|Wednesday, 14 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-04-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 29 April 2008 Issue No: 2879
 PM Karamanlis visiting Moscow on Tuesday, gives interview to ITAR-TASSPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be carrying out a working visit to Moscow on Tuesday for talks with outgoing President Vladimir Putin and his successor Dmitri Medvedev.
Medvedev will be assuming his duties officially on May 7, while the next day the State Duma (Lower House) will be expected to ratify the presidential proposal and elect Putin prime minister.
According to the Kremlin's program, the meeting with Karamanlis, who is expected back in Athens on Wednesday, will be among Putin's last with foreign leaders in his presidential capacity.
Speaking an an interview with the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency, Karamanlis said that Greece and Russia are promoting the preservation of peace and stability in the Balkans and in the wider region of the southeastern Mediterranean with their steadfast policy.
"We have mutual interests in the sphere of growth and prosperity and views that are close on many international issues," the prime minister said, expressing satisfaction for visiting Moscow and President Putin for the third time and terming him "a great European leader, as well as a friend of my country."
Karamanlis also expressed his satisfaction because "over the past four years Greece and Russia have come closer, through substantive, intensive and close cooperation on important issues of mutual interest," adding that this "strategic" cooperation, as Putin termed it in 2004, "proved its special impact and importance, not only in the framework of bilateral relations, but with regard to our European future as well."
The prime minister said that existing preconditions show that this upcoming meeting will also prove to be "beneficial for both the Greek and Russian people in a multiple way" and noted that he is looking forward to meeting newly-elected President Medvedev "since we still have many challenges ahead of us and even more opportunities to strengthen our relations further and to strengthen our friendship in all sectors."
Replying to a question on cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector, Karamanlis termed it "substantive, as well as having widening prospects" and pointed out that at the end of 2015 Greece will be consuming seven billion cubic meters of natural gas, 80 percent of which will be coming from Russia.
"The need to diversify energy sources is now a priority for the countries of Europe, given that considerable quantities of oil and natural gas will be flowing into the European market from the Caspian region in the near future," the prime minister further said.
Focusing on the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline in particular, Karamanlis said that the course of the project is developing according to schedule since "the international consortium that will be undertaking its construction and management has already been created in the Netherlands and it is working intensively to achieve the project's implementation."
Karamanlis gave a similar interview to the Russian RIA-Novosti news agency, noting that his upcoming visit to Moscow will underline the continuation of Greek-Russian relations and the political will to deepen and widen existing widespread cooperation.
 Greece-Russia to sign agreement on South Stream pipeline on TuesdayMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/S.Goutzanis)
Greece and Russia are to sign on Tuesday an agreement regarding the construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline, in the framework of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' visit to Moscow the same day and his meeting with outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Relevant negotiations have concluded on Monday afternoon in the Russian capital and the agreement will be signed at noon on Tuesday at the Kremlin by Greek Development Minister Christos Folias and Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Christenko.
The Greek branch of the South Stream pipeline will start from the Greek-Bulgarian border and will transfer natural gas to Italy through Greece. It is foreseen that the agreement will be valid for 30 years, while 10 billion cubic metres of gas will be transferred annually through the pipeline. Part of this quantity will be consumed in Greece which will also receive transit fees.
The Russian government has already signed relevant agreements with Bulgaria, Italy and Serbia for the other branches of the pipeline.
The agreement also provides for the establishment of a company responsible for the construction and exploitation of the pipeline and the establishing agreement will be signed by the Greek natural gas society DESFA and the Russian Gazprom company.
Greece's energy policy is based on three criteria, that is, security of the country's energy equipment, the diversity of energy supplies and the decrease in oil dependence and the gradual substitution of oil by natural gas.
Prime Minister Karamanlis' meeting with President Putin on Tuesday is the sixth between the two leaders in the past four years. Karamanlis will also meet with President-elect Dmitri Medvedev. Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos will also take part in the meeting.
 Russian media refer to the signing, on Tuesday, of Russian-Greek energy agreementsMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th.Avgerinos)
Greece and Russia plan to sign an agreement on the former country's participation in the South Stream natural gas pipeline project, at the end of Tuesday's talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, the Russian news agencies ITAR-TASS and RIA-Novosti reported on Monday.
Both Russian news agencies, citing a presidential representative and Kremlin sources without naming them, said that "the implementation of very important common projects in the energy sector, including the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and the natural gas pipeline South Stream" will be at the focus of the Putin-Karamanlis talks.
