|Thursday, 22 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 27 September 2008 Issue No: 3007
 PM Karamanlis to ruling party: 'Nothing will obstruct truth'Nothing will obstruct the truth, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined on Friday during a televised address before members of ruling New Democracy (ND) party's central committee, stressing that there would be no tolerance for any illegality while at the same time challenging possible internal party dissenters to directly air their views.
Karamanlis said he had exhibited great patience and tolerance with certain cadres' public statements and personal ambitions, but warned that there was a limit to his patience, and that he would not accept attitudes that undermined common efforts or harmed the party.
Karamanlis further said that the government understood citizens' problems, adding that it was advancing a plan for tackling those problems. Furthermore, he adamantly ruled out the prospect of a government reshuffle, and challenged dissenters: "Whoever disputes me, let him confront me face-to-face".
Karamanlis warned that he would not succumb to coercion, nor would he tolerate continuous snipping at the government. "The prime ministership is not my purpose. My vision is to serve my country".
Karamanlis referred to recent criticism by party MPs and cadres, noting that the views and recommendations were welcome, "but not, however, undermining and personal strategies ... I have displayed tolerance to personal strategies. I have displayed tolerance for and patience even with exagge-rations. But there are limits to tolerance for such attitudes and disdain of the party. Let each and every one assume their responsibilities. We are here to advance the collective interest," Karamanlis stressed. (Cont. on next page)
The prime minister said that he does not deny that mistakes and omissions have been made. "I have a clear picture, we must all hear the citizens. I always seek the best for the country, in the knowledge that there are difficulties and problems."
Referring to the political scene over the past month, he said some quarters were cultivating a climate of disdain and disinformation "that overshadows the government's work", adding that "rumor-driven politics is overshadowing our work", while stressing that "it is our duty to not ourselves disdain our efforts, we must protect the party".
Karamanlis further spoke of the scandal-mongering and climate of political disdain being cultivated "by those who oppose all changes", warning that some quarters were attempting to hurt the government and manipulate public opinion.
Responding to the recent calls by party cadres for changes in the composition of the government and the party officials, Karamanlis explained that there are two types of government changes: changes in policies, and changes in faces. However, he continued, such decisions are not taken for the sake of impressions or evasion.
On the furor regarding exchanges of property between the Mt. Athos monastery of Vatopedi and the State, which have drawn fierce criticism and are the object of a probe launched by a Supreme Court prosecutor, Karamanlis said "we have taken, and are taking, all the necessary measures to protect the public interest".
"No aspect of the case will remain in the dark. We have confidence in the justice system and are awaiting the outcome of the inquiry," Karamanlis said and, in reference to the current talk of scandals, the premier clarified that "there is no tolerance of any illegality, nothing will remain unclear".
On the international economic crisis, he said it has impacted national economies, including Greece's, as well as the everyday lives of the people, but clarified that the consequences were smaller for the Greek economy because it has been "shielded" by the changes and reforms advanced by the government over the past few years.
"Things have become more difficult for everyone, and for the daily lives of the citizens. We comprehend their demands, have full knowledge of the problems, and are carrying on with the changes and reforms," the prime minister said.
In a criticism of main opposition PASOK, Karamanlis warned that the problems cannot be solved through populist promises.
"Some quarters are promising billions of euros. Where will this money come from? Where will they take the debts and problems? Are they forgetting that the interest payments on the debts we inherited have reached 10 billion euros a year?"
Karamanlis further clarified that he would not give in to "temptations" and would not resort to handlings that could prove catastrophic in the future, and that he would not dole out false promises because the (political) climate has become 'heavy'.
Giving account of the government's work thus far, he listed the fundamental commitments that have been fulfilled, stressing that the government's first priority from here on would be to tackle the social problems and strengthen the social protection index.
Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Friday responded to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' earlier address by charging that the "government is a step before the exit", referring to the prime minister's speech at the ruling New Democracy (ND) central committee meeting.
Papaconstantinou said Karamanlis "turned his back" on society, referred only to the ruling party's internal issues, saying this is an indication that the premier is unable to solve ND's problems as well as the country's impasses.
