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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-04-19

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Saturday, 19 April 2008 Issue No: 2873


  • [01] PM, PASOK leader clash in Parliament over farm sector policy
  • [02] PM on state's readiness for summer fires season
  • [03] PM promises "ruthless" stance toward doping
  • [04] Karamanlis, Karatzaferis clash in Parliament over 'controlled media'
  • [05] FM spokesman comments on FYROM 'note verbale'
  • [06] Nimetz: Greek gov't eager to resolve 'name issue'
  • [07] Papandreou meeting with Nimetz
  • [08] Bakoyannis briefs PASOK's 'shadow foreign minister'
  • [09] Former US top diplomat on 'name issue', Greek-US ties
  • [10] DM discusses Balkan developments with British, Israeli envoys
  • [11] DM Meimarakis on anniversary of April 21 coup
  • [12] PM Karamanlis to visit Moscow on April 29
  • [13] KKE leader Papariga visits Ioannina
  • [14] Coalition leader Tsipras and Serb ambassador discuss Kosovo
  • [15] Bakoyannis to receive Austrian award
  • [16] Three suspects in Siemens case to testify on April 30
  • [17] FinMin Alogoskoufis and Transport Minister Hatzidakis meet
  • [18] Head of Greece's financial crimes squad resigns
  • [19] PASOK on mortgages, OTE policy
  • [20] Greek fiscal deficit at 2.8 pct of GDP in 2007, Eurostat
  • [21] Agriculture minister briefs president on farming issues
  • [22] Greek farm prices jumped in February
  • [23] Tourism minister addresses general assembly of Hoteliers Federation
  • [24] Titan Group buys 50 pct of Turkey's Adocim Cimento
  • [25] Industrial new orders index up 1.1 pct in February
  • [26] Greek stocks jumped 2.90 pct on Fri.
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Greek bond market closing report
  • [29] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday
  • [30] Papoulias to attend events commemorating Messolonghi Exodus
  • [31] EU Justice and Domestic Affairs Council on immigration
  • [32] Greek leadership invited to LHC launch at CERN
  • [33] FM Bakoyannis attends presentation of book on Kosovo
  • [34] German historian writes book on "Wehrmacht children"
  • [35] General satisfaction with Citizens Service Centres, poll finds
  • [36] Members of two families arrested on drug charges
  • [37] Illegals arrested after car chase
  • [38] Car-train collision; no injuries
  • [39] Partly cloudy on Saturday
  • [40] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [41] House President: no shift in Turkey's policy
  • [42] Spokesman: people must prepare for federal solution Politics

  • [01] PM, PASOK leader clash in Parliament over farm sector policy

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou clashed in Parliament on Friday during a debate over a tabled question in the legislature by the latter on developmental policy in the agricultural sector.

    Karamanlis accused Papandreou of distorting the truth, and criticised the preceding PASOK governments of having led a shrinking farm sector and immobility, while Papandreou charged that the New Democracy government has "made a mess" with the EU's new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), adding that the government's statements "sounded good in 2004, but are judged by the farmers, who have an extremely poor impression of ND's work".

    The premier also accused PASOK of "forgetting" the Mediterranean products, which were of the most interest to Greece, during the negotiations for CAP, "whereas we succeeded in their inclusion, with the best possible terms ... This is the truth, and it doesn't change, no matter how many lies you invoke," Karamanlis said.

    Responding to other criticism by Papandreou, Karamanlis asked "is it truly pro-agriculture, a policy that was not absorbing EU funds up to 2004, and our policy against the sector, which raised the absorption rate from 18 percent, to 80 percent today?"

    He also criticised the past PASOK governments of attempting to muzzle farmers' protests, whereas the ND government endorsed dialogue and consensus solution of their problems, and of delaying payment of compensations by up to 1-1 1/2 years whereas under ND the farmers receive their compensation on time.

    Karamanlis stressed that his government knew very well the difficulties that the agricultural sector has gone, and was going, through, as well as the opportunities that were lost.

    "From 1981 to the present, immense EU funds have entered the country, for farming subsidies as well as for infrastructure projects in the agricultural sector, but unfortunately populist and party expediencies and profiteering perceptions prevailed," the premier said.

    Noting the international state of affairs and the need for the development of a flexible agricultural policy, Karamanlis stressed that the government was obliged to look at, and prepare for, the risks as well as the opportunities ahead, in order to ensure a better prospect for the farming sector.

    "Contrary to what the main opposition leader claims, Greece is applying a structured policy for agricultural development," Karamanlis said, citing as an example the "Alexandros Baltatzis 2007-2013" Agricultural Development Program, with an overall budget exceeding 6 billion euros, which was "among the first programs that were approved by the European Commission".

    He explained that the program contained important measures aimed at improving the competitiveness of agricultural production, protection of the water resources, boosting environment-friendly crops, and protection and enhancement of the country's forest wealth while, in addition to the developmental programs, EU subsidies in the new Programming Period (2007-2013) would reach 18 billion euros.

    Papandreou, in turn, accused the government of having forgotten the agricultural sector, and Karamanlis of not keeping his promise to negotiate, himself, the interests of the Greek farming sector in the EU.

    'You promised that you would wage battles in Brussels, going yourself to the council of (farm) ministers meetings. You never went. Your ministers went, and every time they negotiated our products, the decisions were painful, such as those for the tobacco producers," Papandreou accused Karamanlis, and wondered whether "it was incompetence, or a conscious policy in favor of the tobacco industries and the middle-men".

