|Monday, 22 April 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 3 May 2007 Issue No: 2585
 Government unveils new spatial planning framework for tourismEnvironment Minister George Souflias on Wednesday unveiled the government's new Special Spatial Plan for tourism, which he said would set down rules, criteria and directions for the spatial layout, organisation and development of tourism and its infrastructure needs.
According to Souflias, the project was exceptionally difficult and complex and corrected vast oversights stretching back several decades.
Also part of the framework is an action plan covering the next 15 years (2007-2022), he said.
The minister said the aim was to improve the competitiveness of Greece's tourist product, ensure protection and viability of resources, strengthen regional development policies and create a clearer framework for planning, the authorities providing planning permission and businesses.
The Joint Ministerial Decree unveiled by Souflias for consultation consists of 13 articles separated into seven sections.
The first of these differentiates regions on the basis of their exploitation for tourist purposes, creating different categories ranging from those that are developed or developing tourist areas to those that are protected under the Natura programme or as an archaeological site or monument and traditional settlements.
The second section deals with the spatial organisation and development of special forms of tourism, while the third addresses the special and technical infrastructure that must be developed in order to improve accessibility to certain areas and increase the number of tourist destinations.
The fourth section deals with special categories are land, such as forest or agricultural land, and dealing with conflicts with other uses.
Another tackles the construction of complex and integrated tourist infrastructure, such as hotels, furnished holiday homes and conference centres, while there is also a section concerned with overall planning directions and proposals for modifying existing legislation.
The minister also ruled out any immediate measures to settle the problem of buildings put up without planning permission, saying that he was considering the issue but did not intent to propose a solution before the next elections.
"I will announce my decision after the elections, provided I am still a minister at this ministry," he said.
The president of the Hoteliers Chamber of Greece, Gerasimos Fokas, said in Athens on Wednesday evening that "The Special Spatial Plan for Tourism was made public without even a fundamental procedure having been preceded for the exploration of the views of the agencies which represent Greek tourism services, among them being the Hoteliers Chamber of Greece."
Fokas added that "from an initial reading, it arises that a great part of the Plan, possibly the biggest, deals with the organisation of the functioning of the tourism sector and not with the organisation of the space. It furthermore resorts to certain terminologies and categorisations of 'sectors' of the tourism phenomenon which are not feasible and do not echo the dynamic reality of the constantly developing international tourism market."
He went on to say that among the other directions, the Plan includes forecasts on the so-called "Composite and Integrated Development of Tourism Infrastructures of Stable Vacationing" (tourism home) "in such a way that does not convince us that their institutionalisation will be to the interest of the existing tourism services and the viable development of Greek Tourism."
 Government not considering Greece's participation in anti-missile zone, FM saysForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, said that the government is not considering Greece's participation in the anti-missile zone proposed by the United States, but it is also not entitled to tell the Czech Republic and Poland what to do.
The foreign minister clarified that Greece's position in relation to the deployment of American missiles in Europe is identical to that of the European Union: relevant decisions "must not be unilateral, but collective and must concern the EU and the member-states of NATO in their entirety."
Replying to main opposition PASOK party Deputy Akis Tsohatzopoulos, during a session of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Bakoyannis said "American foreign policy chose and proposed to two member-states of NATO and the EU (Poland and the Czech Republic), the deployment of an anti-missile zone, plus some specific radars. This led the Russian government to a strong reaction, which did not accept the explanation given that these missiles are aimed at the so-called 'renegade' states and led the EU to taking a specific stance."
She added that "the EU's position in question was that such decisions must not be unilateral and that they must be decisions that must be discussed in the framework of the EU and of NATO. And that NATO has a specific institutional framework which is the Russia-NATO Committee, that whatever decisions must be collective decisions and concern the EU and NATO member-states in their entirety and must not be bilateral decisions. This is also the position of the Greek government."
Bakoyannis further said that "in no way are we speaking of the deployment of missile zones for new missiles in our country. We are trying, together with the remaining countries of Europe, to discuss the issue within the given framework in which it must be discussed. Consequently, in cooperation with Russia, there should be an absolutely transparent policy, because the last thing that our country wishes to enter, and I believe all of the EU, is a new weaponry systems conflict and a culmination in the acquisition of new weaponry systems. What we are trying to do is to keep this dialogue with Russia substantive."
