|Sunday, 18 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 20 June 2007 Issue No: 2623
 Inner cabinet discusses draft law to combat tax evasionAn inner cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, on Tuesday discussed a draft legislation aimed to combatting tax evasion in the country.
Presenting the draft bill, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the new law was based on efforts made in the last three years to combat tax evasion and noted that it was moving on three axis.
The first, calls for the expansion and strengthening of efforts to change the views of both taxpayers and tax authorities on tax evasion.
The second, calls for measures to boost efficiency and performance of tax inspections, based on greater transparency, and the third calls for measures to offer incentives to taxpayers.
"We offer incentives for some selected categories of spending, but not for all categories. This is obvious. This law will lead us to much better results to better fund the social state and to achieve greater tax justice," Alogoskoufis said.
The Greek minister said he would present the draft bill in detail over the next few weeks.
 Opposition parties on tax evasion billThe main opposition PASOK party and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party on Tuesday commented on announcements made by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on the tax evasion bill being prepared.
"With a three-year delay, the New Democracy government is discovering the necessity of handling tax evasion. The announcements by Mr. Alogoskoufis on the upcoming bill constitutes an admission of failure, as well as of mockery by a government that with its practices has 'turned a blind eye' to tax evaders," said PASOK's economy and finance sector rapporteur Vasso Papandreou.
The Coalition party's Political Bureau member and economic and social policy rapporteur Panayiotis Lafazanis said on his part that "the New Democracy government is the last that can speak reliably of cracking down on tax evasion and taxation justice, since for over three years now it has worsened with its policy the country's already unfair, class-oriented and complicated taxation system and has proceeded with repeated favourable tax arrangements for big economic interests and the big debtors of the state-run sector."
 KKE criticises tax evasion billThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday criticised the government's bill on handling tax evasion, terming it elusive.
"The New Democracy (ND) party government, continuing the course of PASOK (governments), has proved that it favours profits and tax breaks for capital. It decreased even further the tax rate for companies' profits from 35 percent to 25 percent at a time when it increased VAT by 1 percent and gave new incentives and subsidisations for capital," the announcement said.
"Working people and the low and middle working classes must draw conclusions. They must reject the policy of ND and of PASOK entirely. They must counterattack with a strong KKE to intercept the looting of their income by the plutocracy and its governments," KKE's announcement added.
 Greek, Serbian FMs on Kosovo, bilateral tiesGreece's steadfast desire for necessary international consensus be achieved for a new UN Security Council resolution that will fully legitimise the settlement of the Kosovo issue, "a settlement that must be made without winners and losers but will take into consideration the interests and concerns of all the sides, thus creating regional security", was reiterated in Athens on Tuesday during a meeting between the Greek and Serbian foreign ministers.
Greek FM Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday made the statement during a meeting with her Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic, who is on an official visit to Athens.
She stressed that, at this stage, it was absolutely necessary that prudence and responsibility be shown by everyone, and that unilateral actions that could threaten and prejudice the outcome of the political procedure and destabilise the region be avoided.
Greece, she continued, remained devoted "to the idea of a multi-cultural Kosovo, without entrenchments and divisions, in which human and minority rights will be effectively protected". She also expressed hope that "we will see this idea being realised in the framework of the region's European prospect".
Regarding the development of the negotiations on determining Kosovo's future status, Bakoyannis noted that "if the two sides wish to discuss, they should be given that opportunity".
Bakoyannis noted the "high level" in Greek-Serbian bilateral relations, and stressed Athens' support for Serbia's course to the European Union and NATO, while she also expressed satisfaction at the reopening of EU talks with Serbia last week on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, adding a hope that Serbia will soon be designated as a candidate country for EU accession.
Jeremic, who recently assumed the post of foreign minister, expressed his country's appreciation for Greece's backing of Serbia's Euro-Atlantic prospects, calling Greece a "key" country in the Balkans, while adding that Athens' voice should be the strongest when Balkan issues are being discussed.
Regarding Kosovo, Jeremic reiterated Belgrade's position that "independence cannot be accepted", and stressed that the Serbian side was willing to continue dialogue and to compromise, given that "only through dialogue can a compromise be achieved, and only through compromise can stability be achieved in the region".
Jeremic warned that any unilateral solution would have destabilising effects, stressing that "any compromise is preferable to an imposed solution".
He clarified again, however, that Serbia is determined not to make concessions on issues of territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Jeremic was later received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, and also met with Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis.
 Deputy FM, Serbian FM discuss economic, developmental cooperationDeputy foreign minister Evripides Stylianidis met Tuesday with visiting Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic, with whom he discussed bilateral economic and developmental cooperation, while the high level of cooperation between the two countries in the context of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation was also ascertained.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Stylianidis noted the substantial progress achieved in the past three years in the Greek Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (GPERB) and in the construction of Axis 10, which is co-financed by Greece with 150 million euro.
Stylianides described as a "significant step" the "fact that the Serbian government, following negotiations with us, signed an agreement with Egnatia S.A., which it hired as its technical consultant in preparing the tender for the project", opining that "in the coming period there will be significant progress, which will contribute towards the big visions beginning to become reality".
The deputy minister further referred to the financing of the SEELight programme, which will enable the link-up of Greek universities with universities in the Balkans, including the University of Belgrade, with fibre optic cables.
