|Saturday, 17 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-06-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 28 June 2007 Issue No: 2630
 PM Costas Karamanlis addresses ND pre-conference on SMEsPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing a ruling New Democracy party pre-conference dedicated to small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) on Wednesday, stressed that changes and reforms are a focal strategic option for the present and the future of the country.
The prime minister said that reforms are producing results with gradually increasing rates, adding that many reforms scheduled by the government will be implemented soon.
"Our great qualitative difference from yesterday and those who express it in our system of values is that in our political practice, that we are placing at the centre of our vision for the country, there is no place neither for complacency nor for great and easy words," Karamanlis said.
"We are in the middle of an uphill road to enable the economy to reach where we want it to, to restrict bureaucracy once and for all, to drastically reduce the time and procedures required to the levels of our European partners," he added.
The prime minister further said that changes and reforms are being continued because they are necessary, adding that they are being continued with the support of a wide social alliance, with dialogue and a composition of views because they are producing a benefit for all.
Karamanlis referred to the integrated policy on small and medium-size enterprises, saying that a national council of SMEs has been created in which the business community is participating actively, while the national quality council has been upgraded with a provision for special action for the implementation of quality tools in SMEs.
Lastly, he stressed that SMEs constitute a priority for the government's economic and development policy, pointing out that SMEs in Greece represent 99 percent of all businesses and compose the foundation of the economy, while creating seven out of 10 jobs and constituting an undoubtedly strong capital for the economy and the development process.
Addressing the conference, Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis said that support for SMEs is a top priority for the government.
Referring to government policy, the minister said that "we are supporting the investments plans of businesses with the new investments law, we are strengthening the exports policy, we are placing Greece in every market in the world and we are strengthening competition in the banking system."
ND Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis also addressed the conference, accusing the main opposition PASOK party of trying "to cover up its political vacuum with tactics of tension and polarisation."
Zagoritis further said that unlike PASOK, the New Democracy government is supporting SMEs and considers them a basic lever of economic development and the backbone of the national economy.
PASOK party spokesman
Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Petros Efthymiou, commenting on Wednesday on the address made at the ruling New Democracy party's pre-conference earlier in the day by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, said that "by fleeing the dramatic reality being experienced by small and medium-size enterprises in the country, Mr. Karamanlis is attempting to address the complex problems in this sector."
Efthymiou further said that while addressing a party audience, Karamanlis "spoke of tomorrow as if he has not been ruling for four years," adding that he repeated in full what he had been promising before the elections in March 2004.
 President Karolos Papoulias continuing visit to ArmeniaYEREVAN (ANA-MPA/S. Tzimas)
President Karolos Papoulias, continuing his three-day visit to Armenia, on Wednesday visited the monument of the Armenian genocide by the Turks and planted a fir tree symbolically, while later on he met with Prime Minister Serge Sargsyan.
"The event of the genocide constitutes the most barbaric smear in the modern history of man. The perpetrators must at least recognise their responsibility and apologise," the President wrote in the book of impressions.
Referring to relations between the two countries during his proclamation as an honourary professor at Yerevan University, President Papoulias said "they have a long history and our two nations have experienced martyred times in the 20th century from a common cause, as is revealed by the history of Black Sea Hellenism, situations that have forged a special relation and friendship."
President Papoulias further said "we do not forget the genocide in 1915 and we are proud because under the conditions prevailing at the time the Greek people were among the few people who gave asylum to the Armenians."
In the evening, President Papoulias was due to watch a concert by the singer Eleftheria Arvanitaki and on Thursday he will be meeting the Armenian Patriarch.
 U.S. supports ecumenical status of Patriarchate and Patriarch VartholomeosWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
A written statement by a U.S. State Department spokesman on Wednesday expressed support for the ecumenical status of Patriarch Vartholomeos, without referring to the decision taken by the Turkish supreme court.
"The United States has great respect for the Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, who is a religious leader of an international calibre," the statement said and in which the term "ecumenical" is repeated twice.
"We have not seen and we will make no specific comment on whatever decision by the Turkish supreme court on the Ecumenical Patriarch," the American official added and pointed out that "the promotion of religious freedom and of human rights constitutes an inseparable element of U.S. foreign policy."
