|Wednesday, 15 August 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-02-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 27 February 2008 Issue No: 2830
 FM Bakoyannis holds talks in AlgeriaALGIERS (ANA-MPA - N. Melissova)
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met with a warm reception in Algiers on Tuesday, the second stop on her tour of the Maghreb countries. She had a two-hour meeting with Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, during which they confirmed the very good political relations between Algeria and Greece and a mutual desire to fully exploit the potential for economic cooperation.
In Algiers, Bakoyannis was joined by a high-level Greek business delegation led by foreign ministry general secretary Theodoros Skylakakis, which is the fore-runner of a larger business delegation due to visit Algeria before the end of the year to clarify possible areas of cooperation.
The Greek minister emerged from the presidential mansion accompanied by President Bouteflika - in a departure from protocol - and confirmed the excellent political climate between the two countries. She said her talks with the president had covered all regional issues and that they agreed to boost bilateral economic cooperation.
"Through their presence here, Greek businesses underline their active interest in such cooperation," Bakoyannis added, noting that it was a mutual goal to convert the Mediterranean into a sea of cooperation and prosperity .
Prior to her meeting with the president, Bakoyannis had also been received by Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem and her Algerian counterpart Mourad Medelci.
Shortly before departing for Tunis and the next stop on her tour, Bakoyannis attended a working dinner with the members of the Greek business delegation and five Algerian ministers, including Medelci, Finance Minister Karim Djoudi, Fisheries Minister Smail Mimoune, Transport Minister Mohamed Maghlaoui and Industry and Investments Minister Abdelhamid Temmar.
In a meeting on Monday between the Algerian Chamber of Commerce and members of the Greek business delegation, in which several industrial and professional associations of Greece are represented, the Algerian side expressed a desire for cooperation in the manufacturing sector, tourism, agriculture and the concrete industry.
According to Skylakakis, Algeria has high foreign exchange reserves derived mainly from energy and is now seeking to restructure and diversify its economy in order to reduce its dependence on energy as a source of income. It is also seeking to diversify foreign investments and sources of know-how, making this a favourable juncture for Greece to play an important economic as a friendly country in the Mediterranean that is also a member of the European Union and has expertise in these areas.
He revealed that the foreign ministry plans to open an Economic and Trade Affairs Bureau in Algiers within the current year.
The next and last stop on Bakoyannis' tour of the western Arab states will be in Tunis, where she will wrap up her three-day visit to the region on Wednesday afternoon.
 PM to chair meetings of KYSEA, cabinet; meet Athens archbishopPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be chairing successive meetings of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) and the inner cabinet on Wednesday. According to government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, the KYSEA meeting will discuss issues pertaining to the national defence and interior ministries, while the cabinet meeting at 11:00 will focus on the national spatial plan.
At 14:00 the prime minister is scheduled to meet Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos.
 PM Karamanlis confers with health ministerPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met Tuesday with health minister Dimitris Avrampoulos, who briefed him on the ministry's upcoming activities, with focus on the draft law on primary health care that was due to be tabled in parliament later in the day.
"We are at the brink of commencing -- within the coming two weeks -- an extensive reform and legislative work," Avramopoulos told reporters after the meeting.
Avrampoulos made particular reference to the primary healthcare bill, which would be tabled with the parliament's relevant committee, adding that "following the necessary preparations, everything is now on a good path".
Asked whether the ministry had received any warning of a prospective earthquake, Avramopoulos replied: "No, we have had no such warning. Besides, you tell me, when did the earthquake give notice?".
To another question, he said that the National Health Operations Centre was constantly on alert for everything that could arise, whether a natural phenomonon or the management of matters that have to do with the public's health.
Questioned on the FYROM name issue, Avramopoulos, who is a career diplomat, said that "we are in a delicate period", and urged "confidence in the Greek government with respect to its handling at this time".
"In no instance must we pressure our country into a state of 'Balkanisation'," he said, explaining that there were may crisis spots in the wider region "but distant from Greece".
Greece, he continued, has achieved a high level of culture and democracy, and what was of foremost importance was to continue to formulate policies of national development and progress, to the benefit of not only Greece but also its neighbouring countries, highlighting Greece's stabilising role.
"And in that light, the handlings are being made with prudence, seriousness, and the most important of all is the fact that a spirit of understanding and unanimity has been forged, which is necessary at this time for the further steps," Avramopoulos added.
