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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-01-30

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 30 January 2008 Issue No: 2807


  • [01] Inner cabinet approves port reforms
  • [02] Funeral arrangements for deceased Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos announced
  • [03] Patriarch to lead Fanar's delegation to Christodoulos funeral
  • [04] Papoulias pays last respects to Christodoulos
  • [05] Bush sends condolences over Christodoulos' loss
  • [06] European Parliament president on death of Athens Archbishop Christodoulos
  • [07] FM Bakoyannis meets with Cyprus presidential candidate Kasoulides
  • [08] Erdogan calls Karamanlis visit to Turkey 'extremely useful' for bilateral ties
  • [09] Papandreou attacks gov't
  • [10] PASOK leader Papandreou meets party's Thessaly deputies
  • [11] Venizelos suspends creation of political group
  • [12] Koukodimos testifies before the examining magistrate
  • [13] Gov't on deputy's testimony
  • [14] Protest over 'leaks' in Zachopoulos investigation
  • [15] Gov't on Siemens probe
  • [16] Meeting of SAE coordinating council
  • [17] FinMin urges coordination to boost exports, at National Exports Council meeting
  • [18] Greek Shipyards company announces contract with German Hochtief Construction firm
  • [19] Energy conservation pilot programme in Larissa
  • [20] Greek banks to offer full SEPA services by end 2009
  • [21] Indian textile sector delegation in Athens
  • [22] Development Minister Folias holds talks with Indian minister
  • [23] Strikes planned in Thessaloniki over port reforms
  • [24] Cosmote-Vodafone-Wind adopt European Memorandum for safer use of mobile phones by children
  • [25] Greek producer's price index up 8.3 pct in December
  • [26] Viosol ABE buys water processing company for 6 mln euros
  • [27] Petzetakis announces debt restructuring deal with creditors
  • [28] Parliamentary committee approves appointment of new EOF president
  • [29] Restis Group buys 10-12 pct stake in Sea Star
  • [30] Nirefs company announces 90 million euros bonds loan
  • [31] Greek stocks end 1.71 pct higher
  • [32] Greek bond market closing report
  • [33] ADEX closing report
  • [34] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday
  • [35] President Karolos Papoulias receives deputy agriculture minister
  • [36] Culture ministry bill for protection of cultural wealth
  • [37] ENAE vice-president elected president of Greek representation at EU's Regional Committee
  • [38] Navarro's 'City' at Athens' Megaron
  • [39] New president of Nat'l Book Centre
  • [40] Metro, ISAP trains until 2:00 on Friday, Saturday
  • [41] Incendiary device causes minor damage to bank
  • [42] Cannabis greenhouse discovered in basement
  • [43] Earthquake in Saronic Gulf
  • [44] Partly cloudy on Wednesday
  • [45] Cypriot FM discusses Cyprus and Kosovo with Enlargement Commissioner Politics

  • [01] Inner cabinet approves port reforms

    The inner cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday authorized Marine and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis to table a framework law in Parliament as soon as possible protecting and guaranteeing the rights of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki Port Authority employees.

    Voulgarakis briefed the inner cabinet on the reform attempted by the government in the country' s ports, which aims to bolster the port industry so that it will be able to withstand global competition.

    The minister stated that the law will offer important incentives for voluntary retirement, while guaranteeing the right of the employees to remain on the job if they wish. In addition, the employees of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki Port Authority Organizations will be given the option to acquire company shares at lower prices.

    [02] Funeral arrangements for deceased Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos announced

    The details of the funeral of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, who passed away at dawn on Monday, were announced on Tuesday, following a meeting held by Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros with the participation of representatives from the interior, foreign affairs and defense ministries, the Holy Synod and the Athens municipality.

    The Archbishop's body will lie in state at the Athens Cathedral until 8 p.m. on Wednesday January 30.

    On January 31 and at 10 a.m. the funeral service will be held and will be followed by eulogies, as has been decided by the Holy Synod.

    The eulogies will be made by a representative of the Church of Greece, a representative of the Autocephalus Orthodox Churches, the Education and Religion minister, the Parliament representative and the Athens mayor.

    The Archbishop's body will then be carried from the Athens Cathedral to the First Cemetery of Athens through Mitropoleos street, Syntagma Square, Georgiou A' street, Amalias avenue, Syngrou avenue and Athanasiou Diakou, Ardittou and Anapafseos streets.

