|Friday, 24 May 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-07-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 25 July 2007 Issue No: 2653
 Government announces measures against forest fires, heatwaveThe government on Tuesday announced a series of measures for dealing with forest fires and the heat wave that is sweeping the country, decided during a meeting of the inner cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
The cabinet also expressed its grief over the tragic loss of the two pilots of a Canadair firefighting plane that crashed on Monday while trying to extinguish a fire near Styra on the island of Evia, extending their condolences to the families of the two men killed in the line of duty.
The measures announced after the meeting included 24-hour patrols by the fire brigade in sensitive areas, the hiring of 1,300 additional firemen through a hiring process that was due to begin very shortly and to ask for more fire-fighting aircraft and helicopters in the framework of European cooperation. In addition, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) and the Hellenic Transmission System Operation (HTSO) will be required to stay on alert to deal with possible malfunctions in the power grid.
Emerging from the meeting, ministers urged the public to help by making "reasonable" use of air-conditioning and electrical appliances and rejected criticism from main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, accusing him of exploiting the struggles and anxiety of people facing extremely difficult events in order to engage in petty party politics.
Regarding the government's refusal of a request by Papandreou for a meeting of the political party leaders, ministers repeated the government's reply on Monday and said that the proposal revealed that Papandreou, "lacking ideas, was making moves that did not have any result".
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos announced that coordinating bodies in prefectures throughout the country will meet on Wednesday to work out the details of the fire brigade's 24-hour patrols in order to improve the guarding of vulnerable areas in collaboration with local authorities. He also took the opportunity to thank local government throughout Greece for its contribution toward fighting fires and minimizing the damage these caused.
According to Pavlopoulos, the coordination and cooperation between the various services involved had been effective and efficient, even in the face of conditions of unprecedented difficulty. He stressed that this became apparent when one looked at the sheer number of different fires that started on Monday and how quickly these were put out.
He also expressed his own personal grief for the two men that lost their lives in the line of duty on Evia, emphasizing that the men of the fire department were making superhuman efforts and asking all to support them in their "titanic battle".
Public Order Vyron Polydoras - also in charge of the fire brigade - presented figures regarding the damage inflicted by this year's fires compared with the past.
According to the minister, in June 2006 there were 28 take-offs by fire-fighting aircraft and a total of 92.6 hours flight time, while in June 2007 there were 410 hours of flight and a total of 128 aircraft take-offs. In July 2006 there were 316 hours of flight time and 105 aircraft take-offs which in July 2007 more than doubled to 650 hours of flight time and 202 take-offs.
Quoting Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, meanwhile, he said that all aircraft used in fire-fighting underwent meticulous maintenance according to international standards and that rules for working days and rest for pilots was strictly observed.
He stressed that conditions were extremely difficult but that the situation was not hopeless and said that he had asked and received the cabinet's approval for actions to look after the welfare of seasonal and regular firemen and to secure additional fire-fighting aircraft from other countries in Europe, while pointing out that Greece had the highest number of such aircraft than any other EU country.
The minister also outlined the measures taken to ensure the future of 5,500 seasonal fire-fighters, while it had also hired another 630 full-time firemen for the first time since 2000 and was now in the process of hiring an additional 1,300, while it had doubled the fleet of heavy helicopters used to fight fires by an additional five.
Statements were also made by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas regarding the strains on the country's power grid due to higher consumption prompted by the high temperatures. Calling the conditions unprecedented, he stressed that the network had been "tested and held up" and said the government had taken all measures necessary to ensure that it would continue to hold up in the difficult days ahead.
He called on the public to avoid using electrical appliances from 11:00-15:00.
Environment Minister George Souflias announced that the burnt areas on Mount Parnitha had been declared due for reforestation and that 220 specialist lumberjacks had been installed there since Friday to construct flood-protection works.
 Government, parties mourn deaths of fire-fighter pilotsMembers of the government and the political parties on Tuesday expressed their sorrow for the deaths of the two pilots who lost their lives in the line of duty, when their fire-fighting aircraft crashed during the effort to put out a fire on the island of Evia the previous day.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had also expressed his grief at the deaths during a visit to the firefighting aircraft squadron at Elefsina on Monday night.
"Over and above ceremony, I came here to say one or two things from the heart. I express my anguish at the loss of your two colleagues, our two pilots that fell in the line of duty. Our thoughts are with their families, whose sorrow I share. We thank you all very much for everything you are doing, for the battles that you give daily over the past days on the burning fronts that daily break out all around the country. You have earned the admiration and respect of us all, of all Greeks, for your heroism and the self-sacrifice that you show. We stand by you," the prime minister said.
Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Kalantzis expressed his deepest sorrow and condolences for the families of the unlucky pilots, who were stationed at an Air Force base in Thessaloniki. Funeral services for both men were held in the city earlier on Tuesday afternoon.