The programme "enables the universities to exchange study programmes, conduct joint research, introduce applied tele-education at a low cost, and the rapprochement of the academic communities, so that European knowhow may be transferred by Greece to Serbia and the other Balkan countries more quickly and efficiently," Stylianidis said.
Regarding Greek investments in Serbia, Stylianidis said they were currently at two billion euros and rising, while he also noted that 10 percent of the subsidies under the GPERB had already been advanced. "In the last few years, 4 percent has been absorbed, but we mobilised the business and investment communities of the two countries so as to intensify the cooperation and proceed with (joint venture) set-ups that can seek funds and contribute to the growth of the economies of both countries," he added.
 FM Bakoyannis on Greek-Serbian economic relationsForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Tuesday that the agreement on the avoidance of double taxation between Greece and Serbia will provide a new impetus for bilateral trade between the two countries and will contribute to the further strengthening of their economic relations.
Bakoyannis said in an address at the meeting between members of the Greece-Serbia Business Council, during a meeting in the morning with Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, that it was agreed for negotiations between the two countries to be resumed to achieve an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation.
The Greek foreign minister stressed in her address that Greece is the top foreign investor in Serbia. The total amount of Greek capital invested exceeds 2.1 billion euros since 1996. A total of 270 Greek-Serb and purely Greek businesses are currently operating in Serbia that have created 25,000 jobs.
The volume of trade between the two countries has been increasing since 2001, exceeding 400 million dollars last year.
"The messages for the future appear to be even more optimistic, also following the agreement on the free trade zone that covers the Balkans in their entirety," the foreign minister said.
The low tax rates enjoyed by investors in Serbia, as well as the promotion of a modern institutional framework on investments constitute, according to Jeremic, good reasons for attracting foreign investments.
The minister said in his address that the agreement between Greece and Serbia on the avoidance of double taxation is expected to strengthen economic and business relations between the two countries even further.
Jeremic also referred to the considerable presence of Greek investors in Serbia in such sectors as banks, construction and telecommunications and appealed to the Greek business community to make investments in Serbia.
Lastly, he pointed to the important role played by the Greece-Serbia Business Council, adding that its activities contribute to the strengthening of business relations between the two countries.
 Sioufas, Serbian FM discuss energy cooperationVisiting Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic on Tuesday met here with Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas for talks focusing squarely on energy sector cooperation, as the latter holds the energy portfolio in the Greek government.
Afterwards, Sioufas noted that Athens has proposed the signing of a bilateral agreement in the energy sector. He also noted that Greece is first in terms of foreign investment in Serbia, reaching two billion euros, with room for improvement in bilateral trade ties.
On his part, Jeremic referred to the excellent relations between Athens and Belgrade, stressing that margins for improvement also exist. He also referred to efforts at stabilising the Balkans and to the traditionally friendly ties between the Greek and Serbian peoples.
 Greece's new permanent envoy to the UN presents his credentials to SG Ban Ki-moonNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece's new permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador John Mourikis, presented his credentials on Monday to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, to whom he also outlined Greece's positions on the FYROM name issue and the Cyprus problem.
Ambassador Mourikis told reporters afterwards that: "I must admit that I took advantage of the occasion to refer to the Skopje name issue. I told him, and I believe that the Secretary General understood, that we have done more than our share, having entered into dialogue with Skopje with all good intentions. But the moves should not be made only by the one side, steps must also be made by the other side as well, so that a mutually acceptable solution may be found."
"This needs to be completely understood, because no Greek government, nor parliament or the Greek people, will accept a back-down on this issue. I believe that this was absolutely understood on the part of the Secretary General, who replied that he knows the issue well. And I told him that since he knows it, that he too could help, since these talks are taking place uder the ausices of the Secretary General of the United Nations," Mourikis said.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, the new Greek envoy to the UN said that he thanked the Secretary General "on the passing of the resolution for a six-month extension of the Peace-Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which satisfied both Nicosia and Athens".
Also present at the credentials ceremony was UN undersecretary-general for management Alicia Barcena Ibarra.
Mourikis also paid a courtesy call later on Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America, with whom he discussed matters concerning the Greek community in the US, and Greece.
"I considered it my obligation, immediately after the presentation of my credentials to the Secretary General of the United Nations, to visit the prelate of the Holy Archdiocese of America. It was my duty and my honour," Mourikis said, adding that although the visit was purely a courtesy call, "we had the opportunity to discuss interesting matters, beginning with the more humane ones".
Archbishop Demetrios welcomed Greece's new permanent representative to the Un with warm words, noting that "he belongs to a family with a glorious history, and not an incidental history, which he is carrying on in a wonderful way. He succeeds an eminent diplomat whom we had for years at the United Nations, Mr. Adamantios Vassilakis, but also comes with great experience, as he has served in important, key positions and in addition has special bonds with American. Consequently, he is very familiar with this environment".
The Archbishop said the visit was a courtesy call, but also a very human one, "in the sense that we had the opportunity, almost from the first minute, to establish an atmosphere of dialogue and communication that is very substantial and warm".
"I thanked him particularly for this, and for honouring us with his first visit after presenting his credentials to the UN Secretary General. In his person, we see an eminent diplomat, who will not only serve the interests of Greece in the best manner, but will also be an exceptional friend of the Archdiocese," Demetrios said.
