|Sunday, 18 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 27 June 2007 Issue No: 2629
 Inner Cabinet focuses on natgas pipeline deal, heatwaveAn Inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, discussed a new natgas pipeline deal announced only a day earlier in Istanbul as well as measures against an ongoing heatwave and conclusions of an EU summit over the weekend.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas underlined that the new pipeline will further upgrade the country as an energy hub, stressing that already close cooperation with Turkey in the energy sector is unaffected by the new plans.
Commenting on the Public Power Corp.'s (PPC) performance during the heatwave and the unprecedented, for Greece, levels of power consumption recorded, Sioufas said all necessary measures have been taken to deal with the weather conditions.
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said over 40C temperatures will be recorded on Wednesday, while he also repeated that public sector agencies will close at noon on Wednesday to reduce power consumption levels.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, responding to the ubiquitous questions regarding when elections will be held in Greece, merely referred to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' statements of elections in March 2008, when they are normally scheduled.
Finally, Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis said elections will be held at the appropriate time, echoing similar statements by other top ministers.
 President Karolos Papoulias begins three-day state visit to ArmeniaYEREVAN (ANA-MPA/S. Tzimas)
President Karolos Papoulias began a three-day state visit to Armenia on Tuesday with talks with Armenian President Robert Kocharian.
"Turkey should consider that it cannot pursue accession to the European Union with an occupation force amounting to 35,000 in a European Union member-state,(Cyprus)" President Papoulias said during his meeting with President Kocharian.
"Both our countries border with Turkey and I believe that we share the will for the strengthening of its democratic institutions. Greece has supported the accession course of Turkey from the beginning, because we deeply believe that the EU sets the framework of principles and rules that necessitate respect for international law, respect for democracy and the human rights of minorities. However, we expect Turkey's full compliance with all the criteria and prerequisites of the EU concerning respect for human rights and religious freedoms," the President of the Republic added.
Asked whether there is a question of Armenia joining the NATO alliance, President Kocharian replied categorically that there is no such question since, as he said, this would not serve his country's security.
Referring to the level of bilateral relations between the two countries, President Kocharian thanked the Greek side for the many programmes it is implementing in Armenia and in particular in the sectors of defence and agriculture, while expressing the desire for coooperation to be extended to other sectors as well.
Addressing the Armenian President earlier, President Papoulias referred to the "martyred times that the two countries experienced in the 20th century due to a common cause" and pointed out that "we do not forget the (Armenian) genocide in 1915 and we are proud that under the conditions prevailing at the time the Greeks were among the few peoples who gave asylum to the Armenians."
President Papoulias also focused on the conflict between Armenians and Azeris over Nagorno Karabakh, saying that Greece supports a peaceful solution to differences.
"We believe that the framework of the Minsk Group of the OSCE is the best for a solution to the problem and we believe that at the present time conjuncture the involvement of any other agency would be counter-productive," he said.
Greece, according to data revealed in the framework of talks, is the third biggest investor in Armenia with about 214 million dollars invested in capital, with Russia coming first and the United States second.
As regards development aid provided by Greece over the period between 1997-2005, it amounted to 26.6 million dollars, while with the signing of a bilateral strategic cooperation document in 2007 covering the 2008-2011 period, another 8 million dollars will be provided.
President Papoulias will be meeting with President Kocharian again on Wednesday and afterwards with the prime minister. He will then be planting an olive tree at the Armenian genocide monument and later on he will be receiving representatives of the Greek community in Armenia.
 Papandreou chairs PASOK Parliamentary council, departs for SI meeting in GenevaMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday again chaired a meeting of his party's Parliamentary council, where issues dealing with civil defence -- amid an ongoing mini heatwave in the country -- and the government's latest announced measures for lower-income classes were discussed.
A recently tabled bill on mass media concentration and licensing was also brought up.
Regarding the announced measures by the government, most PASOK cadres referred to a "pre-election package" of "promises", with Papandreou charging that the Karamanlis government was, above all, "unreliable".
Additionally, the PASOK leader said his recent four-day tour of northern Greece, beginning from the Ionian coast in the west to the prefecture of Evros in the east, was particularly successful and productive. He said similar tours are planned and told PASOK's cadres to look forward to a "busy summer".