"I cannot find words to express my sorrow. The human mind stops in the face of the loss and sacrifice of Dimitris Stoilidis and Yiannis Hatzoudis, our pilots that lost their lives defending the common good in a great and daily battle on the fire fronts," the minister said in a statement.
According to main opposition PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou, the entire Greek nation had been plunged into mourning.
"Two young men lost their lives protecting the common property of the Greek nation, true heroes to duty. The fires have taken on the form of a crisis and all Greeks at this time have in our thoughts the families of those that were lost and those who are fighting the fires from one end of Greece to the other," he said.
According to PASOK's spokesman, however, this "climate that engenders contemplation" was not shared by the ruling New Democracy government, whose spokesman and minister "had the courage to stand at a complete psychological and moral distance from the feelings of the average Greek citizens" and, he added, "to level petty party-political, spiteful, intense and divisive criticism against the president of PASOK and PASOK".
Commenting on the government's refusal to accept a proposal by PASOK leader George Papandreou for a meeting of political party leaders under President Karolos Papoulias, Efthymiou said ND's stance was "inconceivable".
"PASOK's proposal remains, it is a proposal for national understanding," he added.
According to an announcement by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), however, a meeting of the political party leaders was not an answer to the problems, especially if it did not include the services in charge of protecting forests and putting out fires. It called for a debate in Parliament in which the trade unionists of such bodies were called to attend.
KKE would not refuse to take part if the President were to call a meeting of political party leaders, however, the announcement added.
The party urged the abolition of laws that converted millions of hectares land formerly considered forest to pasture and grazing lands, an investigation of how land was turned into lots on the mountains of Penteli and Parnitha and converting properties acquired in various ways by construction cooperatives and other companies, including the Church, into public land.
Minute of silence in Parliament
Parliament on Tuesday night honoured the 33rd anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece and kept a minute of silence in memory of the heroic pilots of the "Canadair" fire-fighting aircraft which crashed on Monday while attempting to extinguish a fire on the island of Evia. The two pilots were Dimitrios Stoilidis and Ioannis Hatzoudis.
Defence Minister Evaneglos Meimarakis, having expressed to the families of the victims "the sincere, deep grief and pain of all over their tragic sacrifice," said that "the ministry tends to the care and support of their families, over and above what is foreseen by the law."
Tribute to the two dead pilots was also made by Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda as well as by representatives of all the political parties, while emphasised was given to the efforts and actions which must be taken for the protection of the environment.
 PM sends letter congratulating Erdogan on re-electionPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis has sent a letter congratulating Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his party's victory in last Sunday's general elections in Turkey, it was announced on Tuesday.
In the letter, Karamanlis again expressed conviction that the efforts of Greece and Turkey to further improve their bilateral relations based on mutual understanding and cooperation will continue for the benefit of both peoples and the entire region.
 Greek, Serbian defence ministers meet in AthensDefence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis held a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Dragan Sutanovac in Athens on Tuesday.
During the meeting, issues were examined concerning security situation in the broader region of the Balkans, Serbia's European prospects and the defence-military cooperation between the two countries.
Regardiing the future status of Kosovo, Sutanovac said that "we have the understanding of our colleagues, of our partners in Greece, regarding the reaching of a solution, that this must be achieved through talks and be acceptable by both sides."
At the same time, the Serbian defence minister expressed his gratitude to Greece for its support in the prospects of Serbia's accession into the Euroatlantic structures, as well as "for the presence of Greek forces in Kosovo, in the framework of KFOR, because the presence of Greece in the specific region is of particular importance for the non-Albanian population, for the Serbians, who view the Greeks as their very good friends."
On his part, Meimarakis said, "Greece's target is the safeguarding of regional stability and security and for this reason, we support the effort for the reaching of a balanced, viable, functional and not a unilateral solution to the matter of Kosovo, compatible with the European principles and values."
Meimarakis noted that during the meeting, reconfirmed anew was the very good level of bilateral relations and the will for the further deepening and expansion of cooperation in all the sectors of activities of the two countries' defence ministries.
 FYROM called on to have good neighbourly relationsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The representative of the Portuguese European Union's (EU) presidency, Minister of State Lobo Antunes, after the completion of the EU-FYROM Association Council meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, called for "the avoidance of acts which could negatively affect the relations of good neighbourliness of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with its neighbouring countries."
Asked by reporters on the FYROM name issue, Antunes said "the only solution is a mutually acceptable solution, which must be sought under the auspices of the United Nations, something which is necessary and with an urgent character."
FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki on his expressed his country's readiness to approach in a constructive manner "Greece's sensitivity on this issue on a bilateral level."
 FYROM asks assistance from Greece in battling Bitola blazeSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Fragopoulos)
FYROM prime minister Nikola Gruevski on Tuesday announced that he has requested assistance from the Greek authorities and other neighbouring countries in tackling an extensive forest fire that was raging out of control on the outskirts of the city of Bitola, in which a man has lost his life due to smoke inhalation.