The statement was made after a relevant question was put during a regular press briefing, where alternate spokesman Tom Casey said he was unaware of the issue but promised that there would be a relevant response by the State Department, as was the case with the above written statement.
 PASOK joins condemnation of Turkish court ruling on PatriarchateA main opposition PASOK spokesman on Wednesday joined a chorus of criticism by the government and other Greek political parties in condemning a Turkish court ruling on Tuesday disputing the ecumenical status of the venerable Christian Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul.
"This decision is linked with standing positions of Turkey's establishment," spokesman and former PASOK minister Petros Efthymiou said.
He also criticised the fact that Greek PM Costas Karamanlis failed to bring the issue up this week during a meeting with Turkish Premier Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a BSEC summit in Istanbul.
 Archbishop condemns Turkish court's ruling on PatriarchateArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Chistodoulos on Wednesday condemned in a statement a Turkish court ruling on Tuesday disputing the ecumenical status of the venerable Christian Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul.
"Long-lasting religious institutions, founded on history and tradition, cannot be questioned in view of temporary expediences. The title of the Patriarch as Ecumenical falls clearly under this rule," the Archbishop said in a statement from an Athens hospital where he is being treated after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his large intestine, nearly two weeks ago.
 PM meets with Cypriot MEP, presidential candidatePrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Wednesday with Cypriot Euro-deputy and Democratic Rally nominee for the Cypriot Presidency Ioannis Kasoulides.
No statements were made after the meeting.
Kasoulides, who is currently on a visit to Greece, met separately on Tuesday with foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.
 Croatian President, Greek Parliament President discuss situation in BalkansCroatian President Stjepan Mesic and visiting Greek Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda on Wednesday discussed the situation in the Balkans, Croatia's accession negotiations in the European Union and cooperation with Greece in such sectors as the economy, tourism and culture.
Welcoming Benaki at the Presidential Mansion in Zagreb, President Mesic thanked her for aid provided by Greece to Croatia to enable it to join European structures.
President Mesic briefed Benaki on his country's economic progress and on the political situation prevailing in the wider Balkan region. He also placed special importance on good relations between Croatia and Greece and on possibilities of further cooperation.
"Friendship between the two countries is also confirmed by the exchange of visits at the highest state and political level," he added.
 PASOK leader sends letter to new British PM BrownMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou sent on Wednesday a letter of congratulations to new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"The members of the Labour Party made clear their intentions by chosing a progressive, socially and environmentally responsible government programme such as the one you are promoting and which comprises radical proposals regarding education, sustainable development, health and the United Kingdom's place in the international community," Papandreou said in his letter.
"In our globalised world, the foreign policy of the New Labours, has proved fundamental in efforts to eradicate poverty and inequalities in the world, for the search of peace in every corner of the globe, as well as in promoting sustainable environment," the SI president also said.
"I am aware that you share these objectives and I am certain that, under your leadership, the British government will continue its efforts of achieving these aims, with policies which reflect contemporary world needs and your political vision," Papandreou added.
"I assure you that we support all your efforts. In crucial times for the European Union and the world, we are in need of a strong, democratic, progressive and dynamic United Kingdom, if we wish to achieve peace, welfare and development," the Socialist leader concluded.
 Dep. DM on armaments contractsDeputy Defence Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos addressed a one-day seminar in Athens on Wednesday on the issue of training and simulation in the Greek armed forces, where, among others, he noted that upcoming armaments programmes will be based on the military "true needs".
He also said the government's criteria will include the greatest possible participation of local defence contractors and a full exploitation of off-sets benefits.
 Bill on mass media licensing ratified in principleThe bill by the Minister of State on concentration and licensing in the mass media was ratified in principle on Wednesday by the relevant Parliamentary committee.
The bill was ratified by the deputies of the ruling New Democracy party, but was rejected by the opposition parties.
Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos spoke of a realistic solution that was compatible with the country's constitution and with European rules. He reassured that the new frequency map will be completed soon and tabled a series of changes to the bill.
He also promised, following relevant proposals made by deputies of the opposition, to reconsider the arrangement so that parties and social agencies will be excluded from the point system.