    His body will be escorted to the First Cemetery, at the end of the service, by the dignitaries present at the event.

    A 21-round gun salute will be made from Mount Lycabetus, while honours will also be presented by a joint armed forces party in the cemetery itself.

    Sgouros called on all to observe the protocol and the program strictly since, among other things, security factors must also be taken into consideration.

    [03] Patriarch to lead Fanar's delegation to Christodoulos funeral

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I will personally lead a delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul to attend the funeral of late Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, it was announced on Tuesday.

    The Patriarchate's announcement said that Bartholomew will be accompanied by Archbishop of America Demetrios, the Archbishop of Crete Irineos, Pergamus Metropolitan Ioannis and Metropolitan of Myron Chrysostomos.

    The Patriarch also sent a telegram expressing the Patriarchate's "deep sympathy and condolences" for the loss of the late archbishop and praising his major contribution to the Greek Church, the Greek people and the Orthodox faith.

    [04] Papoulias pays last respects to Christodoulos

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday morning paid his last respects to Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, whose body lies in state at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral.

    [05] Bush sends condolences over Christodoulos' loss


    US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush on Monday expressed their condolences to the Church of Greece on the passing away of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos

    "Laura and I offer our condolences to the people of Greece at this time of mourning for the death of the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos. The late Archbishop was well known as an articulate voice of the Orthodox faith, for his engagement in inter-religious dialogue, and for his promotion of social programs to help the vulnerable. Our prayers are with the people of Greece and all those who followed his spiritual guidance.

    [06] European Parliament president on death of Athens Archbishop Christodoulos

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pettering expressed sadness on Tuesday over the death of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, who passed away at dawn on Monday at the age of 69.

    "With great sadness, I was informed of the death of his grace Christodoulos, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece. I wish to express my condolences, on behalf of all the deputies of the European Parliament, for this great loss of the Greek people," Pettering said in a statement.

    Pettering went on to say that Archbishop Christodoulos worked for religious tolerance and the defence of human dignity, while promoting with consistency and success dialogue between religions and understanding between different cultures.

    Lastly, he expressed his solidarity to the Greek people and to the Archbishop's family and associates.

    [07] FM Bakoyannis meets with Cyprus presidential candidate Kasoulides

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis met Tuesday with visiting Cyprus presidential candidate Ioannis Kasoulides, leader of the Democratic Rally party and a European Parliament member.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kasoulides said he had a "very useful discussion" with Bakoyannis, that included the Kosovo issue, a matter "of concern to us, with respect to Cyprus' stance tomorrow".

    Asked whether he anticipated a new momentum towards resolution of the Cyprus issue after the Presidential elections in his country, Kasoulides said that the following period "will be the best window of opportunity after 2004", since all the interested sides will have left the presidential races behind them.

    This, however, did not mean an automatic manifestation of an initiative on the part of the United Nations, he added, stressing that there needed to be an indication of political volition, and also referring to "the moves that must be made at our own initiative in that direction".

    "If mobility is not achieved towards resolving the Cyprus issue, there is the danger of mobility emerging to the benefit of the (Turkish Cypriot) pseudo-state and the moves for its upgrading," Kasoulides warned, adding that he was constantly stressing this in order that "we all keep it in mind".

    Asked what the outcome of the presidential elections in Cyprus hinged on, Kasoulides replied that "for me, there is one thing at stake: whether Cyprus will move forward, or remain stuck to the past with views that do not belong to the contemporary era and the future".

    The coordinator of Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos' re-election campaign staff is due in Athens on Wednesday.

    [08] Erdogan calls Karamanlis visit to Turkey 'extremely useful' for bilateral ties

    ANKARA (ANA-MPA - A. Abatzis)

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' official visit here last week as "extremely useful" for the development of bilateral relations and the deepening of dialogue aiding cooperation between the two neighbours.

    Speaking to his ruling AKP party's Parliamentary group, Erdogan noted that "we must accept that there are certain historical problems between Turkey and Greece, but the era when such problems were magnified has passed"

    "Both countries must trust themselves and the other," he said, noting that his talks with Karamanlis allowed for the one-by-one examination of problems.

    "We weren't satisfied with just this, however, and we found the opportunity to discuss what we can do jointly, the principles we can create together we agreed to sidestep the problematic area(s) and to move to the non-problematic area, and at the same time to make an effort for the problem area," he said.