Additionally, he sharply criticised the rejection, a day earlier, of a PASOK motion to establish a Parliamentary fact-finding committee on the ongoing bonds affair, saying it proves the government's intent to "cover-up" the issue.
Moreover, Papandreou, a former foreign minister in successive Simitis governments, said Premier Costas Karamanlis' visit to Istanbul a day earlier demonstrated that the government lacked planning, depth and stability in exercising foreign policy. Among others, he said Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan again failed to make any concession vis-ŕ-vis the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Karamanlis met with Erdogan on the sidelines of a BSEC summit in Instanbul.
"We always pressured, on all levels, over all issues," Papandreou charged.
Among others, the PASOK leader also detailed his party's policy against drug addiction and drug use - on the occasion of the world day against drugs - as well as again expressing his condemnation over a handful of recent instances of police brutality that generated heightened press exposure in the country.
Afterwards, Papandreou departed for Geneva, where he is to chair preliminary conference of the Socialist International, which will focus on issues dealing with the environment, climate change, the Middle East, Iran, the situation in the Palestinian areas, Lebanon and the Balkans.
 PASOK party spokesman comments on electionsMain opposition PASOK party spokesman Petros Efthymiou, commenting on Tuesday on a discussion that the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey, Costas Karamanlis and Tayyip Erdogan had on Monday, according to press reports, and during which the prime minister reportedly said that elections take place every four years and whether PASOK believes that the government is subjecting it to a "Scottish shower" over the election issue, said that "I believe that for every Greek it would be unacceptable for the Greek prime minister to be informing foreign leaders of the date of elections and not informing the Greek citizens."
Efthymiou further said that "the government is constantly talking of elections, it is causing the discussion on elections every time, while it should be setting the date for elections, but it is not setting it because it fears elections."
Lastly, Efthymiou said that the solution is "resorting to elections" that PASOK has been calling for since February.
 Parliament rejects motion for fact-finding commission on bonds affairParliament, in the first hours of Tuesday, rejected a motion by the main opposition PASOK party calling for the establishment of a fact-finding commission on the structured bonds affair, with 164 votes against, 110 in favour, and 6 abstentions in the 300-member unicameral House.
Of the 280 MPs present, the ruling New Democracy (ND) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Progress (SYN) deputies voted against the motion, the PASOK deputies voted in favour, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputies merely stated their presence in the roll-call vote, which followed a heated debate between government and opposition in the parliament plenary.
 FinMin Alogoskoufis meets with Defence Minister MeimarakisEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis examined on Tuesday issues relating to the defence ministry's budget, at a meeting attended also by the economy ministry's secretary general Yiannis Sidiropoulos, the armaments and investments secretary general Evangelos Vassilakos and other officials.
 Alavanos to attend int'l meeting in Athens on climate changeCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos accepted an invitation, extended on Tuesday, by Andreas A. Papandreou - the brother of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou -- to attend sessions of an international conference on climate change, due to be held in Athens in the autumn.
The invitation was extended during a meeting between the two men in Athens, after which Alavanos stated that any initiative concerning the environment was positive.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and George Papandreou have already accepted an invitation to attend the conference.
Andreas A. Papandreou is an assistant professor at the Athens University.
 Greek government's contribution to decrease in poverty in SE EuropeDeputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis underlined the Greek government's contribution to decreasing poverty in southeastern Europe, while addressing the "4th forum on strategies for decreasing poverty in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegivina, Montenegro, FYROM, Serbia and Kosovo", that is being held in Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Stylianidis referred to the firm support being provided by Greece for the region's European rapprochement, the assistance it provided for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania and to the active role it is playing to include the Western Balkans in the Stabilisation and Association Treaty.
Greek investments amounting to 14 billion euros were also a contribution to growth in SE Europe and the subsequent creation of 200,000 jobs, as well as boosting trade relations between Greece and the neighbouring countries.
Stylianidis also referred to Greece's contribution to the region's energy security and concluded his address by saying that "Greece is prepared to cooperate with all to decrease poverty in SE Europe and, above all, with the countries in the region."
 Foreign ministry spokesman comments on Constantinople PatriarchateForeign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, commenting on a decision taken by a Turkish court on Tuesday on the non-recognition of the ecumenical status of the Constantinople Patriarchate, said that "the ecumenical status of the Constantinople Patriarchate is established in International Treaties, the Holy Rules of Orthodoxy, history and ecclesiastical tradition."
