|Tuesday, 22 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-07-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 19 July 2007 Issue No: 2648
 PM tours site for new nat'l library, opera house in AthensPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday toured the site of the former Athens race-track at the coastal Faliro delta site, where he was briefed over plans for to create a new national library and National Opera House (Lyriki Skini) on the large tract of land.
The tour and briefing were conducted by Stavros Niarchos Public Benefit Foundation officials Spyros Niarchos, Philippos Niarchos and Andreas Drakopoulos, who also held talks with the prime minister earlier at the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters).
Speaking to reporters, Karamanlis reminded that he had signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Niarchos Foundation on June 11 for implementation "of a major project, budgeted at 300 million euros, that will be fully financed by the Foundation".
"Here, on the approximately 50 acres of state land, the education and cultural park will be created. A green space for residents of Athens; a park for environmental awareness; a centre for all Greek citizens, as the ultra-modern and environmentally friendly facilities of the new national library and the new opera house will be built. Facilities that will operate with 'green energy' and will also be accessible to our fellow citizens with disabilities," the prime minister said.
He added that the relevant procedures were progressing at a rapid pace so that, soon, the contract may be signed and construction of the project may begin.
"I wish, once again -- and I believe that I am conveying the sentiments of all the citizens -- to congratulate and thank the Foundation and its people for everything -- many and important -- they are offering our country," he said.
The Foundation was established by late Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos.
 PM to meet EU Commissioner Kyprianou, local authority groups on ThursdayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis is scheduled to meet European Commissioner for health Markos Kyprianou at 10:00 on Thursday. He is then scheduled to have meetings with the leadership of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) at 11:00 and the presidium of the national prefectures' union ENAE at 12:30.
 Gov't clarifies statements made by GiakoumatosClarifying statements made by Deputy Employment Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos during a radio interview earlier on Wednesday, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that the minister had not been referring to the main opposition party PASOK.
"As the deputy minister of Employment clarified to me himself, in his interview with "Flash" radio he meant people who might claim to defend forests but actually see green spaces and want to burn them in order to build homes there," the spokesman said.
During the interview, Giakoumatos made a statement that "green burns greenery, green was burned in elections and is now being burned before the elections." This was construed by several people as a reference to the PASOK party, whose colour is green and which lost the last general elections.
Asked to clarify Giakoumatos' statement about "political-party fires", Antonaros reiterated the minister's explanation and urged reporters not "to give greater dimensions to the interview than those it really has".
Regarding the government's overall conclusions regarding the multiple fires that have broken out over the past days, the spokesman said that these were favoured by the weather conditions.
"When there are high temperatures, strong winds and almost zero humidity, this favours the start of many fires. What is important is that, when fires appear, the services whose job it is to put them out should rush to the scene and deal with them promptly and effectively," he added.
Replying to questions claiming the existence of incentives to people to set fires, Antonaros said that people who set fires to further their own interests would be subject to the repercussions outlined by the law, pointing out that three suspects were arrested in western Greece for setting fires on Tuesday.
In a later reaction to the comments, PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou referred to a "completely unacceptable incident" by a government lacking "national responsibility".
The one-time education minister said Giakoumatos' statements merely aimed to "once again, and even amid disaster, fish for petty partisan expediencies, and to continue a policy of slandering and muck-racking against PASOK, this time on occasion of the forest fires."
 Minister reports fast progress in work for Parnitha reforestationWork on the reforestation of burnt areas on Mount Parnitha was progressing faster than originally predicted, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias said on Wednesday as he presented a presidential decree prepared by his ministry.
During a press conference, the minister said that the head of the Attica Region is expected to sign a document in the next few days that will declare the burnt areas due for reforestation, while a presidential decree for the protection of the mountain was sent to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday, which incorporated the observations made in a Council of State ruling.
The presidential decree defines the outer limits of Parnitha's mountainous expanse and divides the area into 16 protection zones, which span regions that are outside the limits of the town plan in the municipalities of Aspropyrgos, Ano Liossia, Acharnes, Avlona, Fyli, Aghios Stefanos and the communities of Polydendri, Malakasa and Afidnes in Attica.
The minister, who earlier had a meeting with the prefects and mayors of the regions that are on the foothills of the Parnitha National Park, also outlined a number of changes included in the presidential decree.
One of these was an increase in the region afforded absolute protection in the Parnitha National Park from 3,800 hectares to 11,000 hectares, while the total area of mountainside placed under heightened protection, as defined in the presidential decree, was nearly 30,000 hectares.
In addition, the decree established particularly strict criteria for construction on the foothills of Parnitha in the areas where construction was allowed, with coverage restricted to 160 square metres of building for every 2 hectares instead of 200 square metres for every 0.4 hectares as previously.
It set aside a total surface area of 183.7 hectares in the 2,700 hectares of agricultural land on Parnitha's foothills that will comprise zones for recreation, environmental education, sport and culture.