 Greek, Tunisian FMs discuss bilateral ties, Euro-Med cooperationForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis received her Tunisian counterpart Abdelwaheb Abdallah in Athens on Wednesday, with both sides citing volition to boost relations at both the bilateral level and within the framework of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
During a reception that followed the meeting, the two foreign ministers exchanged views on developments in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region, while they agreed on the exchange of further high-level visits within the framework of efforts aimed at forging closer bilateral ties.
Bakoyannis accepted an invitation to visit Tunisia, while Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias is scheduled to visit the North African country in the next few days to sign an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation.
Bakoyannis stressed that Athens backs Tunisia's efforts for closer cooperation with the EU and that Euro-Mediterranean cooperation is an important element for bilateral relations.
The foreign minister also referred to Tunisia's participation in the Mediterranean Forum ministerial meeting to take place in Rethymno, Crete, in June.
On his part, the Tunisian foreign minister commented on his country's relations with the EU, stressing that Tunisia was the first southern Mediterranean country to sign the EU association agreement and that beginning in January 2008 it will be a member of the Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone.
He also pointed out that cooperation within the framework of the EU should not push aside bilateral relations, while he also cited greater tourism exchanges.
Earlier, Abdallah was received by President Karolos Papoulias.
 Stylianidis holds talks with Spanish counterpartDeputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis met on Wednesday with his visiting Spanish counterpart Bernardino Leon.
According to a ministry press release, the two ministers discussed prospects of developing bilateral economic relations with an emphasis on alternative forms of energy.
They also agreed on exchanging visits in the coming period aimed at hosting a forum between the two ministries, in cooperation with the relevant ministries of development and energy of the two countries -- with a date foreseen at the beginning of the year.
The aims of the forum were defined as being reinforcement of cooperation between the two sides and the shaping of common targets on trade and investment levels in relation to third countries, with Greece offering its strong Balkan and Black Sea networks and Spain its west African and Latin American networks.
 US resolution submitted on FYROM name issueWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
The US House of Representatives on Wednesday submitted a resolution calling on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to avoid conduct which will make more difficult the implementation of the objective of the United States of America and of the United Nations for the reaching of a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue.
"The House of Representatives encourages FYROM to work within the framework of the UN process with Greece for the implementation of the target of the policy of the USA and of the UN for the achievement of a mutually acceptable official name for FYROM," the resolution said.
 PM to speak in Parliament on ThursdayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to address Parliament on Thursday during an off-the-agenda debate requested by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on farming issues.
On Wednesday at 19:00, Karamanlis will inaugurate an exhibition in Parliament entitled "Maria Callas - 30 years later".
 Government on Tsitouridis resignation, bonds issueThe investigation into pension fund investments in government bonds - and whether these had suffered financial losses as a result - was still ongoing, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters on Wednesday.
He was responding to a barrage of questions concerning reports that bonds issued by the previous government had also caused losses to the public sector, as well as a report alleging that a 6.7 billion dollar bond issued by Goldman Sachs in 2001 had led to huge losses for the state sector.
Regarding the Goldman Sachs bond, Roussopoulos declined to answer until he had time to be informed of the facts.
He also noted that consultations for the appraisal of a proposal by JP Morgan to buy back the controversial bond that kicked off the investigation into fund investments were still continuing.
Asked to comment on the resignation of former employment minister Savvas Tsitouridis, meanwhile, he said that the statement on the issue made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had "adequately analysed" the reasons for his departure.
 Gov't on State Dept. report on terrorismGovernment spokesman Thodoros Rousopoulos on Wednesday was asked to comment on the recently issued annual US State Department terrorism report, during his regular press briefing, where he merely noted that "the main body of terrorism, the leadership and core members of 'November 17' (terrorist group) have been arrested."
He merely added terrorism is a scrourge of the times and that vigilance and social sensitivity are necessary to combat such phenomena.
 FM, gov't spokesman on developments in TurkeyForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday declined to comment at length over recent developments in neighboring Turkey, during a press conference after her meeting here with visiting Tunisian Foreign Minister Abdelwaheb Abdallah.
"Greece does not comment on domestic developments in Turkey, it follows them closely and with great interest," she merely stated, adding: "We hope to have a stable and democratic Turkey at our borders."
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos echoed the FM's comments during his regular press briefing, where he noted that "the Greek government hopes developments in Turkey are towards the direction of a European Turkey."