 Karamanlis and Papadopoulos exchange lettersPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis has sent a letter to outgoing President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos in response to the latter's letter of February 21, the prime minister's press office announced on Tuesday.
In his letter, Karamanlis "expresses his satisfaction for the excellent cooperation developed between the two leaders all through Mr. Papadopoulos' term in office and his pleasure at the personal friendship established between them," the announcement said.
The prime minister also assured Papadopoulos that Greece would steadfastly stand by the side of Cyprus in the struggle to putt an end to the Turkish occupation and reunite the island republic, in the framework of a functional and viable solution based on a bizonal and bi-communal federation, the press release concluded.
In his February 21 letter, outgoing President Papadopoulos thanked Karamanlis "for the good cooperation we had, for the constructive talks we held and the friendship established between us."
Papadopoulos also thanked the Greek premier for his "support in the struggle for Cyprus' vindication and the support on your part for efforts to find a functional and viable solution to our national issue."
 Nimetz announces resumption of talks on FYROMNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panayiotou)
UN Special Mediator on the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Matthew Nimetz announced on Tuesday that he would be having "continuous talks" with Greek and FYROM representatives in New York on Friday, February 29.
According to the announcement, "no public statement or press conference is expected to take place after the talks."
 Athens denies glitch in name dispute processGovernment spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday denied the existence of any sort of glitch in the process of resolving the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Replying to reporters' questions, the spokesman stressed that, on the contrary, a meeting with UN mediator for the name dispute Matthew Nimetz would be taking place within the next few days.
He also said that he had contacted New Democracy Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis regarding a statement about MPs and their feelings with respect to the process and that ND's secretary would be issuing a statement that further clarified his views.
 U.S. reiterates support to agreed solution on FYROM name issueWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)
The U.S. State Department reiterated on Monday night that Washington intends to support an Athens-Skopje brokered agreement "through the good services of Mr. (UN mediator Matthew) Nimetz," on the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
State Department Spokesman Tom Casey also encouraged the two countries "to work constructively under the auspices of the UN mediator so as to have a solution acceptable to both sides."
 Parliament president meets Turkish counterpartISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)
Greek Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday met Turkish Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan during a visit to Turkey. Sioufas is in Istanbul to participate in a meeting of the presidium of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (BSEC), which Greece is presiding over this period.
"This is a good period for Greek-Turkish relations for three reasons: our countries have new Parliaments, new governments and new Parliament presidents and this is therefore a time for the Parliaments to begin a new period of cooperation, friendship and good neighbourhood ties," he said in statements after the meeting.
He also noted that the successful visit to Turkey by a Greek prime minister after an interval of 50 years marked the start of a new era.
"Greece, as Turkey's neighbour and a friendly country and ally, supports its European course," Sioufas added.
Toptan thanked his Greek counterpart for Greece's support of Turkey's effort to join the European Union and stressed that relations between the two countries had in recent years continued to be positive, especially after the meetings between the two premiers.
Pointing out that this was the 15th anniversary to the day since the BSEC Parliamentary Assembly first assembled in 1993, Sioufas noted that it was "significant" that the anniversary coincided with Greece's presidency.
"During these 15 years, the Parliaments have decisively contributed to support the governments of the Black Sea member-states in cooperation, growth and peace in the wider region. We agreed with Mr. Koksal Toptan that in the next 15 years and more, the Parliaments of the 12 member-states will operate more actively, more decisively and with greater and closer cooperation on all levels," Sioufas added.
 Government on legislation to regulate InternetGreece is currently working with European Union authorities and the United Nations in dealing with issues concerning anonymity and the free movement of ideas on the Internet and provide protection against slander and libel, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Tuesday. He was commenting on the recent furore in Greece concerning alleged libel through anonymous blogs used to blackmail public figures.
"The Greek State is cooperation with European authorities and the UN to deal with this issue," he said. Noting that the issue of anonymity on the Internet was one that applied worldwide, he said that there could not be impunity for abusive of libelous publications and pointed out that anonymous publications also appeared in the classic media but someone was responsible for them under the law.
Asked whether the government intended to draft new legislation to cover the Internet and the free movement of ideas on this, Roussopoulos said the government was looking to incorporate the relevant EU directives into national legislation, on the occasion of the equivalent UN Treaty as well.