The decree also restricts building rights for the construction cooperative "Ippokratios Politia" that was approved in 1979, which the construction coefficient reduced from 0.2 to 0.15.
Existing facilities on the mountain will be restricted to strictly defined zones, in accordance with the existing special framework of law and under a regime of strict environmental protection criteria defined by environmental licencing laws.
Regarding three special issues concerning building activity within the areas declared protected that have already been discussed by the Council of State - the "Acropolis" technological park, the children's' summer camp operated by the Church of Greece and a request by the Kleiston monastery to extend its facilities - the environment ministry promised to deal with each case individually.
"Parnitha is the biggest natural habitat in Attica. It has a highly important environmental role, especially in linking urban and suburban greenspace throughout the Attic basin. We all have an obligation to protect it. This presidential decree is one of the most important and bravest institutional interventions that he environment ministry has carried out for the protection of the environment," the minister stressed.
Reporting on the progress of other reforestation and flood protection measures, Souflias said that the Army's Geographic Service had completed the task of photographing the burnt areas from the air on Tuesday, while members of forestry cooperatives started moving in to Amygdaleza on Wednesday and a logging chart had been completed.
Over the coming week, satellite surveillance of the burnt forest and the first interventions in "damaged" ravines would begin, he said.
According to the latest official tally of the damage from the fires, the total area burnt in the prefectures of Attica and Viotia came to 5,600 hectares, of which 3,621.7 hectares were in eastern and western Attica. Of these, 2,048.8 hectares were fir forests.
In the larger ravines that border urban areas and are a high flood risk, the official aerial photography and detailed orthophotography have shown that the burnt areas in ravines draining streams came to 22.75 hectares in the Houni ravine, 20.3 hectares in the Aghia Triada ravine, 25.67 hectares in the Aghios Giorgos ravine, 699.29 hectares in the Mavrorema ravine and 1,338.31 in the Giannoula ravine.
During his meeting with the heads of local authorities on Wednesday, Souflias asked them for the help in protecting the areas of burnt forest and in flood protection projects by ensuring that storm drains and sewage pipes were kept clear and supporting the forest management body by securing volunteers. In addition, he called for the signing of contracts for the collection and removal of rubbish, rubble and any potentially combustible materials from the protected area, where the minister promised to provide assistance both financially and in equipment.
 PASOK's Loverdos on Parnitha fireMain opposition Panhellenoc Socialist Movement (PASOK) deputy Andreas Loverdos said on Wednesday that "the government's weakness to anticipate the consequences of the weather conditions arise from today's statements by (Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George) Mr. Souflias, as now he reveals that he must sign contracts with municipalities for the withdrawal from Parnitha of flammable material."
Loverdos, who is head of the Public Works and Environment Department of PASOK's Political Council questioned "Should not have this taken place in Spring?"
 PASOK spokesman of Fire-Brigade and Forest ProtectionMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Petros Efthymiou on Wednesday referred to data which PASOK had presented to Parliament regarding the situation prevailing in the country's Fire-Brigade and Forest Protection services, noting that "the political responsibility is always found in prevention and coordination."
Efthymiou added that that "on the issue of forest protection, the Greek people have already a great absentee, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Mr. (Evangelos) Basiakos, to whom is apportioned a great part of prevention."
The PASOK spokesman said that the Agricultural Development Ministry, which every year has the responsibility of maintaining the forest roads and the projects for the prevention of fires, knows of the need of timely activation of the apparatuses for the cleaning of 42,000 kilometres of forest roads.
"In 2004, the last year of the PASOK goevrment, 14.5 million euros were allotted for the maintenance of forest roads and to projects for the prevention of fires. This sum was reduced at nine million euros in 2005, and in 2006, although the limit of payment was fixed at 5.5 million euros, 3.5 million euros were finally given. In 2007, budgeted was only 10 million euros but from these, the two million were provided for the 'Thiseas' programme, that is, for projects unrelated from the specific prgramme for the prevention of fires. From the remaining eight million euros, about three million were spent for last year's obligations and from the remaing sum of five million euros for 2007, just three million three hundred thousand euros had been given since July 1," said Efthymiou, stressing that "this is the meaning of the political responsibility for the protection of forests from fires."
Responding to Efthymiou's statements, the press office of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Ministry said that "the government allotted almost 50% more funds for the protection of forests from fires, in comparison to what was budgeted by the Simitis government for 2004 - year of the Olympic Games."
The Interior Ministry added that 22 million euros were allotted in 2007 for the protection of forests from forest fires.
 Papandreou addresses rally on Syros islandMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said on Wednesday that the government "has betrayed the people's confidence and came to power only to accomodate (its supporters) and itself."
Addressing a rally in Ermoupolis on the Cycladic island of Syros, the main opposition leader sharply criticised the New Democracy government saying that it "drives from one impasse to another, searching for alibis somewhere else."