The spokesman further said that "above all, however, the recognition of the Ecumenical Patriarch as a spiritual leader has been, for centuries, rooted in the conscience of hundreds of millions of Christians, Orthodox and not, all over the world," adding that "these cannot be changed, nor can they be altered by court decisions based on misinterpretations of the Lausanne Treaty."
 Ukrainian President meets Ecumenical PatriarchISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A.Kourkoulas)
Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko on Tuesday met with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at the Phanar.
The Ecumenical Patriarch said he prayed for Ukraine's unity.
"Mr. Yushchenko asked from the Patriarchate to contribute to the solution of the problems facing the Ukrainian Church. He has already visited us in the past. I am glad for his visit to the Patriarchate," Vartholomeos said.
Yushchenko and Vartholomeos also exchanged gifts.
The Ukrainian president was in Istanbul to attend the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation's (BSEC) summit, held here to mark its 15th anniversary.
 State Dept. on FYROM's NATO prospects, 'name issue'WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)
A State Department spokesman on Monday reiterated that "NATO's procedures for admitting new members are clear and consistent", when asked about procedures for possibly admitting the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) into the NATO alliance.
"It (NATO) operates under consensus. Certainly, I would hope that we would see -- be able to see consensus on the admission of new members at a time when NATO chooses to take them," alternate State Department spokesman Tom Casey said in reply to a press question by a Greek reporter during a regular briefing here.
"I would fully expect that when the time came for consideration of new membership that the procedures there would work as they have in the past, which would be a requirement, of course, that all countries, all current members, accede to the admission of new members," Casey added.
In terms of the "name issue", the spokesman said Washington continues to support a "negotiated agreement" under the auspices of the United Nations.
 FM meets with Cypriot MeP, presidential candidateForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Cypriot Euro-deputy and Democratic Rally nominee for the Cypriot Presidency Ioannis Kasoulides discussed the Cyprus issue, the EU-Turkey relations and the latest developments in Turkey, during a meeting in Athens on Tuesday.
Kasoulides commented afterwards that the meeting was very useful in the exchange of views and experiences.
 PASOK leader meets with Cypriot MP, presidential candidate KasoulidesMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou met Tuesday with Cypriot Eurodeputy, former minister of foreign affairs and the Democratic Rally party nominee for the Cypriot Presidency, Ioannis Kasoulides. Papandreou reiterated that the fight for the reunification of the island in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions will not cease, adding that efforts will continue to strengthen the presence of Cyprus in the EU and the Mediterranean.
Papandreou congratulated Cyprus for its accession into the EMU, characterizing it as an achievement and important step.
Both men referred to their common struggles and efforts for Cyprus' accession into the EU.
On his part, Kasoulides stated that they exchanged views on the course of the Cyprus issue and Cyprus' place in the EU.
 Absorption of 3rd CSF funds reaches 62.5 pctAbsorption of the funds earmarked for Greece under the EU's Third Community Support Framework (CSF) has reached 62.5 percent, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis and deputy minister Christos Folias said Tuesday, opening the 10th conference of Greece's national Monitoring Committee of the 3rd CSF, taking place at a central Athens hotel.
According to Alogoskoufis, in the period that has elapsed since March 2004 (when the ruling New Democracy party took over the government) and the present, a critical situation with respect to the 3rd CSF was confronted, and acceleration was achieved in the materialisation of the 3rd CSF, while efforts were continuing so that the goal of absorption reaching 100 percent will be achieved in 2008.
Alogoskoufis recalled that there had been many problems of coordination in the past, with many sides predicting losses of 3rd CSF funds, which he said has been averted, but added that more efforts and their intensification were necessary.
He also noted that Greece's National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF, for the new Programming Period covering 2007-2013) has already been approved, adding that Greece, after 2013, must rely on its own power and no longer need EU assistance, or at least need only a very low degree of EU assistance.
"We are preparing for after 2013," the economy minister stressed.
Folias, in turn, said that the funds earmarked for Greece under the 3rd CSF "are no longer expenditures but investments" and, outlining the government's achievements with respect to absorption of the funds, added however that "we still have a long way ahead of us in order to achieve the targets, we are not complacent but, rather, every success serves as a step for climbing higher".