He also mentioned that in February 2007, during an informal meeting of EU ministers for audiovisual issues in Berlin, he had raised the issue of protecting the right of citizens to reply to publications in "non-linear services" like the Internet through further laws, which had met with agreement from the other ministers and the relevant EU Commissioner.
He also pointed to the UN Treaty of Budapest signed in 2001 and an EU directive on Internet attacks that was binding for member-states, saying that a legislative committee charged with incorporating these into national legislation had been set up at the justice ministry, though there were problems with aspects of the Budapest treaty.
 Architectural competition for Ancient Olympia gatewayTourist Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos announced the signing of a cooperation memorandum between the municipality of Ancient Olympia, the National Metsovion Polytechnic and his ministry on Tuesday, with the purpose of utilising a student architectural competition on reshaping the gateway leading to Ancient Olympia.
The protagonists in the competition will be the Polytechnic's students, who will be submitting their views on how the gateway to one of the most well-known municipalities in the world can be reshaped.
"We are united by the interest in a corporate society with the aim of achieving the vigilance of the local society," the minister said. Although such initiatives exceed the duties of the ministry they are necessary, as it was pointed out, to spread corresponding initiatives aimed at the aesthetic upgrading of regions in Greece.
"A good hotel unit is not enough, if the road leading to it is dirty," Spiliotopoulos said.
 Greece, China sign cooperation memorandum on cracking down on antiquities smugglingCulture Minister Mihalis Liapis held a meeting in Beijing with Chinese Deputy Culture Minister and President of the Cultural Heritage Protection Authority Jixiang Shan on Tuesday, while a cooperation memorandum was signed between the two countries during the meeting on cracking down on antiquities smuggling.
Following a proposal made by Liapis, it was agreed that a wider initiative must be assumed between countries harmed by antiquities smuggling on the claiming and returning of cultural goods exported illegally.
A bilateral committee of experts will be set up immediately for this purpose, that will consider specific proposals on the implementation of this policy.
The Chinese deputy minister requested from Greece cooperation on safeguarding cultural heritage, the preservation of antiquities, the utilisation of Greek expertise for the creation of the necessary legislative framework for confronting antiquities smuggling, the training of archaeologists and cooperation by Greek archaeologists in Chinese excavations.
Liapis accepted the requests and agreed to their implementation in the framework of cooperation between the two ministries that is upgraded now.
Chinese Culture Minister Jiazhen Sun hosted a working luncheon for his Greek counterpart at noon.
Liapis then inaugurated the exhibition on the New Acropolis Museum at the Greek Home in Beijing, where rich audiovisual material is being displayed regarding the new museum's planning and construction. A replica of the Parthenon's Western Frieze is also on display.
 PASOK leader meets party deputiesMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Tuesday met with 1st Athens Constituency party deputies Anna Diamantopoulou, Sylvana Rapti, Nasos Alevras and Christos Papoutsis.
The issues discussed included education, citizens' incomes, the social security system, traffic, greenery and cleanliness.
Apart from these topics, also discussed was the course towards the 8th PASOK Congress as well as political developments.
 PASOK secretary Athanasakis on party congressMain opposition PASOK party secretary Nikos Athanasakis and the Congress Central Organising Committee coordinator Christos Polyzogopoulos, speaking at a press conference coordinated by PASOK spokesman Riannis Ragoussis on Tuesday, said that the outcome of Sunday's process on electing representatives for the party's 8th Congress was positive for PASOK and the country's political system.
According to data presented, the number of members and friends of PASOK who participated in the procedures amounted to 208,738 people, a number expected to increase slightly and to reach about 210,000 people after the last stations are counted.
"What is of interest is the political framework," Athanasakis said, underlining the significance of the dialogue developed by PASOK with citizens in the various pre-congress events.
Data revealed by Polyzogopoulos showed that these events totalled 1,297, of which 920 were at municipal level, 132 at prefectural and 75 were theme events. Moreover, 170 visits were carried out by delegations of PASOK all over the country.
 European Commission: European radio stations networkBRUSSELS ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The European Commission announced here on Tuesday the operation from April of a network of European radio stations, aimed at the projection of issues of European interest.
Specifically, it concerns a consortium of 16 radio stations from 13 countries and another seven connected radio stations which will transmit simultaneously, every day programmes for the Europe of the "27". From the Greek side, taking part is "Sky" radio station.