    He called on Karamanlis to "listen to the protests of the farmers, and particularly the fire-stricken, whom you have totally forgotten", adding that PASOK was building new relations of trust with the agricultural sector "and we will always be at its side, with plans and interest in the growth of the agricultural economy".

    [02] PM on state's readiness for summer fires season

    The budget for civil protection has nearly doubled and procedures to hire new firemen will soon be completed, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday in his reply to a question by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga in Parliament, who claimed that the state was inadequately prepared and equipped for the start of the summer fire season.

    "Protection of the environment and of our natural wealth is a national affair that concerns us all," Karamanlis said, pointing out that the budget for the Civil Protection agency in 2008 was increased by 85 percent from three million euros in 2007 to 5.8 million euros in the current year.

    The prime minister announced that National Planning for Civil Protection is in the process of being established that will particularly emphasise a spread of forces and carrying out intensive patrols.

    Other aspects of the government's plan were the construction and maintenance of six fire services and one fire station at a cost exceeding 155 million euros, as well as systematic efforts to fully reclaim illegal dumps.

    He also referred to other measures that had been taken and said the the interior ministry had given 35 million euros to local authorities throughout Greece, to be spent on programmes for the precautionary clearance of low-lying vegetation and other flammable material. Karamanlis pointed out that his was the largest sum given yet for this purpose and that its allocation would be completed within the next few days.

    In addition, procedures to re-hire 5,500 seasonal fire fighters had been completed and their training had already begun, the prime minister said.

    According to Papariga, the vacant positions within the fire brigade remained unfilled and all those now taken on would only be ready for active duty after October, so that 40 percent of the vacancies would not be covered.

    She asked that the seasonal staff be given permanent jobs and said that the forests had not yet been cleared nor the forest service prepared for the fire season.

    "We do not consider that there has existed or exists a government that is glad when forests burn and when there are dead. But we don believe that you defend a general policy that has repercussions, which you can see. But you can't 'patch up the holes' because [this policy] leaves no margins for a pro-labour policy," Papariga said, while stressing that the government would not be judged on its good intentions but on the results.

    [03] PM promises "ruthless" stance toward doping

    The government will be ruthless in weeding out and prosecuting cases of doping in sports, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined in Parliament on Friday. He was responding to a question put by the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos regarding the doping scandal involving Greece's national weightlifting team.

    "To make it short: we are raising the bar. In matters regarding the use of banned substances we are ruthless. Full investigation, full clean-up," he said.

    "I am categorically opposed to the rationale that collecting medals in a national issue, a case of national collective pride. On the other hand, we cannot generalise. We cannot consider that all those who do well in sports or are involved in championship sports, are involved in these sordid doings," Karamanlis added.

    According to the prime minister, Greece had been among the countries that led the way in fighting substance abuse in sports and one of the first signatories of an international UNESCO agreement on fighting doping drafted in 2005.

    The premier also listed the proposal made by Parliament's cross-party committee for a legislative framework to ensure transparency in sport, such as regular annual and surprise inspections on all recognised sports federations regardng their financial management and adherence to the laws, plans to revise privileges given to amateur athletes, as well as measures already taken, such a ban enforced since 2006 on the sale of dietary supplements and other substances by private gyms.

    He also revealed that the government is ready to table an amendment that will change the method of choosing sample-collection personnel and to assign the taking of samples exclusively to the Hellenic National Council for Combatting Doping (ESKAN), after problems arose in the way that the sample-takers carried out their duties.

    Another pointed stressed by the prime minister was the need to avoid "tarring everyone with the same brush" and seeing doping as the rule rather then exception.

    "This is the message we owe to the sacrifices of thousands of children who love sports," he told MPs, noting that distinctions and high-level competition should not become linked to these negative images.

    In his question, Alavanos also voiced concern about the involvement of big economic interests in sports - particularly, the acquisition of soccer teams that had a wide popular support base - and the failure of the Supreme Court prosecutor George Sanidas to intervene in cases involving doping.

    His comment earned criticism from Karamanlis, who said that justice was doing its job and had pressed charges in connection with the doping case in the weightlifting team as soon as it came to light.

    "And, in any case, attacks and especially attacks of a personal nature against judicial officials are not the very best thing that our public life can offer," the premier added.

    [04] Karamanlis, Karatzaferis clash in Parliament over 'controlled media'

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the leader of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party George Karatzaferis clashed in Parliament on Friday over the latter's claim that the sections of the media were being "controlled and manipulated by the government through a group of journalists".

    "I know of no groups, nor any mercenaries, nor secret funds. These things are contrary to my philosophy and have nothing to do with the present government. I do not know whether they happened in the past and I do not care. If they did occur, I condemn them," Karamanlis stressed, adding that his treatment at the hands of the media would be very different if this were not so.

    [05] FM spokesman comments on FYROM 'note verbale'

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said late Thursday that a note verbale lodged earlier in the evening by FYROM with the head of the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou -- over the fact that no invitation for membership was extended to FYROM at the recent NATO summit in Bucharest -- although technically addressed to Greece, was in essence addressed to the entire NATO alliance and the Joint Communiqué unanimously adopted in Bucharest.

