|Saturday, 19 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-12-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 15 December 2007 Issue No: 2773
 PM Karamanlis satisfied with EU Summit resultsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis expressed his satisfaction at the end of a European Union Summit here on Friday, underlining the "particular importance" of the adoption of the Union's Reform Treaty by the "27", and regarding decisions reached over the issue of Kosovo.
The prime minister said that with the new Treaty, the European Union frees itself from obstacles of the past, reinforcing in parallel its effectiveness. Karamanlis also noted that with the new Treaty, Greek interests are better served, while at the same time the democratic character of the Union broadens, since, as he said, the point of view of National Parliaments will be taken into considaration regarding a series of EU final decisions. He added that Greece would endorse the Treaty.
Regarding Kosovo, the Greek premier said the EU on Friday reached concrete decisions on how a European mission would be set up, in order to assume the political administration of the province, based on the broader possible security of the region.
The Greek side, Karamanlis said, moved along the axis of defending national intrerests but also on the basis of proposals submitted by Greek diplomatic services in relation to the reinforcement of the western Balkans' European prospects.
On Kosovo, premier Karamanlis added, "diplomacy has not yet exhausted all margins", underlining the "need for all engaged parties, starting with the Kosovo authorities, to avoid unilateral actions and hasty decisions."
Regarding the set up of a "reflexion group", proposed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and adopted by the Council, Karamanlis informed that its target would be the strengthening of the European model and that the group must present the results of its works by the year 2010. Former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez would assume the group's presidency, Karamanlis said.
On the thorny issue of illegal immigration, the prime minister insisted on the particular importance of adopting a Common European Policy, underlining the particular problems Greece is facing on tackling the problem.
He also insisted on the need for reaching agreements with third countries on repatriating illegal immigrants.
Karamanlis termed "particularly positive" the Council's decisions regarding the creation of a special mechanism on civil protection of member states against natural disasters, particularly wildfires. He also noted that Greece had submitted, after last summer's catastrophic wildfires, concrete proposals for the strengthening of mechanisms against natural disasters.
 Kosovo issue must be handled with great care. PM Karamanlis saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)
Referring to the issue of Kosovo, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined on Friday at the end of a European Union Summit here, that the issue of independence was neither discussed nor raised at the summit.
"You know that through the pre-agreed timeframe and despite the intensive efforts which the mediation Troika has made, which we are obliged to recognize and praise, the Belgrade-Pristina negotiation did not conclude," the prime minister said.
He stressed that "we believe that despite of these, diplomacy has not exhausted yet its limits. In anyway, we have in front of us the important discussion on December 19 at the Security Council. The holding of presidential elections in Serbia must also be taken into consideration. We believe that unilateral actions must be avoided which would undermine the effort to find, even at the last moment, some common ground."
Regarding Greece's stance, Karamanlis said that it will be "particularly careful" and will continue "to assess in depth the developments, avoiding hurried actions, avoiding hurried decisions. And of course always with criterion the particular interests which Greece has in the region, as country of the region.'
However, he did not exclude March as the timeframe of developments and stated, in reply to reporters' questions on which is the legal basis for the mission of the Euromean group, said, "initially, it is a decision beyond the legalising basis of decision 1244, which is valid until it changes or expires. There is also the political decision of today's European Council which is unanimous, it was accepted by all. This is the legalising basis. Now, of course it is up to the next or to another of the next councils, to decide for the most specifics of the setting up of the mission."
Responding to another question about Nicosia's reservations, the prime minister stressed that "in the effort to safeguard as much as possible on the European level the national interests and of course also the sensitivities of Nicosia, through our own intervention an artcie was introduced to the conclusions which determines in a completely clear way the particularity and uniqueness of Kosovo. From then on, we are handling and we will handle this matter with very great care. It is a very big issue. The criterion is the particular national interests which every country has in this, therefore, our own country as well."
 Premier Karamanlis warns on FYROM name issueBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis warned on Friday that if a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is not found, Greece cannot support neither the Euroatlantic nor the European prospects of the landlocked neighbouring republic.
Speaking at the end of a European Union Summit meeting, the Greek premier also called on the FYROM government to "contribute in a constructive manner to the process for the finding of a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of its definite name."
Greece, Karamanlis added, "has until today shown, over and above, a constructive attitude," and underlined that "without clear-cut solutions, neither correct alliance relations nor relations of solidarity can be established."
In order for Greece and FYROM to have good neighbourly relations, "a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue must be found," the prime minister concluded.