Finally, Deputy FM Evripides Stylianidis expressed Athens' hope that "constitutional order is adhered to until the end."
"...We will, in any case, respect the (electoral) verdict of the Turkish people and the Turkish national assembly, and we will try to continue our discussions in a productive manner in order to resolve issues that have pre-occupied us for decades now," Stylianidis said following his meeting in Athens with Bernardino León, Spain's junior foreign affairs minister.
 Papandreou pledges 'generous income redistribution'Addressing his party's Parliamentary Council, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday personally guaranteed a generous redistribution of income that would restore the purchasing power of Greek families, once PASOK was back in government.
He also pledged a significant increase in pensions and financial support for families with children from their birth until they completed their studies.
During a meeting focusing on the Greek family budget, he said that government policies had plunged Greek families into generalised insecurity and made them the least optimistic in the European Union, while leading them to over-borrowing and cutting their income to the point where they were unable to cover their monthly expenditures.
While wages, pay and pensions were being reduced, fixed costs were rising disproportionately, utility rates were constantly increasing and the profits were going to the few and powerful, PASOK's president underlined.
He predicted that the government would continue its present policy even if Greece exited from the excessive deficit process and was no longer under EU supervision, while stressing that its entry into the excessive deficit process had been unnecessary to begin with and had major repercussions on the prosperity of the Greek people.
Papandreou on developments in Turkey
PASOK's leader also referred to the latest developments in Turkey during the meeting, saying that the neighbouring country was heading toward political instability and would go to elections in a polarised climate.
He expressed hope for a calm and smooth return to democratic norms and the resolution of any differences in a democratic way.
Concerning the intervention of the Turkish military in the Turkish presidential election, he noted that this was a far cry from the rules and values of the European Union and did nothing to help Turkey's European accession course, which Greece has every reason to support.
It was extremely important for Greece that Turkey have sound democratic foundations and was a reliable conversational partner in politics, Papandreou stressed.
He criticised the government's handling of relations with Turkey, saying that it had chosen to let Turkey off meeting its obligations to Greece and the EU within a set timetable, as laid out in the decisions made at Helsinki, and put relations back on a bilateral footing.
In this way, it had left Greek-Turkish relations at the mercy of events and negative developments in the country's interior, he added.
Gov't spokesman responds
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday evening responded to statements made earlier in the day by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou.
"Mr. Papandreou is going through a generalised insecurity which leads him to tension and polarisation. Let him proceed alone on this path," Roussopoulos said.
 KKE SG Papariga speaks about bonds, TurkeyCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Wednesday visited the Halkida Cement Company.
"Here, in this business, is revealed the anti-popular and class character of the government's policy. Of the policy which all these years says: European abidance, discipline and subjugation," she said.
Papariga added that "this business, literally belongs to the people" and that "this business with its employers, wants to reduce the personnel and employ, in place of the dismissed, workers with worse labour relations, that is, it is blackmailing."
Referring to the bonds issue, Papariga said:
"There are no honest or dishonest bonds, clean or dirty. The logic that says: The reserves of the social insurance funds to enter gambling, either at the Stock Exchange, either in the bonds, will lead the working people to lose a great part of their money by their social insurance. Not even one share, not even one euro in gambling. The current government has of course the responsibility, but it also goes back to the law of 1999 which foresaw this development."
Responding to questions about developments in Turkey, Papariga stated:
"Yesterday's May Day showed that in Turkey there is not only the front of those with the head scarf and of the others without the head scarf. There is also a front where on the one side are the people and on the other, the power of the monopolies."
 Coalition party spokesman on overseas Greeks' votesCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Parliamentary spokesman Fotis Kouvelis has addressed a letter to Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, stressing his party's disagreement with the draft law "on the exercising of the right to vote in general Parliamentary elections by Greek voters living abroad."
Kouvelis pointed out that as a result of the draft law's arrangements, the votes of overseas Greeks are spread all over the country's election regions, equating in this way the inhabitant of whatever election region with a permanent overseas resident.
He added that it also deprives the overseas Greek of the right to have his own representative in Parliament who will come from the countries of residence, while noting that there is no provision for special agreements with countries of residence to secure the smooth and equal dissemination of the ideas and political rights of all Greek parties.
 Gov't on Cyprus' EU accession anniversaryGovernment spokesman Thodoros Rousopoulos on Wednesday commented on the occasion of the third anniversary of Cyprus' EU accession.