    Koumoutsakos pointed out that the note verbale was lodged "15 days after the NATO Summit in Bucharest, and just 4 days after the proclamation of (early general) elections in the neighboring country".

    "In the midst, therefore, of the pre-election period, a note verbale is lodged, technically with Greece, but in essence addressed to the Alliance as a whole and the Joint Communiqué that was unanimously adopted in Bucharest," Koumoutsakos stressed, replying to a question on a late-night political program on NET television station.

    FYROM deputy foreign minister Zoran Petrov called Papadopoulou to the foreign ministry on Thursday night, to lodge a note verbale over "Greece's hindrance" of the extension of an invitation to FYROM for NATO membership at the alliance summit in Bucharest, claiming that in doing so, Greece was in violation of Article 11 of the Interim Agreement signed between the two countries in 1995.

    [06] Nimetz: Greek gov't eager to resolve 'name issue'

    The UN mediator for the nagging "name issue" between Greece and the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) arrived in Athens on Friday a day after holding meetings with the political leadership in Skopje, as diplomatic efforts appeared more-or-less revitalised following Greek government's refusal to sign-off on FYROM's NATO invitation earlier this month.

    "The Greek government is eager to resolve this issue, looking for a way that's honorable for both sides," the United Nations mediator, veteran US diplomat Matthew Nimetz, said after his meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Moreover, the Greek FM said the UN envoy did not table any new proposal for solving the 17-year-old dispute, which recently poisoned bilateral relations at the political level.

    "This (visit) merely affirms the resumption of negotiations, something that the Greek side wanted," Bakoyannis said, adding that Nimetz is taking into account that the neighbouring country is now in a pre-election period.

    "What's important to us is that the negotiations remain alive. Greece has no problem. It has a stable government and a political scene that agrees on the goals and policy that we have set," she told reporters after the meeting with Nimetz.

    On his part, the UN envoy noted that a joint communiqué issue at the conclusion of the Bucharest NATO summit earlier this month - which calls for FYROM to receive an invitation to join NATO once the 'name issue' is solved - did affect the situation.

    Greece followed through on its oft-repeated promise to block an invitation for the neighbouring landlocked state unless a "mutually acceptable" solution to the pesky "name issue" was achieved beforehand

    [07] Papandreou meeting with Nimetz

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou held talks on Friday with UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz, briefing him on his party's positions on the "name issue".

    "I conveyed three simple and clear messages to Mr. Nimetz: first of all, our support for the negotiating process under the uspices of the UN and the UN alone. Secondly, I reiterated our position of a 'red line' that expresses the great majority of the Greek people and, thirdly, I demanded that there should be objectiveness and sensitivity over Greek positions on the part of the mediator," Papandreou said after his talks with Nimetz in his office in Parliament.

    [08] Bakoyannis briefs PASOK's 'shadow foreign minister'

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday briefed her 'shadow cabinet' counterpart in main opposition PASOK, Andreas Loverdos, on developments surrounding the more important foreign policy issues like the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), relations between Greece and Turkey and the Cyprus issue.

    Loverdos said they had a general discussion that covered relations between Parliament and the government on issues related to the foreign ministry.

    [09] Former US top diplomat on 'name issue', Greek-US ties

    A former top American diplomat at the US embassy in Athens who resigned in 2003 in a much-publicised protest over the looming Iraq War, on Friday spoke in the Greek capital on a gamut of international issues as well as offering a "behind-the-scenes" perspective on the intricacies of Greek-US relations.

    Former US embassy political counselor John Brady Kiesling began his address, entitled "The Faces of US Public Diplomacy", by stressing that politicians the world over "are afraid of adopting decisions that have political costs."

    Along those lines, he didn't mince his words in calling current US President George W. Bush a "disaster" for America's public diplomacy, adding that any of the three current frontrunners to succeed Bush is more capable, while saying Barack Obama appears more advanced in terms of substantively affecting positive changes in US foreign policy. He also expressed his support for Obama's bid.

    In attempting to delineate the complex relationship between Athens and Washington over the past 40 years, Kiesling, a scholar of ancient Greek, history and archaeology in college and in graduate school, firstly noted that myths and legends have often hampered this long-standing alliance. Among others, he pointed out that a widely held view in Greece that Washington imposed or even supported a military junta in the country in 1967 was simply not true.

    In citing the futility of trying to prove this point, he drew a parallel to a conviction widely and religiously held by the Bush administration, a majority of US society and the media back in 2003 on whether Iraq possessed WMDs.

    Turning to a more timely issue affecting modern-day Greek and regional foreign affairs, Kiesling, a resident of Athens, said it was imperative to find a solution to the FYROM "name issue" in order to reverse any paralysis in Athens' exercise of foreign policy in the Balkans.

    Kiesling noted that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is an independent country, and one necessary to any integrated solution to the wars of Yugoslav secession and vis-à-vis the status of Kosovo.

    He also said he would favor a solution whereby FYROM uses its current constitutional name spelled out in the Cyrillic alphabet for internal use and another name, preferably "New Macedonia", for international use.

    Kiesling, whose resignation over the Iraq War meant that he also gave up his pension, said such a distinction, linguistically speaking, exists with Greece, which is official known as the Hellenic Republic, while citing Turkey's attempt at one point to use "Turkiye", the name of the country in Turkish.

    The address was held at the amphitheatre of the general secretariat of press & information.