 PM Karamanlis on Greek-Turkish relationsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The aim of Greece is the continuous improvement of Greek-Turkish relations and the solution of differences, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in Brussels on Friday in reference to the course of relations between Greece and Turkey.
To reporters' questions, if and when he will visit Ankara, the prime minister said that he intends to reciprocate the visit made to Greece three-and-a half years ago by the Turkish prime minister. He noted that that the exact date of his visit to Turkey will be arranged, as always, through diplomatic channels.
Commenting on the recent visit to Thrace by Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, the prime minister underlined that "Greece is proud of its democracy and the fact that all its citizens enjoy the same rights."
 PM Karamanlis remarks on his forthcoming visit to RussiaBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, in response to reporters' questions regarding his visit to Moscow next week and the procurement of Russian tanks and whether his visit is related to the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, stressed here on Friday that "we have cooperation with Russia in the energy sector, which, as things show, at least during the past period, is going very well."
Karamanlis said that the companies for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline are very close to an agreement, while he noted that the pipeline serves strategic national interests.
Regarding the military equipment, Karamanlis stressed that "they are done if the country deems that the needs of national defence are served, if the needs of the finance ministry are served, because the orders are not only an issue of covering defence needs, the cost is also related."
The prime minister noted that the procurement is done through an inter-state agreement which is of the most acceptable ways. "No returns exist here, neither an agreement under or on or around the table. It is something which is of interest to the country. Simple things," Karamanlis stressed.
 PM attends EPP dinnerPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis attended the dinner of the European People's Party (EPP) leaders on Thursday evening, during which a general discussion was held on the agenda of the Slovenian EU Presidency (first half of 2008) while views were exchanged on the EU Reform Treaty signed in Lisbon on Thursday.
EPP President Wilfried Martens referred to the Mediterranean Union and maintained that its establishment should get underway after the ratification process on the European Treaty is launched.
Karamanlis underlined, on the issue, that "we are a Mediterranean country. We wish to be in it. But other Union member-states should not be excluded. Procedures and actions provided by the Barcelona procedures should not be overlapped by the European Union".
On French President Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal to form a Committee of Wisemen, Karamanlis urged constructive discussion and skepticism.
 Social security reform a 'one-way street', PM Karamanlis reiteratesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/A.Panagopoulos)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis reiterated here on Friday that the reform of the country's social security system was a "one-way street" adding that the government would respond with responsibility and present soon its proposals and then table them in Parliament.
Karamanlis was responding to relevant questions after the end of a European Union Summit.
The prime minister said that everybody agreed that the system needed reforms, and noted that general working age limits would not be touched, contributions would not increase and pensions would not be cut down.
Karamanlis referred to a "reasonable and mild intervention" underlining that misfunctions, injustices and distortions of the past would be abolished.
"We are open to dialogue but also determined to proceed," the premier said, and criticised those who do not take part in the government proposed dialogue noting that the "refusal of dialogue and the reaction to reforms perpetuate the problem and they are anti-popular and unjust to the many."
 Magginas defends social security reforms at ONNED meetingEmployment and Social Protection Minister Vassilis Magginas on Friday evening addressed the New Democracy (ND) party-affiliated youth organization ONNED, at which he presented the targets and adjustments proposed by the government so as to deal with the disfunctional social security system.
Speaking at ONNED's Central Committee, which began its sessions on Friday evening with the social insurance system being the main issue, Magginas assured that all the adjustments correspond to the expectations of the many, given that "no one can feel satisfied when there are pensioners whose income is 500 or 600 euros a month."
Particularly, the minister noted the need for the merger of social insurance funds, ascertaining that the present situation, with 155 funds, constitutes the acutest structural problem of the system, "without, perhaps, an international precedent". He said the total of the administrative and operational expenses for all the funds amounts to 1.585 billion euros.
 Gov't on tax reform, social security issue vis-a-vis ministersAlternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday commented on the latest tax reform package promoted by the government as well as questions regarding criticism of government ministers, mainly Employment Minister Vassilis Magginas.
The spokesman also responded to questions over the future of Olympic Airlines, during the regular press briefing Friday.
Antonaros stated that a draft law presented by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday constitutes the third phase of the government-sponsored tax reform implemented since 2004, which is aimed at a simpler, more effective, fair and transparent taxation system.
He also said the enactment of tax breaks for private individuals and companies will be completed in 2009, and added that the government is proceeding with the simplification and modernisation of the property tax regime while tackling fuel smuggling.