"Mr. Karamanlis sent the bill to Greek citizens by speaking as if there wasn't a crisis in the country. It is obvious that Mr. Karamanlis doesn't or is incapable of providing solutions. The country needs an exit plan from the crisis, a turn of course. The country needs a new government," he concluded.
For her part, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga referred to the PM's speech and what she called speculation over cooperation between main opposition PASOK party and the leftist Synaspismos, speaking in a press conference after the PM's address.
"The prime minister's forceful speech was mostly directed at ND party cadres," Papariga said, while referring to "brutally anti-popular" government policy. Referring to the rumored cooperation between PASOK and Synaspismos, Papariga accused them of playing a political game of impressions with the purpose of winning over more voters, while she also rejected the six-point proposal presented to PASOK by SYRIZA Parliamentary group president Alekos Alavanos, terming it as sketchy.
On the issue of the Vatopedi Monastery furor, she suggested that any act involving the giving up of publicly owned land should be stopped and also calling for the protection of small property owners. Papariga blamed both the ND and PASOK governments for the current situation, accusing them of being involved in "political dealings" with the monasteries.
"The prime minister's address to the ruling party central committee was characterised by a Synaspismos statement as a "domestic discussion that does not concern the Greek society which experiences the consequences of the policy followed by the government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis."
"Workers, young people, the financially weak, have no interest in whether a government minister or adviser is being removed from their post or in a likely government reshuffle when the essence of the implemented policy remains unchanged," a statement read.
Finally, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis highlighted what he called the absence of an apology given Karamanlis in his speech.
"We have today watched Mr. Karamanlis speak in animated tones without an apology. We saw many crescendos, but the rhythm remains the same. Too many 'I's' and not enough proposals," he said.
DM Meimarakis, Zagoritis
Former ND secretary and current Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis suggested that a vote should be held on all issues put before the central committee, pointing out that the proposal made by MP Petros Tatoulis for an extraordinary convention should top the list.
Meimarakis also sent a message to dissenters, stressing that any decisions reached will have to be respected. He also stressed that when joining a collective body it should be regarded as self-evident that part of our independence will be lost.
Finally, ND Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis noted that the party has proved that it is an open political formation, with values and an indisputable leader in the person of Costas Karamanlis.
 Bakoyannis addresses Greek-Americans in ManhattanNEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)
The need for a collective approach when tackling foreign policy issues, and the valuable role played by the Greek diaspora around the world, was stressed in an address given by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis to Greek-Americans in Manhattan on Friday.
"We are determined to deal with the problems and move forward, all together. In this difficult environment, Greece is going through a period of change and reform," the minister said.
Bakoyannis said that Greece's foreign policy was exercised with "extroversion and national self-confidence", while Greece and the United States were linked by close, long-standing and strategic ties.
"Both on a bilateral level and in the framework of international organisations, Greece and the U.S. work closely together to deal with all major international challenges. We are jointly fighting the battle against terrorism in all its forms. We are not just another ally. We believe that we are a valuable ally and partner," she stressed.
Referring to the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bakoyannis urged Greece's northern neighbour to "finally actively demonstrate, with realistic proposals, its intention to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution on the basis of a composite name with a geographic determinant that will apply for all."
She expressed conviction that Skopje would soon realise that solving the name issue would be to the country's own benefit, since it needed Greece's support in order to make progress in its bids to join NATO and the European Union.
Regarding Greece's relations with Turkey, she said that Athens' support for Turkey's European perspective formed part of a strategic policy of helping all countries in the region come close to European institutions. She said the goal was for Turkey to gradually become a modern European democracy that adopted European rules of behaviour, something that would be to everyone's benefit, including its own.
"But Turkey's European future is in its own hands. It must demonstrate that it has the political will to meet the criteria set by the member-states of the EU," she added.
She repeated that solving the Cyprus issue was a central goal of Greek foreign policy, which sought the reunification of the island in a fair, viable, functional way that was based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation, and stressed Athens's support for the efforts of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias in this direction.