The government "does not govern anymore, while we have a prime minister who simply watches and comments on the successive crises, weak and unable to handle them," Papandreou said.
"For this reason, the Greek people will stop giving its confidence to the New Democracy (ND) party government and will bring PASOK back in power for us to make Greece a valuable country, a country of quality, security and peace," he noted.
Papandreou told his audience that when PASOK was in power, until March 2004, "it created all preconditions to achieve more things."
"In 2004," he added, "we were an optimistic and proud country, we possessed certainty and negotiating power to resolve issues like the continental shelf, thus opening a new era in our relations with our neighbours. But the ND government annuled all these achievements, made a mess of things everywhere and now claims that it is PASOK to blame for all problems."
Referring to island policy, Papandreou said that the Greek islands "lack medical staff" while on transports he accused the government of "abolishing the regulatory principle, introduced by PASOK, thus leaving the (shipowners') cartels completely uncontrolled."
The main opposition leader also promised "a ship every day for all islands".
Referring to the environment, he said that his first corcern was to "protect and promote the environment on the islands" and promised the creation of a "modern and effective network of combined transports."
 Gov't spokesman responds to Papandreou's statementsMinister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday night responded to statements made by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou at a party rally on the Cycladic island of Syros on Wednesday evening.
"The islanders know very well what the (PASOK) governments of yesterday left behind them. That's why in any case they voted against them," Roussopoulos said.
"Mr. Papandreou has every right to nullify and flatten. To close his eyes in front of the growth of island Greece, the infrastructures, the strategy for tourism. However, by exercising this right, the only thing he is achieving is to yet again show that PASOK is unable to face reality," Roussopoulos concluded.
 Education minister to pay official visit to CyprusGreece's education and religious affairs minister Marietta Yannakou is due to arrive in Cyprus on Thursday on an official visit, at the invitation of her Cypriot counterpart Akis Kleanthous.
During the visit, Yannakou will have talks with Kleanthous on bilateral education issues, and will also represent the Greek government at events marking and condemning the 33rd anniversary of the Turkish invasion of the island republic, which will take place in Nicosia and Paphos.
Yannakou will further be received on Thursday by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.
 KKE leader visits CorinthCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said on Wednesday that her party would project, during the upcoming election campaign, problems such as employment, conditions at work place, free medical treatment and education and the social security scheme.
"We will debate by projecting to workers the need to satisfy in a modern way all these needs," Papariga told a press conference in Corinth, in the framework of her visit to the city.
"The KKE rejects the idea of austerity measures because there are deficits or the need to improve the economy's competitiveness," she added.
According to the communist leader "the worse things come after the elections, with first the increase of the women's retirement age at 65, just as men's."
 Alavanos continues visit to IkariaCoalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday continued his tour of various eastern Aegean islands with a second day on Ikaria, where he met with local officials and observed events commemorating the island's liberation.
In the morning the toured the island's main hospital, where he met with employees, while in the afternoon he was scheduled to meet with seasonal fire-fighters stationed on Ikaria.
 Parliament delegation in Cyprus for invasion 'black anniversary' eventsNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
An inter-party delegation of the Greek parliament arrived in Nicosia on Wednesday to attend events marking the 33rd anniversary of the 1964 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
The delegation is headed by ruling New Democracy (ND) party MP Elias Kallioras, and includes main opposition PASOK MP Yannis Dimaras, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Stavros Skopelitis, and Independent MP Stelios Papathemelis.
"We are in Cyprus in order to be together with the Cypriots and the Cypriot Hellenism in these days of the black anniversary of the Turkish invastion," Kallioras said on arriva.
He said that the Greek parliament and people demanded a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem "which concerns the entire planet", based on the relevant UN resolutions and the European acquis.
 Gov't eyes draft law to better combat tax evasionPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday over the ministry's intention, over the next few days, to table draft legislation aimed at better combatting tax evasion in the country.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Alogoskoufis said he briefed the Greek premier over a series of draft provisions to be unveiled by the ministry as part of the government's reform program.
The minister said other draft legislation to be unveiled soon will be a National Strategic Reference Framework (2007-2013) covering EU funds' management as well as a draft law aimed at combatting poverty.
Alogoskoufis said the government's economic team aimed to adhere to this year's budget provisions while he noted that budget execution was on track despite difficulties.
 Greek unemployment fell to 8.4 pct in AprilGreek unemployment fell to 8.4 percent in April, from 9.0 percent in April 2006 and 9.9 percent in the same month in 2005, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.
The statistics service, in a report, stressed that unemployment was higher among women (13.3 pct) and less among men (5.0 pct).
Youths (aged 15-24) recorded the highest unemployment rate among age groups in the country (21.2 pct). Western Macedonia (13.1 pct), Central Greece and Evia (13.2 pct) and Epirus (12.3 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates among the country's regions, while Crete (4.9 pct), Thessaly (5.3 pct) and Northern Aegean (6.5 pct) the lowest rates.