"The European prospects of Cyprus, which used to be just a dream, became a reality three years ago," he stated, adding that this reality is very helpful in all issues a country might face.
 FM, DM address event on 'Greece, a reliable partner'Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis were the main speakers at an event organised by the Politics and Communications Centre at a central Athens hotel on Wednesday night on the theme "Greece, a reliable partner".
Also present at the event were New Democracy (ND) party honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.
The event was held within the framework of the programme "Greece 2020: A vision for Greece of the children of 2000".
The foreign and national defence ministers referred to the stabilising factor which Greece plays in the broader region as a reliable partner and interlocutor for all the major matters which concern the international community and to the initiatives which are undertaken by the Greek side for the strengthening of Greece's international prestige.
 Archbishop Christodoulos says Cyprus solution mainly up to TurkeyNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos/CNA)
The solution of the Cyprus problem is mainly up to Turkey, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos has said.
Christodoulos, on an eight-day official visit to Cyprus, met Wednesday with House President Demetris Christofias, who briefed him on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.
Christofias ''analysed various aspects of the Cyprus problem, the solution of which is mainly up to the neighbouring country, Turkey,'' the Primate of the church in Greece said.
He added that ''the analysis by Mr Christofias was very important and detailed for us and it shed light on many aspects of the problem.''
Christodoulos said that both he and the Primate of the Cypriot Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, assured Christofias that ''the two Churches will stand by their people's efforts to solve their problems.''
''We thank him for the opportunity we had, which enriches even more our experience during this most important visit to the island,'' Christodoulos concluded.
A House of Representatives press release issued after the meeting says that Christofias ''presented a historical review of the problem and a thorough briefing on the latest developments in Cyprus and also referred to the continued efforts for rapprochement between the two communities, including the efforts taken by political parties.''
''Christofias and Christodoulos exchanged views on developments in Turkey concerning the Turkish presidential elections and how these may affect the prospects for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, in the framework of wider international developments,'' the press release said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Ambassador Mallias addresses event on 'Greece and USA: A bilateral strategic review'WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/L. Papantoniou)
Greece's Ambassador to the United States, Alexandros Mallias, on Tuesday addressed an event held at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs on the theme "Greece and USA: A bilateral strategic review".
The event was attended by professors, students as well as by officials of the American government and of the World Bank.
Ambassador Mallias was presented to the audience by the director of the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies of the school and former member of the White House's National Security Council during the 2000-2001 period, Hope Harrison.
In his speech, Ambassador Mallias described the strategic and geopolitical framework within which the cooperation between Greece and the USA acquires added value and specifically Greece's role as a world shipping power, crucial for world trade, but also as the emerging energy junction with catalytic contribution in the diversity of the energy sources of the European Union and of the West in general, thanks to the under construction oil pipeline (Burgas-Alexandroupolis) and the natural gas pipeline (TGI).
 PM briefed by ministers on agriculture issuesPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday was briefed on agriculture-related issues by Rural Development and Food Minister Evangelos Basiakos and Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos.
Boosting the Greek farm sector's competitiveness through an emphasis on high-quality produce and improving the absorption rate of community funds were discussed, according to Basiakos.
"Subsidies were paid earlier than ever before, while the last remaining payment will be made by mid May," he added.
Basiakos underlined that there is future in Greek agriculture, adding that all available EU and state funds are being used to keep the sector alive.
Responding to a press question, he said necessary measures have been taken to avoid drought-related problems in hydro-electric energy production and irrigation.
 Greece, Spain to expand relations in energy, researchGreece and Spain are broadening their horizons in bilateral relations focusing on energy, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with visiting Spain's Foreign Deputy Minister Bernardino Leon Gross, the Greek minister underlined the presence of large Spanish enterprises in the Greek energy market, evidence of strong interest in investments in renewable energy sources, natural gas and coal. The two ministers agreed in the formation of a working group to expand cooperation in energy and research.
The Spanish minister said the two countries faced similar challenges and that they could successfully work together. He also underlined Greece's leading role in the creation of a energy community in Southeastern Europe.
 Event reveals Greek investments in W. Balkans to reach 3.5 bln eurosAn event was held in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, on Wednesday by the Federation of Exporters of Northern Greece (SEBE) in cooperation with the World Bank's Foreign Investment Advisory Service (FIAS).