 Parliament ratifies new Bankruptcy CodeThe Parliament plenum on Wednesday ratified the new Bankruptcy Code, while Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras said in his address that the new law replaces an antiquated legislative framework and provides a modern, fair and workable system of arrangements based on the second chance.
Commenting on the new code, Papaligouras said it gives priority to the rescuing of those businesses that can be rescued and a second chance is given to the well-meaning debtor to enable him to start economic activity from the beginning.
The immediate liquidation of the bankrupt property is safeguarded, as well as its distribution, always for the benefit of the weaker creditors of the firm, meaning the employees.
 Papariga attacks both ND, PASOKCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Wednesday again launched into an attack against ruling New Democracy party and main opposition PASOK, charging that both major parties are attempting to "steal the people's vote with so-called benefits".
Papariga made the comment from Hania in Crete, during statements to employees of a local resort.
"Both parties consider the voters as a given, the people as a given; namely that they have their vote guaranteed and that the people are happy, either as a government or in the main opposition," she said.
Among others, she called for a modern system of social insurance for all, free health care services, high pensions in tandem with a lowering of retirement ages (60 for men and 55 for women) as well as keeping the higher education system squarely within the state's domain.
 KKE leader addresses rally in IraklioCommunist Party of Greece Secretary General Aleka Papariga addressed a rally in Iraklion, Crete, on Wednesday evening, pointing out that "discussions on whether elections would be held in Automn or in March are disorienting" voters.
General elections in the country are due next March.
"The (ruling) New Democracy party, wishing to play the role of the dominant party reserves for itself the privilege of setting the elections date, while (main opposition) PASOK demands early elections right away," Papariga said.
According to the Communist leader, holding elections now or in March does not matter at all, because "what is more important is what will come out of the ballot box".
Papariga referred to everyday problems faced by the citizens, noting that these problems "are due to the anti-popular policies implemented during the past twenty years."
"The two mainstream parties follow the same path and this position by the KKE disturbs," she added.
 Greek economy on course for another strong performance in 2007, reportFirst indications in 2007 support a forecast that Greek economy will grow faster than initial estimates, more than 4.0 pct, remaining on expansion course for the 14th consecutive year, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Wednesday.
In its latest quarterly report on the Greek economy, IOBE said domestic demand and private consumption in particular was the main driving force behind the strong economic growth rates, despite rising interest rates. Investments have recovered, while exports at rising at a slightly faster pace compared with imports growth, IOBE said.
"Economic performance in the last few years partly reflect the government's economic policy," the Institute said, adding that despite progress made, the Greek economy still faced serious challenges in the medium-to-long-term outlook, such as higher inflation, high unemployment, a widening current accounts deficit and hurdles in business activity.
The report said these chronic structural macro-economic weaknesses in labour and product markets and the operation of the wider public sector needed to be addressed to the soonest possible to ensure the growth prospects of the economy. IOBE said it was urgent to promote effective structural policies so that economic growth would be based more on the production of internationally competitive product and services and less on the dynamism of domestic demand.
The Institute recommended the rapid and effective promotion of reforms, maintaining a fiscal consolidation policy to eliminate deficits and adopting policies aimed at creating a more effective state.
IOBE stressed that the current year was a pre-election year "probably an election year", creating worries over the impact of a political cycle on economic performance, and note that public spending rose faster than forecasts in the first quarter this year.
The Institute said it expected the inflation rate to fall to 2.7 pct this year and the harmonised inflation rate slightly below 3.0 pct in 2007.
 Balkans offer major economic opportunities, FinMin says"The Balkan region offers major economic opportunities as all countries in the region are striving towards EU accession," Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday in an address to the 4th Conference on Strategies to Reduce Poverty in the Balkans, organised in Athens by World Bank and the IMF in cooperation with the Greek government.
In other comments, the Greek minister said the conference was very important to western Balkans, a region that suffered greatly from political, social and economic problems over the last 15-20 years.
Alogoskoufis stressed that all countries in the region have entered a reforms process aiming to open up markets, achieve economic growth and social cohesion, adding that "many of the political problems of the past have been resolved. There are still some political problems in the region, but I believe that a sense of cooperation developed over the last few years that could help resolve these problems as well".