According to the sources cited by the two news agencies, at the conclusion of the Putin-Karamanlis meeting, "the signing of an inter-state cooperation agreement for the construction and exploitation of the Greek section of the (South Stream) pipeline is planned."
 Politicians visit troops on Easter SundayPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias spent Easter at the village of Frangades in Ioannina, northwestern Greece. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was also in Ioannina with his family.
During his visit to the Sagiada guard post on Easter Sunday, President Papoulias expressed his wishes for "peace in the Balkans." He stressed that "the peoples of the region should live peacefully and cooperate and open their future without the intervention from third parties, foreign forces."
He later visited the Filiata military camp in Thesprotia.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Easter Sunday visited the Drymada guard post on the Greek-Albanian border and expressed "the need for the unity and solidarity of the Greeks in a difficult period for the whole world."
He added that "we can give and win the difficult battles and make reality our common visions."
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou remained at home in the northern Athens suburb of Kastri, following the bicycle accident he had the previous Sunday.
PASOK Secretary Yiannis Ragoussis in statements said that "the message of the Resurrection is a message of life, hope and optimism."
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga celebrated Easter with the troops at the Tanks Training Centre in Avlona, Attica.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synapismos) leader Alexis Tsipras is spending Easter in Vienna, while the head of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Alekos Alavanos, is on the island of Tinos.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis attended the Resurrection service at Litohoro, Pieria. At noon on Easter Sunday he visited the XXIV Tanks Brigade.
 PM Karamanlis visits guard post in northwestern GreecePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis, in the morning of Easter Sunday, visited a guard post at the northwestern border of Greece.
Specifically, he visited the Drymada border guard post, just ten kilometers from the Greek-Albanian border.
In a statement, he expressed the need for unity and solidarity of the Greeks.
"For Orthodoxy and Hellenism, the Resurrection is a celebration of faith, hope and optimism. In a difficult period for all the world, what we are obliged to safeguard and broaden is solidarity and trust between us. It is our unity. We can all give and win difficult battles. To find solutions to the problems which we face, to make reality our common visions," Karamanlis said.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces leadership went to the Tank Training Centre in Avlona, Attica. Shortly after 11:30 a.m., Armed Forces General Staff chief General Dimitris Grapsas received Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga at the Centre and an hour later National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.
Also present were deputies Vasso Papandreou (main opposition PASOK), Thanassis Leventis (Radical Left Coalition) and Makis Voridis (Popular Orthodox Rally).
 Easter message by PASOK leader PapandreouMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou in a message expressed the wish that "this Easter will be a transition to a better life for all."
"I wish from the depth of my heart that the Resurrection of Christ brings to all Greeks, Greece and to Hellenism of the diaspora, love, health and happiness. Easter for us Greeks is of particular importance. It symbolizes the passing to light, the resurrection of hopes. Hope constitutes a crucial dimension and a motivating force of every people," Papandreou said.
He also noted that Greeks, "despite the difficulties they have to face, each one separately and all together, hope and are active for a better Greece, with more potential and prospects for all the citizens and particularly for the youth, for a life with justice and dignity."
 Most Greeks against cooperation between ND-PASOK parties, poll showsThe great majority of Greeks are against the possibility of a coalition government being formed between the New Democracy and PASOK parties, in the event that no party wins an absolute majority in the next elections, while most people voting for ND in last year's general elections prefer new elections.
This was deduced by a nationwide poll carried out by the ALCO company, on behalf of the magazine FANTOMAS, which also shows public distrust of parties and opinions of them that are more negative than positive.
Only 29.7 percent of respondents liked the idea of cooperation between ND and PASOK, while 45.2 percent favored possible cooperation between PASOK and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).
Lastly, on the question of what must be done if no party wins an absolute majority in the next elections, 55.5 percent favoured the formation of coalition governments.
 Deputy FM Valinakis to attend EU General Affairs CouncilDeputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis will represent Greece at the European Union's General Affairs and Foreign Relations Council in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
According to a foreign ministry press release on Monday, the agenda includes EU-Serbia relations, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the developments in the Middle East and the situation in Zimbabwe and Iraq.
On the sidelines of the Council's sessions, a meeting will be held between the Troika's foreign ministers and Russia.
 Deputy FM on Cyprus solution effortsNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
A solution to the Cyprus problem must take into consideration the fact that Cyprus is a member of the European Union, Greek deputy foreign minister Yannis Valinakis said in an interview appearing Saturday in the Cyprus daily 'Fileleftheros', stressing that the EU comprised the biggest guarantor power for all its member-states.