The programmes of the European network will include daily news, interviews, discussions and live transmissions. The programmes will initially be broadcast in 10 languages (Greek, German, English, Bulgarian, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese and Romanian), while later on they will be gradually broadcast in the 23 languages of the European Union.
 Archbishop urges 'hands-off' stance by Church on name issueArchbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece on Tuesday indicated that the Greek Orthodox Church would not actively intervene in the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), despite voices within the clergy urging the opposite.
"All these things are outside the ecclesiastical ethos," he told reporters when asked to comment on a call by Thessaloniki's Metropolitan Anthimos for demonstrations, a referendum and other action over the name dispute.
"The Church follows all these issues, the national issues, with great interest and concern. The Church, you must know, listens to the concerns but also the desires of our people because it is kneaded with the people. In every case, we will act with seriousness and prudence," the Archbishop said.
Ieronymos made the statements in Ioannina, where he was visiting the Metropolitan Theoklitos on his name day.
The Archbishop's stance was backed by Nafpaktos Metropolitan Ierotheos, who noted that this was an issue of diplomacy in which the clergy were out of their depth:
"This is a national issue, it is social, political and diplomatic. At this moment, I think it is chiefly focused on the diplomatic element. We clerics do not know diplomacy and because we do not know the 'traps' of diplomacy, for this reason we ought not to get involved in diplomatic issues," he said.
 WPC Balkan Peace Movements to meet in Thessaloniki on weekendA two-day meeting of the Peace Movements of the Balkans will be held in Thessaloniki on the weekend, at the Macedonia University's auditorium, organised by the Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace (EEDYE) with the support of the World Peace Council (WPC).
Taking part in the WPC Balkan Conference will be representatives of 12 organisations from 10 WPC member countries in the Balkan region (Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Turkey, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Ukraine), and a WPC delegation.
Also reports by university professors will be presented on such topics as:
a) The partition of the Balkans and the creation of protectorates, the secession of Kosovo
b) US-NATO-EU interventions in the region, the role of foreign bases, strategies and troops
c) Hydrocarbon pipelines and energy problems, and foreign intervention and dependence in the Balkans.
According to an EEDY announcement, "in today's very critical moment for the peoples and states of the Balkans, the Peace Movements of the region will meet to exchange views and experiences, to plan the necessary joing reactions, mobilisations and events in the direction of intercepting the foreign intervention, and for the building of relations of peace, friendship and cooperation among the peoples".
 Suspect in Zachopoulos case denies chargesThe testimony of the 35-year-old woman accused of blackmailing former culture ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos ended late on Monday night at around 23:00, after a marathon session with 2nd Examining Magistrate Dimitris Economou that lasted nearly 15 hours.
The woman, who was brought before the magistrate at 9:00 on Monday from Korydallos prison under police guard, essentially the denied all the charges against her, which included attempted extortion, violating laws on personal data and participation in an attempted suicide.
Afterwards, her lawyer Costas Chrysikopoulos said that his client had suggested defence witnesses, presented arguments in her own defence, described her relationship with Zachopoulos and claimed that he had repeatedly promised her a permanent position in the ministry.
She also apparently described when, why and how she had taken a video of her illicit sexual encounters with the ministry secretary general, and given a detailed account of her two visits to media enterprises, claiming that the original material that she had recorded was a video tape and had been copied without her consent during her visit to the "Proto Thema" newspaper and her meeting with its owner Themos Anastasiades and the newspaper's journalist Ioannis Makrygiannis.
According to her lawyer, his client had "proved with a reliability that cannot be disputed that she neither produced nor disseminated the DVD that was included in the evidence," suggesting that justice turn its attention on the person who had supplied the DVD and whose actions, as he claimed, had such disastrous consequences for so many people.
She also filed for her immediate release from prison, where she is being held on remand.
 Deputy FM on HiPERB for AlbaniaThe 'foundation stone' for the upgrading of the Sagiada-Konispol-Sarande Corridor into a motorway has been placed, with the signing of the relevant contracts between the Albanian government and the project's contractors -- the Greek companies Egnatia Odos and AEGEK. The project is 80 percent fnanced by Greece in the framework of the Hellenic Plan for the Reconstruction of the Balkans (HiPERB), as Greek deputy foreign minister Petros Doukas noted ruing the signing of the contracts in the Albanian city of Sarande on Monday.