Prior to his appointment to the helm of the Greek permanent mission to the UN, John Mourikis was Ambassador to Canada from 2004, an assignment that followed his promotion in 2001 to Minister Plenipotentiary (1st Class).
Between 2000 and 2004, Mr. Mourikis served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Director of the North America Department, prior to which he was Ambassador to Syria from 1996. In 1995, he was promoted to Minister Plenipotentiary (2nd Class) at the Greek Embassy in Cyprus, having served there as Minister since 1993.
In 1991, Mr. Mourikis was named Minister Counsellor atthe Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C. Between 1985 and 1990, he served in the Foreign Minister's Cabinet, during which time he was also a member of the negotiating team regarding the status of military bases in Greece ( Athens and Washington, D.C.). He previously had served, since 1982, in the Foreign Ministry's North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Department.
Mourikis joined the Ministry in 1976 as an attaché and served in the Prime Minister's Office until 1979, simultaneously holding a position in Greece's Permanent Mission to the United Nations until 1982.
He was educated at the University of Zurich, the University of Athens and the University of Paris II, and speaks English, German and French.
 Spokesman defends government's response to police brutalityThe government has repeatedly proved its sensitivity regarding the protection of rights for all members of society, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Tuesday as he defended the government's record in cracking down on police brutality.
He was commenting on the shocking images of a police officer mistreating two teenagers - possibly foreign nationals - being held at a police station in Omonia, central Athens in 2006 that appeared on the Internet over the weekend.
A grainy cell phone video, approximately five minutes long, showed at least one police detective ordering two suspects to alternately punch and slap each other in the face. The man was also shown striking and verbally abusing the two teens.
Noting that the government had condemned the specific incident in the "clearest possible way", Antonaros also pointed out that those who justly condemned the Omonia police station over the event had failed to openly condemn recent violent incidents targeting a police officer.
"I am still waiting and it has been almost five days since the brutal and unprovoked attack that the officer received in front of his family, while attending a cultural event," the spokesman said.
The government believes that violence should be condemned universally and not selectively, and puts this belief into practice, he added.
In response to questions, Antonaros denied that he was attempted a "trade-off" while stressing that none of the people that were so critical of the events in Omonia had "found one word of condemnation" for the incident in which a police officer was the victim of violence.
Regarding a Council of Europe report on the human rights situation in Greece, the spokesman said that similar reports had also been issued in 2001, 1997 and 1995 and helped in dealing with isolated but extant problems that the Greek state was trying to eliminate.
He said that Greece had published "detailed replies to these reports and related handbooks that were handed out to the appropriate services regarding the detention, treatment and rights of detainees by police". These included circulars and orders to the Greek Police headquarters regarding the protections of citizens' rights during police operations.
"The public order ministry deals with these reports, whether they originate from Greece or abroad, in a spirit of compliance and cooperation," he added.
In response to other questions on this issue, Antonaros said he was unaware of any plans to install cameras in police stations and insisted that such incidents were "isolated" and involved a small minority in the force, while he rejected suggestions that the attack on the police officer and Tuesday's attack on four banks were "political violence", saying that "acts of violence are acts of violence condemned by all".
He also defended the ability of the Greek police force and stressed that incidents of police brutality had neither first appeared nor significantly increased under the present government.
"The government shows absolutely no tolerance for those who resort to the use of force, it shows no tolerance for those who fail in the duties that have been assigned to them and to those who misinterpret their role in one way or another," he said.
 Fifth police officer suspended in police brutality video affairA fifth police officer linked to a recently uncovered 2006 incident involving police brutality at a central Athens precinct (Omonia) was suspended on Tuesday following orders by the Greek Police (EL.AS) chief.
The fifth officer is the one apparently shown entering and leaving a room in which two teenage detainees were forced to strike and slap each other.
Statements by two border guards charged in the incident will be submitted on Wednesday to a prosecutor assigned the case, along with the police sergeant accused of being the protagonist in the shocking incident.
Criminal indictments are expected to follow, a process independent of police disciplinary hearing.
 PASOK attacks government over police, unemploymentIn an attack on the government, main opposition PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou on Tuesday said that the public's sense of security had been undermined and crime rates had soared while ruling New Democracy was government, for which he blamed government policies that had allowed party politics and patronage to riddle the force.
He expressed the party's unmitigated support for a riot police commander that was savagely beaten a few days ago, calling the attack on him "barbaric", but stressed that the incident again raised questions about police inability to control the activities of hooded hooligans in the city.
Efthymiou also rejected allegations made by members of the government that he had passed questionable measures on unemployment-related issues while in government, saying that these were inaccurate since at the time he had been a journalist and then an MP, not a minister.
According to the spokesman, these comments betrayed the confusion and panic that had overwhelmed members of the government, who he said were "manufacturing enemies". He also challenged the ministers in question to explain what the negative aspects of the said measures were, if any, and what steps they had taken to correct them.
Regarding the attacks on PASOK from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Efthymiou stressed that for his party there was only one political front and that was against New Democracy and the political right.
 Gov't dismisses PASOK criticism over unemployment statistics, registrationThe government on Tuesday reiterated its position over unemployment figures and efforts to reduce joblessness, a day after the government and main opposition sparred over the rate of unemployment in the country.
"Efforts for economic growth have as a goal to further reduce unemployment," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated on Tuesday during his regular press briefing.