The number of employed people in Greece totaled 4,512,386 in April, while the number of unemployed people totaled 415,047.
 PASOK spokesman on unemploymentMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Petros Efthymiou on Wednesday referred to statements by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on the percentage of unemployment, according to which "unemployment fell to 8.4% while in April 2004 it was 10.6%."
Efthymiou recalled that "on March 22, 2004, Algoskoufis told Parliament that unemployment in Greece on March 22, 2004 was 9.5%. A few months later, under New Democracy (ND) party governance, unemployment shot up to 11.5%"
 National govts responsible for social security policies, Greek minister saysNational governments are responsible for policies on social security systems, Greek Employment and Social Protection Minister Vasilis Magginas said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with representatives of the country's two largest trade unions, ADEDY and GSEE, the Greek minister said there was a consensus over drafting a line of defense against a decision by the European Commission to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice over the country's policy on retirement age between men and women working in the public sector.
Magginas reiterated that the social security problem will be addressed to after the general elections, based on the interests of pensioners and after completing a social dialogue. He noted, however, that retirement ages in Greece were relatively high in the EU list.
Spyros Papaspyros, president of ADEDY (civil workers' union) urged the government to make every effort -legal and political- and warned that the impact on retirement ages would be significant and called on civil servants -women in particular- to avoid early retirement that led to very low pension payments. Papaspyros said there were political responsibilities from government policies while he noted that the government did not take advantage of the unions willingness to help.
Yiannis Panagopoulos, president of GSEE -Greece's largest trade union umbrella- also urged workers to remain calm and to avoid any rush moves towards early retirement, while he criticised government agencies for failure to be informed over the EU executive's actions.
 Greek SMEs eligible for tax-exempt benefits, ministry saysThe Greek government on Wednesday said that around 3,200 small- and medium-sized enterprises would be exempted from a European Commission decision to return around 200 million euros from tax cut benefits introduced by the previous government in early 2004.
An Economy and Finance ministry statement said that after consultations with EU authorities, all small- and medium-sized enterprises along with large enterprises which invested according to the approved Regional Support Charter would be exempted from returning any funds. The ministry said that the current government introduced a law abolishing all tax cuts non consistent with community regulation and noted that a process of return funds by all other enterprises would be agreed with the European Commission.
The previous government introduced tax cut measures through tax-exempt reserve capital, a move breaching EU legislation.
 Greece, Austria sign bilateral tax agreementGreece and Austria on Wednesday signed a bilateral agreement aimed at avoiding double taxation of income and capital between the two countries.
The agreement was signed by Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Antonis Bezas and Austrian ambassador to Greece Herbert Kroll.
A revision of an older agreement was necessary since the new one abolished various time-consuming procedures of tax return for Austrian enterprises, facilitated taxation of income and abolished double taxation.
The new agreement expands economic relations between the two countries and offers new incentives to Austrian enterprises to begin activities in Greece, the Greek minister said.
 European Court rejects Commission action against PPC over Lavrio plantState-run Public Power Corp. (PPC) on Wednesday announced that the European Court of Justice rejected, in a same-day ruling, an action brought by the European Commission in November 2005 against the Greek power utility over alleged irregularities in a tender for a new production unit at a PPC plant.
The Commission had referred Greece to the Euro-court (Case C-399/05) over PPC's decision to award the tender for the construction of a new unit at the utility's plant in Lavrio, extreme southeast Attica prefecture near Cape Sounion.
A consortium comprised of bourse-listed AEGEK and Aktor, with the former acting as 'leader' of the consortium, was awarded the project following a public tender, whereas the bourse-listed firm Metka won a tender for maintenance of the General Electric-supplied generators at the Lavrio plant.
 Lamda Development unveils new shopping mall project in northern AthensLamda Development, a Greek-listed real estate developer, on Wednesday unveiled plans to open á new shopping mall at the spacious facility that hosted the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC) during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
The new mall, to be called Golden Hall , is adjacent to the Athens Olympic Stadium, in the Maroussi municipality of northern Athens.
Presenting the plan, Apostolos Tamvakakis said Golden Hall will include 150 high-end stores, and was expected to begin operations in autumn 2008. The project's budget will reach 65 million euros and will create 2,000 new job spots.
The new shopping mall will feature an underground parking area for around 1,400 cars and an office space of around 4,500 sq.metres.
Lamda Development has signed a long-term (40 years) lease contract with Olympic Properties, with an option to expand the agreement for up to six years. A portion of the building will be used by culture ministry to create a Greek Olympic Games Museum and an International Classical Athletics Museum.
Lamda said it has completed commercial contracts covering 65 percent of Golden Hall. ECE-Lamda Hellas SA is the general manager of Golden Hall.
In brief comments, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas urged retailers to emphasise quality and value in their merchandise.