Lastly, Bakoyannis underlined the government's continued commitment to giving overseas Greeks the right to vote in national elections from abroad, noting that this was a long-standing demand and desire of expatriate Greeks throughout the world, while accusing main opposition PASOK and the other opposition parties of "delaying tactics" on this issue.
"For the Greek government, giving a vote to expatriates remains an important commitment that we will continue work hard to bring about, with a deadline at the end of this year," she said, adding that two draft bills had already been tabled and a third would be following soon.
 FM spokesman on Bakoyannis' contacts in the UNNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
Greece's OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Presidency next year was among the issues discussed within the framework of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis' participation in the 63rd UN General Assembly, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told ANA-MPA. The Greek Presidency is a challenge because the issues pending are serious, crucial and difficult, such as the situation in Georgia and developments in the Caucasus, he said.
Koumoutsakos pointed out that Greece, in taking over the OSCE Presidency, will be offered potential that has not been fully realized by the Greek people, like direct and speedy contact with the US administration considering that the issues that will be handled are of great interest for the US, Russia and the UN.
As regards the FYROM name issue, he stressed that the negotiating process has entered a very important moment despite the fact that there is serious skepticism on how the process is being perceived by the other side, Koumoutsakos said, adding that "Greece remains firm in its position and its intention to reach a solution."
On the Cyprus issue, the foreign ministry spokesman stated that "we are at the starting point of a new effort and many are those who believe that this effort that got underway following an initiative by (Cyprus) President (Demetres) Christofias can lead to a much desired, viable, fair and functional solution of the Cyprus issue."
In many of the contacts the foreign minister had she referred to the course of Greek-Turkish relations, Koumoutsakos said, adding that she had the opportunity to underline Greece's support for Turkey's European prospect. However, the officially declared will of the Greek government for substantive improvement of Greek-Turkish relations is not met with an equal response by the other side, he stressed, adding that "Words, many times or most of the time are not met by deeds and this is a cause for concern."
 Papandreou addresses SI meeting in NYCNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/F.Karaviti)
Socialist International (SI) President and Greek main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou spoke of a "bankrupt Wall Street capitalism" and "trillions being lost at the expense of pensions, education, the social state," while addressing here Friday a meeting of the SI's presidium.
Papandreou spoke of a system "which allows the few to concentrate tremendous power in their hands and take decisions through the least possible democratic legitimation," and accused the "conservative forces" of "succeeding in privatising profits and socialising damages."
"We are experiencing the end of the belief that markets can be self-regulated. It is clear that the cost of non-intervention, of insufficient regulation, is enormous and influences negatively the most vulnerable strata of society," Papandreou noted, adding that "conservative forces will try to invest in the citizens' fear and insecurity."
The SI president underlined that "progressive forces have today the historical task to secure the welfare of their citizens, to look after security, democracy, good governance, fair distribution of wealth, social policies and education," and appealed to SI leaders to "take national and international initiatives in order to repair the damages."
During the meeting, Papandreou also briefed participants on recent developments in the Cyprus issue, while Serbian President Boris Tadic briefed the meeting on the situation prevailing in Kosovo and Belgrade's demand for an International Court's ruling on the legality of the province's unilateral declaration of independence (UDI).
Participating in the SI presidium meeting were the presidents of Iraq, Pakistan, Chile, Finland and Panama, Austria's chancellor, the Mongolian prime minister and other Socialist leaders.
 PASOK leader meets Cyprus presidentNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
A solution to the Cyprus problem must abide by the principles and acquis of the European Union, of which the Republic of Cyprus is a member-state, and not only by United Nations resolutions, main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou said here on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on the sidelines of the 63rd UN General Assembly, Papandreou also hailed the start of substantive negotiations aimed to resolve the island republic's protracted political problem.
"In the European Union there is no need of other guarantors," Papandreou said in a clear reference to Turkey's insistence on a Cyprus solution being guaranteed by third countries.
"The solution must be able to function effectively and to the benefit of Cypriots in the framework of the European family," Papandreou also said, committing to do everything in the framework of the SI in this direction.
President Christofias, on his part, said he hoped the Turkish Cypriot side would demonstrate the same good will for a Cyprus solution.