Antonaros responded that the existence of "arrogant ministers" is nothing new for a government, when asked to comment on alleged complaints made by ruling New Democracy Party MPs.
He commented that Magginas enjoys the PM's confidence and is handling the social security system reform issue, being the responsible minister together with Alogoskoufis.
Antonaros stressed that social security reform is being promoted in response to a demand voiced by the overwhelming majority of the Greek people.
Finally, the spokesman declined to comment on questions referring charges of well-paid Olympic Airlines (OA) trade union leaders.
 PM Karamanlis comments on Olympic AirlinesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stated in Brussels on Friday that since March 2004, "the government had to face a heavy legacy regarding Olympic Airlines and to make a difficult effort," recalling that "the company's debts come to 2.5 billion euros."
The prime minister noted that the long-time problem of Olympic Airlines is being handled at this moment by the relevant minister in cooperation with the European Commission and underlined that "the solution which will be given must be viable, secure the interests of the personnel and secure that the continuous air link with the island regions will not be halted."
"The new company which will arise, must be a strong and healthy company, which will maintain most of the best elements of Olympic Airlines and will not be contrary to European legislation," Karamanlis concluded.
 Gov't, opposition exchange criticism over OAThe government and the opposition on Friday continued to trade barbs and accusations related to ailing national carrier Olympic Airlines (OA), with back-and-forth debate in Parliament even reaching the Commission's chambers in Brussels, with one main opposition PASOK MP blaming the relevant EU Commissioner for OA's latest woes.
Former parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, among others, charged that no one appointed EU Commissioner Jacques Barrot to "interfere" in Greek internal affairs or to defend Greek taxpayers' money, an indirect reference to sharp Commission criticism of subsidies paid out to OA over the past decade.
Transport Minister Costas Hatzidakis, in turn, first dismissed accusations that the government and Commission are actively working against the debt-ridden carrier in order to benefit local and European rivals, while he reminded that Barrot is France's Commissioner with subsequent approval by the EU Parliament.
He also charged that the main opposition failed to show the same sensitivity to the Commission's directives when the current government was attempting to defend its "primary shareholder" law.
 PASOK spokesman says Wed. strike a rejection of gov't policiesA main opposition PASOK spokesman on Friday expressed the party's satisfaction over the level of participation in a nationwide strike two days earlier, saying that the rally translates into a rejection of the government's economic policies by a "majority of the people".
Spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis also called potential reforms, as outlined by the government, "harsh" and "anti-popular", reiterating the socialist party's position that it is in favour of state control of certain strategic utilities.
Moreover, the state deputy referred to "foreign capital of unknown origin" being used to purchased state-run enterprises in Greece, an indirect reference to the Marfin group's recent interest in telephony utility OTE's shares.
Moreover, the spokesman said PASOK will outlaw the use of CCTV traffic cameras for surveillance of demonstrations, saying that such a measure is not in line with a modern European country's operation.
Finally, he said the latest opinion poll results were discussed during Friday's session of the newly formed political planning committee, chaired by PASOK leader George Papandreou.
 Deputy Environment Minister Kaloyannis addresses UN climate change con'f in BaliDeputy Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Stavros Kaloyannis addressed the UN Conference on climate change that concluded in Bali on Friday. The conference was held with the participation of representatives of more than 180 countries and observers from intergovernmental and NGOs.
Kaloyannis stressed that coordinated action is necessary for the post 2012 era, stressing that efforts should be broad-based and take place under the auspices of the United Nations, while taking under consideration the Kyoto Protocol.
The deputy minister stressed that there is no time left and Greece is undertaking initiatives within the framework of the EU and the international community aimed at tackling the climate change problem. He underlined that Greece and its EU partners support the ambitious EU efforts for immediate and substantive reduction of greenhouse effect gas emissions reaching 20 percent by 2020 while cuts of up to 30 percent could also take place if other developed countries follow suit.
"People should realize the limits and endurance of planet Earth and change attitude and way of life to tackle climate change," he stressed.
He also had a number of high level meetings on Thursday on the sidelines of the conference. In the meeting with European Commissioner Stavros Dimas they exchanged views on the prospects of greenhouse effect gas emission cuts at European level, within the framework of the legislative initiatives on climate and energy planned by the European Commission.
Kaloyannis met with UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer and discussed Kyoto Protocol procedural issues as well as obligations stemming from it. He also conferred with Portuguese Environment, Territorial Planning and Regional Development Minister and EU Council President Francisco Nunes Correia, in view of the Environment Council meeting to take place on December 20 in Brussels.