 Regency Entertainment eyes remaining 51% in Mont Parnes CasinoRegency Entertainment on Wednesday announced its intention to acquire the remaining 51 percent of shares in the Mont Parnes Casino when the Greek government decides to sell it, Stephanos Theodorides, chairman and chief executive told reporters.
Theodorides said Regency Entertainment has first say if the government decides to fully privatise the casino.
Mont Parnes belongs to Hellenic Parnes Casino, with the main shareholders being the Athens Resort Casino (49 pct) and the Tourism Development Enterprise (51 pct). Regency Entertainment and Hellenic Technodomiki are the main shareholders of Athens Resort Casino (70 pct and 30 pct, respectively).
Theodorides said the company will act on its legal right, raising its stake by 2 percent to 51 percent, initially, and to withdraw the company from the Athens Stock Exchange.
He said that the casino's contribution to the state's coffers was around 70 million euros last year.
He also praised the operation of a new mountain cable car line (ropeway) introduced by the company, capable of carrying 2,500 persons per hour.
 MIG raises equity share in Vivartia to 50.86 pctMarfin Investment Group on Wednesday it woud submit a public offer for the purchase of the remaining shares in Vivartia, after the company raised its equity share in the Greek food group to around 50.86 percent.
In a statement, MIG said it has raised its equity share in Vivartia to 50.86 percent a few days after it had agreed to purchase a 30 percent in the company at 25 euros per share (worth 549.8 million euros).
Vivartia was founded in September 2006 as a result of merger between Delta Holdings, Delta Dairy, Chipita, Goody's and General Foods-Barba Stathis. Vivartia is the leader in the Greek food market and expands activities in a market with a population around 1 billion people. It operates 26 production units and employs around 13,000 workers. Its activities expand in 29 countries.
Marfin Investment Group is a holding and investment company. Its aim, according to its head Andreas Vgenopoulos, is the become the leading holding company in Southeastern Europe, to maximize shareholders value and to steadily pay a high dividend to shareholders. The company recently completed a 5.2-bln-euro share capital increase, the sixth largest such transactions ever made.
 Greek stocks end 0.34 pct higherGreek stocks ended Wednesday's session slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index reversed a two-day decline to end 0.34 pct higher at 5,086.92 points, while turnover was a strong 473.62 million euros.
Sector indices moved higher, with the Utilities (1.49 pct), Telecommunications (1.01 pct) and Industrial Products (0.93 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Oil (1.22 pct), Chemicals (1.09 pct) and Commerce (0.62 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.30 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.27 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.41 pct.
Mevaco (10.44 pct), Vell Group (10.26 pct) and Kri-Kri (9.47 pct) were top gainers, while Technical Olympic (19.05 pct), Ideal (10 pct) and Tria Alpha (9.91 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 157 to 111 with another 37 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.22%
Personal & Household: -0.18%
Raw Materials: +0.74%
Travel & Leisure: -0.20%
Food & Beverages: +0.09%
Financial Services: +0.59%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, National Bank, Vivartia and Marfin Investment Group.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 25.10
Public Power Corp (PPC): 22.96
HBC Coca Cola: 34.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.64
Emporiki Bank: 20.96
National Bank of Greece: 44.96
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 27.00
Titan Cement Company: 41.50
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 3.725 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 2.049 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.676 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017), was again the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.420 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.22 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.85 pct and the German Bund 4.63 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved higher. National Bank's overnight rate was 4.08 pct, the two-day rate 4.08 pct, the one-month rate 4.10 pct and the 12-month rate 4.58 pct.
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover an improved 150.461 million euros.
The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.21 pct and the July contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.03 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 7,836 contracts worth 105.219 million euros, with 41,729 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 895 contracts worth 30.037 million euros, with 1,748 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,727 contracts worth 15.204 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (1,015), followed by Eurobank (159), OTE (180), PPC (336), Piraeus Bank (441), National Bank (389), Marfin Popular Bank (805), Intracom (374), Attica Bank (287), Mytilineos (637), Postal Savings Bank (703) and ATEbank (559).
 Foreign Exchange Rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.388
Pound sterling 0.677
Danish kroner 7.500
Swedish kroner 9.245
Japanese yen 169.65
Swiss franc 1.670
Norwegian kroner 7.985
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.453
Australian dollar 1.582
 Fire in Ancient Corinth reignites; fires blaze throughout GreeceA forest fire in Ancient Corinth reignited late on Wednesday afternoon and quickly grew to large proportions due to strong winds, the fire brigade said.
Taking part in fire-fighting efforts are firemen led by the regional head of the fire brigade in the Peloponnese Giannis Zois, assisted by fire-fighting aircraft.
As a result of the fire, the national highway from Corinth to Tripolis was closed at 15:30 from the 84th kilometre until the Spathovouni toll posts and traffic to Tripolis was diverted to the old national road. The fire brigade also evacuated the Timios Stavros Monastery as a precaution.
