracy (ND) honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis and by many clerics.
 Explosive device causes extensive damage at prison in Nigrita, SerresPolice on Monday night announced that a powerful explosion which occurred at the new prison in Nigrita, Serres late on Sunday night in the administrative building that was under construction, was caused by an explosive device. Police have cordoned off the prison and surrounding area since Sunday night.
Investigations showed that the unidentified culprits carried the explosive device in a pot which they placed at a central corridor of the under construction administrative building and activated it with an as yet unknown process.
The blast caused extensive material damage and the destruction of plumbing and electrical installations.
 Sunny on TuesdaySunny weather is forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with the possibility of scattered showers in the mountainous regions of central Macedonia, Thrace, western and central Greece and the eastern Peloponnese. Temperatures will range between 14C and 34C. Winds westerly, northwesterly, light to moderate. Mostly fair in Athens with temperatures ranging between 17C and 33C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 17C to 31C.
 Maltese President urges Turkey to fulfill its EU obligationsNICOSIA/ANA-MPA (CNA)
The government of Malta favors Turkey's accession to the European Union, provided that Ankara fulfills all commitments towards the EU, including the ones regarding the Republic of Cyprus, President of Malta Edward Fenech-Adami said here Monday.
"Malta has always been saying that it would be favorable for Turkey to join the EU, provided of course that Turkey lives up to all its commitments", the President of Malta said after official talks with President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos.
The Maltese president arrived here on Sunday for a three day official visit at the invitation of President Papadopoulos.
In his statements after the meeting, the Cypriot president said that during talks they discussed various issues including the Cyprus problem and EU regulations regarding Cyprus, the European Treaty, the initiative of Malta for a European-Arab Forum, ways to promote candidacies of Malta and Cyprus in international fora, as well as energy and immigration issues.
"We also spoke about a very important problem which both our countries face, namely immigration and asylum seekers", President Papadopoulos stressed.
Both presidents praised the excellent bilateral relations and said that in political matters Malta and Cyprus support and understand each other.
They also spoke about investment opportunities between Maltese and Cypriot businessmen and urged for investment in third countries.
"We feel at home here in Cyprus for many reasons. We share cultural ties, we watched each other on our steps in joining the EU. Cooperation in political issues is very close and we have been talking on all major issues and getting mutual support", the Maltese president noted.
He expressed the view that new ways of enhancing their bilateral relations should be explored and said that the business delegation accompanying him to Cyprus would hold meetings with Cypriot entepreuneurs with the aim to explore the possibility of joint ventures in their respective countries as well as in third countries.
Invited to comment on Turkey's European course and its EU obligations regarding Cyprus, the Maltese president called on Turkey to live up to all its commitments and added "the situation right now is very, very difficult indeed but I think that should be the way forward and that is the position of the Maltese government."
The Cypriot president noted the historical and economic similarities between Malta and Cyprus and said that both countries have had parallel courses towards the EU and now towards the eurozone.
President Papadopoulos said that there is still great room for increasing commercial, and financial cooperation and urged Cypriot businessmen to "see the benefit of having joint ventures and expanded economic commercial and trade relations with Malta".
"We always had very close cooperation, we feel very close to Malta and we know that these feelings are reciprocated by the Maltese government and people", the Cypriot president concluded.
The President of Malta wraps up his official visit on Tuesday.
The Republic of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Cyprus, Malta and eight other countries became full members of the EU in May 2004.
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