The fire broke out Monday afternoon in a thickly-wooded pine forest outside Bitola, and spread quickly fanned by strong winds in the area, reaching the city's suburbs, burning dozens of homes.
The Mayor of Bitola has declared a state of emergency in the area and called on citizens to assist the firefighting effort with all means at their disposal.
Gruevski hastily left an off-the-agenda debate in the FYROM parliament on the political situation in the country to rush to Bitola, where an emergency meeting was held early in the morning with local authorities on tackling the blaze.
The FYROM prime minister said he has requested the assistance of the Greek authorities in tackling the blaze, adding that fire engines from Florina were expected to arrive in Bitola later Tuesday morning.
Gruevski said he has also sought assistance from other neighbouring countries.
FYROM president Branko Crevenkovski was also due to arrive in Bitola later in the morning.
 Papandreou to ask President to lead 'national effort' for forestsMain opposition PASOK's President George Papandreou on Tuesday said that he intended to ask President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias to lead a "national effort" to protect the environment and Greece's forests.
In an address to PASOK's Parliamentary Council, Papandreou also expressed hope that his proposal on Monday for a meeting between the leaders of the political parties in Parliament, chaired by President Papoulias, would be accepted by all involved.
"National consensus on the issue of fires and of protecting forests and the environment will help raise the morale and spirits of the public," he added, criticising the government's present refusal to accept the proposal and its "rejection of consensus".
"Today we mourn the two pilots that gave their lives in a heroic effort to protect our common wealth and public interest. It is not a time for criticism," he said, noting that PASOK had voiced its criticism promptly and in detail, so as to help prevent the things now happening today.
Expressing hope that the deaths of the two pilots would be the last human casualties to the fires blazing throughout Greece, PASOK's leader also called for an end to all discussion on revising article 24 of the Constitution that protects forests.
According to Papandreou, even a suspicion of a possible amendment that would legalise unlawful building in forests fed law-breaking and flouting of rules.
"There is a need to establish a mentality leading to a methodical and in depth policy of prevention and protection for our forest wealth and development based on the environment," PASOK's leader underlined, stressing that this was a major issues for the country for which the government essentially had made no plans.
During the meeting there were also briefings on the Turkish elections last Sunday, on poverty issues and proposals were presented on forest fires, major public works projects and the way that these were awarded, issues linked to the Porto Carras resort and agriculture ministry matters.
Just before the end of the meeting, Papandreou departed for Thessaloniki in order to attend the funerals of the two pilots of a firefighting plane that crashed on Monday while fighting a fire in Styra, Evia.
 Government responds to PASOK on firesMinister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos responded on Tuesday to statements made earlier by main opposition PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou on the fires raging in the country.
"(PASOK leader George) Mr. Papandreou has, since a long time, made a central choice: to invest politically in tension and polarisation. He has follwed exactly the same strategy on the issue of fires," Roussopoulos said in a statement.
Papadreou "has tried, during the critical hours of the battle (against fires) to rekindle, through incendiary statements, division and tension. Now that he apparently ascertains that the strategy of polarisation does not only yields any benefits for him but, on the contrary, enlarges the 'spiritual and moral gap' between PASOK and the Greek society, tries to assume the role of the so-called 'responsible' and 'consensual political leader'. The only thing he finally achieves is to showcase the grandeur of his unreliability," Roussopoulos added.
 PASOK leader visits Archbishop ahead of trip to US for transplantMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday visited Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece at his residence on Tuesday, and wished him well in his upcoming visit to the US for health reasons.
Christodoulos, who spent 42 days in an Athens hospital and underwent surgery before being released on Friday, is due to depart for the US after August 10 to undergo a liver transplant operation.
"The Archbishop is in very good spirits, and I wished him a good journey and return," Papandreou said upon leaving the Archbishop's home.
 SYN leader terms fires 'national crisis'Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday termed the destruction caused by the extensive fires all over the country as an "ecological catastrophy and perhaps the greatest national crisis faced by Greece in the last decades."
Alavanos was speaking to reporters after meeting a delegation of the Athens section of Cyprus' left-wing AKEL party.
Alavanos reiterated his party's proposal for the convening of a special party leaders' meeting for the coordination of political forces and the implementation of an all-party parliamentary report on the issue of protecting Greek forests. He also termed as "positive" a similar proposal by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou made on Monday.
Referring to Cyprus, and more particularly the announced candidacy of AKEL's Secretary General Demetris Christofias in next February's presidential elections in Cyprus, Alavanos said that Christofias' candidacy was "the best way in which could be expressed the support to the rights of the people of Cyprus, to the faith in reconciliation among all communities and to the assuming of effective initiatives in order to take the Cyprus issue out of the marsh."
 President hosts reception marking 33rd anniversary of restoration of democracy in GreecePresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias gave a reception at the Presidential Mansion on Tuesday evening on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece, July 24, 1974.
More than 2,000 people attended the reception, among them Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his wife Natasha, foremer presidents of the republic Christos Sartzetakis and Kostis Stephanopoulos, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, former prime minister Costas Mitsotakis and most of the government ministers.