The Greek participation in the 37.5 million euros project, via the HiPERB, is 30 million euros, "a very substantial sum, given that it corresponds to 76 percent of the overall amount earmarked for public investments/large-scale projects in Albania, Doukas told ANA-MPA.
The 40.5 kilometer long road axis, which will connect Epirus with southern Albania, "will bring 18 towns in Albania out of their isolation and boost cross-border commerce", Doukas said.
He also said that the HiPERB for Albania has progressed at a fast pace, with 80.72 percent of the approximately 50 million euros earmarked for Albania having already been committed.
Also, in the framework of the HiPERB, subsidisation of 15 private production investments totalling 31.5 million euro have been approved in various regions of Albania, 10 of which have already been completed. The Greek contribution reaches 9.5 million euros, or 95 percent of the designated amount in this category, also translating into the creation of 480 jobs, Doukas continued.
With respect to funding for small projects under the HiPERB, 100 percent of the designated amoung (approximately 0.5 million euros) has been committed, Doukas said, adding that approximately 30 projects classified as "urgent" (i.e. village roads, sewage/draining systems, water-supply networks, small urban regeneration projects) in various areas of Sarande, Gjirokastr, Berat, the Pogoni region, etc.
Under the HiPERB, 79 percent of the overall amount earmarked for each recipient country is designated for 'public investments/large scale projects', 20 percent is designated for 'private production investments', and one percent is designated for 'small projects'.
 Event organised by Hellenic Israeli Chamber of Commerce and TechnologyDeputy Finance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou addressed an event organised by the Hellenic Israeli Chamber of Commerce and Technology in Athens on Tuesday, focusing on Greece's growth plan covering the 2007-2013 period.
Papathanasiou referred to the spectacular increase in commercial relations between Greece and Israel and to their excellent prospects. He added that despite the turmoil created in international fiscal markets and the very high prices of oil, Greece's growth plan for this period strengthens entrepreneurship and, in parallel, it contributes to social cohesion.
The deputy minister also underlined the government's main targets regarding growth. He mentioned the achievement of balanced budgets as of 2010 and the completion of tax reform (a decrease in tax rates, cracking down on tax evasion and the reforming of real estate taxation).
 Dialogue on broadband developmentA day-event titled "Dialogue on Broadband Development", organised by the National Regulatory Authority for the Telecommunications and Postal Services Market (EETT), was inaugurated in Athens on Tuesday morning by EETT president Professor Nikitas Alexandridis, while brief greetings were delivered by Transport and Communications minister Costis Hadzidakis, foreign ministry secretary general for public administration and e-governance Vassilis Andronopoulos, and finance ministry special secretary for digital planning Vassilis Asimakopoulos.
Hatzidakis reiterated the government's firm policy of "investing not only hopes but also money in new technologies", and announced that a package totalling 3.0 billion euros from EU and other resources have been earmarked for an ambitious project to bring fiber optic communication to every Greek home, which he said would render Greece a broadband leader in Europe.
He said that such fiber optic network connection programs have already begun to be applied in Denmark, Switzerland and France, with targets of under one million homes.
Greece, however, has set a target of two million households by 2013 while, before the coming summer, his ministry will be ready to unveil its detailed policy in this sector.
"Greece must not be a tech-phobic country. The new technologies can offer immense service to the country's growth, and it is our obligation to adopt them, to the benefit of the people," Hatzidakis said.
Prof. Alexandridis outlined the achievements of the EETT, in his opening address.
According to data he presented, "since 2007, with the 75 percent drop in the prices of broadband connection packages, and the equally impressive increase in Internet connection speeds, Greece now numbers more than one million broadband users, which must increase". He added that Greece had a long way ahead of it to cover the distance with the advanced markets.
 PPC's workers block board meeting over cooperation with RWEA work stoppage, during early morning hours, by Public Power Corporation's workers on Tuesday, led to the cancellation of the corporation's board meeting scheduled to approve a memorandum of cooperation with Germany's RWE Group and Halivourgiki, a Greek steel maker.
Workers blocked the main offices of PPC demanding that the board back tracked from a plan to create a joint venture with RWE and said there was no room for the operation of more than one coal using energy unit in the country.
P. Athanassopoulos, chairman and chief executive of Public Power Corporation said he was puzzled over the reactions to the memorandum of cooperation and the use of coal noting that a dialogue with Greek authorities has been made over any environmental impact from such a plan. He also accused opposition deputies, participating in the protest, of undermining the operation of a listed enterprise.
