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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-09-08
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Karamanlis to speak in Egaleo WednesdayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be addressing young people at an indoor gym in the Athens district of Egaleo on Wednesday, ruling New Democracy spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced in a press briefing on Tuesday.
The spokesman also referred to the possibility of a one-on-one televised debate between Karamanlis and the leader of the main opposition, PASOK President George Papandreou, saying that Evangelos Antonaros had undertaken to arrange a meeting between the two parties to discuss the details of such a televised encounter.
According to Koumoutsakos, Karamanlis would participate in at least one televised debate between the party leaders and he criticised PASOK for setting terms and using them as an excuse to avoid the party leaders' debate.
Earlier on Tuesday, Karamanlis had a meeting with Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, one day after the Parliament was dissolved for general elections. No statements were made afterwards.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis
 Papandreou meets with BoG Gov.PASOK leader George Papandreou met on Tuesday with Bank of Greece (BoG) Gov. George Provopoulos, focusing on the "economic impasse with which the country is faced," a main opposition party spokesman stated.
Papandreou underlined the need for a "new architecture" in the banking system to ensure appropriate business financing and economic growth. He also stressed that "cliental spending" in the public sector will have to be curbed and suggested redistribution of public spending while simultaneously implementing radical reforms in taxation.
The spokesman outlined the core of the announcements the PASOK leader will make in Thessaloniki stating that a PASOK government will proceed with the adoption of measures to protect consumers from the consequences of the terms included in loan contracts, the reconstruction of the economy and the implementation of new type regulations on the economy.
He also stated that a uniform property tax (ETAK) will be replaced by a "gradual" taxation of large properties, while as regards the settlement of the illegally enclosed spaces in buildings, he commented that the issue will be "re-examined" after the elections.
 Elections Committee allocates broadcast time, funding to partiesThe Cross-Party Elections Committee convened at the interior ministry for the first time in this pre-election period on Tuesday, chaired by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
After the end of the meeting, the Committee announced that the broadcast time allocated to smaller political parties and party coalitions with elected representatives will be increased, in both private and state-run radio and television stations.
Specifically, the two larger parties will each be allocated 37.5 percent of total free broadcast time (down from 40 percent in the previous general elections), while the smaller parties will share the remaining 25 percent (up from 20 percent in the previous elections). Also included in the smaller parties is that of the Ecologists-Greens, which succeeded in electing one MEP to the European Parliament in June.
Tuesday's meeting also decided that there should be two televised debates between the political parties: one between the leaders of the two main parties and one with all the party leaders with elected representatives. The details of the process and the terms of these encounters are to be decided by the political parties themselves.
Regarding the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which is going to the elections without a leader at its head, the committee decided that the party must itself decide who will represent SYRIZA during radio and television broadcasts.
On the issue of party funding from the state budget, this was set at 4.5 million euros and at a lower rate than the previous general elections because of the preceding European Parliament elections in the same year.
Pavlopoulos noted that 39 circulars relating to the elections had been signed in record time, showing that the procedures of the pre-election period had been largely made automatic. He also pointed out that hiring in the public sector and local authorities was forbidden until the election of the new government.
The minister said there would be one more meeting of the Committee that would include a representative of the Ecologists-Greens party. This was not represented at Tuesday's meeting, since the first meeting of the Committee has to decide whether parties elected in the European Parliament elections will participate.
 SYRIZA remains united, Tsipras stressesThe Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) alliance and its component members remain united and their supporters remained rallied about them, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader Alexis Tsipras stressed on Tuesday.
"Those who see a possibility that SYRIZA will be left out of political things in the country will be proved wrong," Tsipras stated after a visit to the Geotechnical Chamber of Thessaloniki.
Tsipras underlined that the more obviously the media and other political groups displayed their anxiousness to see the renewalist and radical Left removed from the political map, the more strongly they would rally SYRIZA supporters and all progressive citizens to SYRIZA's support:
"It is now apparent that the plans for majority governments and grand coalitions in order to promote anti-working-class policies depend on eradicating SYRIZA and that it should not be present in the political things of the country," he noted.
Tsipras's statement comes after a weekend when SYRIZA flirted dangerously close with complete disintegration, prompted by disagreements over who should lead the political alliance in the elections. This was averted at the 11th hour when SYN finally backed down from a demand that Tsipras lead both SYN and SYRIZA and replace Alekos Alavanos as head of SYRIZA's Parliamentary group.
In a last-ditch effort at compromise, the warring sides agreed to go to election without any leader at the head of the ticket, stipulating that each candidate would enter Parliament based on the number of votes they received individually. Shortly afterward, Alavanos announced that he will not be a candidate in the elections.
 Piraeus Bank optimistic over 2009 resultsPiraeus Bank on Tuesday expressed optimism over its performance this year and over the prospects of taking advantage of future opportunities in the market.
Christodoulos Antoniadis, the bank‚s deputy chief executive, speaking to reporters in Thessaloniki, said the securitisation of high-quality assets of Greek banks have significantly boosted their liquidity, while he predicted that Piraeus Bank‚s credit expansion this year would grow by 7-8 pct.
‚Banks never stopped giving loans, it was just a re-pricing of some relations,‚ Antoniadis said.
He noted that the Greek bank has opted to freeze its branch network expansion programme for 2009, but it was expected to resume again in 2010.
Antoniadis said Piraeus Bank has approved so-called ‚green‚ bank products worth more than 600 million euros in the last five year, and that it was expecting to approve another 1.2 billion euros in the next two years.
 Latest Frontex patrol harassedA Turkish military radar on Tuesday reportedly issued a warning to a Latvian helicopter patrolling in the eastern Aegean -- part of the EU's Frontex programme to combat illegal immigration -- to leave the area.
According to a Hellenic Air Force announcement, the incident occurred as the Frontex helicopter -- identified as an Italian-made Agusta A109 -- was patrolling in Greek air space near the small isle of Farmakonissi, which lies on a favorite route used by migrant smugglers ferrying mostly Third World migrants into Greece and the EU from the opposite Turkish coastline.
The incident marks the latest provocation in the eastern Aegean by the Turkish military against EU craft participating in the Frontex programme.
Caption: A file photo dated June 6, 2008 shows an international anti-smuggling operation off the coast of Cyprus. ANA-MPA / K. CHRISTODOULOU.
 Stocks end 0.59% higherGreek stocks continued rising at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the composite index of the market ending at 2,511.81 points, up 0.59 pct. Turnover was a moderate 196.7 million euros, of which 4.3 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Insurance (4.76 pct), Food/Beverage (4.54 pct) and Travel (3.33 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (11.16 pct), Technology (2.95 pct) and Raw Materials (1.35 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 0.42 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.43 pct down and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.45 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 114 to 106 with another 47 issues unchanged.
 Hotel revenues slide, reportGreek hotels‚ revenues are expected to fall by 16-18 pct this year, the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) announced on Tuesday.
The institute attributed this decline to four main reasons: decreased arrivals, shorter overnight stays, reduced spending and lower hotel prices.
ITEP noted that the expected percentage of decline in hotel revenues was very high and crucial for the viability of hotel enterprises.
Tourist arrivals in the country‚s largest airports fell 9.0 pct in August, after a 6.0-pct decline in July, with arrivals in the January-August period falling 8.5 pct, compared with the corresponding period in 2008. ITEP noted that the country‚s tourist season will be completed at the end of September, with forecasts for the month expected to be worse when compared with the July-August period.
ITEP said the disappointing performance reflected chronic structural problems within the Greek economy and the tourism sector, and of course, the ongoing international economic crisis.
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