 FinMin addresses event sponsored by local Transparency Int'l bureauEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday addressed a one-day seminar in Athens, jointly organised by the Hellenic Bank Association and the local bureau of the Transparency International organisation.
"Strengthening transparency and dealing with corruption is a major challenge, one that necessitates constant effort Past ills created over previous decades cannot be dealt with from one day to the next. What we need is the creation of a framework to effectively combat the phenomenon of corruption," he said at the event.
The Greek FinMin referred to the full computerisation of tax offices and the customs service, as well as tax reform as pivotal to curbing corruption in the country.
National Bank of Greece (NBG) CEO Takis Arapoglou also addressed the event.
 Exclusive interview: Development minister on function of market, prioritiesDevelopment minister Christos Folias outlined his views on the function of the market, in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA, stressing that the New Democracy (ND) government's policy focuses on consolidating healthy competition through which the buying power of the consumers will be safeguarded.
Referring to the ministry's "gentlement's agreement" with supermarket owners, Folias said that he undertook this initiative -- and intends to take as many more such initiatives as necessary, whenever he believes that they will be beneficial for the consumers and useful for the economy.
He also referred to his ministry's priorities in energy policy and on the various agreements on energy pipelines.
Folias said that Greece, as a 'key country", was "opening doors to the attraction of investments in the energy sector, with multiple benefits for the entirety of the economy and society".
To a question on the high prices and his recent meetings with supermarket owners, Folias explained that the global state of affairs was "exceptionally difficult", citing the spiralling prices of oil and raw materials, and climate change, which he said were pushing up prices throughout the entire range from production to the shelves.
He said the ministry's policy was focused on consolidating healthy competition and, through that, safeguarding the buying power of the consumers. Also to this end, he said, the ministry was constantly intensifying its inspections and promoting interventions of a structural nature, in order to confront the distortions that adulterated competition.
However, Folias continued, "agora" (market), and particularly in the ancient Greek meaning of the word, "first and foremost means dialogue". This, he said, was why he took the initiative a few days ago to meet with representatives of the large supermarkets, adding that he would take as many more initiatives as necessary when he believes that they will be beneficial for the consumers and useful for the economy.
"When consumption gains, so do commerce and production. The economy gains, and society gains," the minister said.
Questioned on the priorities of the development ministry, Folias said that the target was to create more opportunities and better choices for all the Greeks, throughout the entire country, and this, he added, was a firm and unwavering commitment of is ministry.
The first priority, and strategic choice, was the policy of Energy Links, so that Greece would be transformed into a key-country on the Energy Map, with substantial upgrading of its geopolitical role, Folias explained.
Another priority was completion of the liberalisation of the energy market, which he said was being advanced with cautious steps, through the required interventions. He said completion of the liberalisation, with systematic and accompanying investments, creates an attractive environment for attracting and further reinforcing private investments that ensure quality services for the consumers. Important components of Greece's energy policy were energy conservation and the advancement of environmentally-friendly forms of energy, Folias elaborated.
The policy's target, he said, was a truly effective State at the side of the citizen, and "this is why we are seeking to systematically inform the citizen/consumer", adding that the government was making "no discounts on the issue of the market". All those "who look the consumer straight in the eyes will have us at their side", but "those who look out only for their pocket, will find us on the other side", he said, adding that knowledge was the consumer's strength, so as to be able to choose correctly. "With his choices, the consumer rewards, but also punishes," the minister said.
Also a top priority was maximisation of the developmental result of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF, or ESPA in Greek) resources. "We are determined that every available euro will have yield as a productive investment, that it will further boost a health and extrovert entrepreneurship," he said, adding that, in that direction, the government was proceeding in the ensurance of all the institutional and organisational conditions for a positive investment climate that will guarantee the upward course of private investments, in conjunction with the dynamic of the Investment Law, of the private investments that are founded on the visions and risks of the entrepreneurs, rather that on the safety of the state.
On the recent inauguration of the Greece-Turkey natural gas pipeline, Folias said that the operation of the pipeline proves the correctness of the government's strategy.
The government, he added, was continuing, steadily and decisively, in the materialisation of all of the country's interstate agreements on projects of high energy importance which, on the one hand provide security in energy supply for Greece, while on the other hand upgrade the country's role. In addition Greece, as a key-country, was opening doors to attracting investments in the energy sector, with multiple benefits for the entire economy and the social whole.