In other parts of the country, two fires that began on Tuesday in Ano Kallithea in Achaia prefecture are still blazing, while residents of a nearby village were evacuated overnight for fear that the fire might reach their homes - an outcome that was finally averted.
Ranged against the forest fire in Achaia are 95 firemen and 30 fire-engines, a 40-strong team of fire-fighters on foot, 30 soldiers, five fire-fighting aircraft and two helicopters.
A fire in Aghios Nikonas in Mani that began at 10:50 on Wednesday morning, meanwhile, has now spread across a large front and came very near the houses of the village.
Strong winds blowing in the area are hampering the fire-fighting effort, particularly that of fire-fighting aircraft and helicopters. The fire is consuming low vegetation and is being combated by a force of 30 fire-fighters in 10 vehicles, seven people on foot and seven fire-fighting aircraft.
On the Ionian island of Zakynthos at Artemisio, a forest fire has been burning since Tuesday night and is being combated by 20 firemen and nine fire-fighting vehicles, four aircraft and two helicopters.
At Iasmos in Rodopi, northeastern Greece, a forest fire began at 12:50 in the afternoon and is being fought by 30 firemen in 10 vehicles, two aircraft and a helicopters, while a second forest fire broke out at Desfina in Fokida, which is being combated by 12 firemen and four fire-engines.
Two fires also broke out in Attica on Wednesday. One began at Zofria on the Poikilon Oros near a residential area at around 12:20, which burned through low vegetation and was placed under control by a force of 30 firemen, 10 fire-engines and two helicopters. Firemen have stayed nearby in case the fire reignites.
The second was on Mount Penteli, on the road from Palea Penteli toward Drafi, but was promptly put out in just 45 minutes due to the speedy mobilisation of the fire brigade, municipal emergency forces and volunteers.
The latest report, meanwhile, said a new fire had broken out in the Pieria prefecture in the municipality of Dion and was burning through an area of shrubs. Four fire-engines and 15 fire-fighters have been sent out to tackle the blaze.
 Fires in Messatida and Vrahnika placed under controlThe fire which broke out at dawn on Wednesday in the community of Ano Kallithea of Messatida, Achaia, Peloponnese, was placed under control on Wednesday night.
The fire threatened the village, resulting in its evacuation for a short period of time. No damage was cased to houses.
As to the causes of the fire, the Regional Director of the Fire-Brigade Service, Dimitris Fakiolas, stated that all the data which has been collected will be sent to the public prosecutor.
Two other fires which broke out on Tuesday in the broader region of Kalithea of Massatida Municipality and in regions of neighbouring Vrahnika Municiplaity were placed under complete control.
 Man charged in compatriot's murderA 29-year-old Albanian man was arrested in the murder of a 52-year-old compatriot late Tuesday night by authorities in the Vermio municipality of Kozani prefecture, N. Greece.
No names were released.
According to reports, a quarrel over money allegedly led to the homicide. A coroner said strangulation was the cause of death.
 4.7 Richter quake rocks ThessalonikiAn earthquake measuring 4.7 points on the Richter scale occurred in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, at 22:09 on Wednesday.
According to the Geophysics Institute of Thessaloniki University, the quake's epicentre was 15 kilometres southwest of Thessaloniki, near Kalohori.
Thessaloniki University seismologist Eleni Karayianni told ANA-MPA that there were no aftershocks, while an earthquake in this specific region has never occurred in the past.
There were no reports of damage and according to Police Departments, the quake was not felt in other prefectures of central Macedonia, with the exception of Thessaloniki.
 Post-quake activity normal after 5.4R quake near KozaniThe post-quake activity from Tuesday night's strong 5.4 Richter earthquake in Kozani and Grevena was developing normally, according to seismologists on Wednesday.
An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale was recorded at 9:23 p.m. Tuesday in western Macedonia, with its epicentre pinpointed at 18 kilometres southwest of Kozani, from the same area that produced a 6.6 Richter earthquake in 1995. The trembler jolted Kozani and Grevena.
Thessaloniki Aristotelion University Geophysics Laboratory seismologist Manolis Skordilis told ANA-MPA on Wednesday that the phenomenon was developing normally, adding that a large sequence of after-shocks of a smaller magnitude had followed the main quake, with the largest after shock registering 4.0 Richter at 10:03 Wednesday morning.
Kozani prefect George Dakis told ANA-MPA that no injuries had resulted from the trembler, while prefecture teams would be inspecting buildings throughout the day to look for damage.
 Quake damages about 50 houses in GrevenaAbout 50 houses in the prefecture of Grevena, northern Greece, suffered damage from an earthquake which rocked the region of western Macedonia on Tuesday night. Tuesday's quake, which was also felt in Kozani, measured 5.4 points on the Richter scale.
A small number of houses in Grevena were deemed unsuitable for habitation.
There were cracks in the walls of shops in the municipalities of Ventzio and Irakliotes.