It was stressed at the event that by the end of 2007, the amount of Greek investments in countries of the western Balkans (Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, - including Kosovo - and Montenegro) will reach the amount of 3.5 billion euros, while in the broader region it will touch 14 billion euros, creating a total of 200,000 jobs.
Over the past six years, overall trade between Greece and the western Balkans remained stable, registering a moderate upward tendency in 2006, when it was registered at 1.5 billion euros, with this sum corresponding to just 2.2 per cent of Greece's total trade transactions, according to SEBE director general Sakis Papakonstantinou.
"This development constitutes a parameter of a 'start' of Greek business activity in these countries, from which 42 per cent of the total of our imports in 2006 originated and to which was directed 80 per cent of Greek export activity," Papakonstantinou said.
 Greek trade unions present proposals for the return of lost money to pension fundsGreece's two largest trade unions on Wednesday unveiled their proposals over restoring damages suffered by pension funds from their investments in structured bonds.
GSEE, the country's largest trade union umbrella, and ADEDY, civil servants' union, said they would urged political partis to table a draft legislation to Parliament and said their proposals were a "challenge to the government to prove, if it wished a fair solution to the issue".
GSEE president Yiannis Panagopoulos said a delay in presenting all financial data and contracts signed by pension funds in investments in structured bonds was a "problem of democracy and transparency," and underlined the credibility of both unions' law commission that presented the draft legislation. Panagopoulos said illegal actions have been made in the case and that the state had responsibilities. He noted that trade unions would demand the restoration of any losses suffered in the past from investing in stock shares, as well.
Spyros Papaspyros, ADEDY's president said the government must guarantee that there would be no consequences to the future of pensions and said that trade unions would support this political direction, with union, political and legal initiatives.
The draft legislation, presented by the two trade unions, envisaged that the state was obliged to return in full within 30 days to pension funds the money invested in structured bonds, and to take full responsibility of actions by third parties in the case.
GSEE and ADEDY have already decided a 24-hour general strike for May 15 demanding the return of lost money to pension funds and the punishment of all responsible in the case.
 Cretan delegation promotes island during D.C. visitBetter promotion of the tourist attractions in Crete, Cretan products and investment opportunities on the large southern Aegean island is the objective of a delegation's visit to the United States.
Among others, region of Crete Secretary Seraphim Tsokas, heading up a local government delegation, visited the US Congress in Washington and held meetings with Congressmen John Sarbanes and Gus Bilirakis. The delegation also visited the American Hellenic Institute.
Foreign diplomats, business people, representatives of the Greek-American community and journalists will have the opportunity to savor Cretan cuisine as guests of a dinner at the Greek embassy in Washington on Wednesday evening.
 Ambassadors of Arab countries conclude visit to MessiniaAmbassadors of Arab countries on Wednesday concluded a three-day visit to Messinia, southwestern Peloponnese. The visit was organised at the initiative of the president of the Messinia Chamber of Commerce, George Karabatos.
The visit took place within the framework of contacts with Arab-speaking Mediterranean countries, which started through the Cultural Itineraries "Olive Roads". The Cultural Itineraries have been organised since 1999 by the Messinia Chamber of Commerce and are aimed at the registration and implementation of the "olive culture" to the benefit of its growth in the olive producing regions, mainly through the support of tourism and the increase of consumption of olive products.
The visit was flanked by the organising of an event on the theme of the olive, as an agency of viable growth, but also as a cause for cooperation and contacts aimed at the implementation of major developmental projects, such as the conversion of Kalamata into a Southern Pillar of Greece in the Mediterranean and its coastal shipping link with Libya.
 Greek-Turkish Iraklio conference postponed due to Turkish electionsRapid political developments in Turkey and the proclamation of early elections in the neighbouring country, on June 24, have made impossible the holding of the Greek-Turkish conference in Iraklio between June 22-24 with the cooperation of the Iraklio Chamber of Commerce, the Izmir Chamber of Commerce and the Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce.
The postponement of the event was discussed on Wednesday morning by members of the Izmir Chamber's delegation and the first vice president of the Iraklio Chamber, Yiannis Perakis.
The Turkish Chamber's representatives arrived in Crete for a briefing on the process for preparing the conference and stated that they are absolutely satisfied by action taken so far, while calling for the understanding of the Greek side for the reasons leading to its postponement.