The meeting was also attended and addressed by Ronnie Hall of the European Commission's Directorate General for Regional Policy, who noted that while Greece accounted for 2-3 percent of the total EU population, 6-7 percent of overall EU funding corresponded to the country which, he added, was proof of the EU's interest (regarding convergence, cohesion, etc).
Hall also referred to the "Jeremie" (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) Programme, aimed at facilitating funding to SME's.
The Jeremie initiative was jointly launched by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) to improve SMEs' access to finance in the framework of European Regions, and is designed to enable member states and regions to use part of their structural funds to obtain a set of financial instruments that are specifically designed to support micro and small and medium enterprises.
In October 2006, Greece signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the general framework and implementation of Jeremie, improving SME access to finance in Greece, in the context of the EU structural funding period 2007-2013. According to an EIF press release at the time: "With this MoU, the Hellenic Republic takes up a pioneering role, showing its readiness to promote and adopt a sophisticated financial engineering approach by concluding one of the first JEREMIE operations in the European Union."
 PASOK party criticises FinMin's address to 3rd CSF Monitoring CommitteeThe main opposition PASOK party on Tuesday criticised an address made by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis at the 3rd Community Support Framework's Monitoring Committee, saying that he has l"ost every sense of measure."
"Today, on the occasion of the meeting of the 3rd CSF's Monitoring Committee, he (Alogoskoufis) once again congratulated himself and his associates for the 'spectacular improvement' they achieved at the CSF. He claimed, indeed, that 'every possibiliuty has been exhausted' and that there have been 'minimal losses'," an announcement by the party's Economy Sector said.
PASOK accused Alogoskoufis of "having a selective memory since he 'forgot' to mention that the absorption rate, for which he feels satisfied, is not due to the effectiveness of the New Democracy government but to the joining, in a mass way, to the CSF in 2005 and 2006 of past projects amounting to over 1 billion euros that had taken place with national resources by PASOK governments and to the curbing of the 3rd CSF's budget by 1.8 billion euros at the end of 2006 at the government's initiative."
 FinMin briefs Parliamentary committees on Eurogroup and EcofinFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, briefing the Parliamentary Economic and European Affairs Committees on Tuesday on the recent results of the Eurogroup and Ecofin Councils, said the decision taken by the European Council to lift the surveillance process was an important milestone for the Greek economy.
Alogoskoufis added that the revised Stability and Development Treaty can be combined with great fiscal adjustment, high growth and the tackling of unemployment, provided that it is accompanied by suitably structured reforms.
The main opposition PASOK party's former finance minister and Deputy Nikos Christodoulakis accused the government of "making a systematic effort at disinformation."
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) representative Nikos Gatzis criticised both the government and PASOK for "concealing their real positions on the social security system," while Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party representative Asimina Xirotyri spoke of "an effort by the government to disorientate from the major and real problems being faced by the Greek people."
Greece first EU member to sign 'Jeremie' initiative implementation agreement
Greece on Tuesday became the first of the European Union's 27 member states to sign a Financing Agreement with the European Investment Fund (EIF) for the promotion and implementation of the Jeremie initiative.
The agreement was signed between national economy and finance deputy minister Christos Folias and EIF Chief Executive Francis Carpenter, at the opening of the 10th conference of Greece's national Monitoring Committee of the 3rd CSF (covering the period 2000-2006), taking place at a central Athens hotel.
In October 2006, Folias and Carpenter, representing Greece and the EIF respectively, had signed an initial Memorandum of Understanding for the general framework and implementation of the Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises programme, known by its acronym Jeremie, which is a joint initiative of the European Commission, the EIF and the European Investment Bank (EIB) aimed at promoting SME access to finance and financial engineering products in regions.
The initiative will be materialised in the framework of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) covering the period 2007-2013.
Greece is the first EU member state to sign the Jeremie implementation agreement, and promotion of the initiative and the signing of the relevant agreement has the support of the European Commission.
The signing of the agreement was also welcomed by national economy and finance minister Christos Folias.
"Steadily, and on a daily basis, we are creating the conditions for further development of entrepreneurship in our country. Last March we achieved the speedy approval of the NSRF 2007-2013 by the EU, and today we are continuing on the same successful path. Our goal is, through the Jeremie initiative and by utilising the substantial experience of the EIF, to place at the disposal of the SMEs a mechanism that will contribute decisively to boosting their competitiveness," Folias said after the signing of the agreement.