"I want to believe that the Turkish Cypriot side will demonstrate the same good will so as to advance, even more so when it is anxious for a solution as soon as possible," he said.
The Cyprus president noted that the Greek Cypriot side had no objection to this, but noted, however, that there were certain parameters to the problem "such as governance and other important and crucial aspects on which we have not yet touched."
The Cypriot president thanked Papandreou for "all his efforts and the SI's positions" on Cyprus.
A fresh attempt to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem began this September when the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, began substantive negotiations with a view to reunify Cyprus.
 Greece pledges support for island states impacted by climate changeNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Island states are the most hard hit by the repercussions of climate change, which renders the support of the international community mandatory, Greek deputy foreign minister Yiannis Valinakis said in New York on Thursday night (NY time), adding that Greece was prepared to provide such support.
Speaking at an event held at the headquarters of the Greek Permanent Representation to the US on Thursday night, where the upcoming cooperation between Greece and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) was unveiled, Valinakis further said that Greece intended to contribute the sum of one million euros per year over the next four years, aimed at reinforcing the programs for the AOSIS members' adaptation to climate change, expressing his belief that the relevant agreement will be completed by the end of the year and enter into effect in the first half of 2009.
Valinakis, representing Greece at the event, reiterated Greece's determination to provide such support, noting that a large proportion of Greeks live in island regions, which meant that the Greek people understand the immense challenges that island inhabitants face.
The AOSIS was represented by Grenada's foreign minister Peter David.
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) is a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries that share similar development challenges and concerns about the environment, especially their vulnerability to the adverse effects of global climate change. It functions primarily as an ad hoc lobby and negotiating voice for small island developing States (SIDS) within the United Nations system.
AOSIS has a membership of 43 States and observers, drawn from all oceans and regions of the world: Africa, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Pacific and South China Sea. Thirty-seven are members of the United Nations, close to 28 percent of developing countries, and 20 percent of the UN's total membership. Together, SIDS communities constitute some five percent of the global population.
Member States of AOSIS work together primarily through their New York diplomatic Missions to the United Nations. AOSIS functions on the basis of consultation and consensus, while major policy decisions are taken at ambassadorial-level plenary sessions.
 US House Res. 1361 refers to 'former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia'NEW YORK (ANA-MPA / T. Ellis)
The US House of Representatives this week approved, via voice vote, House Resolution 1361 regarding the Durban Review Conference, in which the resolution's text refers to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) rather than the "constitutional name" of the one-time Yugoslav republic, as recognised by the Bush administration shortly after the 2004 elections.
"(the US House of Representatives) ... commends the countries that joined the United States, including the member states of the European Union, Albania, Andorra, Australia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Israel, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, Canada, and the Republic of Korea, in voting to uphold earlier United Nations consensus agreements to limithat established the scope and funding of the 2009 Durban Review Conference process..."
The development comes as US House Resolution 356 and US Senate Resolution 300 call on FYROM to cease its "hostile activities or propaganda" against Greece and to work towards a mutually acceptable solution to the still-unresolved "name issue".
 KKE SG tours ThessalonikiCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Friday toured Thessaloniki where she said that "the Prime Minister's (Costas Karamanlis) speech was dynamic and was directed mainly to the interior of the New Democracy (ND) party." She was commenting on the prime minister's speech at the ND party's Central Committee meeting in the morning.
She added, however, that "beyond the interior of the party, the prime minister spoke openly and clearly towards the entrepreneurs, to the capitalist class or to the businesses which compete between themselves."
At a press conference, Papariga accused the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos), charging that "they are playing a political game of impressions, they are playing with the popular sentiment so as to gain votes."
She also termed as "a salad" the proposal of six points by SYRIZA Parliamentary Group president Alekos Alavanos towards PASOK.
 SYN's central political committee convenesCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras on Friday chaired a meeting of his party's Central Political Committee.
"The real problem of the Prime Minister (Costas Karamanlis) is not a probable mutiny by New Democracy (ND) party deputies, but society's mutiny against his policy," Tsipras said regarding Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' speech at ND's Central Committee in the morning.