 Hellenic Fish Farming acquires Kalloni SA for 1.1 million eurosHellenic Firm Farming ABEE on Tuesday announced the completion of procedures to acquiring 100 pct of "Kalloni Fish Farming" at a price of 1.1 million euros. Kalloni SA owns a fish farming unit in Methana, eastern Peloponese.
 Eurobank securitizes mortgage loans worth 1.04 billion eurosEurobank on Tuesday announced the successful securitization of its mortgage loans, worth 1.04 billion euros, the fifth such action in the last few years. Themeleion V Mortgage Finance plc, a UK-based company, was the issuer of the bond loan, while Fitch and Moody's Investors Service offered AAA/Aaa credit rating to the bond issue. Morgran Stanley and Eurobank EFG Telesis Investment Firm SA were consultants to the deal.
 Alpha Bank says profits up 55 pct in 2007Alpha Bank on Tuesday said its net profits jumped 54 percent in 2007, compared with the previous year, to 850 million euros and announced it would pay a 0.90 euros per share dividend to shareholders, up 20 percent from 2006.
A bank statement said capital adequacy remained at high levels (12.5 pct), while net loans grew 30.6 percent to 42.1 billion euros in 2007. Loans in the domestic market totaled 1.2 billion euros in the fourth quarter of the year, while another 1.2 billion euros in loans were offered in the Southeast European market. Customers' capital totaled 46.7 billion euros, of which 2.3 billion euros were new deposits in the fourth quarter of the year. Alpha Bank said net interest revenues after write down losses were up 18.5 percent, while revenues from commissions grew 16.1 percent.
Pre-tax profits from activities in Southeastern Europe totaled 117 million euros, up 67.3 percent. Loans and saving deposits in the region grew by 88 percent and 46.4 percent, respectively, accounting for 18 pct and 15 pct of the Group's portfolios, respectively. The bank's branch network totaled 817 units in Greece and abroad in late 2007.
Commenting on the results, Yiannis Costopoulos, Alpha Bank's chairman, said the bank's share in the loans market of Southeastern Europe exceeded 7.0 percent, reaching the bank's long-term target and expressed his confidence that the new business plan's ambitious goals would be achieved. "In any case, were are closely monitoring a turmoil in international markets to take advantage of any opportunity arises," Costopoulos said.
Dimitris Mantzounis, Alpha Bank's chief executive, said the bank's results in the second half of 2007 surpassed earlier estimates.
 Titan Group reports lower 2007 resultsTitan Group on Tuesday reported a 5.0 percent decline in its 2007 turnover to 1.497 billion euros and said its pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) fell by 11 percent to 426 million euros over the same year. Net profits, after taxes and minorities, totaled 240 million euros in 2007, down 8.0 percent from the previous year, while earnings per share fell to 2.84 euros, from 3.07 euros.
The Group said it was the first time since 1993 that its profits fell on an annual basis, reflecting a sharp decline in the housing market in the US and a slowdown in the Greek market after the first quarter of 2007. Rising fuel and shipping costs, along with foreign exchange fluctuations also affected results.
Titan said it remained focused on implementing its strategic plan, envisaging a geographical expansion of activities. The group said investments totaled 500 million euros last year. The outlook for 2008 is affected by a slowdown in global economic growth and a different course followed by developing markets, compared with matured markets.
Parent turnover totaled 536 million euros last year, up 3.0 pct, while operating earnings (EBITDA) totaled 169 million euros, down 2.0 pct, reflecting a flat performance in the domestic market. Net profits jumped 13 percent to 119 million euros. The group plans to pay a 0.75 euros per share dividend to its shareholders, unchanged from last year.