 Piraeus Bank announces purchase agreement for Avis HellasThe Piraeus Bank announced an agreement on Wednesday for the purchase of 100 percent of shares of the Olympic Trade and Tourist Enterprises SA company, under the title of Avis Hellas, that is active in the car rentals sector for 25.5 million euros.
According to the announcement by the Piraeus Bank, the acquisition of Avis's activities in Greece will boost the work of the Piraeus Group in the developing market of longterm car rentals.
 Greek PMI eased to 53.2 in AprilGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index eased to 53.2 points in April, from 54.8 points in March, reflecting slower growth in production and new orders.
The index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 indicate a shrinking sector.
Greek manufacturers raised their production levels in April, although growth rates slowed from March. Greek manufacturers also raised their employment levels in April, although at a slower pace compared with March and finally export prices grew at the lowest rate since August 2006.
 P. Athanassopoulos named new Tellas chairmanPanagiotis Athanassopoulos, Public Power Corporation's chairman and chief executive, on Wednesday was elected chairman of the board in Tellas SA, replacing Dimitris Maniatakis who resign from his post.
Tellas, a telephone services company, said the new board also includes Andrea Costa, vice-chairman and CEO, and Khaled Bichara, Tarek Abou Alam, Giuseppe Gola, Dimitris Bousdekis and George Aggelopoulos as members of the board.
 Alpha Finance to leave Members' Association of ASEAlpha Finance, a member of Alpha Bank Group, on Wednesday announced its intention to leave the Members' Association of the Athens Stock Exchange without offering any reason for its decision.
Meanwhile, the Association in a statement defended the presence of N. Pantelakis as a member of the Greek market's watchdog, saying that N. Pantelakis was a member of the Capital Markets Commission since April 2004 as a representative of the Members' Association of the Athens Stock Exchange in which he served as vice-chairman.
 Greek stocks end 0.82 pct higherGreek stocks moved higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, following a similar positive trend in other European markets. The composite index rose 0.82 pct to end at 4,775.86 points with turnover a heavy 450.9 million euros.
Sector indices ended higher with the Food/Beverage (2.98 pct), Telecommunications (2.58 pct) and Oil (2.49 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Media (0.87 pct), Technology (0.41 pct) and Travel (0.35 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.58 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.68 pct higher and the Small Cap index was up 0.22 pct.
Ideal (20.0 pct) and Epilektow (11.11 pct) were top gainers, while Marfin Financial Group (15.25 pct), Galis (10.86 pct) and Karamolegos (4.76 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 128 to 116 with another 60 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.49%
Personal & Household: +1.06%
Raw Materials: +0.38%
Travel & Leisure: -0.35%
Food & Beverages: +2.98%
Financial Services: +1.30%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.64
Public Power Corp (PPC): 19.72
HBC Coca Cola: 33.20
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.40
Emporiki Bank: 21.70
National Bank of Greece: 41.24
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 30.60
Titan Cement Company: 42.00
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices ended Wednesday's session with a significant discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange despite a strong performance in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.49 pct and the May contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.54 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 7,308 contracts worth 91.526 million euros, with 31,712 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 299 contracts worth 13,371 million euros with 1,638 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 4,448 contracts, with investment activity focusing on PPC's contracts (564), followed by OTE (402), National Bank (460), Alpha Bank (250), Intracom (162), Intralot (234) and Motor Oil (373).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.353 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 1.173 billion were bid orders and the remaining 1.180 billion euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 992 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.23 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.43 pct and the German Bund 4.20 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were stable. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.84 pct, the two-day rate was 3.84 pct, the one-month rate 3.86 pct and the 12-month rate 4.30 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.369
Pound sterling 0.687
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 9.238
Japanese yen 164.59
Swiss franc 1.665
Norwegian kroner 8.191
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.521
Australian dollar 1.658
 National action plan anticipates ban on tobacco and alcohol sales to minorsHealth Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday presented a national action plan for children's protection that anticipates a ban on the sale of tobacco and alcohol to children under the age of 18, as well as social insurance coverage for the efforts of women desiring to have in vitro fertilisation.
He said that in mid-May, with the signing of the plan, children under the age of 18 will not be able to purchase tobacco or tobacco products and cigarettes and other products, as well as alcohol.
People selling these products will also have a great share of responsibility, since they will be obliged to note that their sale to people under 18 is forbidden and to implement the directive.