"The protection of the environment is henceforth a matter of democracy," Papoulias said in a message issued earlier.
"When we speak today on the quality of democracy, we can only have in mind an ecological democracy which will have at its epicentre the protection of nature," the president said.
He refererred to the forest fires ravaging the country, noting that in the effort to extinguish them, "human lives were sacrificed, lives of our fellow-citizens, who placed the collective good above the individual one." He expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and his deep grief and expressed the hope "for there to be no more victims in the fires."
Papoulias noted that "present here among us are protagonists of the anti-dictatorship struggle, most of them unknown, who did not know great honours and did not enjoy privileges and rewards."
The president also referred to the Cyprus issue. "Thirty-three years have passed since the tragedy of Cyprus which led to the collapse of the junta. And this tragedy is continuing, because the occupation troops remain there, symbols of an illegal invasion which was never punished by the international community. The thought of all of us is always with Cypriot Hellenism which suffered from the partition. Our hope remains the reunification of the island with a permanent, just and viable solution," President Papoulias said.
 Government announces more favourable terms of debt repayment by poultry enterprisesEmployment and Social Protection Minister Vassilis Magginas on Tuesday announced a rescheduling of debt owed by poultry enterprises in the country, to include both employer and worker social contributions.
A period of suspending payment of social security contributions will be extended by December 31, 2007, while payment of rescheduled debt will be made in 120 monthly tranches, beginning February 2008.
Greek poultry farms and enterprises have been badly hit by an avian flu epidemic two years ago.
 Foreign minister and finmin discuss budget issuesForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday had a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis to discuss issues pertaining to the 2008 budget that is due to be tabled in Parliament before the end of the year.
 Development minister on electricity supply problemsDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday commented on the problems of the supply of electricity to northern Greece.
"The collapse of the electric energy systems in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), of Kosovo and in part of Montenegro, created a disruption also to our own system, due to the Greece-FYROM electric energy systems link. The immediate consequence was the non-operation of the Melitis plant and Amynteo's two plants (Florina)."
The minister stressed that "the protection system operated automatically and the necessary measures were taken," noting that "the management of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) reacted in an impeccable manner with the slightest damage, which was caused by this disruption which derived from the problem which appeared in the western Balkans and led to the collapse of the systems in neighbouring countries."
Sioufas underlined that "the PPC is making all efforts so that as soon as possible, electricity will be restored in the regions affected by this fact."
 Iberdrola plans large scale energy investment in GreeceIberdrola, a Spanish energy group, on Tuesdsay said it planned to invest heavily in the energy sector in Eastern Aegean islands in Greece.
Regina Reyes, Iberdrola's representative in Greece, briefed Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis over the Spanish group's plans during a meeting in Athens.
 Greek, South African central banks seek closer cooperationBank of Greece governor Nicholas Garganas on Tuesday met with visiting South African Reserve Bank governor T.T. Mboweni and discussed ways to boost cooperation between the two central banks.
The South African central banker also gave a lecture at the Bank of Greece on "Economic Integration in Southern Africa", referring to initiative taken in his country to create an economic and monetary union in the southern part of the African continent and the role by South Africa in these initiatives.
Mr. Mboweni also referred to economic developments and monetary policy in his country.
 Black Sea Bank offers 14-mln-US dollar loan to Ukrainian companyThe Black Sea Commerce and Development Bank on Tuesday announced it would offer a 14-mln-US dollar loan to Concern Galnaftogaz, an Ukrainian fuel retail company.
The eight-year loan will allow the Ukrainian company to expand its petrol station network. Concern Galnaftogaz has already signed a 23-mln-euro loan in 2004 to finance the construction of 25 new petrol stations in Ukraine. The company currently operates a network of 210 petrol stations under the brand name "OKKO".
 MIG raises stake in Vivartia to 60.94 percentMarfin Investment Group on Tuesday said it has raised its equity stake in Vivartia to 60.94 percent. MIG said it bough 2,259,146 shares of Vivartia, or 3.082 percent of its equity capital and voting rights, at a price range of 24.92 to 25 euros per share.
 FHL Kyriakides to issue 15-25 mln euro convertible bondFHL Kyriakides Marbles-Granites ABEE on Tuesday said it was in talks with a US investment fund to issue a convertible bond loan worth 15-25 million euros.
In a letter to the Athens Stock Exchange, FHL Kyriakides said all contracts were expected to be signed by October this year.
 Alpha Astika Akinita says 1st half profits down 25 percentAlpha Astika Akinita on Tuesday reported a 25 percent decline in its net profits in the first half of 2007 to 2.3 million euros, from 3.1 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
Turnover also eased to 6.3 million euros in the January-June period, from 7.3 million euros in 2006, reflecting lower revenues from valuation and management of real estate property activities.