On the progress in the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, Folias said that, following his recent visit to Moscow, where he had "productive meetings in a very positive climate", the sides involved were in the stage of resolving the outstanding matters in a climate of understanding that the procedures for establishing the company that will manage the pipeline needed to be accelerated.
 Development minister on spiralling pricesCartel-like practices that adulterate competition will be mercilessly struck at, development minister Christos Folias said Friday, replying in parliament to a question tabled by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Spyros Halvatzis on increases in the prices of staple goods.
It was the ministry's steadfast and unwavering determination that the law on healthy competition is firmly applied, Folias said, adding that the basic axes of the government's policy was to strike a blow at every attempt to adulterate competition, and to systematically inform the cosumers.
He also noted the obligation imposed on industry to directly inform the general secretariate for commerce of changes in their prices at least 10 days in advance.
Halvatzis said that the spiralling prices were not a figure of speech and, referring to the recent mobilisations over the planned changes in the social security system, added that the working people had sent their message.
Folias responded that Greece was not an isolated island in the middle of the sea, but was influenced by upward price trends throughout the world. He noted that the recent increase in inflation to 3.1 percent in October and 3.9 percent in November was exclusively attributed to external factors, given a 20.4 percent and 37.9 percent increase in oil prices in those respective months.
Despite that, however, he said that the core of inflation was below 3 percent in the period of January-November 2007.
 Greek Embassy event in Sofia on Greek-Bulgarian economic relationsSOFIA (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)
Greece's Ambassador in Sofia, Danai-Magdalini Koumanakou, in a speech she gave on Friday at an event organized by the Greek Embassy at a central hotel in the Bulgarian capital in honor of Greek investors in Bulgaria, referred to the qualitative upgrading of Greek-Bulgarian economic cooperation and in general on Greek-Bulgarian relations in all sectors.
2007 was a significant year in bilateral relations, as new prospects were created for the two countries "which are now allies and partners within the framework of the great European family," Koumanakou stressed.
 Eurostat releases November inflation rates in EUBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Inflation in Greece rose to 3.9 percent in November, from 3.0 percent in the preceding month of October, according to figures released on Friday by the EU's statistics service Eurostat.
Inflation in the eurozone rose from 2.6 percent in October to 3.1 percent in November, while a year ago it was running at 1.9 percent.
Inflation in the entire EU rose from 2l.7 percent in October to 3.1 percent in November, against 2.1 percent the preceding year.
In November, the lowest inflation rates were in the Netherlands (1.8 percent), Finland (2.1 percent) and Slovakia (2.3 percent), while the highest rates were in Latvia (13.7 percent), Bulgaria (11.4 percent), and Estonia (9.3 percent).
Inflation in November, against October, rose in 24 of the 37 EU member countries, while it fell in two: Romania and Slovakia. There were no figures available for Britain.
 KKE leader meets with OTE unionCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Aleka Papariga on Friday met with representatives of the union (OME-OTE) representing employees of the state-run telecoms and telephony utility (OTE), where she reiterated her party's absolute opposition to any privatisation of the company.
She again advocated a "public telecoms sector" and protection of employees' rights, as well as calling for better protection of the rights of workers' employed by OTE's contractors.
 Eurobank Properties increases its share capitalThe increase of the share capital of Eurobank Properties has been completed with the submission of cash and the right of preference in favour of old shares, in a proportion of three new shares for every two old ones and allotment price of nine euros per share.
According to an announcement by the company on Friday, the overall capital which was gathered from the increase of the share capital reaches 329.4 million euros.
Within the framework of the increase, 36,600,000 new shares will be issued of a nominal value of 2.13 euros and with the price of allotment of nine euros per share, for which 93.18% of the shareholders (34,103, 456 shares) were registered.
The company added that it intends to continue to expand its activities both in Greece as well as in countries of central and eastern Europe, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine.
 Greek stocks end week with losses, 0.84%Greek stocks lost ground at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, losing 0.84 percent and bringing the composite index of the market to 5,097.51 points. Turnover was a moderate 417.4 million euros, of which 97.1 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors ended lower with Foods & Beverages (0.73 pct) and Insurances (0.46 pct) scoring the biggest gains. Telecoms (2.64 pct), Mass Media (1.56 pct) and Technology (1.04 pct) and Financial Services (1.04) recorded the biggest losses.
The Big Cap index ended 0.81 pct lower, the Mid Cap index fell 1.09 pct and the Small Cap index lost 0.28 pct.