    [10] DM discusses Balkan developments with British, Israeli envoys

    Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Friday discussed bilateral issues and developments in the wider region during successive meetings in Athens with the ambassadors of Britain, Simon Gass, and Israel, Ali Yahia. The meetings had been requested by the two ambassadors.

    [11] DM Meimarakis on anniversary of April 21 coup

    Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis issued an Order of the Day on Friday, concerning the anniversary of the April 21, 1967, military coup that took place in Greece, stressing thst "today, despite the reforms that remain to be completed (upgrading of education and of the health system, the modernisation of public administration and other things) Greece has an undoubtedly consolidated democracy and a developed economy."

    Meimarakis further said that "the consolidated democracy that we are experiencing today, without dividing lines and prejudices, is based on a new political culture that promotes confidence and respect for the different opinion and rids us of fanaticisms and passions."

    Lastly, the defence minister said that "we must all struggle constantly with a feeling of responsibility, unity and consensus for the effective defence of our ideals and of our national interests. And this duty is fulfilled by the members of our Armed Forces with strict adherence to their mission and full respect for constitutional legality."

    [12] PM Karamanlis to visit Moscow on April 29

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis will begin a working visit to Moscow on April 29, at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Friday.

    [13] KKE leader Papariga visits Ioannina

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga arrived in the city of Ioannina, in northern Greece, at noon on Friday and will be addressing a party rally in the city's main square in the evening.

    Speaking on arrival at Ioannina airport, Papariga said that "the Commission, on Monday, will be preparing for a hearing in which, as it appears, it will be launching a hunt against peoples, political forces and movements, trying to extract a declaration of repentance from them that they denounce their struggles of the past, just to achieve a general alignment in the European Union, where it will be imposing silence on the surging movement of peoples."

    Papariga further said that "we shall even be reaching the last village, all over Greece in order to inform and to denounce the extremely dangerous policy of the EU that, recently in particular, is making a special effort either to utilise real minority issues or to create fictitious new ones to enable the leading forces of the EU to have great strength in the Balkans and not to lose the leading position from the United States."

    [14] Coalition leader Tsipras and Serb ambassador discuss Kosovo

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alexis Tsipras discussed the issue of Kosovo in talks with the Serb Ambassador to Athens Liljana Bacevic on Friday.

    Tsipras expressed concern over the consequences of the unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence and reiterated the Coalition's positions that it should not be recognised by the Greek government.

    He also opposed changes in borders and "divide and rule" policies in the Balkans, adding that peace and stability in the region require the development of Inter-Balkan Cooperation on terms of joint development and mutual benefit.

    [15] Bakoyannis to receive Austrian award

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be the recipient of the Emperor Maximilian Award - European Award for Regional Policy and Local Government in a solemn ceremony to take place in the Austrian city of Innsbruck on May 8 in the presence of her Austrian counterpart.

    According to a joint statement issued by the Austrian State of Tyrol and the Municipality of Innsbruck, Bakoyannis, who has also served as Mayor of Athens, is honored with the 1997-instituted award in recognition of her exceptional service to European regional policy and local government. The award recipients are selected based on their efforts aimed at the implementation of the EU Subsidiarity Principle and the Council of Europe Charter of Local Self-Government and Regional Self-Government.

    The award is accompanied by a medal, a replica of a 1509 coin depicting Emperor Maximilian I, and a money prize of 10,000 euros.

    [16] Three suspects in Siemens case to testify on April 30

    Three businesses executives summoned for questioning as suspects in the Siemens kickbacks and bribery case were given until April 30 to prepare their testimony by Athens first-instance court public prosecutor Panagiotis Athanassiou on Friday.

    They include two executives at Siemens Hellas and a former member of management at the state-run Greek phone utlity Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE).

    A third Siemens Hellas executive was also given until April 30 to prepare his testimony by the public prosecutor when he was called in for questioning on Thursday, while three more individuals have been called to testify as suspects in the case on Monday.

    The charges against the seven concern fraud, legalising income from illegal activities (money-laundering) and forming a criminal organisation.

    The case has arisen through a virtually global investigation by the Munich prosecutor's office into claims that the German multinational paid out bribes and kickbacks to win contracts throughout the world, including in Greece.

    The local prosecutor's office has been investigating the aspects of the case involving Greece since 2006.

    The summonses issued to the seven refer directly to a massive 800-million-euro contract signed in 1997 to digitalise all of OTE's landlines.

    Financial News

    [17] FinMin Alogoskoufis and Transport Minister Hatzidakis meet

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Transport and Communications Minister Costas Hatzidakis met on Friday with the managing directors of several state-run utilities and enterprises.

    There was an analytical discussion on the course of enterprises, the implementation of the law on public utilities and the negotiations for the new collective labour agreement.

    [18] Head of Greece's financial crimes squad resigns

    The head of Greece's financial crimes squad, renamed the Special Audits Service by the current government, handed in his resignation to Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday.

    According to a ministry press release, the head of the service Spyros Kladas cited personal reasons and his resignation was accepted by the minister, who thanked him for his cooperation and wished him best of luck with his future plans.

    Commenting on the resignation, main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou linked this to earlier controversy surrounding Kladas and the involvement of his name in the scandal surrounding former culture ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos and the alleged blackmail attempt against him, as well as his dealings with high-profile TV journalist and media personality Themos Anastassiades.