"Unemployment has undoubtedly dropped over the past three years," he said in response to a question over recent opinion polls apparently showing that unemployment is a major problem in the country despite figures showing the unemployment rate as dropping.
Referring to statements by main opposition PASOK a day earlier, he said they are "vague and inaccurate", whereas the government responses are well documented.
"Existing legislation adopted in 1985 clearly defines who is eligible to register with OAED (the Manpower Employment Organisation)," Antonaros said.
Referring to individuals employed in the farm sector, he said nothing has changed and that they have never been registered with OAED in terms of joblessness.
In addition, he stressed that those appointed to subsidised work positions, training programmes etc were also never registered as unemployed with OAED, a fact he said was not publicized by PASOK.
He also charged that based on existing legal framework voted by PASOK governments, those who are unemployed for more than two years remain registered with OAED.
 Papandreou: PASOK in campaign mode over the summerMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday again reiterated his criticism of the government on several fronts, this time in an address to his party's Parliamentary council, where he added that PASOK would be on a "campaign footing throughout the summer".
Papandreou briefed PASOK's MPs on his recent tours around the provinces, saying he ascertained a feeling of "optimism" due to "PASOK's systematic work". Conversely, he referred to an "opposite effect" by the prime minister's recent tours.
Regarding the recent furor regarding an incident of police brutality at a central Athens precinct, Papandreou referred to an "unacceptable situation" vis-à-vis citizens' safety, along with violations of human rights and the country's loss of credibility on the international stage from the incident. He also again charged that a "politicization" of the police force has led to favoritism and a lack of meritocracy, something he said is the current government's responsibility.
Moreover, he again criticised the government over the Vodafone mobile phone tapping case and ongoing bonds affair, saying a "cover-up" exists over the latter.
He said PASOK will table a proposal for a Parliamentary committee of inquiry into the bonds affair, which if rejected, will be established by PASOK once it is in government.
Finally, he said the government was promoting a "pseudo-dilemma" in asking why PASOK was dealing only with the bonds affair and not its programme.
 Prosecutors submit reports on controversial structured bond purchaseA pair of appellate-level prosecutors on Tuesday submitted two eagerly awaited reports on the ongoing state-run pension funds affair, especially on a questionable structured bond purchase by the civil servants' supplementary fund (TEADY), which initially generated the furor three months ago.
One of the two prosecutors submitted a report that includes a list of funds' investments in 2006, while the second supplied a list of investments by state-run funds from 1999 to 2005.
Both reports were submitted to the head of the appellate courts' prosecutor's office, George Koliokostas.
A plenum of appellate justices will convene on Thursday to examine the findings cited in the reports, whereby whatever criminal indictments will be issued then. A full-scale investigation by an appellate level magistrate would follow indictments against specific individuals charged with specific offences.
In requesting the convening of the plenary session, Koliokostas notes that prosecutors' reports include "indications" of "serious offences", such as fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and racketeering.
The reports come after Koliokostas ordered a probe on March 6 following a lawsuit filed by the Capital Markets' Committee over TEADY's transactions with the brokerage firm Acropolis.
 PASOK party calls for creation of Factfinding Committee for bonds issueThe main opposition PASOK party's Parliamentary Group has submitted a proposal on the creation of a Factfinding Committee to probe the issue of structured bonds, with the party's leader George Papandreou being the first to sign.
PASOK's deputies stressed that the issuing of the special bonds by the finance and economy ministry is recorded as "an organised plan aimed at the looting of the property of social insurance funds", that followed "special routes with the purpose of paying high and illegal commissions to senior cadres of stockbroker businesses who have close ties with the New Democracy party."
They accused the government of "covering up" the issue by not tabling all contracts for all the bonds in Parliament, while believing that "the coverage of interest for the 280 million euro bond is taking place at the expense of Greek taxpayers and in favour of its company and private persons accomplices."
The 113 PASOK Parliamentarians stressed that "it is our clear position that all the funds must take back all their money in full and with interest from the criminals, the accomplices and not, of course, from the Greek taxpayers and, in any case, the return of what has been stolen does not write off the crime and the responsibilities must be sought and attributed to the criminals."
 Emir of Qatar on official visit to GreeceThe Emir of Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, began an official three-day visit to Greece on Tuesday at the invitation of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
On Wednesday, Al Thani will be received by Papoulias, with a cooperation memorandum to be signed by the two sides.
Afterwards, Al Thani will meet separately with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, while in the evening he will attend an official dinner hosted by President Papoulias.
On Thursday, before his departure, the Emir of Qatar will visit the Athens Town Hall where Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis will bestow on him the Golden Medal of the City of Athens.
 Interior minister points to reforms in public administrationInterior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday presented the initiatives and measures taken during over past three years to reform Greece's spacious public administration sector and improve services towards citizens.
He pointed to the appointment of better-trained senior officials, an upgrading of public agencies through e-governance as well as,funding of training programmes, improvement of international relations and a decentralisation of services.
He also noted that the establishment of an Athens-based research and innovation centre for public administration in southeast Europe and the Mediterranean is in progress.
 Parliament ratifies new local administration codeThe Parliament Plenum ratified on Tuesday, with the government's majority, the bill on the ratification of the new status code for municipal and community employees.
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed that "the plan on the new code was completed with consensual, regarding the overwhelming majority of terms, procedures."