Broadly, decliners led advances by 158 to 83 with another 51 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.98
Personal & Household: -1.00%
Raw Materials: -0.75%
Travel & Leisure: -0.71%
Food & Beverages: +0.73%
Financial Services: -1.04%
The stocks with the highest turnover were DEH, OTE, Bank of Piraeus and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.44
Public Power Corp (PPC): 36.90
HBC Coca Cola: 29.48
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.90
National Bank of Greece: 45.00
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 23.36
Titan Cement Company: 31.20
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices ended with a small discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover easing to 256.833 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.34 percent and the December contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.12 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 13,560 contracts worth 181.894 million euros, with 31,827 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 560 contracts worth 17.5572 million euros with 945 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 28,308 contracts worth 38.309 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Hellenic Petroleum-ELPE (6,849 contracts) followed by Intracom (4,360), Marfin Popular Bank (4,210), Marfin Investment Group (1,917), Eurobank (1,450), Alpha Bank (1,181), Post Office Bank (1,115), PPC (956) and National Bank (913).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.251 billion euros on Friday, of which 546 billion were buy orders and the remaining 705 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 367 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was at 0.3 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.59 pct and the German Bund 4.3 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved downwards. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.75 pct from 4.05 per cent, the two-day ratefell to 4 per cent from 4.05, the one-month rate stood at 4.95 per cent from 4.98 and the 12-month rate rose to 4.92 per cent from 4.90 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.462
Pound sterling 0.721
Danish kroner 7.521
Swedish kroner 9.497
Japanese yen 165.3
Swiss franc 1.680
Norwegian kroner 8.038
Cyprus pound 0.589
Canadian dollar 1.496
Australian dollar 1.683
 Athens Mayor presents book on 'Maria Callas, the Global Greek'Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Friday presented an illustrated book titled "Maria Callas - the Global Greek", at an event at the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall, dedicated to the world-renowned soprano coloratura who "put her seal on the terms 'Greece', 'Opera' and 'Tragedy',".
City of Athens Technopolis chairman Fotis Ignatiou and magazine publisher Thanassis Niarchos will speak at the event, while Stamatis Fasoulis will read excerpts from the book. Artists who created portraits for the publication will also attend.
The publication contains texts by noted figures of the Greek arts and intellect and the media, with rich photographic material, as well as portraits of the opera diva by seven of Greece's most acclaimed artists.
Readers of the book will learn about the woman who charmed the world with her voice via the words of Spyros Evangelatos, Panayiotis Tetsis, Dimitris Papadimitriou, Nikos Bakounakis, Phaedon Patrikalakis, Alexis Minotis, Yiannis Tsarouchis, Kostis Skalioras, Vasso Papantoniou, Nikos Zachariou, Nikos Papoutsopoulos, Dinos Boutzatis, Meni Koumandarea, Vassilis Nikolaidis, Tito Gobi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Pavlos Ayianidis, Phivos Anoyianakis, Spyros Melas, Eleni Vlachou, Dimitris Hamoudopoulos, Spyros Vassiliou, Alkiviadis Margaritis, Dimitris Horafas, Leonidas Zoras, Yiorgos Leotsakos, Ingeborg Bachmann and Franco Zeffirelli. It also features photos from Callas's life and career as well as portraits created especially for the book by renowned artists Petros Zouboulakis, Dimitris Mytaras, Dimos Skoulakis, Sotiris Sorogas, Nikos Stefanou, Panayiotis Tetsis and Alekos Fassianos.
The book is avaliable at the municipality's Technopolis venue.
 Events marking First National Assembly at Epidaurus anniversaryEvents marking the 186th anniversary of the First National Assembly at Epidaurus (1821-1822), attended by representatives from regions involved in the Greek revolution against the Ottoman rule, will be held on Sunday at Nea Epidaurus, Argolida Prefecture, Peloponnesus, in southern Greece.
The Hellenic Parliament will be represented by 1st Vice-President Elsa Papadimitriou.
 Foreign-flagged motorship runs aground, crew safeA foreign-flagged motorship with a nine-member crew aboard that had set sail from the port of Haifa, Israel, ran aground on Friday on a rocky outcropping north of Nissyros island, in the southeastern Aegean.
The crew abandoned the 77-meter motor ship and swam safely to shore some 10 meters away, while the captain remained on board.
The vessel, which was free of cargo, suffered a small crack, which, however, doesn't pose a risk of sinking or causing an oil spill.
A coastguard boat was in the area while a tugboat was also on the way.