Tsipras criticized both major parties and at the same time outlined his plan for a government of the Left, which "can be implemented if the Left turns completely to the social struggles, bring the social forces to the forefront and lead to a new prospect with the Left at the epicenter."
The SYN leader further said that "the continuous revelations of scandals which either concern the transition of state wealth to private interests, or concern the granting of political protection in the operation of the para-state, reminds of phenomena in Sicily."
Tsipras also criticized the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) for what it did when it was in power, for its social policy, noting that Synaspismos "cannot say half truths" and that "we can only say the whole truth, because that is what the people want."
 Athens mayor visits SofiaSOFIA (ANA-MPA/B.Borisov)
Visiting Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Friday met Mayor of Sofia Boyko Borisov with talks focusing on efforts to further develop relations and cooperation between the two capitals.
During a joint press conference, Kaklamanis assured his Bulgarian counterpart of the City of Athens' support to Sofia "every time you need us" and referred to the two cities' cooperation on environmental issues and actions regarding the conservation of old monasteries and churches in the two cities.
A joint initiative by Athens and Sofia for the inclusion of the two cities' religious-cultural heritage in a European programme could be a first step in this direction, Kaklamanis noted.
On his part, Boyko said that Athens' experience in various sectors could be valuable for his city and thanked Kaklamanis for his support to Sofia's demand for an EU aid to a Sofia City plan regarding waste management.
Kaklamanis is on a two-day official visit to Sofia, where he is also expected to meet Patriarch Maximos and government officials.
 National Bank says exposure to Lehman Borthers totals 3.9 mln eurosNational Bank on Friday said its exposure from all kind of transactions with Lehman Brothers totaled 3.9 million euros, while the exposure of its customers in the private banking business to Lehman's investment products totaled 6.8 million euros.
In a statement to the press, Greece's largest bank said the two sums were the maximum possible damage, given the fact that a clearing procedure is underway for the US investment bank which could result to lower damages.
 World Tourism Day message by the tourism minister"Greece is called on to become a viable, modern and competitive force creating strong prospects for development in the years to come," according to a message issued by Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on the occasion of the World Tourism Day observed on September 27, which dedicated this year to the tourism sector's response to the challenge of climate change.
A year after the adoption of a new tourism policy that puts an emphasis on a broader based, quality, environmentally-friendly and viable tourism product, it has been made clear that the development model being followed ensures a stable socio-economic environment in the country, he stressed.
The development strategy being followed respects the environment, the tourism minister stressed, adding that "environmental protection is the greatest responsibility in the effort to make Greece one of the leading tourist destinations."
 Customs staff end strikeAn Athens First Instance Court late Thursday declared an ongoing strike by custom officers as illegal, amid a widespread petrol shortage around the country.
According to reports, union representatives for striking customs staff voted to suspend their indefinite strike
 Seminar on quality assurance for food and drink"Technology and Innovative Methods of Quality Assurance in Food and Drink" was the topic of a seminar held today in Trikala.
The meeting welcomed the Prefect of Trikala, Ilias Vlachogiannis, and professors from the University of Thessaly.
Lecturer at the Laboratory of Agricultural Construction and Environmental Control, Nick Katsoulis, recommended a program for new technologies for producing greenhouses with less impact on the environment.
George Nanos, Associate Professor of the Pomology Department at the university, spoke about "signs of deterioration in the quality of fruit and vegetables" and new innovations which could better assess their quality.
The final speech was by Dimitris Karampatzakis from the Department of PC and Network. He emphasised the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) to track food and beverages from their production, through the supply chains, to consumers.