 Greece 11th for use of wind power in EUGreece occupies 11th place among the EU-27 in terms of wind-generated electric power, European Commissioner on Energy Andris Piebalgs said on Tuesday in response to a question by Greek Coalition of the Left (SYN) Euro-MP Dimitris Papadimoulis on renewable energy.
Wind-powered electricity production in Greece has risen from 0GWh in 1988 to 1,266 GWh in 2005. Greece now occupies the 11th place among the EU-27 based on the wind turbines in operation, stated the European Commissioner.
He underlined that the EU gives a great emphasis on the development of renewable energy sources referring to the Intelligent Energy - Europe 2, IEE2, programme within the framework of which a total of 316.35 million euros are allocated for actions promoting new and renewable energy through the Altener sub-programme.
Papadimoulis commented that in spite of the small improvement recorded, Greece still has to speed up efforts in the renewable energy field to be able to meet its commitments. He also stressed that wind farms could be the solution to Greece's energy problem, reducing the country's dependence on imported fuel and lignite.
 Development ministry pamphlet for 'consumer travelers'The Development Ministry has issued a 24-page briefing pamphlet for travelers-consumers, in view of the summer holidays, so that they will know and seek their rights.
The pamphlet, titled "Are you traveling? All you need to know!" will be distributed from Wednesday at the ports of Attica.
The aim of the pamphlet is to offer consumers who are starting their holidays, a practical and pleasant guide, so that they will know and effectively seek their rights in every transaction of theirs.
 Greek stocks end 0.79 pct lowerGreek stocks ended 0.79 percent lower on Tuesday, following a similar trend in other international markets. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange ended 0.79 pct down at 5,045.77 points with turnover a strong 513.7 million euros.
Most sectors lost ground, with the Media (3.64 pct), Travel (2.41 pct) and Technology (1.72 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Chemicals (0.26 pct) and Food/Beverage (0.07 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index fell 0.83 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.91 pct lower and the Small Cap index dropped 1.73 pct.
Microland Computers (19.94 pct), Euroholdings (16.84 pct) and Centric Multimedia (12.30 pct) were top gainers, while Unibrain (7.80 pct), Michaniki (6.88 pct) and Kekrops (6.78 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 206 to 68 with another 30 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.34%
Personal & Household: -1.42%
Raw Materials: -1.16%
Travel & Leisure: -2.41%
Food & Beverages: +0.07%
Financial Services: -0.89%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Vivartia, OTE and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 22.60
HBC Coca Cola: 33.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.62
Emporiki Bank: 20.78
National Bank of Greece: 45.60
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.80
Titan Cement Company: 41.26
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.697 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.497 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.2 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was again the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.190 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was unchanged at 0.22 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.70 percent and the German Bund 4.50 percent.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate was 4.08 pct, the two-day rate was also 4.08 pct, the one-month rate was 4.10 pct and the 12-month rate was 4.56 percent.
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices saw their discount widen in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover an improved 139.431 million euros.
The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.64 percent , while the August contract on the FTSE 40 index was traded at its fair price.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 7,985 contracts worth 106.901 million euros, with 40.902 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 449 contracts worth 15.484 million euros, with 1,305 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,243 contracts worth 17.045 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Intracom's contracts (1,625) followed by Eurobank (215), OPAP (334), Piraeus Bank (327), National Bank (814), Alpha Bank (652), Titan (237), Marfin Popular Bank (300), Viohalco (321), Attica Bank (399), Intralot (310), Mytilineos (444), Hellenic Petroleum (1,036) and ATEbank (581).
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.394
Pound sterling 0.676
Danish kroner 7.500
Swedish kroner 9.250
Japanese yen 168.56
Swiss franc 1.677
Norwegian kroner 7.976
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.457
Australian dollar 1.575
 Man arrested in Megara on arson charges, 3 fires in KastoriaA 39-year-old was arrested in Megara on a charge of arson by the Western Attica Security Police on Monday evening, police said on Tuesday.
The man is accused of being responsible for last Friday's fire at the 34th kilometre of the Athens-Corinth national highway, which destroyed approximately one hectare of pine forest.
The detainee confessed to lighting the fire, and turned himself in to the Megara Fire Department, which was drafting a case file against him, after which he will appear before a public prosecutor.
Meanwhile, the Fire Brigade's arson squad was examining a canister of flammable liquid that was found Monday in a gully in Vrilissia behind the Sismanoglio hospital, where a fire had broken out but was quickly extinguished by firefighters.
The Vrilissia fire, as well as a second one that broke out a short distance away in another gully, and a third that broke out near Penteli Boulevard at the intersection with Anapafseos street, are believed to be the work of arsonists and investigations were focused in that direction.
Also, three fires were blazing in Kastoria prefecture, two in the municipalities of Nestorio and Akrites, while the third, in a difficult-to-access forest area on Mt. Grammos, has been burning for a week, as firefighting efforts were being hampered due to minefields in the area.