    The Turkish prime minister added that both countries must realise that the other is not a threat but an "opportunity".

    "Economic, trade, tourism and energy cooperation are the most attractive fruits of peace and dialogue," he concluded.

    [09] Papandreou attacks gov't

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Tuesday again sharply attacked the government during an address at a congress of the country's largest labour union, GSEE, which convened at the old Parliament building in Athens.

    The focus of the event is entitled: "Poverty, Education and Social Inequities in Times of Globalization".

    ", we live in an opaque landscape that hurts the country and citizens, with a government trapped in a whirl of underworld (elements), intelligence services, and corruption ... What the government does is cover up and produce scandal, leaving society's wounds open."

    He also said that PASOK is totally different from New Democracy and has other views regarding politics.

    Finally, he also referred to PASOK's proposals on education and lifelong education, as well as plan for "income redistribution", as he called it.

    [10] PASOK leader Papandreou meets party's Thessaly deputies

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou met on Tuesday with the party's MPs from the region of Thessaly, central Greece, underlining the importance placed by the party on regional development and the region's promotion as a lever in the country's economic and social reconstruction.

    Papandreou placed emphasis on the development potential of Thessaly and called on the deputies, also in light of the party's congress in March, to highlight PASOK's development strategy and programming proposal, with the participation of local officials and social agencies as well.

    On their part, the deputies outlined the "serious social and economic problems" facing prefectures in Thessaly, "the most important being serious delays in the implementation of basic infrastructure projects, a decrease in farming income, environmental degrading and the lack of intervention to achieve integrated management for water resources."

    The deputies also focused on "the need for unity to be consolidated in PASOK, the prospects for the victorious reconstruction and outlook of the democratic party" and agreed to joint Parliamentary and political initiatives being assumed in cooperation with PASOK's organizations, aiming at the more effective exercising of opposition action and promoting the party's programme positions.

    [11] Venizelos suspends creation of political group

    Main opposition PASOK party Thessaloniki Deputy Evangelos Venizelos announced on Tuesday that the creation of a Political Reflection Group, composed of political and social cadres affiliated to him, has been suspended.

    PASOK leader George Papandreou expressed his satisfaction over Venizelos's decision, through the party's spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis.

    Venizelos referred in his statement to his faith in PASOK's unity and attributed to circles, which he did not name, an organized wave of attacks that fuelled introspection.

    Venizelos was the main contender in the November 11 party leadership election which he lost to the incumbent leader George Papandreou.

    [12] Koukodimos testifies before the examining magistrate

    Ruling New Democracy deputy Costas Koukodimos on Monday testified before an examining magistrate regarding his alleged involvement in a squabble between the owners of an Athens weekly (Proto Thema) and various press claims that he tried to act as a "go between" between one of the owners (Makis Triantafyllopoulos) and the financial crimes unit investigating the other co-owner (Themos Anastasiadis).

    [13] Gov't on deputy's testimony

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday said he has nothing new to offer in reply to press questions over the alleged "mediation" of a ruling New Democracy MP with the co-owner of an Athens weekly that abruptly became part of the ongoing Zachopoulos affair two weeks ago.

    Pieria deputy Costas Koukodimos, a former long jump champion, appeared before an investigating magistrate on Tuesday to answer questions over his meeting with "Proto Thema" co-owner and controversial TV journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos, namely, to what extent his meeting involved the head of the powerful financial crime squad, Spyros Kladas.

    Roussopoulos merely noted that he has already responded to questions referring to the case when asked to comment over the government's stance, and following the statements by a close Triantafyllopoulos associate, according to which Koukodimos "mediated" for two meetings between Triantafyllopoulos and Kladas.

    Roussopoulos said he will wait for the investigation to be completed before making any comments, while adding that the government rejects any attempts to be held "hostage" due to rumors or information stemming from the case.


    Meanwhile, a main opposition PASOK spokesman on Tuesday called on the prime minister to expel Koukodimos and fire the head of the financial crimes, Kladas.

    Spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis also said that it was the prime minister and the ND government that is being judged in this case.

    In other matters, Ragoussis said PASOK has no connection with an ongoing investigation in Germany focusing on the Siemens multinational, and allegations of kickbacks to foreign government officials in order to win contracts.