Avramopoulos said that an end should be put at last to the anarchist scene of profiteering against children.
The plan also anticipates quality checks, with continuous checks at all units in the country that host children, advertising campaigns and safeguarding the health of children, while emphasis will be placed on prevention with persuasive arguments.
It will further provide women unable to have children to receive coverage from their social insurance funds for as many attempts that are necessary for them to succeed in having a child.
It has been estimated that one out of every five couples in Greece are faced with fertility problems, while efforts to achieve in vitro fertilisation are costly.
The measure concerns all women over 30 who are unable to have a child and who were able to date to try three to four times, since only so many efforts are covered by their social insurance funds.
"We support the young family, we are proposing integrated coverage by social insurance funds for all efforts at in vitro fertilisation," the minister said.
 Premier Karamanlis inaugurates exhibition on Maria CallasPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis inaugurated on Wednesday evening an exhibition on "Maria Callas - Thirty Years After", organised by the Foundation of the Hellenic Parliament.
The exhibition is housed at the Parliament's exhibition space of the foundation at 1, Mitropoleos Str. and Filellinon, Syntagma Square.
Costumes designed by famous painter Yiannis Tsarouchis for the opera Medea, photos from representations of operas with Callas in theatres all over the world and personal objects, are some of the items exhibited.
The "Maria Callas - Thirty Years After" is part of a series of exhibitions staged by the Foundation of the Hellenic Parliament and is organised within the framework of the Maria Calls Year.
 Transport minister visits Athens airport ahead of Final Four, Champions League eventsTransport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis visited Athens airport on Wednesday on the occasion of the beginning of the new tourist period and ahead of the two major sports events due to take place in Athens, the Euroleague Basketball Final Four event on May 4-6 and the final of the European Soccer Champions League at the Athens Olympic Stadium on May 23.
Liapis toured the airport and stressed that indications are very optimistic for an increase in tourist arrivals. The dynamic course of Athens airport during the first four months of the current year, with an increase reaching 10.5 percent, ranks Athens airport among the fastest developing airports in Europe.
Referring to the two major sports events, the minister said that a plan similar to the one applied during the Athens Olympic Games has already been prepared in order to serve aircraft and fans.
On the night of May 24, following the Champions League final, 25,000 fans will be leaving, meaning that travel by air will be even greater than that occurring during the Olympic Games.
The Champions League final will be played between Liverpool of England and the team qualifying after Wednesday night's second leg match between Milan of Italy and Manchester United of England. Manchester United had won 3-2 in the first leg match.
Liapis also announced that as of September, Air China will be starting direct flights between Beijing-Athens-Beijing, with a stopover in Dubai during the first phase.
 Int'l symposium on human values hosted by Athens AcademyThe effect of science and technology on human values and questions regarding the future of humanity will be the focus of a three-day international symposium that opened in Athens on Wednesday with the participation of scientists and academics from some 20 countries.
The 2nd International Symposium, organized by the Athens Academy, opened in the presence of Greek Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda, Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou, main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International President George Papandreou, Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios, a representative of Archbishop Christodoulos and representatives of the local academic and scientific community.
Scientific progress has improved living conditions offering solutions to humanity but, at the same time, has created inequalities and threats, Benaki-Psarouda stressed in her address.
 Restoration works at Mount Athos cathedralRestoration works will soon be underway at the Protato Cathedral in the all-male monastic community of Mount Athos in Halkidiki peninsula, northern Greece.
The 1.4 million-euro project, scheduled to be completed in June, aims at protecting the world heritage monument, while at the same time respecting the structure's identity.
 Charges filed in hooligan-related stabbing deathFive individuals, including a member of the Olympiacos Piraeus football club's board of directors, were charged on Wednesday with accessory to homicide in the death of a 26-year-old man last March - during an unprecedented "rumble" between rival Olympiacos and Panathinaikos Athens supporters in an east Attica township.
The five men had been questioned by an examining magistrate as possible suspects in the incident, which claimed the life of Mihalis Filopoulos. All five deny any involvement in the stabbing death.
One of the suspects was also identified as a "spokesman" for an Olympiacos fan club in the port of Piraeus.
 Mostly fair on ThursdayMostly fair weather is forecast throughout most of the country on Thursday, with local showers in northern, central and southern Greece. Possibility of isolated storms in the north. Small rise in temperatures, ranging from 7C and 27C.