 Greek, Cypriot DMs discuss defence, security cooperationThe Greek and Cypriot defence ministers, Evangelos Meimarakis and Christodoulos Pashiardis, met in Athens on Tuesday for talks within the framework of European defence cooperation and security talks, with the former also expressing Athens' unreserved support towards the Republic of Cyprus for the achievement of a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.
Meimarakis added that nothing has changed in terms of the two countries' joint defence doctrine, while the Cypriot DM added that the doctrine is in force as long as the threat by Turkey and the island's occupation continues.
Asked about Turkish military exercises and threats to prevent exploration for oil in the sea regions around the island, Pashiardes said the specific exercises have nothing to do with exploration conducted by the Republic of Cyprus.
Referring to military cooperation agreement between Cyprus and France, Pashiardis cited volition by both sides to reinforce the pact.
Finally, in reply to a press question regarding NATO's planned anti-ballistic missile system, Meimarakis first noted that the contentious issue will first be discussed at a NATO-Russia summit, while adding that the proposed system is defensive and clearly a deterrent, "thus, it finds us in agreement under the conditions we have set."
 Merchant marine minister holds talks with Spanish public works ministerMerchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis held talks on Tuesday with Spanish Public Works Minister Magdalena Alvarez Arza, focusing on bilateral maritime relations and maritime policy issues concerning the European Union.
Also discussed was protection for sea borders, the tackling of cross-border crime of every kind and the problem of illegal immigration from the sea.
Kefaloyiannis referred in detail to the Greek initiative on the founding of a European Coast Guard, as well as to the need for cooperation between Mediterranean countries on the effective handling of the phenomenon of illegal immigration.
 PM congratulates Ahern on re-electionPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday sent a letter to his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern, congratulating him on his recent re-election.
Karamanlis underlined his conviction that during Ahern's new term, Greece and Ireland will continue to work together closely and constructively within the European Union and international organisations.
 Patriarch Theodoros to visit SyriaPatriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa is to carry out a five-day official visit to Syria that starts on Wednesday.
He will be received by Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and All the East, the leader of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, and will also meet Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
This will be Theodoros' first official visit to the Antioch Patriarchate since he became Patriarch.
During his visit, he will visit historic and religious institutions in Syria, meet the Greek and Egyptian ambassadors in the country and pay a visit to Cairo on Monday morning.
 Parliamentary Justice Committee ratifies bill on bankruptcy law amendmentThe Parliamentary Justice Committee on Tuesday ratified the bill on the amendment of bankruptcy law with the votes of the ruling New Democracy party and the main opposition PASOK party.
Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras said that "the new code does not only arrange matters concerning a company's demise, but also provides for keeping a business alive. Consequently, article 1 anticipates that the bankruptcy process aims at the overall satisfaction of the debtor's creditors, with the liquidation of his property, or in another way anticipated by a reorganisation plan."
The main opposition party's rapporteur, Sokratis Kosmidis, said that "practice will show if the aims of the arrangements will be achieved even on a small scale, which even then will be a gain. I hope that crafty businessmen will not have a field of glory. I maintain reserved optimism."
 Vivartia in joint venture in Saudi ArabiaVivartia on Tuesday announced the signing of an agreement with Western Bakeries and Olayan Financing Company (OFC) for the creation of a joint venture in Saudi Arabia to produce and distribute bakery products.
The new company will expand activities in the Arab Gulf (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar). Vivartia will own 25 pct of the joint venture, Western Bakeries 60 pct and OFC 15 pct. The joint venture will have a capital of 14 million euros and will include a production unit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Western Bakeries is a leader in the bakery industry. The investment is expected to be completed by the end of 2008, signalling Vivartia's expansion in the Middle East and the Gulf.
 New orders index down 0.4 pct in April, yr/yrThe new orders composite index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and foreign markets) fell by 0.4 pct in April, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the average index in the 12-month period from May 2006 to April 2007 jumped 11.7 pct compared with the corresponding period in the previous 12-month period.
The 0.4 pct decline in the composite index in April, reflected a 20.4 pct drop in the capital goods new orders' index, a 28.3 pct decline in the durable goods orders, a 6.7 pct increase in intemediate goods and an 1.1 pct rise in non-durable goods orders.
The statistics service said the domestic market index fell by 5.0 pct in April, while the foreign market index rose 8.2 pct over the same period.
The turnover composite index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and foreign markets) fell by 0.3 pct in April compared with the same month last year. The average index in the 12-month period from May 2006 to April 2007 rose 8.7 pct compared with the corresponding period in 2005-2006.
The statistics service said the 0.3 pct decline of the index in April reflected a 0.5 pct drop in the manufacturing enterprises' turnover and a 7.2 pct increase in the mining sector's turnover.
 Market watchdog comments on MiFID directiveThe introduction of the MiFID community directive on financial services, combined with the existence of a 0.15 pct tax factor on securities transactions, will bring the Greek capital market to a disadvantage against other European markets, Alexis Pilavios, president of the Capital Markets Commission said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, on the sidelines of the Fourth Capital Markets Conference in Thessaloniki, Pilavios said the directive, to be put into action Nov. 1, 2007, will offer to large foreign investors the opportunity to invest through a trading platform in London, turning their back to the Athens Stock Exchange, in order to enjoy lower costs. He failed, however, to clarify if he supported a proposal made by the president of ASE, Spyros Kapralos, to abolish the transactions tax.