"Greece supports all reform programmes by our neighbours and their European prospects. Support was evident through the public sector, in procedural policies, European procedures, but mainly through participation of the Greek private sector and investments in the wider region," he said, adding:
"It is certain that the western Balkans and the southeast European region can become Europe's economic miracle in the next 15-20 years, contributing both to the improvement of living standards in their countries and to the development of the EU as well."
 FinMin meets with visiting IMF delegationEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday discussed issues related to the Greek economy with a visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation. The meeting was held in Athens within the framework of regular bilateral contacts between the Greek government and the IMF.
 International Venture Capital Forum in Athens in JulyThe International Venture Capital Forum will hold its 8th annual sessions in Athens on July 3-4.
Two hundred business meetings between venture capital companies from Greece, Cyprus and the US are expected to take place during the sessions.
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis will address the forum on its opening day.
 Greek-Albanian cooperation pact in energy sectorGreece's regulatory authority for energy on Wednesday signed a cooperation memorandum with the corresponding Albanian authority, providing, among others, for bilateral efforts to improve cross-border electricity trading, a development that comes amid a heatwave in the region and record-level power consumption in both countries.
The memorandum also refers to multilateral actions within the framework of the SE European Energy Community to establish a regional electricity and natural gas market, with the prospect of ultimately being incorporated into the single EU energy market.
On his part, Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, who holds the energy portfolio, stressed that the agreement further contributes to the development of Greek-Albanian relations.
 The 22nd KOSMIMA exhibition opens in Thessaloniki on October 22The 22nd International Exhibition of Jewelry, Clocks and Watches, Precious Stones, Machinery, Equipment - KOSMIMA 2007 -- will take place at the Thessaloniki International Exhibition Centre, HELEXPO, on October 19-22.
For the first time this year, the 18th Jewelry Design Competition, The Dance of Flowers, becomes a European event, opening its doors to apprentice silversmiths and goldsmiths as well as to sector professionals from across the EU.
The Expression and Design exhibition presentation and a Jewelry Fashion Show will also take place within the framework of the exhibition.
The Kosmima Athens Exclusive exhibition, also organized by HELEXPO, will be held for the first time in the Greek capital on January 25-28, 2008 at the HELEXPO PALACE Attiki Conference Centre.
 Coalition party leader holds talks with BIOZO consumer unionCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos met on Wednesday with the Panhellenic Union of Consumers-Organic farmers for a Qualitative Life (BIOZO) and stressed the importance of supporting consumer organisations.
Alavanos said that consumers' problems "are extremely acute" in Greece and stressed that "supporting consumer organisations is important. And we had the opportunity today to meet with one of the most qualitative and substantively select organisations, BIOZO."
The Coaliton party leader also commented on the heat wave currenly harassing the country, saying that "we are certainly experiencing absolutely extraordinary conditions concerning the level reached by temperatures. However, this does not justify the photochemical cloud that is dealing a blow at major cities in particular nor the complete lack of reserves on the part of providing electric power."
 Press briefing again cancelled due to employee reps' mobilisationRepresentatives of employees' groups at the general secretariats of communication and information (the former press ministry) on Wednesday prevented the government spokesman from giving his daily press briefing, causing the briefing to be cancelled for a second day in a row.
Employees' groups are demanding an additional 400-euro per month bonus.
In a brief exchange with representatives blocking the press room entrance, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros merely noted that "you cannot block the flow of information; dialogue is out of the question under these conditions."
 EU Commission takes action against Greece for breaching EU lawThe European Commission has formally reminded the Greek authorities of its obligation to lift its total ban on gaming machines, including computer games. The European Court of Justice in Case C-65/05 of 26 October 2006 ruled that the Greek laws which ban the installation and operation of all gaming machines violate a number of internal market principles.