The fire that broke out Monday in a forest expanse in Kotyli, Nestoria, was reported on Tuesday to be receding, as 40 firefighters with six fire engines were battling the blaze, assisted by a firefighting helicopter. A second fire that broke out Monday, in a difficult-to-access forest expanse in the Kalyvia-Katsara area of Akrites, was also still burning in the forested expanse, which was also mine-strewn. According to firefighters, the fire started out in Albania and spread to the Greek side of the border.
Later this afternoon in Thessaloniki, meanwhile, funerals will be held for the two dead pilots of a Canadair firefighting plane that went down while combatting a fire at Styra on the island of Evia.
A funeral for Flight Lieutenant D. Stolidis will be held at the church of Aghios Nikolaos in Thermi at 16:00, while that of Flying Officer I. Hatzoudis will take place an hour later at the church of Panagia Faneromeni in Neapolis.
 New fires break out in PeloponneseThe Peloponnese, the southernmost region of Greece's mainland, continued to be ravaged by fires on Tuesday, with new blazes reported on Mount Taygetus, Achaia and a dump near Ancient Epidaurus.
Residents of the village of Kounina, near Egio in the prefecture of Achaia, fled from the homes when a change of wind shifted a nearby forest fire that was burning out of control toward the village. A strong fire-fighting force that included two fire-fighting airplanes and one helicopter was sent in to tackle the blaze, which started in an area of forest and agricultural land.
A second fire near Egio at the village Dimitropoulos was under control but firemen remained on hand to prevent possible re-ignition.
The fire on Mount Taygetus further to the south broke out at around 15:00 near the village of Polovitsa in the prefecture of Laconia and was quickly took on large dimensions.
 'Canadair' aircraft makes emergency landing at Corfu airportA fire-fighting "Canadair CL-215" aircraft made an emergency landing at Corfu airport at 7:58 p.m. on Tuesday after a problem was detected in the right engine.
The CL-215 aircraft took off with another similar one from Preveza, northwestern Greece, at 6:39 p.m. to participate in the combating of a fire in Igoumenitsa.
At 7:50 p.m., the pilot referred the problem in the planes's right engine. Eight minutes later, he safely landed at Corfu airport.
 Search on for missing Polish touristsGreek authorities on Tuesday launched a major search-and-rescue operation to find two Polish tourists, a 40-year-old woman and her 34-year-old brother, who were reported missing after a visit to Samaria Gorge, an area famous for its natural beauty on the island of Crete.
Authorities said the pair have not been seen since last Saturday but their disappearance was only reported to the Iraklio police late on Monday afternoon.
Early on Tuesday morning state services set up a gigantic operation to find them in the area around the gorge, assisted by an aircraft from the Hania flying club that flew over the area. Rescue workers from the army, fire brigade, police and other services entered the gorge on the ground from its two entrances at Omalos and Agia Roumeli, including a team from the fire department's rescue squad EMAK with a trained tracking dog.
The two Poles were reported missing by the head of the travel agency that had organised an expedition to the Samaria Gorge, in which 31 Poles staying at Agia Pelagia on Crete had taken part.
The party had left for the Samaria Gorge at 6:00 on Saturday and they were supposed to meet at Agia Roumeli at 18:00 the same day in order to return to Iraklio. During a head count, organisers realised that the two tourists were missing and tried to contact them on their mobile phones but found that the phones had been switched off.
The other Polish nationals in the party left Agia Roumeli and the authorities were alerted to the disappearance of the pair one day later. They were due to return to Poland on Tuesday. Their passports and personal effects are in the hands of the authorities, who may issue a missing person's report.
Meanwhile, the search in the Samaria Gorge will continue throughout the day.
 Criminal Passaris appeals to justice minister for his extradition to GreeceCriminal Costas Passaris appealed to Greek Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras for his extradition to Greece from Romania, where he is serving a life imprisonment for crimes committed in the Balkan country.
Passaris is also wanted in Greece for serious criminal acts among them the assassination of two police officers. In Romania, Passaris was condemned for two assassinations and a robbery and is currently serving his life sentence in the Kraiova prison.
In his letter of appeal to Papaligouras, Passaris requests that Greek authorities demand from Romania his extradition to Greece in order to be tried for his crimes in Greece and also serve the rest of his sentence in Greek prisons.
 Culture minister inaugurates exhibitions in IraklionCulture Minister George Voulgarakis inaugurated on Tuesday evening in Iraklion, Crete, several exhibitions dedicated to author Nicos kazantzakis.
Voulgarakis also inaugurated the new sections of the Historical Museum of the city.
 Onassis Foundation Science Lectures on CreteThe Onassis Foundation Science Lecture Series dedicated to Physics and the Bose-Einstein Condensation phenomenon got underway on Monday at the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) facilities in Heraklion, Crete.
The main speaker is Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Wolfgang Ketterle, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics.