    "The movement's (party) finances are transparent," Ragoussis said.

    Finally, he denied press reports that PASOK will change its symbol and even its name.

    [14] Protest over 'leaks' in Zachopoulos investigation

    A protest over leaks concerning the course of the investigation into the alleged blackmail of former culture ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos was lodged with Athens first-instance court authorities on Tuesday by the lawyer representing journalist Themos Anastasiades.

    Dimitris Tsovolas visited the head of the Athens first-instance court public prosecutors' office and the court administration's president to convey his client's complaint.

    The lawyer said the aim of his visit was to make a strong protest over the leaking of material in the case file but also information on the actions being carried out in the course of the investigation. The lawyer asserted that court officials of all ranks were feeding information about the actions of justice to selected individuals, which was illegal.

    He added that Anastasiades had ordered him to file complaints against the Greek newspapers 'Paron' and 'To Vima' over articles they ran in the Sunday papers.

    [15] Gov't on Siemens probe

    An international investigation focusing on the Munich-based multinational Siemens, following corruption and bribery allegations, generated questions towards the government spokesman on Tuesday on the possibility of kickbacks in return for contracts in Greece during the 2001-2005 period.

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos merely noted that political party finances are being regulated via legislation and are transparent.

    On the likelihood of political cadres' involvement in the affair, Roussopoulos stated that an investigation is underway, adding that he will take a stand if there is evidence backing up such allegations.

    [16] Meeting of SAE coordinating council

    The 2nd meeting of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Coordinating Council for the Region of Central and Southern America, which was held recently in the city of Mexico with the participation of the Committee of the Youth Network of the Region, took constructive decisions on issues concerning the expatriates.

    Among the issues were the Registration of Greek Organizations and of the Greek population of the Region, the teaching of Greek, the participation of Youth in the administrative councils of the Greek Organizations, the strengthening of bonds and rekindling of Greek sentiments through the exchange of youth of Latin America-Greece and the awarding of Overseas Greek Women.

    Also discussed was the organization of the upcoming SAE Latin America Regional Assembly.

    Financial News

    [17] FinMin urges coordination to boost exports, at National Exports Council meeting

    Economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said Tuesday that the country was entering a new phase in the coordinated efforts between the authoritative ministries and the business community aimed at boosting exports, in his opening address to the 12th conference of the National Exports Council.

    Alogoskoufis said that the new market trends would be taken advantage of, adding that exports were expected to reach 9.8 percentage points of GDP in 2008, compared with 9.6 percentage points in 2007 and 8.4 percentage points in 2004.

    "We can do more," Alogoskoufis said, although noting the uncertainties over the international economy, and called on the business world and agencies to submit proposals and ideas so as to strengthen the efforts for increasing exports, while leaving open the prospect of the government offering tax incentives to boost exports.

    Referring to the Hellenic Exports Promotion Organization (HEPO), he said that the organisation has evolved into a spearhead of the effort, carrying out 115 related activities in 2008 and 140 in 2007.

    Over the past two years, with HEPO's help, approximately 1,200 Greek enterprises came into contact with 3,000 foreign businesses, the minister said, stressing that the increase in exports was continuing.

    In particular, he said, Greek exports to Romania jumped by 33 percent in 2007 against 2006, while exports to China increased by 21.7 percent during that same period.

    For 2008, HEPO has planned 175 activities in 58 countries, Alogoskoufis said, calling it the "most ambitious program" developed by the organization to date.

    Addressing the Council, deputy foreign minister Petros Doukas said that many steps have been made for the growth of the Greek economy and its extroversion.

    He also noted the difficulties and obstacles at international level, such as spiraling oil prices, increased prices of farm goods, and the parity of the euro against foreign currencies, to name a few, but nevertheless expressed conviction that the increase in exports would continue, particularly given the high growth rates in the wider region of southeastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Gulf.

    Doukas further highlighted the business missions being planned abroad by the foreign ministry's relevant department, which included Algeria, Egypt, the Emirates, Oman, Qatar, China, Russian, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Vietnam, the US, Brazil, Venezuela, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

    He said that the better coordination there was among the authoritative agencies and businessmen and the better that the proposals and ideas submitted were, the better the results that would arise.

    [18] Greek Shipyards company announces contract with German Hochtief Construction firm

    The Greek Shipyards SA company announced on Tuesday the signing of a contract with the Hochtief Construction AG company (HTC), headquartered in the German city of Essen, for the building of a jack-up platform/jack-up barge.