    "Why did it take so long for the prime minister to remove Spyros Kladas? What criteria were used to choose Kladas for this position, apart from the fact that he is the prime minister's friend," Papaconstantinou asked.

    He stressed, meanwhile, that the resignation did not solve the problem or nullify the criticism levelled against the government by PASOK.

    "We continue to demand that all the evidence on Kladas' activities and on the case in which he is involved comes out," Papaconstantinou added.

    In response to reporters' questions, meanwhile, the spokesman said the resignation appeared to be the culmination of disagreements within the ruling party, possibly even a clash between Alogoskoufis and the prime minister.

    Earlier this year, Kladas' name became involved in one of the many twists of the Zachopoulos scandal and the fall-out of a quarrel between Anastassiades with his partner and co-owner of the newspaper "Proto Thema", fellow TV journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos.

    In mid-February, an appelate court prosecutor ordered the case involving the allegations against Kladas made by Triantafyllopoulos to be reopened and that the case file be returned to the public prosecutor that originally recommended that the case be shelved, with instructions to examine new and past witnesses and follow up any new evidence that may emerge.

    The prosecutor also called for an investigation into whether the Bank of Greece had been promptly informed of a substantial cash deposit made to a French bank by Anastassiades and whether it took the necessary action.

    [19] PASOK on mortgages, OTE policy

    Main opposition PASOK on Friday outlined five proposals for regulating relations between banks and borrowers, especially for mortgages, submitted by PASOK leader George Papandroeu.

    "No foreclosures for debts less than 20,000 euros in the case of first home. In no case should an auction concern property for values less than the tax-assessed value, the overall debt should never be more than double the original debt. There should be an end to 'asymmetric adaptation' of interest rates, it should not be possible that when central bank interest rates rise that interest rates should automatically rise and when they fall that interest rates on consumer loans do not fall. And there should be provision for processes to extend repayment of housing loans, without additional costs, for borrowers in difficulty," said PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou, urging the government to answer PASOK's proposals.

    The spokesman also replied to claims made on Thursday by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, in which he accused PASOK of inconsistency in its policy concerning the phone utility OTE.

    "We have been watching since yesterday an attempt by the prime minister to mislead concerning PASOK's policies for OTE. The truth arises from OTE's earnings in recent years: PASOK handed over a strong, outward-looking OTE in 2004, with a presence in the Balkans and competitive in a deregulated market, an OTE that each year reduced its rates and offered better services to Greek consumers," he said, adding that PASOK had at no time considered relinquishing state control of OTE.

    PASOK did not want OTE to be "the only utility in the old EU countries that is bought out by a utility from another country" and intended to preserve state control over the phone company.

    [20] Greek fiscal deficit at 2.8 pct of GDP in 2007, Eurostat


    Greece's fiscal deficit was 2.8 pct of GDP in 2007, while the country's public debt totalled 94.5 percent of GDP, Eurostat said on Friday. The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report over public finances of EU member states in 2007, Eurostat said Hungary (5.5 pct) and UK (2.9 pct) recorded the biggest fiscal deficits last year, while Finland (5.3 pct) and Denmark (4.4 pct) the biggest surpluses. The report showed that 11 member states recorded surplus budgets, while 17 member states cut their fiscal deficits.

    Italy (104 pct) and Greece (94.5 pct) recorded the biggest public debts in 2007, while Estonia (3.4 pct) and Luxembourg (6.8 pct) the lowest debts. Eurostat said Greece's fiscal deficit fell from 7.4 pct of GDP in 2004, to 5.1 pct in 2005 and 2.6 pct in 2006. The public debt also fell from 98.6 pct in 2004 to 98 pct in 2005 and 95.3 pct in 2006, while public spending reached 43.3 pct of GDP and public revenues 40.2 pct of GDP in 2007.

    The statistics service, however, noted that it was in talks with Greece's statistics service in an effort to clarify certain issues regarding the country's public finances, such as the way of recording community subsidies into national budgets, a statistics difference of 0.6 pct of GDP in last year's budget and spending covering local authorities and social security.

    Commenting on Eurostat's notifications, Greece's Economy and Finance ministry issued a statement saying that: "The European Statistics Agency's reservations over the general government's deficit in 2007 referred to technical issues that were currently dealt by the national statistics service and Eurostat, with the aim to be completed by September".

    [21] Agriculture minister briefs president on farming issues

    Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos on Friday briefed Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias on issues concerning farmers and livestock breeders. Afterwards, he said the president had shown a lively interest in Greek farmers and the Greek countryside, the fate of Greece's regional areas and farming incomes, especially for younger farmers.

    Papoulias especially focused on 'alternative' agriculture and proposed ways to support these, such as awards that would express the interest of the Greek State in their efforts.

    [22] Greek farm prices jumped in February

    Greek farm import prices jumped by 14 percent in February, compared with the same month last year, while the farm export prices index rose by 17.6 percent over the same period, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.

    Animal feed (21.9 pct), durable products (17.4 pct) and energy (23 pct) recorded the highest growth rates in the farm import price index, while fertilisers jumped 27.7 pct in February.

    In the export price index, cereals (66 pct), vegetables (20.3 pct) and fruit (21.6 pct) recorded the biggest percentage increases of the month, while olive oil was up 6.0 pct.