"We are investing in cooperation with the European bodies and in their knowhow, which comprises a guarantee for the effective implementation of actions in today's demanding business environment. We believe that the SMEs will respond to the new possibilities and take advantage of the opportunities being born, not only to their own benefit but also to that of the Greek economy more generally," the deputy minister said.
Carpenter, in turn, said that with the implementation of this particularly important agreement, the Hellenic Republic is certifying its pioneering role and readiness to materialise specialised and sophisticated financial engineering mechanisms. "On our part, we look forward to a dynamic and constructive collaboration in the context of the Jeremie initiative," he said.
 Greece, Finland seek closer cooperation on research and technologyDevelopment minister Dimitris Sioufas met Tuesday with Finnish former prime minister (1991-1995) and current president of the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (SITRA), Esko Aho, for talks that focused on research and technology, with the emphasis on innovation.
Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou and other ministry officials also participated in the meeting.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, the Greek minister stressed that Finland was a pioneer and an innovator worldwide known for its product and services. "We have heard some very interesting approaches by Mr. Aho for Finland and Europe on moving forwards faster. The Development ministry will continue a cooperation with the Finland government to work on joint technological initiatives and innovative cooperations," Sioufas said.
The former Finnish prime minister underlined progress made by Greece and praised the Greek government's plan to improve its policies on science and technology. "I believe that Greece has many chances to contribute to the EU in achieving Lisbon strategy goals, particularly on education, science and technology. But also to spend more money from a Cohesion Fund and Structural Funds on science, technology and innovation," he said.
"Although Finland and Greece have a large geographical distance, while their experience and structure may be different, but still we have a lot in common. We have common goals to take care of Europe's future and its prosperity. It is easy to understand that if Greece managed to achieve all its social-economic and technological goals, then these goals could only be achieved through a close cooperation with other European countries," Aho said.
 Magginas meets with IMF delegationLabour market issues, the state of the social security system and pension funds' investments were discussed here on Tuesday by Employment and Social Protection Minister Vassilis Magginas and a three-member International Monetary Fund delegation.
Magginas reiterated the government's firm position that social insurance is an exclusive national policy issue, and that no changes will be made until after the next elections.
"The social insurance issue will be dealt with by the next government, and following a broad-based dialogue with social partners," he stressed.
 Tax proceeds in Greece at 34.4 pct of GDP, EurostatBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
Tax proceeds in Greece accounted for 34.4 pct of GDP in 2005, Eurostat said on Tuesday, down from an EU-27 average rate of 39.6 pct and a 39.9 pct average in the Eurozone.
Tax proceeds in Greece accounted for 34.3 pct of GDP in 2004 and 32.6 pct in 1999 (39.2 pct in the EU-26 and 39.6 pct in the Eurozone and 39.7 pct in the EU-27 and 39.9 pct in the Eurozone, respectively).
Sweden (51.3 pct) and Denmark (50.3 pct) recorded the highest tax proceeds rates in the EU, while Romania (28 pct), Lithuania (28.9 pct) and Slovakia (29.3 pct) the lowest rates.
Cyprus (from 26.7 pct to 35.6 pct) and Malta (from 27.3 pct to 35.3 pct) recorded the biggest annual growth increases in 2005, Eurostat said.
 Development minister calls for public's understanding over power network problemsDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday during a discussion on a consumers protection bill, called for understanding by the public over problems concerning the Public Power Corporation's (DEH) network as "a result of the unprecedented heat wave."
Sioufas, who spoke of "Sahara conditions," said that the system held out and that there is no system in the world that can be put through such an ordeal without experiencing failures.
The minister also praised efforts made by the corporation's technicians who, under ground conditions of 60 and 80 degrees Celsius, are "waging struggles" to restore damage to DEH's extensive network.
 Greek, Malaysian central bankers meet in AthensBank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas on Tuesday met with his Malaysian counterpart Zeti Akhtar Aziz, currently on an official visit to Athens.
Zeti Aziz gave a lecture on "Economic integration and capital movement in Asia", organised by the Greek central bank, and referred to current economic developments in her country and the wider southeast Asia region. The Malaysian central banker referred to economic and monetary policies adopted by her country as well by other neighbouring countries to deal with the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998, and noted efforts currently underway to integrate financial markets in the region.