The Bose-Einstein condensation is quite possibly one of the most beautiful paradigms of the 'strangeness' of quantum mechanics: millions of atoms lose their individual identities and start behaving like a single wave. At room temperature each molecule in a room has its own identity defined by its position and velocity. However, as we decrease the temperature this velocity becomes smaller and smaller. The uncertainty principle then tells us that a better knowledge of the velocity implies greater uncertainty in the position. Since we know that the velocity of the atoms decreases with decreasing temperature, our knowledge of the velocity increases (we know that it is closer to zero). Therefore, the position of the atoms becomes ever more fuzzy and the individual atoms occupy an ever-larger space. If these atoms are bosons they then start to overlap. At this temperature quantum statistics forces more and more atoms into a single quantum state - the Bose-Einstein Condensate.
This strange behavior had been predicted by Albert Einstein already in 1924/25 on the basis of Satyendranath Bose's work on photon statistics. Einstein had thought it impossible to ever be able to reach such low temperatures in the laboratory and indeed, it took 70 years to scientists before being able to demonstrate this for the first time. In 1995 the groups of Wolfgang Ketterle at MIT in Cambrige and Wieman and Cornell in Boulder, Colorado used lasers and magnets to cool less than half a million atoms to the lowest temperatures that ever existed anywhere in the universe - and saw for the first time what we know today as a Bose-Einstein Condensate. This was rewarded with the 2001 Nobel Price.
Professor Ketterle's main lecture on the New Forms of Quantum Matter Near Absolute Zero Temperature scheduled to take place on July 25 will be open to the general public.
 Greece qualifies for the European Under-19 Soccer Championship finalThe Greek national soccer team qualified for the final of the European Under-19 Championship by beating Germany 3-2 in a match played in Austria on Tuesday evening.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Őinister Costas aramanlis, Sports Minister George Orfanos and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou sent congratulations messages.
The final will be played on Friday.
 High temperatures on WednesdayExtremely hot weather and moderate to strong northerly, northeasterly winds are forecast throughout the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 6-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 22C and 45C. Sunny weather in Athens, with winds reaching 4 beaufort and temperatures ranging from 26C to 45C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 24C to 42C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe crash of a Canadair firefighting plane and death of its two co-pilots in Styra, Evia, during firefighting operations, the outcome of the parliamentary elections in Turkey, and the new heatwave were the main front-page items in Tuesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Tragedy above the fire - A Canadair crashes during operation".
APOGEVMATINI: "Immortal - They died while performing their duty - Nationwide grief over the loss of the Canadair's two pilots, aged 34 and 27".
AVGHI: "The Canadair's pilots on a mission of death - Two more operators fell in the line of duty".
AVRIANI: "Mutiny in the National Council (of main opposition PASOK party) being prepared by the hardcore Simitis (former prime minister and ex-party leader) supporters, on the pretext of Neonakis' and Pachtas' exclusion".
CHORA: "Grief for the two heroes - How the new Canadair crashed in Styra - Fire at Hiliomodi rekindles - Prime minister (Costas Karamanlis) hastened his return from Bosnia".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Mourning, grief and rage - Greece, apart from its forests, is also...burning its children".
ELEFTHEROS: "Breeze of victory in the secret opinion polls - ND (ruling New Democracy party) 'locks in' a 3 percentage point lead (over main opposition PASOK) despite the negative climate over the wild fires".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Men and machines succumbed".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Mission of sacrifice - 2 heroic pilots lost in anticipated accident".
ESTIA: "Erdogan's (Turkish prime minister and leader of Turkey's Justice and Development-AK party, which won Sunday's parliamentary elections with a wide margin) victory probably facilitates improvement in bilateral relations".
ETHNOS: "The chronicle of a pre-announced tragedy - Canadair crash was inevitable - Men and machines at their limits".
KATHIMERINI: "Heavy price in the fires - Two pilots dead from Canadair crash in Nea Styra".
LOGOS: "We're counting heroes from the fires - Two pilots dead in Styra, Evia".
NIKI: "Sacrifice in the fires - 2 pilots dead from Canadair crash in Evia".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The pilots of the firefighting aircraft the tragic victims of the forest-killing policy".
TA NEA: "Port Karras: The construction continues...".
TO VIMA: "The five reforms that Greece needs: Education, job market, competitiveness, unification of markets, and state expenditures - Papademos' (European Central Bank vice-president) recommendations".
VRADYNI: "Self-sacrifice over the flames - Tragedy with two pilots dead from crash of firefighting plane".
 Vast majority of Cypriots feels safer since joining the EUNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The vast majority of Cypriots in the areas under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus feel safer because Cyprus is a member of the European Union, with 72%, the highest percentage in the EU, according to the results of the Eurobarometer survey, conducted between 11 April and 7 May 2007.
Among Turkish Cypriots, unemployment was listed as the most important issue facing the community, followed by the Cyprus problem.
In the section regarding life in Cyprus, the overwhelming majority of citizens (87%) are satisfied with the life they lead. The level of satisfaction has been marginally reduced by 1% from the levels recorded in the autumn and spring of 2006, while a significant increase of 6% is observed in the population which is very satisfied.