 Foreign national sets himself on fireA 37-year-old Albanian national sustained three-degree burns on Friday after reportedly setting himself on fire with gasoline in a locked car, an incident that in a rural area of Argolida prefecture, near the town of Argos, in southern Greece.
According to reports, the man was distraught over a romantic disappointment.
He was transported in critical condition to an Athens area hospital.
 Teenage boy arrested on counterfeit banknote chargesA 19-year-old was arrested in Kilkis, northern Greece, accused of trafficking counterfeit banknotes while another 18-year-old identified as his accomplice is also facing similar charges but remains at large.
According to police, the 19-year-old had used eleven counterfeit 100-euro banknotes to purchase a number of consumer goods from Kilkis retail stores.
During questioning he did not identify the individuals who had supplied him and his accomplice with the forged money.
 Fire at wood processing factory in Derveni extinguishedFirefighters operating 18 fire engines managed to quickly extinguish a blaze that broke out early Friday at a wood processing factory in Derveni, western Thessaloniki.
Large quantities of unprocessed timber and pallets were destroyed while an investigation is underway to determine the causes of the fire.
According to the Fire Brigade, the blaze broke out at an open-air storage area outside the factory building and was prevented from spreading to the rest of the facilities.
 US increases visa fee to $131The US embassy in Athens announced on Friday that effective Jan. 1, 2008, the application fee for a US non-immigrant visa will increase from US$100 to $131 worldwide.
"Those applicants who paid the prior $100 application fee before Jan. 1, 2008 will be processed without further payment only if they appear for a visa interview before Jan. 31, 2008. Applicants who paid the prior $100 application fee and appear for visa interviews after January 31, 2008 will be asked to pay the difference ($31)," a press release issued by the embassy noted.
Additionally, the application fee for a US immigrant visa will increase by $20, from $335 to $355 effective Jan. 1, 2008, with prior applicants who paid the $335 application processed without further payment, regardless of interview date.
 Rain, sleet on SaturdayRain and sleet with northerly, northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 7-8 beaufort. Snowfall in the mountainous regions. Temperatures will range between -3C and 14C. Sleet in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 01C to 07C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -1C to 02C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe reforms in real estate taxes and abolition of inheritance taxes and parental gifts contained in the new draft law tabled on Thursday in parliament by National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, and Wednesday's nationwide general labour strike dominated headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Abolition of inheritance taxes and parental gifts - Draft law on real estate taxes tabled in parliament."
AVGHI: "Crete's mafia stole 24 guns from shooting club in Chania (western Crete) mainly used by police - Unprecedented attacks on police targets".
CHORA: "Uniform tax on real estate- Tax exemption for first home - New real estate draft law tabled in parliament".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Major labour strike against government's social security reforms paralysed the country Wednesday".
ELEFTHEROS: "What Fin Min's draft law on real estate foresees".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Society and political parties in turmoil - Citizens send agonized messages for help".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Public outcry over social security reforms, surveillance cameras - Wednesday's massive strike will have sequel".
ESTIA: "Changes in real estate - Pros and cons of new draft law".
ETHNOS: "People condemn government's plans on social security reforms - Massive participation at Wednesday's nationwide strike".
KATHIMERINI: "New terms in real estate tax rates - Uniform duty of 0.1 percent".
LOGOS: "Massive nationwide strike sent message against social security reforms".
TA NEA: "New real estate draft law hides a 1 euro secret surcharge per every sq.m."
NIKI: "Uniform tax for real estate. Tax-free first home".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Massive stream of public resistance and demands".
TO VIMA: "Government steadfast on social security reforms despite massive public reactions."
VRADYNI: "The changes in real estate taxes according to new draft law".
 Cypriot President satisfied with EU Summit conclusionsBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said he was fully satisfied with the conclusions adopted Friday by the European Council, which has endorsed the conclusions of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) as regards Cyprus.
''I consider that these are the most comprehensive conclusions issued until now by the European Council and also the most updated in view of the current situation of the Cyprus problem'', President Papadopoulos told the press after the adoption of the EU Summit conclusions.
Despite the amendments adopted on the text regarding Turkey, the two paragraphs on Cyprus remained unchanged.
According to the GAERC conclusions, endorsed by the European Council, the EU calls upon Turkey to actively support the efforts for a solution to the Cyprus question, as well as the implementation of the agreed process of 8 July, 2006.