 KKE leader opposes equal pensioning limits for both gendersCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking at the Akadimos theatre in central Athens on Tuesday evening, opposed the idea of men and women both being pensioned off at the age of 65.
"As of today and without an hour of delay we must raise a categorical no to the attempted equation of pensioning limits for both genders, women and men, at 65," Papariga said.
"The government is attempting to gain time in the backstages, to reach the elections without opening its cards. PASOK is pretending not to see. It is a social heat wave and the greatest attack on working people. Opposition as of now," she added.
 Vast majority of SMEs have established e-transactions with banks, survey"The smaller a business is the harder it is to have access in banking borrowing - a necessary business tool - with smaller negotiating abilities and lesser information," a survey on small-and medium-sized enterprises conducted by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with the Athens University and Kappa Research, announced on Tuesday.
The survey said enterprises were benefiting from increased competition among banks, while 31.5 pct of SMEs were using e-banking services, evidence that Greek enterprises were gradually adopting digital technology.
"The banking sector is a necessary and strong ally for the development of Greek enterprises," Constantinos Mihalos, the Chamber's president said, presenting the survey.
The survey also showed that 90.4 pct of SMEs were have transactions with banks, while bank accounts (97.2 pct), cheque blocks (81.5 pct) and business loans (51.5 pct) were the most popular bank products with Small- and Medium-sized enterprises in the country.
Small enterprises in the commerce and manufacturing sectors were facing the biggest difficulties in their transactions with banks and showed the highest rate of frustration in their dealings with financial institutions.
Greek enterprises, in their vast majority, think that banks offer loans under more favourable terms to large enterprises, while 70 pct of enterprises in the survey said their bank loans were mainly working capital.
 Event on future of Greek businessesThe Greek economy has been enjoying high growth rates in past years. However, this has not been combined with an improvement in its competitiveness, which is a crucial factor for the longterm development and prosperity of Greek companies and of the Greek economy on an international level.
This conclusion was reached, among others, in the "Hellas 1000" report that was carried out by the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) and the McKinsey&Company consulting company, using the experience acquired from a similar initiative by McKinsey that took place in Germany in 2005.
The report was presented on Tuesday during a special event on the theme of "Innovation-Globalisation:The future of Greek businesses."
According to President Dimitris Daskalopoulos, SEB is struggling systematically and peristently for an improvement of the Greek business environment. This effort focuses on such issues as simplifying bureaucratic procedures, the operational upgrading of the wider institutional framework governing business activity, social recognition of the contribution of entrepreneurship to growth and social cohesion and cooperation with social partners.
 Kalamata chamber pushes for ferryboat link to LibyaA future ferryboat route connecting the port of Kalamata, in extreme southeastern Greece, with the Libyan harbour of Darnah is the object of a protocol of cooperation to be signed by the chambers of commerce of the two municipalities.
Currently, there is no ferryboat service between the two countries, which occupy opposite ends (north-south) of the eastern Mediterranean.
The protocol will be signed over the weekend in Libya, as a chamber delegation from Kalamata will travel to the North African country for the purpose.
Beyond support by the local chambers, backers of the plan cited support by Greece's merchant marine and defence ministries.
Meanwhile, in a related development, a Greek delegation will inaugurate the "Sea Routes of the Olive" initiative with their arrival in Darnah in six inflatable craft, a sailboat and Greek navy vessel.
 ASE to relocate to new building next weekThe Athens Stock Exchange will relocate from the historic building in 10 Sophocleus Str, that was housing its offices for more than 70 years, to a new building in Athinon Avenue, ASE's president Spyros Kapralos said on Tuesday.
In a statement to the press, Kapralos said the relocation would be shock to everyone involved in the market, since the stock exchange was synonymous to Sophocleus Street, although the relocation was a move towards the right direction for the market with significant benefits for its operation since it would integrate all its services, while it will create a state-of-the-art computer center with significant investments to offer faster and safer services to the market's clients.
Kapralos said the new building was expected to be ready by mid-July while he stressed that most market functions would begin operating from July. The Athens Stock Exchange will hold a special event on the occassion on Thursday, 28 June in the historic trading floor of the market in Sophocleus Street.