Sunny in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 13C and 27C. Overcast in Thessaloniki, with chance of local rainfall, and temperatures ranging from 10C to 24C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceInternational attention between what's billed as a brewing "showdown" between staunch proponents of the secular state in Turkey and that country's ruling party, a preliminary investigation by the appellate court prosecutor into 1999-2002 stock market "bubble", the ongoing bonds affair and the ubiquitous opinion polls dominated the front pages of Wednesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "5.1 percent wage increase based on 2007 collective labour agreement"
APOGEVMATINI: "10,321 public sector job openings - Detailed lists"
AVGHI: "Firm 'no' to looting"
AVRIANI: "Prosecutor summons the swindlers of (former Prime Minister) Simitis' government - Structured bonds inquiry dating back to 1999, when massive looting of pension funds and huge stock market scandal occurred"
CHORA: "7,340 hirings in the public sector for permanent and seasonal workers"
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Partition is break up and not solution, declares Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece from Cyprus"
ELEFTHEROS: "Prosecutor's office probe into 'Dirty '99' - The most infamous stock market scandal unfolds"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Headscarf or Kemal - Post-modern coup in Turkey"
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "(Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis' time to pay - Three opinion polls show damage to government"
ESTIA: "Immediate elections best solution for government"
ETHNOS: "Karamanlis' loses ground according to opinion polls - Bonds affair: polls show prime minister's share of responsibility for first time"
KATHIMERINI: "Headscarf or tanks in Turkey - Constitutional Court cancels first round of presidential elections"
LOGOS: "Government seeks disengagement from bonds affair - (Former minister Savvas) Tsitouridis' removal was imminent"
NIKI: "Bring back money - Workers' response to cover up"
RIZOSPASTIS: "(Communist Party-affiliated trade grouping) PA.ME May Day events in 70 cities"
TA NEA: "The bonds affair damages Karamanlis' image".
TO VIMA: "The prosecutors scared the government - The scandal domino effect".
VRADYNI: "Bloodsucking looting of pension funds by PASOK - Athens appellate court prosecutor launches probe into 1999-2002 period"
 Spokesman: Cyprus not indifferent to political situation in TurkeyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus is not indifferent to the political situation in Turkey, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said here Wednesday, pointing out that political developments in this neighbouring country cannot justify AnkaraÔs intransigence on Cyprus.
Speaking after a meeting of the Council of Ministers, Pashiardis said that ''Naturally developments in Turkey do not leave us indifferent, given that they affect developments in the Cyprus problem, since it is well-known that the policy and the final decisions on the Cyprus problem are taken in Ankara.''
''It is not up to Cyprus to comment on the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey,'' the spokesman said, adding however that "what we can say now is that developments in Turkish politics cannot be projected as justification for Turkish intransigence on Cyprus."
''Turkey remains rigid on Cyprus. Irrespective of developments in Turkish politics, our side remains ready to cooperate for the implementation of the July 8 agreement,'' he added.
In Brussels, commenting on the political situation in Turkey, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn said that if a country wants to become a member of the EU, it needs to respect the principles of liberty, democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the supremacy of democratic power over the military, on which the EU is founded on.
Furthermore, commenting on remarks by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Pashiardis said that the Turkish side reaffirms constantly that its aim is not the reunification of Cyprus but the political upgrading of the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.
Talat had said that ''the request for diplomatic recognition can be brought back on the agenda, if the partition of the island seems permanent.''
''If, as Mr Talat says, the policy of diplomatic upgrading resurfaces, then the Turkish side has every reason to contribute to the failure of talks relating to the July agreement and the Turkish side is doing exactly that to constantly confirm that its aim is not the reunification of Cyprus through a federal solution but the political upgrading of the illegal regime,'' the spokesman said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
President Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of UN official Ibrahim Gambari, 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 of the Cyprus problem.
 Austrian President to visit CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Federal President of the Republic of Austria, Dr Heinz Fischer, will pay a three-day official visit to Cyprus from May 10-12.
In statements after a Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis announced that during his visit the Austrian President will hold talks with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and have separate meetings with House President Demetris Christofias, the primate of the Cypriot Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Nicosia Mayor Eleni Mavrou.
Pashiardis said that Fischer's visit takes place within the framework of the friendly relations between Cyprus and Austria and will contribute to further strengthening cooperation between the two countries both on the bilateral level and within the EU.
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