Valinakis said that the Cypriots, in their entirety, today feel the "European security umbrella" protecting them, which he said was evident in their smooth, without any substantial problems, movement throughout the entire island.
Asked whether this matter has been discussed with Britain and Turkey -- which together with Greece comprise the three guarantor powers under Cyprus' independence treaty -- Valynakis replied that "Greece and Britain, as partners in the EU, always have open channels of communication", while with Turkey, contacts were taking place on a series of topics having to do with bilateral relations as well as Turkey's EU accession efforts.
In view of a new Cyprus solution effort on the horizon, Valinakis sent a message to Ankara to abandon its tough, unproductive positions and to shape up to the content of the recent statement by the UN Security Council president clarifying that reunification of the island republic must be founded on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.
Regarding concern over domestic political developments in Turkey, the Greek deputy minister said that those developments should not serve as a pretext for Ankara to avoid taking the practical steps that would contribute to a functional solution based on the UN resolutions and the EU principles and values.
On Turkey's relations with the EU, Valinakis stressed that Athens backs the neighboring country's accession course, but on condition that Ankara fulfills all its commitments to the EU.
 European Commission assessments on European economiesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis)
The European Commission publicised its regular six-month assessments on Monday on the state and prospects of the European economies until 2009.
According to data provided by the Commission, economic growth in Greece will be double that of the eurozone average in 2008 (3.4 percent compared to 1.7 percent) and more than double in 2009 (3.3 percent as against 1.5 percent). Greece's growth rate in 2007 was 4 percent.
As regards Greece's fiscal deficit, the Commission's data showed that it closed at 2.8 percent of GDP in 2007 and will drop to 2 percent in 2008.
The Commission also predicts 2 percent in 2009 as well, but bearing in mind that the main points in the state budget plan for the next year are not yet known.
Furthermore, according to the Commission's assessments, the Greek public debt will decrease from 94.5 percent of GDP in 2007 to 92.4 in 2008 and 90.2 in 2009.
Lastly, it predicts that inflation in Greece will increase from 3 percent in 2007 to 3.7 in 2008 and to 3.6 in 2009, while unemployment will remain unchanged at 8.3 percent in 2008, as it was in 2007, and drop to 8 percent in 2009.
 'Gov't does not plan taking new economic measures'The Economy and Finance Ministry announced on Monday that "the European Commission neither asks for, nor does the government plan to take any form of new measures."
In regard to a European Commission report on EU economies earlier in the day, the ministry added that "what is most important is the greatest possible faithful implementation of the budget, as has been voted by the Greek Parliament."
The finance ministry went on to say that "the European Commission's forecasts confirm the dynamism of the Greek economy in relation to the other economies of the Eurozone and is very close to the corresponding evaluations of the Economy and Finance Ministry. The deficit is below 3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) both for 2008 and 2009 and the rate of growth is double the rate of growth of the Eurozone.
"As is the case with the other economies of the Eurozone, imported inflation and the repercussions from the international financial crisis constitutes a major problem."
"The economic policy, which is being implemented with consistency these past few years by the government, safeguards the Greek economy to the greatest possible degree.
"Within this framework, the European Commission neither asks for, nor does the government plan to take any form of new measures. What is most important is the greatest possible faithful implementation of the budget, as has been voted by the Greek Parliament," the finance ministry concluded in its announcement.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.589
Pound sterling 0.804
Danish kroner 7.522
Swedish kroner 9.376
Japanese yen 164.37
Swiss franc 1.628
Norwegian kroner 8.023
Canadian dollar 1.617
Australian dollar 1.682
 Composer Marios Tokas passes awayRenowned Greek Cypriot music composer Marios Tokas passed away at dawn on Easter Sunday after a battle with cancer for about nine months.
Marios Tokas was born in Limassol, studied music from a young age and in Athens he studied Philology at the National Kapodistria University.
He started his composing career at secondary school.
He came to Greece in 1975 and observed Philology lessons and at the same time composed.
He was married with three children.
His funeral will take place on Wednesday afternoon at the First Cemetery in Athens. Cyprus President Demetris Christofias will attend the funeral.
 Three wounded in Zefyri shootoutThree people -an 11-year-old girl, a 13-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man- were wounded in the legs by hunting rifle pellets during a quarrel between two families in the region of Zefyri on Sunday. The quarrel broke out in a gypsy camp near the local soccer stadium.
The three were taken to hospital for treatment, while the man and the boy were discharged soon afterwards but the girl had to stay for further treatment.
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