 Greek stocks end 0.55 pct lowerGreek stocks remained under pressure for the second consecutive session this week, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange below the 4,800 level. The index fell 0.55 pct to end at 4,788.66 points with turnover a heavy 404.7 million euros, of which 102.8 million were block trades.
Most sectors ended lower with the Telecommunications (2.77 pct), Technology (1.29 pct) and Personal/Home Products (1.08 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Industrial Products (0.62 pct), Constructions (0.60 pct) and Food/Beverage (0.50 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index fell 0.31 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.59 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.51 pct.
ANEK (9.74 pct), Minerva (7.41 pct) and Voyatzoglou (7.09 pct) were top gainers, while Marfin Investment Group (17.45 pct) and Allatini Ceramics (8.59 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 158 to 106 with another 39 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.28%
Personal & Household: -1.08%
Raw Materials: -0.59%
Travel & Leisure: -0.94%
Food & Beverages: +0.50%
Financial Services: -0.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank, Alpha Bank, National Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.70
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.54
HBC Coca Cola: 32.24
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.80
Emporiki Bank: 21.00
National Bank of Greece: 41.92
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 24.66
Titan Cement Company: 43.00
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices saw their discount shrinking in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 93.813 million euros.
The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.33 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.34 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 5,390 contracts worth 67.761 million euros, with 35,243 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 239 contracts worth 7.467 million euros with 1,292 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,405 contracts worty 18.584 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,229), followed by Eurobank (935), Hellenic Telecoms (348), PPC (1,533), Marfin Popular Bank (446), Alpha Bank (238), Intracom (399) and Metka (146).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.525 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.029 billion were buy orders and the remaining 1.496 billion euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 675 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.21 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.83 pct and the German Bund 4.62 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.08 pct from 4.07 pct on Monday, the two-day rate also rose to 4.08 pct from 4.07 pct, the one-month rate was 4.11 pct and the 12-month rate was 4.50 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.356
Pound sterling 0.678
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 9.355
Japanese yen 167.11
Swiss franc 1.667
Norwegian kroner 8.074
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.451
Australian dollar 1.597
 Greece dealing with heatwavePractically all of Greece experienced near or above 40C weather conditions on Tuesday, with the country bracing for another scorching day on Wednesday before temperatures begin sliding on Thursday ahead of a distinctly cooler, according to forecasts, weekend.
Beyond health worries due to the heat -- three deaths of elderly people were directly linked to the high temperatures -- authorities were on high alert for wildfires and problems with the power grid. Monday's power consumption neared record levels, whereas short interruptions in power were reported in several Athens districts on Tuesday by the state-run electricity utility (PPC).
PPC said daily consumption on Monday exceeded 10,000 MW, with a new all-time record of 10,700 MW feared for Wednesday, a figure that is expected to tax the country's power grid and generation capacity.
To conserve power, the government also ordered state offices and agencies to close at 12 noon, both on Tuesday and Wednesday. Conversely, municipalities around the country were expected to keep nursery schools and other air conditioned halls open for people without A/Cs at home.
Finally, in a bid to cool off heat-stricken residents, the tourism ministry announced that several organised beaches in the greater Athens area will stay open until 11 p.m. this week.
 Plácido Domingo honored by City of AthensWorld renowned tenor Plácido Domingo was honored by the City of Athens on Tuesday during a brief ceremony at City Hall.
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis presented the City of Athens Medal during the ceremony, where he noted that "it is a great honour and pleasure for me to welcome the greatest operatic artist of modern times to Athens."
 Contract signed for new nat'l museum of contemporary artThe disused and partially demolished Fix brewery building in central Athens, for decades a multi-storey concrete hulk within walking distance from the Temple of Olympian Zeus archaeological site, will be renovated to house a new National Museum of Contemporary Art.
Culture Minister George Voulgarakis stressed that a contract, signed on Tuesday, opens the way for renovation works to start immediately. The upgrading will take two years.
Voulgarakis said the new museum will cover a total space of 18,200 square metres, and along with the under-construction Acropolis Museum, will form an exis of cultural attractions within close proximity.
 Christodoulos transferred from intensive care unitArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos was transferred out of an intensive care unit at an Athens hospital on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his large intestine.
Physicians at the state-run Aretaion Hospital said Christodoulos' condition was proceeding as expected.