 Greek stocks end flat on TuesdayGreek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the composite index of the market ending 0.02 percent up at 4,377.85 points. Turnover was an improved 302.1 million euros, of which 33.4 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Food/Beverage (1.80 pct), Oil (1.29 pct) and Industrial Products (1.24 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (2.87 pct), Telecommunications (2.17 pct) and Insurance (0.77 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index fell 0.16 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.15 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.75 pct. Elviemek (19.07 pct), Elton (12.63 pct) and Viosol (6.12 pct) were top gainers, while Eurobrokers (9.79 pct), Boutarkis (9.76 pct) and ANEK (9.09 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 142 to 88 with another 60 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.29%
Personal & Household: +0.56%
Raw Materials: -0.10%
Travel & Leisure: -0.18%
Food & Beverages: +1.80%
Financial Services: -0.39%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, National Bank, Bank of Cyprus and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 20.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 29.88
HBC Coca Cola: 30.60
Hellenic Petroleum: 9.74
National Bank of Greece: 39.20
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 19.50
Titan Cement Company: 30.70
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 133.652 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.55 pct, while the February contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.51 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 9,782 contracts worth 11.618 million euros, with 26,142 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 195 contracts worth 5.169 million euros, with 407 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 8,628 contracts worth 11.017 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (1,723), followed by Eurobank (859), Marfin Investment Group (123), Hellenic Telecoms (499), OPAP (455), Piraeus Bank (460), National Bank (455), Intracom (349), Marfin Popular Bank (1,131), Viohalco (562), Cyprus Bank (427), Hellenic Petroleum (743) and Postal Savings Bank (284).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.482 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 751 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 731 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 625 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened to 0.46 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.52 pct and the German Bund 4.06 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.05 pct from 4.04 pct on Monday, the two-day rate was 4.05 pct, the one-month rate 4.21 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.43 pct from 4.38 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.499
Pound sterling 0.759
Danish kroner 7.514
Swedish kroner 9.374
Japanese yen 161.73
Swiss franc 1.629
Norwegian kroner 7.947
Canadian dollar 1.484
Australian dollar 1.617
 Greek culture minister to inaugurate exhibition in New York on Minoan civilizationNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis will inaugurate the exhibition "From the place of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete, 3000-1100 B.C." which will be hosted at the Cultural Centre of the "Alexandros Onassis" Foundation in Manhattan.
The inauguration will be held on March 12 and the exhibition will remain open to the public until September 13.
The executive director of the Foundation in New York, Ambassador Loukas Tsilas, said that "the exhibition becomes a reality with the cooperation of Cretan museums, which responded with great generosity."
The exhibition will include 260 archaeological artifacts (gold jewellery, urns, copper weapons, tools and idols).
 Roundtable discussion on 'Mass media and Middle East'The Mediterranean and Middle East Studies Centre of the Pantios University's International Relations Institute will be organising on Wednesday a roundtable discussion on the theme of "The Mass media and the Middle East: Covering the war and the peace process".
Journalists from Greece and Israel will be speaking about the challenges, ethics, similarities and their differences regarding the journalistic coverage of events in the troubled region of the Middle East.
Participating in the discussion on the Greek side will be Nikolas Voulelis, managing director of the Athens News Agency (ANA), George Avgeropoulos, the creator of the award-winning Greek informative programme "Exantas" and Mihalis Mitsos, a columnist from the newspaper "Ta Nea", who is responsible for international issues and on the Israeli side, Avi Isaharov, a "Haaraetz" journalist and author of the book "The Seventh War: the History of the Intifada" and Nir Dvori, military reporter of Israel's "Channel 2" TV station.
The discussion, that will be held in the English language, will be coordinated by Tassos Telloglou, a journalist of the "Files" programme of the Skai television channel and a journalist of the Athens daily newspaper "Kathimerini."
 Special Audits Service busts fake invoices racketThe Special Audits Service on Tuesday reported the bust of a criminal ring involved in the issue and circulation of fake invoices on the market.
The group operated by establishing "ghost" companies that acted as a front, issued fake tax information and then supplied invoices to businesses that then claimed the return of VAT.
Members of the group were also found to be involved in the unregistered trade of precious metals, like gold and silver.
The total value of the fake invoices just for the years 2003 and 2004 came to 2,288,470 euros. Authorities are continuing the investigation in order to fully uncover the members of the group and locate all those involved.
 Partly cloudy on WednesdayPartly cloudy weather with southerly, southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 5-6 beaufort. Fog in the morning. Temperatures will range between 3C and 22C.
Overcast in Athens, with southerly, southwesterly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 4C to 17C.
 Christofias: solution prospects also depend on TurkeyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus' newly-elected President Demetris Christofias believes that a lot depends on Turkey as far as efforts to solve the Cyprus question are concerned.
He also believes that Turkish Cypriots have expectations and that both he, as Cyprus President and leader of the Greek Cypriot community, and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat have a responsibility to bring about results.