Pilavios expressed his belief that the MiFID directive would be fully adopted by the end of 2007 while he noted that convergence level between national markets was very good so far.
Commenting on the operation of a semi-regulated market in ASE, Pilavios said its regulatory framework would not be ready before autumn.
Pilavios said the Greek stock market was healthier today, compared with the past, it was more mature and more effective.
"There is a huge difference compared with the past," he said adding that there was also more transparency and more rational share price fluctuations.
 J&P-Avax raises stake in Athina to 53.76 pctJ&P-Avax SA, a Greek-listed construction group, on Tuesday announced the purchase of 585,936 shares in Athina ATE for 1.67 euros per share, raising its equity stake in the company to 53.76 pct.
 Greek stocks end 0.48 pct lowerGreek stocks eased on Tuesday following a decline in other European markets. The composite index ended 0.48 pct lower at 4,885.95 points with turnover a heavy 450.2 million euros, of which 134.5 million euros were block trades.
Sector indices moved lower, with the Constructions (1.63 pct), Insurance (1.54 pct) and Personal/Home Products (1.22 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the Raw Materials (1.13 pct), Telecommunications (1.04 pct) and Oil (0.81 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index eased 0.62 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.07 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 0.18 pct up.
Perseus (17.16 pct), Marfin Investment Group (15.87 pct) and Unibrain (9.57 pct) were top gainers, while Heracles (8.40 pct) and Vell Group (6.62 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 172 to 98 with another 33 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.81%
Personal & Household: -1.22%
Raw Materials: +1.13%
Travel & Leisure: +0.06%
Food & Beverages: -0.80%
Financial Services: +0.07%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Minoan Lines, Piraeus Bank, Marfin Popular Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.90
Public Power Corp (PPC): 21.48
HBC Coca Cola: 33.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.98
Emporiki Bank: 21.38
National Bank of Greece: 41.94
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 25.72
Titan Cement Company: 42.98
 ADEX closing reportTurnover in the Athens Derivatives Exchange shrank to 93.768 million euros on Tuesday with futures contract prices maintaining their discount.
The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.94 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.49 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 6,108 contracts worth 78.70 million euros, with 34,354 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 255 contracts worth 8.103 million euros, with 1,260 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 4,954 contracts worth 6.964 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Hellenic Petroleum's contracts (1,064), followed by Eurobank (301), Piraeus Bank (193), Hellenic Telecoms (194), Intracom (423), Alpha Bank (331), Attica Bank (478) and ATEbank (661).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.656 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.636 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.020 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017), was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 745 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.20 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.84 pct and the German Bund 4.65 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were unchanged. National Bank's overnight rate was 4.08 pct, the two-day rate rose to 4.09 pct from 4.08 pct on Monday, the one-month rate was 4.10 pct and the 12-month rate 4.51 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.351
Pound sterling 0.680
Danish kroner 7.504
Swedish kroner 9.492
Japanese yen 166.78
Swiss franc 1.676
Norwegian kroner 8.143
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.441
Australian dollar 1.600
 President's message for world refugee day"World Day for Refugees is a good opportunity for all of us to think more deeply on the human drama that is hidden behind each refugee and the political responsibility that we each have toward the fate of the persecuted of our world," President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said on Tuesday in a message to mark the anniversary on Wednesday.
He noted that Greece was a country that had experienced the problems of refugees and, despite this, ranked among the lowest for granting political asylum, stressing that refugees were owed much more than a celebration on World Refugee Day.
 FM Bakoyannis at events on World Day for RefugeesForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis inaugurated on Tuesday evening a series of events on refugees organised by the Greek Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees, on the occasion of World Day for Refugees.
According to estimations by the international organisation, refugees all over the world reached 14 million in 2006.
The Greek foreign ministry disboursed more than 7.5 million dollars in the period 2003-2006 for supporting refugees, while another 2 million dollars will be given this year.
 Doctors of the World on World Refugees DayThe Doctors of the World organisation stressed in an announcement on Tuesday that this year's World Refugees Day provides the incentive for publicity to be directed at some of the "forgotten crises" in various parts of the world, where the organisation is intervening with medical and humanitarian programmes.
According to the organisation, in Darfur, Sudan, at the moment 350,000 people out of four million who depend directly on humanitarian aid to survive have no access to it. These people need water, food, housing and medication to stay alive.
The Doctors of the World have been present in Sudan since February 2005 with support prpogrammes for the health sector in the region of Darfur.
In Iraq, more than four million people have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees, or have been displaced inside the country. It has been estimated that 40-50,000 Iraqis abandon their homes every month.
Referring to Greece, it said that in past years it has turned from a country sending immigrants to one receiving immigrants and refugees, mainly from countries in Africa, Asia and the Balkans.
 Minister of State addresses 2nd international conference on disability and mass mediaThe 2nd International Conference on the theme of "People with a disability and the mass media" came to an end on Tuesday with commitments announced by Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.
Declaring the end of the conference, the minister announced that more important steps will have been taken until the next meeting in June 2008 in the direction of lifting the social exclusion of people with a disability.
"It is preferable for us to set specific targets that will have substantive results through their achievement rather than to outline leaps. In any case, looking back sometimes we shall see that the steps that we have taken were all together a leap," Roussopoulos said.