Cracks also occurred at a nursery school in Irakliotes' district of Kivotos and by decision of Grevena Prefect Dimosthenis Koumtsidis, the nursery did nor operate on Wednesday and neither will it do so on Thursday.
 Post-grad programme in Byzantine, modern Greek studies at Univ. of GranadaThe University of Granada has inaugurated a post-graduate programme in Byzantine and Modern Greek studies, entitled "Medieval and Modern Greece: Studies in language, literature, history and culture", part of the noted Spanish university's undergraduate faculty of Greek philology and medieval history.
A total of 15 graduate candidates will be selected by the Centro de Estudios Bizantinos, Neogriegos y Chipriotas - www.cebnch.com
Eligible candidates should already have undergraduate degrees in one of the following disciplines: Greek literature, history, archaeology, philosophy, pedagogy, theology or other related studies.
 Piraeus residents call for protection of ancient olive groveResidents of Piraeus turned out on Wednesday to demand that authorities intervene to save the last remnants of an ancient olive grove containing trees centuries old in the grounds of the Pireaus Technological Educational Institute (TEI) in Egaleo.
In complaints to all competent authorities, they said that the trees are being threatened by construction work for a new wing at the TEI. According to local inhabitants, the site is considered a historical monument of great natural beauty and historic value, since it was the site where ancient philosophers used to stroll and engage in discourse.
The president of the group Active Citizens of Piraeus Stavroula Agalopoulou said that the trees bore evidence of damage and many had been uprooted. The group has proposed construction of the new wing at another site that will not alter the area's character.
Local residents have already informed the Supreme Court about the issue and are now preparing to take the case to the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court.
Piraeus Prefect Yiannis Mihas has also appealed to Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou and the president of the Piraeus TEI to avert "this ecological and historic crime".
 Hot, windy on ThursdayHot weather and strong winds are forecast throughout most of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 6-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 19C and 40C. Sunny weather in Athens, with winds reaching 5-6- beaufort and temperatures ranging from 25C to 37C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 23C to 38C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe wildfires burning in several parts of the country, the new legislative framework for research and technology that was approved by the Inner Cabinet on Tuesday and will be tabled soon in parliament, the bill on opinion polls, and the issue of re-grading of written examinations in special subjects (English language) in the nationwide university entrance exams were the main front-page items in Wednesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "They've beaten cancer - Important announcement at Scientific Conference in Thessaloniki".
APOGEVMATINI: "8,452 new job opportunities (in the wider public sector) - All the positions by specialisation and agency".
AVGHI: "Blow to research - Consortia of Universities-Private Sector, via draft law".
AVRIANI: "Impunity for Ericsson, which set up the phone tapping network - Criminal responsibilities of the ADAE (the independent communications privacy authority), which continues to break the law by protecting Bill Zikou's (Ericsson Hellas managing director) gang".
CHORA: "Mammoth buyouts changing the corporate map - Dance of many billions on the market".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "The education ministry's consecutive gaffes with the announcements of the grade results in the special subjects make the people wonder...".
ELEFTHEROS: "Roussopoulos (minister of state) puts 'stop' on bogus opinion polls".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Blazing terror - 75 fires in 24 hours - After Hymettus hill, residential areas in Penteli and Vrilissia were endangered - Serious indications of arsonists' plan".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Here are the arsonists - Hymettus an endless garbage dump".
ESTIA: "PASOK (main opposition party) heading towards new defeat - Difficult for it to prevail over (ruling party) New Democracy".
ETHNOS: "Tragi-comedy with the nationwide examinations - The 33 candidates/victims of the...eraser taking recourse in Justice".
KATHIMERINI: "Draft law on research, with many weaknesses - Significant changes to the organisation of post-graduate studies".
LOGOS: "Blazing fronts throughout the country - Homes endangered on Salamina".
NIKI: "Greece in flames - Incalculable destruction of the forest wealth".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Six proposals for salvation of the forests - Press conference by KKE (Communist Party of Greece) leader (Aleka Papariga) on the fires".
TA NEA: "At a loss over the barrage of fires - Government urgently seeks life raft from Europe".
TO VIMA: "Post-elections 'gift' to women - Retirement at 65 years of age - The equalisation of the reitrement ages with men will be carried out immediately or gradually".
VRADYNI: "Investment in knowledge and research - New institutional framework to be tabled in next few days in parliament".
 Papadopoulos: We conveyed to the UN our positions for a solutionNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The government of Cyprus has already conveyed to the United Nations its positions regarding the provisions it can accept in the framework of a future solution of the Cyprus problem, said Wednesday President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos.
"We know very well which provisions we are ready to accept and which not. With the same certainty, we know which provisions the solution should include so that it is just, viable and functional. We have repeatedly expressed our positions which we have conveyed to the UN", he noted.