Furthermore, 45% expect that life in general will remain the same, 35% expect and improvement and 13% a worsening, while 54% do not expect changes in the financial situation of their household, 15% expect an improvement and 27% a worsening.
On their personal employment situation 61% of citizens predict stability, 12% expects improvement and 10% a worsening.
Over half of the population expects that both the national economy (53%) and the employment conditions (50%) will deteriorate within the next 12 months.
The two main problems worrying citizens remain crime (51%) and inflation (28%).
Compared to the Eurobarometer of autumn 2006 the level of trust by the citizens towards the government increased from 56% to 64% and the level of trust towards the parliament increased from 51% to 67%.
Public opinion in its majority trusts the press, since 53% exhibit trust and 41% do not. Furthermore, 65% of Cypriot citizens trust television, 33% trusts the internet, with a significant 33% not responding.
The majority (61%) trusts the EU. It is significant that the degree of trust towards the EU is higher than the EU27 average (57%).
In the section Europeans and the EU, trust in the European Parliament is expressed by 61% of Cypriots, in the European Commission by 58%, in the Council of the European Union by 59% and in the European Central Bank by 57%. All of the percentages have increased since the autumn 2006 survey and are higher that the EU27 average.
Half the citizens residing in the areas under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus, view membership of the EU positively. Cyprus ranks sixth lowest amongst EU member states in the level of positive opinion with regards to membership in the EU.
Over time, the percentage of citizens who believe that Cyprus has benefited from accession to the EU remains stable, since 44% of citizens believe that Cyprus has benefited from its accession to the EU. The percentage which believes that Cyprus has not benefited is at 46%.
The vast majority of Cypriots in the areas under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus (72%, the highest in the EU) feel safer because Cyprus is a member of the EU. One in four answered that they do not feel safer.
More than half the citizens (53%) state that they have a positive image of the EU and state that they understand the way the EU works.
Furthermore, the majority of citizens are aware of the institutions of the EU.
Citizens in the areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus describe their knowledge with regards to the European political affairs as not so good. The same applies across the member states.
Only 20% of Cypriot citizens answered positively with regards to their level of knowledge on European political affairs.
According to Cypriot citizens, in order to strengthen the EU in the future, the main priority of European institutions in the coming years should be the fight against crime (33%).
Furthermore, 69% of those asked support an EU constitution, and 17% are against. The equivalent average percentages for the EU27 are 66% in support and 20% opposed.
Also, 73% of citizens have the opinion that in 50 years the EU will have its own army, the highest percentage recorded in the EU. The corresponding number for the EU27 is 56%.
According to the survey, 50% of Cypriots are in favour of a European Monetary Union with a common currency, the Euro, with 45% against.
Public opinion in Cyprus is split with regards to globalization, with 44% of respondents considering it a negative thing and 39% positive.
The majority of Cypriots (65%) are in favour of further enlargement of the EU, with only 20% against.
Nearly half the citizens believe that the national legislation protects them from the use of personal data by third parties (46%), while 62% of the citizens say that they are not well informed with regards to the rules and requirements for protecting the personal data of citizens in Cyprus. The average in the EU is at 60%.
With regards to the issues that most create a feeling of community among EU citizens, Cypriots ranked first the issue of culture (30%), followed by values (27%), and religion (25%).
Meanwhile, the survey carried out among the Turkish Cypriots showed that 70% of Turkish Cypriots are satisfied with their lives. There is a decrease in the Turkish Cypriots' level of satisfaction with life compared to the previous study (75%). There is also a decrease in Turkish Cypriots‘' feeling of optimism regarding the future.
Turkish Cypriots are most pessimistic about employment and the economic situation in the Turkish Cypriot community. One in every five Turkish Cypriots surveyed said the economic situation will worsen in the next 12 months.
Furthermore, Turkish Cypriots trust the radio (62%), TV (60%) and newspapers (54%). Trust in the internet is 47%.
Turkish Cypriots listed unemployment, the Cyprus problem and the economic situation as the most important issues facing the Turkish Cypriot community. In the previous study, the Cyprus problem was listed as the most important (62%) issue, however there has been an important decrease in the percentage of Turkish Cypriots who listed the Cyprus problem as an important issue, thus making it the second most important issue after unemployment (36%).
The EU has a positive image (54%) among Turkish Cypriots. According to Turkish Cypriots, the most positive outcome of European integration is freedom of movement (48%) and peace (46%).
Turkish Cypriots' level of trust towards the EU continues to decrease, with 49% saying they do not trust the EU.
On the other hand, the majority of Turkish Cypriots interviewed (60%) think the full implementation of the acquis in the Turkish Cypriot community would be a good thing, while the majority thinks its interests and voice (69% and 67% respectively) are not taken into account in the EU.
While the support for further enlargement of the EU in EU 27 is only 49%, 68% of Turkish Cypriots said they support enlargement.
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