 Deputy culture minister for sport holds talks with Chinese deputy education ministerDeputy Culture Minister for Sport George Orfanos held talks on Tuesday with Chinese Deputy Education Minister Zhang Xinsheng on the Greek Culture Year that is being organised by the Chinese in Beijing between September 2007 and September 2008.
"We believe that sport and culture will be combined in 2008, heightening with the Greek Year that will begin in September 2007," Orfanos said in a statement, adding that "Chinese universities will also be participating in the events that will take place. I wish to thank Mr. Zhang Xinsheng for the excellent welcoming he provided for me."
Lastly, Orfanos said that "exchanges with the Chinese in their entirety, at cultural level, are very high and are increasing continuously, while this is taking place in cooperation with Education Minister Mrs. (Marieta) Yiannakou."
The Chinese deputy education minister said on his part that "China and Greece are friendly countries and you must feel at home here. We have both offered a great deal to world history. After 2004, we are proud of you for the very successful holding of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the future we shall be making exchanges in technology and sport."
 Christodoulos visited by SYN leader AlavanosCoalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday visited Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos at the intensive care unit of an Athens hospital, where the latter is being recovering following an operation last Wednesday.
Alavanos told reporters that he saw the ailing Archbishop and spoke with him for a couple of minutes.
Archbishop Christodoulos was also visited by Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas.
 International conference on Greek Research in AustraliaMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/S. Hatzimanolis)
The 7th International Conference on Greek Research will take place in Adelaide, Australia on June 28-July 1 with the participation of 130 academics from a number of countries.
The conference, organized by Flinders University, will be structured around themes related to the wider significance of Greek History and Civilization. A total of 129 papers on Greek and Cypriot studies from the wider spectrum of the following areas: Literature and Language, Classical Studies, Philosophy, Society and Culture, History and Migration will be presented during the four-day conference.
The Conference Program will include quality Professional Development seminars for teachers of Modern Greek in South Australia and research papers on language teaching. The seminars will be facilitated by academics from Greece, who specialize in the field of Education, and co-presented by Modern Greek at Flinders University, the Modern Greek Language Teachers Association of South Australia and the Modern Greek Consultancy Service in South Australia.
Significant events open for the public will take place on the sidelines of the conference.
 Popular Greek-Australian actor Alex Dimitriades shooting new big-screen movie on CreteMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/S. Hatzimanolis)
Popular Greek-Australian actor Alex Dimitriades is currently on the island of Crete, in the southern Aegean, where he will spend two months shooting his new film "Reception will Follow", a romantic comedy directed by Greek-American Christine Crokos.
Dimitriades plays the leading role in the movie, which revolves around the secrets of a bride and groom revealed by their wedding guests on their special day.
Commenting on his collaboration with the Greek-American film director, Dimitriades said that they wanted to make a film together since 1998 when he played the protagonist Ari in the Ana Kokkinos film "Head On". His performance in the role was critically acclaimed and earned him an AFI Award nomination.
Alex Dimitriades, the son of first generation Greek immigrants, was born in 1973 in Australia and grew up in Earlwood, a working-class suburb of Sydney.
He began his career in the 1993 Australian film "The Heartbreak Kid" and later starred in the spin-off TV series "Heartbreak High", in which he played Nick Poulos. In 1998, Dimitriades starred in the Ana Kokkinos film "Head On" and in 2001, he appeared in the Australian comedy "Let's Get Skase".
Dimitriades has also starred in several Australian TV series, including the police dramas "Wildside" and "Young Lions". He has also had small guest roles in the Australian soap opera "Neighbours" and the science fiction series "Farscape".
More recently, he has appeared in the Hollywood films "Ghost Ship" and "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo", and in two plays by Louis Nowra for the Griffin Theatre Company, "The Woman with Dog's Eyes" and "The Emperor of Sydney".
 Athens Bar Association organising event on European Data Protection SupervisorThe Athens Bar Association will organise an event on June 21 on the theme of "The role of the European Data Protection Supervisor in shaping European culture on the protection of personal data."
Peter J. Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor (an independent Authority of the European Union), will be the main speaker at the event.
 Self-styled anarchists target 4 downtown banks on TuesdayA group of around 20 hooded self-styled youths ransacked four bank branches in downtown Athens on Tuesday in a brazen morning attack.
The suspects smashed the glass facades of the National Bank of Greece, Citibank, Emporiki Bank and Bank of Piraeus while attempts to firebomb a car with state license plates apparently failed.
Among others, the gang spray-painted demands for the release of Yiannis Dimitrakis, a bank robbery suspect wounded and arrested during a shoot-out with police in January 2006. Dimitrakis allegedly belonged to a self-styled urban anarchist gang accused of a string of bank robberies.
 Prisoner found dead; epileptic fit named as cause of deathA 26-year-old prisoner was found dead in his cell in the Thessaloniki prisoner transfers department in the early hours of Tuesday morning. According to a police announcement, his death was the result of an epileptic fit and was determined by ambulance staff.
A public prosecutor has ordered an inquiry into the incident because the young man had complained of similar health problems two hours before his death. At that time, he had been examined by ambulance staff, which said his condition did not cause concern and that it was not necessary to transfer him to hospital.
The prisoner had been transferred to Thessaloniki from the Komotini court prisons so that he could appear before a court trying his appeal on a drugs charge.