Speaking in Paphos at the inauguration ceremony of a Resistance Park to commemorate those who lost their lives defending democracy in Cyprus, President Papadopoulos said that the government of Cyprus has determined the substantive issues that should be discussed in the framework of the July 8th agreement so that a basis is created for a solution of the Cyprus problem, in line with the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979, the UN principles, the International Law and the principles and values on which the EU is founded.
The Cypriot president stressed that ''those who pretend they are not aware of our goals and the kind of solution we pursue, are just trying to present their unconfessed position that the only solution plan, on the basis of which negotiations can begin, is the plan that the overwhelming majority of Greek Cypriots have rejected during the 2004 referenda", namely the Annan plan.
He added that the government of Cyprus has done its utmost to convince its EU partners to determine that the solution of the Cyprus problem should be based on the UN resolutions and the European principles, "a very important provision which is included in the EU- Turkey Negotiating Framework as well as in other decisions of the EU institutions".
The Cypriot president said that today, the fate of Cyprus and the future of the Greek Cypriots are at stake.
"We have the responsibility to fight for our rights, to struggle for a just, viable and functional solution, to hand over to the next generations a reunited country, free from demarcation lines and occupation armies", he stressed.
He furthermore said:
"Being the President of the Republic of Cyprus, and leader of the Cypriot Hellenism, I assume that part of responsibility that belongs to me. I take the responsibility and I will fulfill it, having as main goal the achievement of justice in Cyprus and a better future for our tried people".
The president reiterated the steadfast commitment of the government of Cyprus for a just solution of the Cyprus problem.
"We are committed to reach a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with the correct meaning and content of each one of these terms", he said.
Noting that there is no other aim than reaching a bicommunal, bizonal federation solution, he said that the achievement of this goal depends mainly on the Turkish side.
"The key to the solution of the Cyprus problem is not in our hands, it's in Ankara's hands. And those who unilaterally say that our side does not wish for a solution, in reality they take the blame out of Turkey", he said.
The president noted that first and foremost, it is the Greek Cypriot side that wishes for a speedy solution of the Cyprus problem, since it is the Greek Cypriots who have to live with the negative consequences of the Turkish occupation and non solution of the problem.
But the president said that no matter how urgent is our need and wish for a solution, we will not and can not accept any solution, just for the sake of closing the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus, an EU member state since May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of UN senior 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.
 Relatives of Helios victims to receive material to proceed with lawsuitsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Attorney General Petros Clerides said on Wednesday that the relatives of the victims of the Helios Airways plane crash would receive by noon on Thursday the part of the Kallis report concerning the civil responsibilities and the minutes of the procedure, so that they can file lawsuits in Greek courts, which award higher compensations than the Cypriot courts.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Chief of Police Iacovos Papacostas, Clerides said investigations were being carried out as fast as possible and pointed out that it was very important for the outcome to be qualitative rather than rushed, in order to secure a possibility for success.
Papacostas referred to the investigations so far and noted that the Helios case was complicated and needed delicate handling, so that the Police could bring the necessary testimonial material before justice.
He added that gathering the material should not be rushed, so that the quality of the material gathered is guaranteed, noting that it was not possible to set a time limit for the completion of the procedures.
Clerides said that on Wednesday morning he had a meeting with a delegation of the relatives, who left ''fully satisfied.''
He explained that the relatives wanted help from the Law Office and the Police so that they could proceed with filing lawsuits in Greek courts for compensation for the loss of their loved ones.
Clerides assured that assistance was always available and that ''we have never refused giving any help,'' as long as the material disclosed did not imperil criminal investigations.
Referring to the criminal investigations, Papacostas said ''the Police, in cooperation with the Attorney General, from the day after the tragic airplane crash, continues methodically and quietly to gather testimonies and investigate this tragic occurrence.''
He said the investigators had taken 400 testimonies in Cyprus and 200 abroad, and had gathered a total of 250 documents and reports.
On 23 April 2007, the Police received from the Attorney General the report of the one-member Investigative Commission under judge Panayiotis Kallis and appointed an eight-member group of experienced investigators who, in cooperation with the Law Office, began studying the Kallis report and the report prepared by the Greek Commission of Inquiry under Akrivos Tsolakis.
He said the Police found they had to take further testimonies and, so far, 140 have been obtained. Furthermore, the Police have requested assistance from eight countries to obtain necessary testimonies.
Papacostas could not say when the procedure would be completed and noted that, if necessary, the group of investigators would be reinforced.
Asked why the relatives had turned to Greek courts to file suits, the Attorney General said ''it appears that the Greek law gives higher compensations than the Cypriot law.''
He clarified that not all relatives were filing suits in Greece, since a large number of relatives had already come to agreements with the insurance companies covering Helios Airways.
Replying to questions, Clerides said he was ''very satisfied'' with the course of investigations.
On 14 August 2005, an Helios Airways Boeing 737, on its way to Prague via Athens, crashed into the mountain side north of the Greek capital killing all 121 passengers and crew on board, most of them Cypriot holidaymakers.
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