    It is the first order for the construction of a specialized vessel from abroad that will be undertaken by the German-owned Greek Shipyards company in 20 years and following international tendering.

    The jack-up platform, that will hoist the German flag, will be 70 meters long, 40 meters wide and six meters in depth, while the contract anticipates 15 months of work for the Greek Shipyards and for several Greek subcontractors from the shipbuilding industry.

    [19] Energy conservation pilot programme in Larissa

    The municipality of Larissa, central Greece, is a pioneer in energy conservation with the implementation of a pilot program in 17 city streets.

    The program, complying with relative EU directives on energy conservation, is being implemented in Larissa on a pilot basis for the past three years.

    Roughly 500,000 KWH of electrical energy were saved, corresponding to 43 percent of the overall consumption, estimated at 600,000 euros. In addition, the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is down 350 tons on an annual basis.

    [20] Greek banks to offer full SEPA services by end 2009

    The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) was officially launched in the European Union on Monday, with commercial banks already offering certain applications to consumers, while a full implementation of the system was expected by 2011.

    SEPA aims to create a unified market in the euro payment services sector with no discriminations between cross-border and domestic payments, a goal which will be achieved with the abolition of all technical, legal and commercial barriers between national markets and with the introduction of single standards and procedures.

    Bank of Greece Vice-governor P. Thomopoulos, addressing an event organised by the central bank in Athens, said SEPA was another step towards the consolidation of financial markets, strengthening competition in the retail payments market and leading to more efficiency, lower costs and lower bank commissions. Thomopoulos said the Eurosystem, the European Commission and the European Council were firm supporters of SEPA and underlined that the launch of a Single Euro Payments Area, covering bank credit transfers, was just the beginning of a demanding procedure of changes.

    Christos Gortsos, secretary-general of the Hellenic Bank Union, referred to benefits to each user group (consumers, traders, enterprises, public sector enterprises, the public sector) from the introduction of the single payments area, and said Greek banks were preparing their systems to offer all SEPA services by the end of 2009.

    [21] Indian textile sector delegation in Athens

    A business delegation from India, representing the country's textile and clothing sector, on Tuesday invited Greek businesspeople to invest in the rapidly developing Indian subcontinent.

    Indian Textile Minister Shankersinh Vaghela, who heads the business delegation during its official visit to Athens, was received by Eleftherios Kourtalis, first vice-president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the head of the Federation of Greek Textile Industries.

    The Indian minister, addressing an event organised by the Chamber, said textile products and ready-to-wear clothing were a very dynamic sector of India's economy, with huge exports to the EU and the United States, while he stressed that his government has introduced a package of measures facilitating the creation of foreign enterprises in India, urging Greek entrepreneurs to invest in the country.

    India's ambassador to Greece, Dilip Sinha, said a major part of the trade transactions between the two countries were textile products and clothing, while he noted that an excellent political climate between the two countries was fully reflected in their bilateral trade.

    Kourtalis praised the traditionally close friendly relations between Greece and India and underlined the favourable prospects for boosting bilateral trade relations.

    [22] Development Minister Folias holds talks with Indian minister

    Development Minister Christos Folias held talks on Tuesday with the Indian Textile Minister Shankersinh Vaghela, in the presence of Deputy Minister Stavros Kalafatis and Industry Secretary General Meletios Tzaferis.

    Folias referred during this acquaintance meeting to the positive results of the recent official visit made to India by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Vaghela also referred to the prime minister's successful presence in India, stressing the importance of the textiles sector for his country and inviting the development minister to visit India.

    Folias then met, in the presence of Kalafatis and Tzaferis, with a delegation from the Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, headed by President Manthos Mavrommatis. Their talks focused on ways of strengthening the already good relations of cooperation existing between the business communities of Greece and Cyprus, with support by the political leadership.

    [23] Strikes planned in Thessaloniki over port reforms

    Employees at Thessaloniki Port announced two 24-hour strikes on Wednesday and Thursday, in protest over government plans to hand over the port's profitable container terminals to private interests. They also announced that they would take legal action to block the government's plans.

    Commenting on an international tender inviting firms to submit offers for the concession of exploitation rights to the container terminals, which opened on Monday, port employees said it would create a "singular and very strong private monopoly".