The influential head of the Church of Greece also received a bevy of visits from high-ranking ecclesiastical leaders and office-holders on Tuesday.
 Supporting documents for residence permits categorisedSupporting documents necessary for renewal of residence permits held by non-EU foreign nationals living and working in Greece are being categorised, following a decision by the interior ministry.
The changes are expected to make it easier to determine which documents are necessary for each individual case.
 KKE leader's driver robbed at car repairs workshopA bag belonging to the driver of the car used by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga and containing the revolver legally in his possession, a mobile phone and personal belongings of his, was stolen from the car on Tuesday morning as it was parked at a car repairs workshop.
The Athens General Police Department was notified immediately of the incident.
 Drug arrests in GrevenaThree Albanian nationals have been arrested in the prefecture of Grevena, northwestern Greece, after police found in their possession a total of 123 kilos of hashish, it was announced on Tuesday.
 Hot on WednesdayHot weather is expected again on Wednesday, but temperatures will gradually decrease in the north and west of the country in the afternoon. Winds westerly light. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 28C and 44C and in Thessaloniki from 26C to 38C.
 Cyprus sends political message to Turkey by opening EU chaptersNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas said on Tuesday that the opening of two new chapters in Turkey's EU accession negotiations was a clear political message to Turkey that ''we are not closing the door on the prospect and dialogue between the EU and Turkey but the process could not be independent and not take into consideration the whole behaviour and political positions of Turkey.''
Lillikas said Cyprus has supported Turkey's accession course in that Ankara must fulfill its obligations in order to join the EU and these obligations serve Cyprus' strategic aim, namely the reunification of the island.
He also pointed out that in December 2006 the EU member states imposed penalties on Turkey for not fulfilling its obligations towards Cyprus, and that one of the sanctions was that no chapter would close until Turkey met its obligations.
''We cannot ignore Turkey's political behaviour towards Cyprus and its stance regarding its obligation to iron out its relations with the Republic of Cyprus, which has to do with vetoing the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to 15 international organisations or mechanisms, and that is why we had informed the Presidency and the European Commission that we would not accept the opening of more than two chapters,'' he added.
Lillikas said that there had initially been some thoughts on opening four chapters but the decision taken finally was for two only.
He added that the political forces are unanimous that Turkey must continue its EU course because this was the only lever and hope for the reform of Turkey and the creation of circumstances for a Cyprus settlement.
Commenting on remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the year 2008 will be more productive for Cyprus, Lillikas pointed out that in order for this to happen there must be an expression of good will from the Turkish side, not only the Cypriot government.
He added that the Cyprus settlement must be a compromise and not the enforcement of the interests of one side on the other.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 EP Petition Committee to explore the situation of FamagustaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The European Parliament Petition Committee decided on Tuesday to visit Cyprus, probably in October, with a view to collect information regarding the property issue and the destruction of the island's cultural heritage in Famagusta, the city fenced-off since the 1974 Turkish invasion on Cyprus.
The visit will take place following a suggestion by Greek MEP Manolis Mavrommatis.
The Committee discussed a demand by Famagusta inhabitants to return to their homes, as reflected in a petition signed by around 30.000 people.
The Famagusta Refugees Movement voiced its disagreement with EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn's view that Famagusta should be returned to its lawful inhabitants as part of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
A Commission spokesman insisted that this issue is under the exclusive competence of the UN, pointing out that this issue cannot be linked with the EU regulation on trade between the Union and the areas of Cyprus that are not under the effective control of the Cypriot government.
Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos also expressed discord with the Commission view on the issue and pointed out that he presented EP
President Hans Gert Pottering with the petition signed by some 30.000 people to have the city returned to its legitimate owners.
Speaking at the meeting, Cypriot MEP Yiannakis Matsis pointed out that a possible return of Famagusta would be a good will gesture by Turkey and a confidence building measure, paving the way for a Cyprus settlement.
''We cannot wait for the solution of the Cyprus problem to have the city given back to its inhabitants,'' Matsis noted, adding that UN Security Council resolutions demand the return of Famagusta to its legal inhabitants.
Mavrommatis said that the delegation to visit Cyprus comprising representatives from all political groups of the EP will include the results of its visit in a draft resolution to be considered by the EP plenary.
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