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Cyprus’ tight three-way presidential elections race February 13, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Politics.
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Polls show electorate split just days before Sunday’s presidential elections, as candidates make final push

The election campaign on the divided island of Cyprus is entering the final stretch, as Greek Cypriots prepare to go to the polls on Sunday in what is expected to be a tight battle between the three main presidential candidates, according to the latest polls.

Poll analysts say that the electorate is evenly split three ways, a first, which makes prediction almost impossible. However, data published on Monday, the final day of polling, showed Euro MP Ioannis Kassoulides of the Democratic Rally of Cyprus (DISY) bypassing by 0.1-0.3 percent Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) leader Dimitris Christofias to come in second behind incumbent Tassos Papadopoulos of the Democratic Party (DIKO). Analysts credit this slight rise in popularity to the increased dynamic of Kassoulides’s campaign in recent days.

With the polls clearly predicting that no candidate will win outright in Sunday’s vote and that in all likelihood the election will go into second-round runoffs between the two front-runners the following weekend, the candidates’ staff are focusing their campaign efforts on the final push this week.

Papadopoulos’s campaign, which aims at hanging onto its percentage of votes from people who traditionally support rival parties, is focused on what are perceived as the electorate’s three greatest «fears»: A fear of a revival of the Annan Plan for Cyprus, the fear of AKEL supporters that the «right» may come back into power via DISY, and the fear of DISY supporters for the communist party AKEL. Papadopoulos has suggested that the two rival parties have reached an agreement for an «historical compromise» should their candidate not make it into the runoffs.

On the island’s division, the foremost issue expected to dominate the electoral campaign, Papadopoulos emerges as the most likely candidate to handle the «no» vote from the 2004 referendum on the Annan Plan and to promote the July 8, 2006, agreement that foresees confidence-building measures between Nicosia and the breakaway state in the north of Cyprus.

Kassoulides’s and Christofias’s staff counter that Papadopoulos is alone in saying that the Annan Plan is still on the table, when even the United Nations itself has all but rejected it, and are instead opting to support bilateral negotiations.

Christofias’s staff categorically denies any deals between AKEL and DISY and insists that if Christofias is elected president, he will be forming a government of personalities from every part of the political spectrum. What his staff is trying to do is to bring back into the AKEL fold that 10 percent of its supporters who are now rooting for Papadopoulos, mainly because it was AKEL that abandoned the three-party coalition.

On the political front, Christofias’s camp accuses Papadopoulos of failing to take any decisive initiative to break the logjam in reunification talks and for failing to fulfill his pre-election commitments. It also accuses him of not fostering close enough ties with the United Nations and the international community at large.

On Kassoulides’s front, the campaign is also focusing on regaining DISY’s 10 percent that have opted to support Papadopoulos this time around. This group mostly comprises a portion of voters who rejected the Annan Plan in 2004, while a portion takes an anti-communist stance. DISY President Nikos Anastasiadis as well as other high-ranking members of the party are confident that their voters will be brought back into the fold in time for the crucial elections on Sunday.

One of the greatest advantages enjoyed by Kassoulides is votes from abroad, especially from students who have shown a clear preference for DISY over the other two parties. This bloc of voters has not been accounted for in any polls so far, though it is estimated that thousands of Greek Cypriots living abroad, who make up 3 percent of the total electorate, will be coming to Cyprus on Sunday to vote, and that approximately half of them will be casting their ballot for Kassoulides.

In his election campaign, Kassoulides has blamed Papadopoulos for policy decisions he has made in the past and Christofias for supporting him during their coalition. Kassoulides presents himself as a modern politician, with strong ties in Europe and a clean political record, and as the most capable candidate to bring something new to reunification talks.

The three presidential candidates are set to face their biggest test tomorrow during a live television debate.

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New metro line in works February 13, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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Work has begun this week in preparation for the construction of a totally new metro line that will run between Maroussi in northern Athens and the Veikou woods near Galatsi but will also pass through neighborhoods such as Kolonaki in the city center.

It was revealed yesterday that civil engineers have begun testing the ground in various parts of the city to determine where the tunnels are to be dug.

The preparatory work is due to be completed by the end of the year. The Environment and Public Works Ministry will then have to issue the final go-ahead for the project.

Line 4, also known as the “U” line because of its shape, will be some 21 kilometers (13 miles) long and will have 20 stations that will include Filothei, Zografou, Pangrati, Exarchia and Kypseli. A time frame for the opening of the line has not been made public yet.

Related Links > www.ametro.gr

Greek wine producers toast increased business February 13, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Wine And Spirits.
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Greek wine producers toast rise in consumption and promotion > Bucking the European trend, the consumption of wine has increased in the Greek market in recent years, reaching 3.7 million hectoliters, from 3.2 million hl in 2005, a Hellastat survey suggested.

Today in Greece there are 300 varieties of grape cultivated by 150,000 farmers, with production reaching 400 wine producers, the survey adds.

In the 1990s, the number of wine producers rose significantly. Furthermore, several local companies have been applying restructuring programs in order to improve their internal operations, production costs and the quality and variety of their products.

In 2006, the volume of Greek production fell to 3.9 million hl (a 4.72 percent decline from 2005). Some 90.5 percent of production concerned table wine, which has remained virtually the same over the last few years. Despite the drop in production over the 2000-2005 period, there has been a gradual rise in reserves, reaching 282,200 tons in 2005. However in 2006 reserves declined to just 225,800 tons.

In the 2005-06 season, Greek wine exports fell to 315,000 hl, a decline of 9.5 percent from 2004-05, while imported quantities came to 265,000 hl.

The challenges for the market are multiple, say the companies participating in the survey. The sector needs more favorable regulations from the European Union, such as a ban on using sugar for enriching wine and promotion of European wine in third countries, to name just two. In addition, the sector is targeting an increase in consumption by young people, the development of organic vines and the improvement of marketing practices for the promotion of the name and the quality of Greek wine on both the local and the international markets.

Greece’s Hygeia buys Cyprus’ Evangelismos February 13, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Health & Fitness.
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Greek medical center Hygeia said yesterday it agreed to fully acquire Evangelismos maternity clinic in Cyprus for 7.58 million euros ($11.01 million), as part of its expansion strategy.

The clinic owns 60 percent of private, 71-bed Evangelismos hospital in Paphos, built in 2003. The deal will be finalized after the completion of due diligence and the approval of the island’s competition commission.