 Greek stocks end 1.71 pct lowerGreek stocks ended the last trading session of a volatile week with heavy losses in the Athens Stock Exchange, following a trend prevailing in other European markets. The composite index fell 1.71 percent to end at 3,017.89 points, with turnover shrinking to 221.5 million euros, of which 16 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Financial Services (4.48 pct), Technology (4.15 pct), Utilities (2.90 pct) and Personal/Home Products (2.81 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Insurance (0.48 pct) and Media (0.17 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 1.97 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell 2.08 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.58 pct lower. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 154 to 71 with another 50 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.01%
Personal & Household: -2.81%
Raw Materials: -2.04%
Travel & Leisure: -1.56%
Food & Beverages: -1.66%
Financial Services: -4.48%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Alpha Bank and Marfin Popular Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 14.96
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.94
HBC Coca Cola: 15.88
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.56
National Bank of Greece: 31.04
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 13.20
Piraeus Bank: 15.92
Titan Cement Company: 23.66
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.66%
Personal & Household: -0.86%
Raw Materials: -0.06%
Travel & Leisure: +0.82%
Food & Beverages: -2.16%
Financial Services: +0.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 15.04
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.44
HBC Coca Cola: 16.16
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.70
National Bank of Greece: 31.38
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 13.26
Piraeus Bank: 16.30
Titan Cement Company: 24.04
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover shrinking further to 97.158 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.22 percent and the October contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.97 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 10,569 contracts worth 87.273 million euros, with 28,732 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was two contracts, worth 35,100 euros with six open positions.
Volume in futures contracts oí equities totaled 8,871 contracts worth 9.287 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank' s contracts (1,281), followed by Marfin Investment Group (620), PPC (359), Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (322), National Bank (1,262), Alpha Bank (605), Intralot (384) and ATEbank (816).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 692 million euros on Friday, of which 320 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 372 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 150 million euros. The yield spread was 0.756 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.93 pct and the German Bund 4.17 pct.
In money markets, interest rates jumped higher. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.47 percent, the six-month rate 5.29 pct, the three-month rate 5.14 pct and the one-month rate 5.06 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.475
Pound sterling 0.801
Danish kroner 7.520
Swedish kroner 9.764
Japanese yen 155.36
Swiss franc 1.600
Norwegian kroner 8.334
Canadian dollar 1.526
Australian dollar 1.780
 EU Commissioner Dimas on revised Batteries DirectiveGreece's European Commissioner Stavros Dimas on Friday announced that a revised EU Batteries Directive will apply from that day and should have already been transposed into the national law of member-states. He reported that only seven member-states had so far communicated to alert the Commission of national legislation which fully transposes the directive.
"The revision of the Batteries Directive represents another important step towards our goal of making Europe into a recycling society. By setting collection targets and requiring recycling, this legislation will also help to protect the health of European citizens and contribute to making consumption and production in the EU more sustainable. Those Member States that have not yet transposed it should do so without delay," the Commissioner said.
In an announcement, meanwhile, the Commission notes that batteries contain a range of metals which are harmful to human health and the environment, including in some cases the hazardous heavy metals lead, cadmium and mercury. Collecting and recycling waste batteries prevents these substances from getting into the environment and saves energy and natural resources.
The revised directive aims to avoid the final disposal of batteries in the environment by enhancing collection and recycling. It also contains restrictions on the use of some heavy metals. The key changes it introduces are:
The introduction of the recycling efficiency levels is a novelty in EU waste legislation. These efficiency targets will encourage innovation and the introduction of more effective processes and technologies. They form part of the Lead Market Initiative launched by the Commission at the start of this year.
 Couple charged for antiquity smugglingA 42-year old archaeologist and professor of Art History and her 63-year old husband, publisher and owner of a downtown Athens bookstore selling rare books, were charged on Friday for antiquities smuggling.
The woman and the bookstore's 37-year old manager were arrested by Attica police officers, while the publisher is wanted.
A searcj of the couple's house and the bookstore turned up religious books dating before 1830, specifically between the 16th and 19th centuries, many of which are extremely rare and unique, which were being sold through the bookshop.
The detainees will be brought before a public prosecutor
 Suspected wife slayer remanded in custodyA music teacher accused of murdering his wife and burying her body in a park in the upper class Athens suburb of Filothei was on Friday remanded in custody after appearing before an examining magistrate.
The 36-year-old teacher, who faces a charge of premeditated murder, has confessed to the killing 10 days earlier but claims that he was enraged and also acting in self-defence because his wife attacked him first.
He admitted to recent marital problems and tension caused by differences over property issues, and said that they had several time been on the verge of divorce but had not gone through with it out of concern for their children.