    The trade unions participating in the strike said they would also try to drum up support among the city's residents for their cause and against the planned privatisations.

    Regarding their legal arguments against the deal, they said these would focus on the way decisions concerning the container terminals were taken, the fact that the deal did not include any binding terms concerning price policies and, on another level, in terms of its impact on labour relations.

    [24] Cosmote-Vodafone-Wind adopt European Memorandum for safer use of mobile phones by children

    The three mobile phone companies of Greece, Cosmote, Vodafone and Wind, adopted the "European Memorandum for the safer use of mobile phones by children and adolescents", incorporating it to the existing "Ethics Code for the services of added value through mobile phones and the protection of minor users", which constitutes the initiative of self-regulation of the branch in Greece.

    The European Memorandum, which was signed in Brussels in February 2007, constitutes an initiative by 16 European companies of mobile phones, providers of content and of GSM Europe, under the auspices of the European Commission.

    [25] Greek producer's price index up 8.3 pct in December

    Greece's producer's price composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) rose by 8.3 percent in December 2007, compared with the same month in 2006, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    The producer's price index in the industrial sector was up 0.1 pct in December from November, while the average index in the 12-month period from January 2007 to December 2007 was up 2.9 pct, compared with the corresponding previous 12-month period.

    [26] Viosol ABE buys water processing company for 6 mln euros

    Viosol ABE on Tuesday announced the signing of an agreement with a group of investors for the acquisition of Calligan Hellas ABEE, a water processing company, for 6 million euros.

    Viosol ABE said it would offer more details on the deal soon.

    [27] Petzetakis announces debt restructuring deal with creditors

    Petzetakis SA on Tuesday confirmed press reports of reaching an agreement with creditor banks and foreign investment funds on a financial restructuring of its debt totalling 104.41 million euros.

    Under the deal, Petzetakis said the creditor banks also approved a 17.5 million euros loan to boost the company's cashflow.

    [28] Parliamentary committee approves appointment of new EOF president

    Parliament's Social Affairs Committee on Tuesday approved the appointment of Vassilis Kontozamanis to the post of National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF) president.

    In favor were 25 deputies of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party, while the 20 deputies of the opposition voted blank.

    Expounding on the objectives and priorities of EOF, the new president of the organization gave emphasis to the control of pharmaceutical expenditures, stressing the need for the observation of medical prescriptions but also the evaluation of the therapeutic benefit of each medicine.

    [29] Restis Group buys 10-12 pct stake in Sea Star

    Restis Group on Tuesday announced the purchase of a 10-12 percent equity stake in Sea Star company at a price of around 20 million euros. Restis Group said the purchase will be made through a share capital increase currently underway by the Cyprus-based shipping company. Sea Star holds a 32.5 percent stake in ANEK Shipping.

    Restis Grooup said the investment was based on the great growth outlook of Sea Star both in coastal shipping services in the Mediterranean and other activities.

    [30] Nirefs company announces 90 million euros bonds loan

    The Nirefs SA company announced on Tuesday, following decisions taken by the Extraordinary General Assembly on January 7, 2008, that it signed a contract on January 28 for the conclusion of a bonds loan amounting to 90 million euros, with representatives of a group of banks.

    The loan will have a seven-year duration and will have an annual euribor interest rate of +1.4. It will be used to repay an existing loan by the company having a corresponding amount and with more favorable terms.

    [31] Greek stocks end 1.71 pct higher

    Greek stocks rebounded strongly on Tuesday, supported by a recovery trend in other international markets. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange ended at 4,518.16 points, up 1.71 pct with turnover a moderate 495.45 million euros, of which 224.86 million euros were block trades.

    Most sector ended higher with the Food/Beverage (5.25 pct), Industrial Products (5.14 pct), Chemicals (4.85 pct), Healthcare (4.20 pct) and Raw Materials (4.11 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (1.11 pct) and Utilities (0.30 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.30 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.64 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 2.01 pct up. Viosol (16.13 pct), Alter (14.23 pct) and Petzetakis (14.10 pct) were top gainers, while Allatini Ceramics (7.50 pct), Interfish (7.21 pct) and Sarandopoulos Mills (4.71 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 227 to 41 with another 29 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +2.33%