The Commission also has taken action to correct breaches of EU law on professional qualifications. The Commission has decided to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice under Article 228 of the EC Treaty over a previous Court judgment requiring it to allow companies to open opticians' shops. The Commission has also decided to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice under Article 226 of the EC Treaty over its legislation on recognition of doctors' qualifications. Finally, the Commission has formally requested Luxembourg to modify its legislation on recognition of lawyers' qualifications. This request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion", the second stage of the infringement proceedings provided for in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission launched court proceedings against Greece for failure to notify its implementing measures on the Energy Performance
of Buildings Directive adopted in 2002. Reasoned Opinions - the last step before a formal complaint to the Court of Justice is lodged - were also sent to Estonia and Poland for failure to notify the necessary measures. The aim of the Directive is to reduce energy consumption in buildings by laying down national minimum energy performance standards for new buildings and major renovations of larger existing buildings. By failing to implement this important Directive Greece, Estonia and Poland miss an opportunity to realise cost effective energy savings.
The European Commission has decided to pursue infringement procedures against eight Member States - France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sweden - for failure to implement certain Internal Market Directives in national law. The Commission will refer France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden to the European Court of Justice over their failure to implement a Directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The Commission will also formally request Greece, Malta and Spain to implement the Capital Requirements Directive, and Spain to implement a Directive on public procurement. These formal requests take the form of "reasoned opinions", the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to Greece, Malta and Spain for non-communication of measures implementing Directives 2006/48/EC relating to the taking up and pursuit of the business of credit institutions, and Directive 2006/49/EC on the capital adequacy of investment firms and credit institutions.
 ASE members elect new presidentThe Association of Athens Stock Exchange Members on Wednesday selected Athanasios Chalkiadis as its new president ahead of members' election in September.
Alexandros Sinos was elected vice-president, while Leon Depolas secretary-general.
 Greek stocks end lower for third consecutive sessionGreek stocks continued losing ground for the third consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange, with the composite index ending at 4,755.97 points, off 0.68 percent. Turnover was a moderate 312.6 million euros.
Most sectors ended lower with the Media (1.36 pct), Constructions (1.35 pct) and Banks (0.35 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the Utilities (1.26 pct), Insurance (1.28 pct) and Commerce (0.68 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index fell 1.0 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.13 pct lower and the Small Cap index dropped 1.13 pct.
Centric (10.36 pct), Petropoulos (9.84 pct) and ANEK (9.81 pct) were top gainers, while Tsoukaridis (9.85 pct), Galis (9.63 pct) and Boutaris (8.89 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 163 to 106 with another 40 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.67%
Personal & Household: -0.16%
Raw Materials: -0.29%
Travel & Leisure: +0.06%
Food & Beverages: +0.10%
Financial Services: -1.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank, National Bank, OPAP and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.84
HBC Coca Cola: 32.26
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.70
Emporiki Bank: 21.10
National Bank of Greece: 41.48
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 24.10
Titan Cement Company: 42.40
 ADEX closing reportTechnical problems cut trading hours in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, shrinking the day's turnover to only 46.479 million euros.
The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.10 pct, while on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.20 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 2,857 contracts worth 36.152 million euros, with 35,482 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 220 contracts worth 6.828 million euros, with 1,301 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 2,199 contracts worth 3.498 million euros, with investment interest focusing on PPC's contracts (592), followed by Eurobank (192), National Bank (70), Alpha Bank (215), Intracom (465) and Attican Bank (120).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.281 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 1.081 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.2 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security of the day, with a turnover of 665 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose to 0.22 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.77 pct and the German Bund 4.55 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were largely unchanged. National Bank's overnight rate was 4.08 pct, the two-day rate was 4.08 pct, the one-month rate 4.11 pct and the 12-month rate 4.50 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.354
Pound sterling 0.678
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 9.355
Japanese yen 166.01
Swiss franc 1.665
Norwegian kroner 8.036
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.449
Australian dollar 1.609
 Power consumption at record levels for second day due to heatPower consumption in heat-stricken Greece nearly topped the all-time record on Wednesday, as the Public Power Corp. (PPC) said demand reached 10,505 MW at one point, from 10,512 MW the previous day.
Temperatures were at or above the 40C mark for a second consecutive day, with weather forecasts, thankfully, pointing to a gradual decrease with a distinctly cooler weekend in store. High temperatures overnight also didn't allow the grid, distribution stations and breakers to cool off properly, state-run PPC said in a statement.
Power interruptions were reported in almost a dozen greater Athens districts on Wednesday, where demand in Attica prefecture reached 4,118 MW.