The suspect does not claim to be suffering from any problems of mental health and asked that he be punished to the measure he deserved, expressing remorse for taking the life of a person and depriving his children of their mother.
 Firebomb attacks in Athens overnightA number of firebomb attacks were recorded in different parts of Athens in the early morning hours on Friday.
Incendiary devices using propone canisters exploded between 2.32am and 2:39am targeting a Czech and an Italian embassy car in Pangrati and Patisia respectively, a private car in Agios Dimitrios, an insurance company branch office in Halandri and a Eurobank branch in Ilion.
The most extensive damage was recorded in a Citroen car dealership in Galatsi with four cars completely destroyed.
Three more devices exploded at 5:15am in Melisia targeting the branches of Marfin Bank and City Bank and a branch office of a private insurance company.
No one has assumed responsibility for the attacks and a police investigation is underway.
 Freighter runs aground off Poros, crew safeThe freighter vessel "Theofilos S." ran aground in the shallows off the island of Poros, in the Argosaronic Gulf, on Friday, but its 10-member crew were all safe and well.
Efforts were being made by the vessel to dislodge itself, while Coast Guard vessels were at the scene, on standy-by to provide assistance if required.
 New drug seized at Athens airportA 40-year old British man carrying five capsules of the new drug BZP was seized on Friday at Athens international airport.
The illegal drug is a synthetic stimulant containing benzylpiperazine. Known as 'Party', 'Nemesis', 'Frenzy' and 'A2', the drug has the same properties as methamphetamine.
Police arrested the man, who is believed to have been travelling to Greece to attend a party at Marathon.
The public prosecutor referred him to the 17th regular magistrate to make his defence.
 Illegal migrants intercepted off Kos, SamosSixteen illegal immigrants (eight men, four women and four minors) were intercepted on Friday by the Coast Guard just off the port of Kos, on the island of Kos in eastern Aegean.
They had originated from the opposite Turkish coast a board an inflatable dinghy, which they destroyed upon detection by authorities.
In a separate incident, 35 illegal immigrants (31 men, a woman and three minors) were arrested by the coast guard after their flimsy vessel was spotted in the sea region around Samos, in the eastern Aegean. As with most cases of attempted illegal immigrant landings on eastern Aegean islands, the would-be migrants said they had disembarked from Turkey.
 Four illegal immigrants killed crossing minefieldFour illegal immigrants were killed when attempting to cross a minefield on Friday, in order to pass over the border between Turkey and Greece.
The four had entered a fenced-off minefield in the Kastanea region in Evros prefecture.
The explosion that killed them occurred in the early hours of Friday morning and was investigated by men of the Land Minefield Clearing Battalion who transported the four bodies to a hospital in Didymotichos.
On two of the bodies authorities found documents showing that the victims were of Georgian extraction, while no identification documents were found on the other two bodies.
Authorities stressed that the minefield they entered was surrounded by a double fence and had warning phosphorescent signposts in Greek and English. They speculate that the four men failed to realise they were entering a minefield because it was dark, believing that they were crossing the Greek-Turkish border.
 Rain on SaturdayRainy weather with northerly, northeasterly winds are forecast in all parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 5-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 11C and 20C. Rainy in Athens, with 4-5 beaufort northerly, northeasterly winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 17C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe ruling New Democracy (ND) Central Committee meeting on Friday and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' position on the ongoing friction in his party dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: Newspaper's survey: What would you advise the prime minister to do to exit from the political crisis".
APOGEVMATINI: "Face to face - Karamanlis will bring party members face to face with their responsibilities".
AVGHI: "Synaspismos party leader Alexis Tsipras makes 12 proposals".
CHORA: "Karamanlis' ultimatum - He will attempt to end the introversion and call for a new beggining".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "ND rebels' guns will cease at the party's Central Committee meeting in fear of early general elections and the Prime Minister's spectacular movements".
ELEFTHEROS: "Heavy bargaining in ND for ceasefire".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Karamanlis orders: Not one step back on Customs staff strike".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis will attempt to 'resurrect' himself and ND at the Central Committee meeting".