It also calls on Turkey to make concrete steps towards the creation of a good climate for a comprehensive settlement and makes reference to Turkey's obligations, underlining particularly the fact that Turkey has not yet fulfilled its commitments regarding the implementation, without discrimination, of the Ankara Protocol.
The text also noted Ankara's failure to normalize its relations with the Cyprus Republic. Lastly, the conclusions reiterate the 21st September 2005 statement, which also refers to the recognition of the Cyprus Republic by Turkey.
Responding to questions on the future of Kosovo, President Papadopoulos stressed that Cyprus was very clear Friday that it will never recognise a unilateral declaration of independence.
He said that during the working lunch of the ''27'' leaders, Cyprus made it clear that an EU initiative for a mission in Kosovo should have a clear and solid legal base, and there is no better legal base than a ''UN Security Council Resolution''.
''Eventually there was a compromising decision which is reflected in the conclusions about Kosovo'', the president said and added: ''obviously the question of the recognition of Kosovo by the various states is a decision to be taken by the national governments of the member states and we stated our position that we will not recognise a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo and we feel that there is still room for a negotiated agreement''.
He also noted that at least two more countries share the same views with Cyprus as regards Kosovo.
The Cypriot president also expressed his satisfaction over the resolution adopted Friday by the UN Security Council extending UNFICYP's mandate for a further period ending 15 June 2008.
In his statement, President Papadopoulos noted that the Security Council welcomes the UN Secretary General's references as regards the developments on the ground, but not the one on the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.
Referring to the EU Portuguese Presidency, Papadopoulos described it as a constructive and successful presidency.
 Cyprus government satisfied with resolution adopted by UN Security CouncilNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Cyprus government has expressed its satisfaction over the resolution adopted Friday by the UN Security Council extending UNFICYP's mandate for a further period ending 15 June 2008.
In a written statement, Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas noted a number of positive points and references included in the resolution, as a result, as he said, "of the tireless efforts by President Papadopoulos and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus for a functional and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem."
"The Government of the Republic of Cyprus expresses its satisfaction with the resolution which fully supports the 8 July Agreement and the Gambari process, as expressed in its letter to the leaders of the two communities on November 15, 2006," Palmas said.
He added that the resolution also includes the following positive points:
- It imperatively asks for the necessary political will to be shown with a view to achieve serious progress during the next months, a reference addressed to the Turkish side, which has not so far shown the political will for the implementation of the 8 July Agreement,
- It does not adopt the references of the Secretary General's report for the Turkish Cypriots' so-called isolation
- It reaffirms the position that the responsibility of finding a solution to the Cyprus problem lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves
- It is the first resolution after Turkish President Abdullah Gul's visit to the occupied areas and his known references for "two states, two peoples and two religions" where it is confirmed that the solution pursued is a bi-communal, bizonal federation with a single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship.
- For the issue of the opening of the check-point at Ledra Street, our position for the opening of more check-points is adopted. It also interrelates the issue with the respect of the UNFICYP mandate vindicating our own position
- It says that next year offers a window of opportunity in efforts to pursue a Cyprus settlement, that must be grasped by all the engaged parties
- It welcomes the proposals submitted for Confidence Building Measures and encourages their early implementation
- It calls for the removal of obstacles raised to the economic and commercial cooperation and contacts in general between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, something which constitutes a clear message towards the Turkish side
- It welcomes the actions of the Republic of Cyprus aiming at resolving the problems which peace-keepers face and expresses gratitude to the Government of Cyprus for the financial contribution to UNFICYP
- It reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, in particular resolution 1251 of June 29, 1999, which calls on all states to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and abstain from actions that may harm this sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,
- It reaffirms the position that the Cyprus settlement must be based on a single Cypriot state, with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, ensuring its independence and territorial integrity, with two politically equal communities, in line with the UN relevant resolutions, on the basis of a bi-communal, bizonal federation.
 Cypriot FM to attend Donors conference for the PalestiniansNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis leaves for Paris on Sunday to take part in a conference aimed at offering financial and other aid to the Palestinians.
The conference will be the largest international gathering of donors for the Palestinian Territories since a conference held in Paris in 1996.
The aim is to mobilise the donors, following the Annapolis conference, and to provide financial and political support to the Palestinian Authority. This support should enable the Palestinian Authority to develop the capacities to build a viable state.
France, the host country, will chair the conference.
An official statement said Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Development from around 60 countries will take part as well as 20 international organizations.
During the conference, Marcoullis will announce financial assistance by the Republic of Cyprus to the Palestinian Authority.
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