The islands of Lesvos and Syros also experienced power outages, while power generation was down on Crete due to a malfunction at a local station.
 Second EAPS Forum taking place in Ohrid on Thursday, FridaySKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
The second Forum on the Security of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Relations Council (EAPS) will be taking place in Ohrid on Thursday and Friday, with the main issues on the agenda being Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Balkans, as well as energy security.
The Forum will be attended by representatives of 49 countries comprising EAPS (26 NATO member-states and 23 countries having a partnership relation with the alliance).
It is expected that 20 countries will be represented at defence, foreign affairs and economy ministers level, while other countries will mainly be represented at NATO ambassador level.
Greece will be represented by its ambassador with NATO Ioannis Zepos.
The Forum will come to a close on Friday afternoon with a press conference by NATO's secretary general.
 European Customs Chemists Conference in AthensThe problem of terrorism, product authenticity and origin, illegal imports and drug trafficking are a few of the new challenges with which chemical labs are being faced, stressed Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Antonis Bezas addressing the 3rd Conference of European Customs Chemists taking place in Athens with the participation of 43 delegates.
Speaking at the four-day conference on the role of customs laboratories in facilitating trade and guaranteeing safety and security, which opened on June 26 in the Greek capital, Bezas stressed that the government's main objective is to update the available equipment, infrastructure and personnel of the State General Chemistry Laboratory.
He referred particularly to the significant contribution of the General Chemical State Laboratory in the inspection of imported products over the last 80 years.
The main goal of the ministry of economy and finance is to offer high quality services to society, having as an objective the people's safety, while facilitating trade and protecting public health and the environment from adulterated, modified and dangerous products, said Bezas.
Referring to the large participation of foreign delegates, he stressed that Greece's role as a crossroads of trade is being highlighted.
 Forest fire causes limited damage in Sithonia, HalkidikiA forest fire in the region of Sithonia, in the Peninsula of Halkidiki, northern Greece, was extinguished in the morning hours after destroying only a few acres of forestland.
The fire that broke out during the night in a remote area between the camping sites of Zografou and Armenistis was quickly placed under control by a 100-firemen-strong firefighting force and 30 fire engines called to the scene.
 Forest fires in Rafina, StylidaAn incendiary device was found at the location where a fire broke out at the seaside resort of Mati, near Rafina, on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Fire Brigade.
The fire broke out in two places simultaneously but it was soon placed under control by firemen. The device is being examined by the Arson Crime Department.
Another fire that broke out in the afternoon near the town of Stylida, eastern Greece, and was extinguished in time was also due to arson, according to the fire brigade. A flare was found at the spot.
 Performances at Megaron with English texts in SeptemberThe "Muses Atrium" within the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) will host several plays and musical performances featuring English text on screen for a third year in a row.
The initiative is aimed at foreign visitors and younger patrons. Events are scheduled for Sept. 15-19 and Sept. 27-28.
 Lower temperatures on ThursdayLower temperatures are expected throughout the country on Thursday. Winds northwesterly light. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 24C and 38C and in Thessaloniki from 20C to 34C.
 G/c and t/c parties exchange views on Cyprus issueNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties met on Wednesday in Nicosia and exchanged views on the ways to reach a breakthrough from the stalemate that exists in the Cyprus talks.
The joint communique, issued after the meeting, says that the leaders or representatives of the Cypriot parties expressed their support towards a bicommunal, bizonal solution, under the auspices of the UN.
The joint communique was read out by the Slovak Ambassador, Jan Varso, whose country organizes the meetings of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties.
The Slovak Ambassador, who presided over the meeting for the last time, due to the accomplishment of his diplomatic assignment in Cyprus, expressed his warmest gratitude to the participating parties and all those who contributed to the rapprochement efforts between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities of Cyprus, including the Media.
The new Ambassador of Slovakia to Nicosia, Anna Turenicova, will assume her diplomatic duties on July 21st.
The new Slovak Ambassador will have her first joint meeting with the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot parties in September, during the next regular meeting of the parties in Nicosia.
The Republic of Cyprus is divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Cyprus became a full EU member state in May 2004.
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