    [23] Tourism minister addresses general assembly of Hoteliers Federation

    Tourist Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos addressed the general assembly of the National Hoteliers Federation on Friday, stressing that it is imperative that tourist accommodation must fulfill the legal preconditions required for its operation and must be subject to permanent and regular checks by the relevant authorities.

    Spiliotopoulos added that an arrangement being promoted by the ministry defines the checking process and the granting of the Special Operation Licence.

    The minister further said that it will be the last arrangement of a transitional character and, upon expiry of the time limit set for its implementation, tourist accommodation operating without the Special Operation Licence will be sealed.

    He also said that he believes thst this arrangement will put an end to similar phenomena and minimise every possibility of Greek tourism being dealt a blow in any way.

    Spiliotopoulos placed emphasis on the issue of quality in the tourism sector which, as he stressed, "is not negotiable, timely and imperative" and necessitates high quality infrastructures.

    [24] Titan Group buys 50 pct of Turkey's Adocim Cimento

    Titan Cement Group on Friday announced the completion of the purchase of a 50 percent equity stake in Adocim Cimento Beton Sanayi ve Ticaret AS in Turkey.

    Titan Group sold more than 16 million tons of cement, six million metric tons of beton and more than 20 million tons of other building materials last year.

    [25] Industrial new orders index up 1.1 pct in February

    The new orders index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) rose by 1.1 pct in February, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.

    The statistics service, said the 1.1 pct increase of the index reflected a 3.7 pct rise in domestic orders and an 8.0 pct jump in external orders. The turnover index in the industrial sector soared 20.1 pct in February.

    [26] Greek stocks jumped 2.90 pct on Fri.

    Greek stocks surged 2.90 percent on Friday pushing the composite index at the Athens Stock Exchange strongly above the 4,000 level. The index ended at 4,080.65 points with turnover an improved 341.7 million euros, of which 51.9 million were block trades. Most sectors moved higher with the Banks (5.93 pct), Technology (3.58 pct) and Personal/Home Products (3.37 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Food/Beverage (2.24 pct), Oil (0.41 pct) and Travel (0.27 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index jumped 3.99 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.49 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 1.08 pct. ANEK (27.82 pct), Microsystems (13.16 pct) and Mailis (10.0 pct) were top gainers, while Viosol (18.46 pct) and Elviemek (9.62 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 183 to 58 with another 45 issues unchanged.

    [27] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices ended with a widened discount Friday's session on the Athens Derivatives Exchange, with turnover rising moderately to 148.834 million euros.

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 3.10 pct, while the May contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.45 percent. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 11,002 contracts worth 112.232 million euros, with 29,258 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 287 contracts worth 6.971 million euros with 356 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,735 contracts worth 21.556 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Investment Group (3,138), followed by OTE (3,043), National Bank (1,963), Alpha Bank (647), Marfin Popular Bank (1,138) and Mytilineos (888).

    [28] Greek bond market closing report

    Ôurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.916 billion euros on Friday, of which 1.19 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 726 million were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was again the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 892 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.43 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.54 pct and the German Bund 4.11 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.96 pct, the two-day rate fell to 4.02 pct from 4.05 pct, the one-month rate was 4.39 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.82 pct from 4.80.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.00%

    Industrials: +3.58%

    Commercial: +1.30%

    Construction: +1.64%

    Media: +1.11%

    Oil & Gas: -0.41%

    Personal & Household: +3.37%

    Raw Materials: +2.83%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.27%

    Technology: +3.58%

    Telecoms: +2.32%

    Banks: +5.93%

    Food & Beverages: -2.24%

    Health: +2.44%

    Utilities: +2.42%

    Chemicals: +0.58%

    Financial Services: +3.08%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and Marfin Popular Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 20.60

    ATEbank: 2.66

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 27.60

    HBC Coca Cola: 29.78

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.80

    National Bank of Greece: 33.82

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 19.20

    Intralot: 12.60

    OPAP: 24.24

    OTE: 18.50

    Titan Cement Company: 28.12

    [29] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.590

    Pound sterling 0.797

    Danish kroner 7.520

    Swedish kroner 9.469

    Japanese yen 165.04

    Swiss franc 1.626

    Norwegian kroner 8.014

    Canadian dollar 1.608

    Australian dollar 1.701

    General News

    [30] Papoulias to attend events commemorating Messolonghi Exodus

    Events commemorating the 182nd anniversary of the Messolonghi Exodus will be held in the western Greek lagoon city on Sunday, Orthodox Palm Sunday, attended by Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias.

    A doxology will be held at the St Spyridon Cathedral, followed by a procession of the Holy Icon of the Exodus and wreath laying by President Papoulias. Development Minister Christos Folias will be the main speaker in the celebrations representing the government.

    Within the framework of his visit to Messolonghi, President Papoulias will attend a formal luncheon hosted in his honor by the city mayor, while he is also scheduled to visit a mental health center for children.

    A reenactment of the Exodus will be held in the Garden of the Heroes on Saturday.

    The Messolonghi Exodus celebrations were launched on April 10 and events were held in Athens and Corinth as well as in the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Canada hosted by the Greek expatriate communities.

    Messolonghi revolted against the Ottoman Turks on May 20, 1821 and was a major stronghold of the Greek rebels in the Greek War of Independence. Its inhabitants successfully resisted a siege by Ottoman forces in 1822.