"There is an expectation in the Turkish Cypriot community as well. Talat and I have a responsibility to sort things out. I agree with them. We have to find the necessary understanding," Christofias said speaking Tuesday at a farewell ceremony at the House of Representatives as he leaves his post of House President to assume the duties of the President of the Republic.
The fact remains that "a lot depends on Turkey and Talat and I need to sort things out," he noted.
"I have promised the people a more just society, much has already been achieved in this direction but I believe that more can be done, things can improve and this is what I have said in my programme of governance, which the people have endorsed," the President designate stressed.
Christofias assured that as President of the Republic he will make every effort to solve the Cyprus question so that the people, who have been suffering so much, are vindicated.
"I will make every effort to reunite the country on the basis of principles and to see the human rights of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins respected," he added.
 Bush wants close cooperation with Cyprus President-electNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
US President George Bush has sent a congratulatory letter to Cyprus President-elect Demetris Christofias, noting the desire of the US government to keep cooperating closely with the government of Cyprus on a wide range of bilateral issues and in the search for a settlement that will reunify the island.
Speaking after a meeting with Christofias on Tuesday, US Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicker said that Christofias assured him that he had similar intentions as regards bilateral relations.
"Today I had the pleasure of meeting with President elect Christofias and the honour of presenting to him a letter from President Bush congratulating the President elect on his election, noting the desire of the US government to keep cooperating closely with the government of the Republic of Cyprus on a wide range of bilateral issues and of course as the most important issue in the search for a settlement that will reunify the island," the US Ambassador said.
He added that Christofias assured him that "that he had similar intentions toward our relationship and we agreed to keep in touch and make very real and very practical the desires expressed in the letter and then the President elect responded to the letter."
Asked about a possible new initiative on Cyprus, the Ambassador expressed hope that the contacts between the new President and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community will produce a situation in which the UN track moves forward very quickly.
"I think the UN has its own ideas about how to move forward as well. I think the international community is sending many notes of encouragement to the parties to get a process back on track and of course there is a body of UN work that will help the parties do that. We need to get to a substantive engagement of the issues as soon as possible and the parties and the UN are very capable of doing that," Schlicker said, adding that "all of the different political events of the last year that arguably have slowed down the process are now complete. We don't have to devote any attention to that. So let's all devote our attention to getting back to negotiations".
Replying a question regarding the 8 July Agreement, reached in 2006 between outgoing President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the presence of UN Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Imbrahim Gambari, Schlicker said "the agreement is there and it's a vehicle to be used."
"It provides a procedure by which the parties can engage but engagement itself is necessary but what they really need to engage in is not just the preparatory work but the substance of the issues so we need to find a way to using the available vehicles to get to substance as soon as possible," he added.
Responding to questions on the parties' convergence on this, he said "that's up to the two parties and the UN to define. I think they are perfectly capable of getting together and coming up with a mutually agreed basis of engagement and we think that they need to do so as soon as possible."
The Ambassador said that at this stage he had no information on a possible trip to Cyprus by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza.
On 8 July 2006, Papadopoulos and Talat agreed to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement that would reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
 Putin expects ties with Cyprus to develop furtherNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed the conviction that his country's relations with Cyprus will be enhanced and said bilateral cooperation can contribute to peace and stability in Europe.
In a letter to congratulate President elect Demetris Christofias on his election victory, Putin said he is convinced that "the friendly relations with Cyprus will develop further on a bilateral level as well as on international issues."
The letter was delivered today to Christofias by Russian Ambassador Andrey Nesterenko, who said President Putin expressed hope that "the multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries on the political and the social arena will contribute to peace, stability and security in Europe and in the world at large."
"Russia will continue to play an active role in efforts to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus," Nesterenko told the press after the meeting.
He said Moscow believes that "after Sunday's presidential elections there are new opportunities to resume the dialogue on a Cyprus solution to the benefit of the island's two communities, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot."
On a UN-brokered agreement in July 2006, the Ambassador said the process to implement the agreement must continue because this provides the fundamental principles and is supported by the five permanent members of the Security Council.
"We hope that at long last, this formula will be put in place and we expect to hear that direct contact between the two communities resumes," he added.
The July agreement provides for technical committees and working groups to discuss issues of substance as well as issues that affect the day to day life of Cypriots.
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