 Truck laden with 40 illegals intercepted; Albanian national arrestedA 23-year-old Albanian national was arrested on 33rd kilometre of the Kozani-Ioannina highway on Monday transporting 40 compatriots in a stolen truck, police in the district said.
Authorities said each of the illegal immigrants paid 700 euros to be smuggled into the country's interior.
 Hot on WednesdayHot weather is expected in most of the country, reaching 38 and 39 degrees Celsius on the mainland. Winds northerly light. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 22C and 38C and in Thessaloniki from 21C to 36C.
 British Court of Appeal concludes hearing in Orams caseLONDON (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Britain's Court of Appeal, under Lord Phillips, Lord Chief Justice, has concluded a hearing in a property case involving a Greek Cypriot refugee and a British couple, and said it will take the final decision on points of substance it will refer to the Court of Justice of the European Communities for consideration.
The Court of Appeal will decide on the final form of the text to be referred to the Court of Justice without any further meeting.
Legal circles believe that following deliberations between the attorneys of the two sides on Monday, their differences on the points that have to be referred to the European Court are now limited.
Cheri Booth Blair, attorney for the British couple Linda and David Orams, has withdrawn certain initial demands regarding some points.
The Court, which has the final word, may amend the text. Tom Baizley, attorney for Greek Cypriot Meletis Apostolides, raised objections concerning terms of political significance affecting the legal aspect of the case.
He said that instead of the term ''military intervention'' proposed by Booth, the term ''invasion'' should be used, which is the widely accepted term internationally when referring to Turkey's military invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
Baizley also said that regarding the refugees, instead of the term ''abandoned their homes'', the term ''were forced to abandon'' their homes should be used. This amendment was agreed on.
He furthermore requested that any mention of the Annan plan should be avoided. The Cyprus settlement plan, proposed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, was rejected by the Greek Cypriot community and accepted by the Turkish Cypriot community in April 2004 separate referenda.
The property case involves a British couple, David and Linda Orams, and Greek Cypriot refugee Meletis Apostolides.
In 2004 the Nicosia District Court ordered Linda and David Orams to demolish a house they had built in Apostolides' land and pay compensation to him. The Court ruling was not enforced because of the Orams' appeal against it.
The case was brought to Court by Apostolides, from the village of Lapithos, west of Kyrenia, when having visited Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas he saw the house the Orams had built on his land.
In 2005, the Nicosia District Court upheld its previous decision in an appeal by the Orams couple.
In 2006, the British High Court said it could not enforce the ruling of the Nicosia District Court in November 2004 because EU legislation was not applicable in Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas. Apostolides appealed against this decision.
The internationally recognised government of Cyprus is prevented from exercising its jurisdiction in the northern part of the country because of the continuing military occupation by Turkey.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in December 1996 that Turkey, by virtue of its military presence in northern Cyprus, exercises effective control on that part of the island and is therefore responsible for what happens there. It also said that the Turkish Cypriot regime is a local administration subordinate to Turkey.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
In Nicosia meanwhile, the Cypriot government has described as positive the intention of Britain's Court of Appeal to refer points of substance to the Court of Justice of the European Communities, in Luxembourg.
Replying to questions, Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said that ''with any decisions referred to the Court of Justice of the European Communities, we usually have good results,'' adding that ''any further comment would be risky'' at this point as the case is still pending.
''We should wait. We will see the decision of the Court before we comment any further. What I can say is that with any decisions referred to the Court of Justice of the European Communities, we usually have good results,'' he added.
 Cyprus decides on Turkey's EU course according to circumstancesNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said on Tuesday that, depending on the circumstances, the government decides which line to follow, that is whether it will block or pass any chapter regarding Turkey's EU accession course.
Asked which stance Cyprus will maintain in Brussels regarding the opening of negotiating chapters in Turkey's EU bid, Palmas noted that ''the positions of the government are well-known regarding Turkey's application to join the EU.''
''From thereon, depending on the facts and the circumstances created, the government decides which line to follow, whether it will block or pass any chapter concerning Turkey,'' he added.
Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004. Turkey, which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and which occupies Cyprus' northern part for three decades, is engaged in membership talks with the EU, but so far has failed to meet its commitments to the EU, including Cyprus, as a member state.
 EP Economic Affairs Committee approves Cyprus' Eurozone accessionNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee approved Monday a report for the accession of Cyprus in the EU's Economic and Monetary Union on 1 January 2008, ahead of Wednesday's European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg.
The EP is expected to approve a report produced by German MEP Werner Langen. The report was approved by the Committee members with one abstention.
In paragraph 7, under the title ''Problems specific to Cyprus'', the draft report notes, inter alia, that the European Commission Convergence report on Cyprus ''for the lifting of Cyprus' derogation, applies only to those areas in which the government of Cyprus exercises effective control within the meaning of Protocol 10 in the annex to the 2003 treaty of accession.''
It adds that the illegal regime established in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, ''which does not enjoy international recognition, is not considered in the report.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Cabinet to set up joint Cooperation FundNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Cyprus Council of Ministers decided on Tuesday to set up a Cooperation Fund between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot non governmental organisations.
Announcing the decision, Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said the Fund aims at strengthening civil society and developing and organising better their activities on a modern basis.
"The Fund also aims at enhancing bonds, cooperation and social cohesion between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot non governmental organisations," Palmas added.
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