    A second siege started on April 15, 1825. After a year of relentless enemy attacks and facing starvation, the people of Messolonghi decided to leave the beleaguered city in the "Exodus of its Guards" on the night of April 10, 1826. At the time, there were 10,500 people in Messolonghi 3,500 of which were armed. Very few survived the Ottoman pincer movement after the betrayal of their plan.

    Due to the heroic stance of the population and the subsequent massacre, the town of Messolonghi received the honorary title of Hiera Polis (the Sacred City), unique among other Greek cities.

    The famous English poet and philhellene Lord Byron, who supported the Greek struggle for independence, died there in 1824. He is commemorated by a cenotaph containing his heart and a statue located in the town.

    [31] EU Justice and Domestic Affairs Council on immigration

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos attended the European Union Council of Justice and Domestic Affairs Ministers in Luxembourg on Friday, that examined cooperation among member-states on immigration issues.

    In decisions they reached, the ministers called on the Commission to present proposals soon concerning supporting and taking cooperation measures between member-states and creating a Support Bureau for providing asylum in particular.

    The Support Bureau will be responsible for providing structural and financial backing, in accordance with the extent of each country's needs and specifying the status governing European asylum.

    Pavlopoulos analysed for his counterparts the special nature of illegal immigration in Greece, stressing that the country is facing considerable problems due to its extremely accessible geographical formation, with its huge coastline and its islands as well, and due to difficulty in ascertaining the origin of people entitled to asylum.

    [32] Greek leadership invited to LHC launch at CERN

    The new director-general of CERN Rolf Dieter Heuer on Friday extended invitations to Greece's state and government leadership, including Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, to attend the official launch of CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on October 21 this year.

    In a meeting with Greece's Deputy Development Minister Stavros Kalafatis in Athens, also attended by the ministry's general secretary for research and technology Yiannis Tsoukalas, Heuer additionally presented invitations for the Geneva launch to Kalafatis himself and Development Minister Christos Folias.

    The heads of state and government of all 20 nations contributing to CERN, of which Greece was one of the 11 founding states in 1954, have been invited to attend the historic launch of what will be the world's largest and most powerful circular particle accelerator, with a perimeter spanning 27 kilometres and extending over two countries.

    During the meeting, Heuer and Kalafatis also discussed a number of issues involving cooperation between Greece and CERN, including greater and more active participation by Greece in the research facility's programmes and the transfer of technology to domestic industries in order for CERN to "pay back" some part of the significant annual financial support it receives.

    Among the topics discussed was the possible development of medical applications using CERN-developed technologies, such as a groundbreaking cancer treatment using hadrons, and greater involvement by Greek scientists in all aspects of CERN's operations and projects, especially giving a research director post to a Greek.

    In statements afterwards, Kalafatis said that Heuer's visit had helped strengthen ties even further between CERN and Greece, which had been one of its strong supporters since the year of its foundation.

    "We agreed that the main wager was that technological progress, scientific excellence and industrial development be compbined so that through these synergies any innovative achievements will be transformed into catalysts that will support an increase in the quality of life for people. Knowledge, investing in new technologies and innovation are necessary conditions for building a modern and prosperous society," the minister said.

    [33] FM Bakoyannis attends presentation of book on Kosovo

    Abook prepared and written by academic and former foreign ministry general secretary Stelios Perrakis on Kosovo, international rule of law and the issue of self-determination and secession was presented on Friday during an event in Athens.

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who addressed the event, referred to the situation today in Kosovo, warning that "the timely deployment of the European mission in this region is important. Possible negligence on the part of the EU will leave a vacuum that will be filled by a new 'alliance of the willing'."

    Bakoyannis clarified that Greece has not yet taken a decision regarding the new state of affairs in Kosovo, simply noting that "we must build bridges in northern Kosovo and not new dividing walls."

    [34] German historian writes book on "Wehrmacht children"

    A book by a German historian on the "children of Wehrmacht", the children of Greek women and German soldiers who were stationed in Greece during WWII , will be in Greek and German bookstores in a few months.

    Historian Kerstin Muth told ANA-MPA that her research in Greece began in 2005 and lasted two years, stretching from the city of Kavala in the north to the southern Aegean island of Crete.

    The issue is still a taboo and people do not like to talk about it, she said, adding out that it is important to bring these tragedies out in the open talk about them and help those involved get rid of the "stigma" of being the children of Nazi soldiers.

    Only six of the 10 "Wehrmacht children" located by Muth in Greece agreed to talk to her and share their experiences with her, while the rest refused any contact.

    The book will be published in Germany in the fall of 2008 and in the spring of 2009 in Greece.

    [35] General satisfaction with Citizens Service Centres, poll finds

    Up to 88 percent of Greek citizens have a positive view of Citizens Service Centres (KEP) according to a poll conducted by VPRC announced in an interior ministry seminar on Friday.

    The survey said that 68 percent of the public spontaneously recognised the centres and referred to them by their name, 93 percent were satisfied with their speed and 92 percent with the quality of the information they received from them, while 81 percent were satisfied with the hours that they work.

    [36] Members of two families arrested on drug charges

    Police in western Thessaloniki arrested a total of 7 members of two families and a foreign national in raids conducted in Polichni, Neapoli, Stavroupoli and Dedropotamos.

    A search in the apartment of a 30-year-old Albanian national in Polichni revealed 1,840 grams of heroin and a small quantity of hashish.