    Industrials: +5.14%

    Commercial: +2.47%

    Construction: +1.30%

    Media: +1.52%

    Oil & Gas: +0.23%

    Personal & Household: +3.66%

    Raw Materials: +4.11%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.11%

    Technology: +1.56%

    Telecoms: +1.84%

    Banks: +1.30%

    Food & Beverages: +5.25%

    Health: +4.20%

    Utilities: -0.30%

    Chemicals: +4.85%

    Financial Services: +1.47%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, National Bank, OPAP and Alpha Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 22.80

    ATEbank: 3.64

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 31.00

    HBC Coca Cola: 29.90

    Hellenic Petroleum: 10.10

    National Bank of Greece: 41.82

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 19.40

    Intralot: 11.44

    OPAP: 24.00

    OTE: 22.00

    Titan Cement Company: 31.28

    [32] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.205 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 659 million were buy orders and the remaining 546 million sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 433 million euros, followed by the 33-year bond (170 million euros). The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.40 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.35 pct and the German Bund 3.95 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.095 pct from 4.05 pct on Monday, the two-day rate was 4.08 pct from 4.06 pct, the one-month rate was 4.21 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.38 pct from 4.33 pct.

    [33] ADEX closing report

    Turnover in the Athens Derivatives Exchange fell further on Tuesday to 139.032 million euros, with futures contract prices ending at a discount. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.86 pct and the February contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.77 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 8,860 contracts worth 105.340 million euros, with 24,252 open positions in the market, while in the Mid Cap index volume was 357 contracts worth 9.519 million euros, with 485 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,439 contracts worth 13.904 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Postal Savings Bank (3,386 contracts), followed by Marfin Investment Group (727), National Bank (833), Alpha Bank (517), Intracom (475), Marfin Popular Bank (2,115), and Mytilineos (200).

    [34] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.489

    Pound sterling 0.748

    Danish kroner 7.512

    Swedish kroner 9.524

    Japanese yen 159.28

    Swiss franc 1.628

    Norwegian kroner 8.099

    Canadian dollar 1.487

    Australian dollar 1.677

    General News

    [35] President Karolos Papoulias receives deputy agriculture minister

    President Karolos Papoulias received Deputy Agricultural Development and Food Minister Constantine Kiltidis on Tuesday, in the framework of the minister's duties regarding the country's forestry policy.

    According to an announcement by the agricultural development ministry, Kiltidis briefed President Papoulias on the work that has been done to sustain forestland, with emphasis being placed on the parts of the country that have been ravaged by wildfires.

    The deputy minister also stressed that forestry authorities must assume the responsibility of protecting forests, a duty that had slackened in past years due to inadequate financing.

    The announcement further noted that President Papoulias urged the deputy minister to continue his work in forestry policy, adding that he is watching its course with great attention, while declaring himself a volunteer in the effort to revive and utilize forests.

    [36] Culture ministry bill for protection of cultural wealth

    A bill for the combating of antiquity smuggling and the protection of cultural wealth, was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday by the culture ministry.

    The bill foresees the lifting of confidentiality for offences related to antiquity smuggling, defines exclusive international jurisdiction of Greek courts to rule on differences which refer to issues of property and possession of mobile monuments, and the setting up of a "Substantiation and Protection of Cultural Wealth Department", which additionally will be responsible for the claim of stolen or detracted or illegally exported monuments.

    [37] ENAE vice-president elected president of Greek representation at EU's Regional Committee

    Union of Prefectural Administrations of Greece (ENAE) vice-president and president of the Prefectural Local Government of Drama-Kavala-Xanthi, Constantine Tatsis, was proposed and unanimously elected on Tuesday as president of the Greek representation at the European Union's Regions Committee.

    "The EU's Regions Committee is increasingly called on to contribute in the shaping of the European policies in Brussels. The Greek representation which participates in the sessions of the Regions Committee plays a particularly important role for the development of the institution of Local Government and in the shaping of intentions, positive to our country's interests. In this direction, in the period we are starting, the Greek representation is ready to contribute in all directions," Tatsis stated.

    [38] Navarro's 'City' at Athens' Megaron

    An original art installation-cum-game created by Spanish sculptor Miquel Navarro has been set up at the Athens Concert Hall 'Megaron' as part of the Megaron Plus exhibition programme, where it will run until March 23. "Travels in the City: In the Moonlight II" comes to Greece from the Centre Pompidou in Paris and is aimed at children aged six to 12 years, who are invited to dream up and create their "own city" within the artwork while it is in Athens.