    In two apartments in Neapoli and Stavroupoli that belonged to a 49-year-old, his 48-year-old estranged wife and their 24-year-old son, police found 1,150 grams of hashish and a small quantity of hashish oil.

    Meanwhile, four members of the same family, a 44-year-old, his wife, 46, their son and daughter-in-law both 25, were arrested in Dedropotamos accused of drug trade. According to police, the suspects threw away an undetermined quantity of heroin before being nabbed.

    [37] Illegals arrested after car chase

    Border guards arrested a local man on Friday who was charged with transporting four illegal immigrants in his vehicle, and following a police chase through the streets of the central Greek town of Kalabaka.

    The driver and the four Albanian illegal immigrants in the vehicle were subsequently arrested.

    According to reports, the illegals were picked up in the Epirus mountain resort town of Metsovo. The driver was also found in possession of three counterfeit 50-euro banknotes.

    [38] Car-train collision; no injuries

    A private car was severely damaged following a collision at an unguarded railway crossing with a passenger train en route from Kalamata to Messini, southern Greece, on Thursday morning.

    No injuries were reported. An investigation into the circumstances of the accident is underway.

    Weather forecast

    [39] Partly cloudy on Saturday

    Partly cloudy weather with southerly, southeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 6-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 26C. Mostly fair in Athens, with southerly, southeasterly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 11C to 25C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 9C to 22C.

    [40] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The Government-PASOK (main opposition party) clash at the off-the agenda discussion in parliament on the economy and UN mediator on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz's visit to Athens dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "PASOK adopts the two faces of Janus - Mr. Papandreou, you sold off 66 percent of National Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) shares".

    APOGEVMATINI: "SIEMENS scandal: Prosecutor calls seven individuals - 10 more will follow".

    AVGHI: "(SYRIZA leader Alekos) Alavanos' harsh attack on government over OTE stock sale".

    AVRIANI: "With Deutsche Telekom in OTE...parties, labor leaders and public administration executives losing the kickbacks from SIEMENS".

    CHORA: "Amok against investments - Opposition sending away the foreign investors".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Prime Minister and opposition 'played' ping-pong on Thursday in parliament -The economy was the ball".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Papandreou (PASOK leader) openly undermining the economy - He threatens investors who want to acquire stock in DEKO(Public Utilities and Organisations)".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Hard times for the firestricken - The waited for 9 months to be compensated, but through a ministerial decision the majority is left out".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Opposition front against OTE sell-off ".

    ESTIA: "An ideological battle is mandatory - Why leftist opinions prevail".

    ETHNOS: "Government lays down the carpet for profiteers - Development Ministry's draft law fuels price increases".

    KATHIMERINI: "Work stoppage in the Tram over the firing of two irresponsable drivers".

    LOGOS: "Nimetz arrives in Athens with empty hands - The rift deepens in FYROM".

    NIKI: "Karamanlis acts as Pontius Pilate - He washes his hands of the crisis in the economy".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "European Union launches a 'terror' attack against working class' movements".

    TA NEA: "End to the ASEP (civil service hirings examination board) - Blue (New Democracy's colour) coup d'etat in hirings".

    TO VIMA: "Judicial summer: Trials on major cases accelerated".

    VRADYNI: "The time of Justice - Charges over the structured bonds, doping, Siemens cases to be pressed against specific individuals".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [41] House President: no shift in Turkey's policy


    Turkey has not shifted its policy to meet its European obligations and comply with international law and order, House President Marios Karoyan has said.

    For that reason, he added, the international community should exert pressure on Turkey, which occupies Cyprus' northern part, to contribute to a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Karoyan expressed hope that substantive progress will be achieved at discussions of technical committees and working groups, comprising experts from the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, to enable direct negotiations between the community leaders to begin.

    Speaking after a series of meetings with foreign ambassadors here, Karoyan said he briefed them about the current situation in the Cyprus problem and the Greek Cypriot positions. He also reiterated the strong will of the Greek Cypriot side to continue efforts towards a political settlement that will reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    "Turkey is the key holder to the solution of the problem, and for that reason pressure should be exerted on Ankara to adopt the policies of the international community, the UN and the EU," he said.

    Replying to questions, Karoyan noted that the most important thing, in order for the technical committees and the working groups to achieve substantive progress, is to observe the guidelines given by President Demetris Christofias.

    The long standing positions of the Greek Cypriot side, regarding the context for the solution of the Cyprus problem, he explained, are based on the implementation of a UN-brokered agreement in July 2006, UN Security Council resolutions, the High - Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979 providing for a bizonal bicommunal federation, and the EU principles and values.

    [42] Spokesman: people must prepare for federal solution


    The government believes that society must prepare for a bizonal, bicommunal federal solution in Cyprus and efforts must be made to inform Cypriots about such a settlement.

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Friday that "society must know what a bizonal, bicommunal federation means not only theoretically, but also in practice."

    "It is something we ought to do as a government and we will try to do just that," Stephanou said. "President Christofias acknowledges that such a preparation, unfortunately, has never taken place and this is something that should be done," he added.

    The Government Spokesman also pointed out the solution of the Cyprus problem will change the everyday life of the citizens. For that reason, he noted, "they have to be prepared."

    Stephanou was speaking as bicommunal committees began work on Friday to discuss day to day concerns as well as important issues of the Cyprus question, with a view to prepare the ground for negotiations between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS

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