    A sculpture that has travelled around Europe's museums and galleries for more than a decade, this original work of art spreads over an area of 50 square metres and looks like a city seen from above. It is made up of repeated and combined geometric elements, like blocks, pyramids, towers and columns, which children are invited to combine in different ways under the guidance of special teaching staff during workshops that last roughly 90 minutes.

    The aim of the workshop is to better acquaint children with their city and neighbourhood and to help them understand the complexity of the urban environment while encouraging them to create change within it.

    The budding architects and city planners reshape spaces, creating their own ideal cities and new urban landscapes built from their imagination.

    [39] New president of Nat'l Book Centre

    Writer Petros Markaris was appointed this week as the president of the National Book Centre of Greece's board of directors, replacing Dimitris Nollas, who resigned recently for personal reasons.

    Markaris was presented on Tuesday by Culture Minister Michalis Liapis, who also announced that a book fair dedicated to children's and teen-oriented books will take place on Feb. 1-4 at the HELEXPO building.

    [40] Metro, ISAP trains until 2:00 on Friday, Saturday

    Starting next Friday, train schedules in the Athens' metro and electric railway systems will be extended by two hours on Fridays and Saturdays, until 2:00 in the morning of the following day.

    The extended timetable on those specific days is being run as a pilot scheme for two months, beginning on February 1, by order of Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis.

    Later trains were a proposal originally made by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and the head of the municipal council faction "Open City" Alexis Tsipras, as well as a number of younger members of the public.

    During the test period, Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) inspectors will record passenger traffic levels and carry out statistical analysis to decide whether an extended timetable is necessary.

    [41] Incendiary device causes minor damage to bank

    An incendiary device planted at a Greek Postal Savings branch in downtown Thessaloniki exploded Tuesday morning, causing only limited material damage.

    The blast occurred at the early morning hours Tuesday and the fire that broke out was quickly put out by firemen who rushed to the scene.

    [42] Cannabis greenhouse discovered in basement

    Three people were arrested in a town near Larissa, central Greece, following the discovery of a cannabis cultivation in the basement of a local house, operated by a local man, 27, and a couple of foreign nationals, a 25-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman.

    Police found a total of 34 cannabis plants in the underground greenhouse, which was equipped with a state-of-the-art controlled environment replete with an automatic lighting, ventilation and irrigation systems.

    [43] Earthquake in Saronic Gulf

    An earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale was recorded at 17:16 on Tuesday evening. The epicentre of the quake was in the sea south of the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf, between the islands of Poros and Methana. The quake was also felt in Athens.

    Weather Forecast

    [44] Partly cloudy on Wednesday

    Partly cloudy weather with northerly, northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 7-8 beaufort. Frost in the morning. Temperatures will range between -10C and 11C. Partly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 5-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 0C to 9C. Mostly fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -4C to 8C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [45] Cypriot FM discusses Cyprus and Kosovo with Enlargement Commissioner


    The Cyprus problem, the funding regulation for the Turkish Cypriots and Kosovo were the main issues discussed during a meeting on Tuesday in Brussels between Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis and Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

    During the meeting, Marcoullis expressed Cyprus' readiness to begin implementing the 8 July 2006 agreement, after the presidential elections on the island.

    She noted that the 8 July agreement and the Gambari process had already been adopted by the UN Security Council, the European Council of December 2007 and the General Affairs Council on Monday, in the framework of adopting the reviewed partnership agreement between EU and Turkey.

    Marcoullis said Turkey should be influenced towards implementing the agreement and the process, adding that the EU's role was important in order to secure that what is agreed on would be in line with the acquis communautaire and EU principles.

    On Kosovo, Marcoullis explained the government's positions regarding recognition and the legal basis for the EU mission to the area.

    According to Marcoullis, Rehn expressed the Commission's readiness to contribute towards the commencement of the process after the presidential elections, the first round of which will be held on February 17 and the second on February 24.

    He pointed out the importance of the agreement to be based on EU principles, adding that the Commission was ready to play a part in the process, although the Cyprus problem should remain within the UN framework.

    On Monday afternoon, Marcoullis met with High Representative for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, with whom he discussed the Cyprus problem and the issue of Kosovo, elaborating on the government's positions.

    Marcoullis also met with European Parliament group leaders.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of then UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

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