ESTIA: "The state in not on strike - The government's tolerance is preposterous".
ETHNOS: "Ministers' last minute call for far-reaching government reshuffle".
KATHIMERINI: "Karamanlis' address at the Central Committee meeting will have many recipients".
LOGOS: "The Prime Minister's intentions are a puzzle".
NIKI: "Karamanlis has run out of tricks ".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Battle alarm in the working places against the social security reforms".
TA NEA: "Crash test for Karamanlis".
TO VIMA: "The silence prevailing in ND is eloquent - The in-party conflict is is expected to end with a truce".
VRADYNI: "Intervention for cohesion - Karamanlis announces on Friday his political initiatives".
 Cyprus President asks Gul to assist efforts for Cyprus settlementUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President Demetris Christofias has said that he has asked Turkey's President Abdullah Gul to assist efforts for a political settlement in Cyprus.
Speaking Friday at a press conference in New York, where he addressed on Wednesday the UN General Assembly, Christofias reiterated his will and determination for a solution to the Cyprus question the soonest possible, stressing that "the reunification of the island, the end of (Turkey's) occupation and the creation of conditions of peaceful coexistence and co-living with the Turkish Cypriots is a need."
"This is my commitment and I am going to honour this commitment hoping that Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat (the Turkish Cypriot leader) and of course Turkey will give this opportunity to us," Christofias said.
He noted that he had the opportunity to have a brief encounter with the Turkish president, to shake hands with him and exchange a few words.
The president expressed regret that the Turkish delegation left the UN Assembly hall as he delivered his address, a practice Turkish diplomats have always applied.
Christofias said that he asked Gul to assist, "because I am sure and I told him that Turkey, and I have underlined this in my speech, could play really a decisive role in the solution of the Cyprus problem because it is Turkey which maintains 40 thousand, more than 40 thousand troops and 160 thousand or more than 160 thousand settlers in Cyprus."
"It was a good conversation. He said that he backs the negotiations but of course this is not enough. We need positive moves from Turkey in order to create the conditions for the final solution of the problem. If we really want a solution, the solution must be based on this reality, I mean on the reality of the existence of the Republic of Cyprus and the evolution of this Republic into a bizonal, bicommunal federal state," the Cypriot president said.
Christofias expressed the conviction that by solving the Cyprus question Turkey will rid itself from a big burden which hinders its accession course to the European Union.
He stressed that "there will be no new partnership (in Cyprus). This is the old partnership which is going to be continued under new circumstances and the evolution of the unified state into a bizonal, bicommunal federal state," Christofias added.
''In Cyprus there is a partnership of two communities and one state. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and the treaties that established the Republic, Cyprus is a partnership between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. What is needed today is the evolution from a unified state to a bizonal, bicommunal federation,'' he explained.
Christofias recalled that the Turkish Cypriot illegal regime in Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas has been declared null and void by UN resolutions, noting that the so-called isolation of Turkish Cypriots derives from these resolutions, as no one recognises this regime.
Asked about Turkey's candidacy for the Security Council, he said that it is not right for a country which has been occupying illegally for 34 years part of the territory of another country to become a member of the Security Council, but this is for the UN members to decide.
President Christofias and Talat began on September 3 direct negotiations with a view to reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
 President Christofias briefs Security Council permanent members on CyprusUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias hosted a luncheon on Thursday in New York for the Representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, whom he briefed on the direct negotiations underway for a Cyprus settlement and the positions of the Greek Cypriot side, followed by an exchange of views.
Speaking after the meeting, President Christofias said ''we reached the common conclusion that the Security Council will continue to support the principles which it has set so far, on which the solution of the problem will be based.''
He added that he had the opportunity to elaborate on the current situation, after the commencement of direct negotiations between himself and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, and said he was happy that the Ambassadors reaffirmed the fundamental principles included in Security Council resolutions on Cyprus.
President Christofias said the Ambassadors asked many questions, especially concerning Cyprus' EU membership, security and the structure of the Cypriot state, noting that he had ''the opportunity to present our own positions, with which everyone left satisfied.''
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou told reporters that the Ambassadors expressed satisfaction because they were able to be briefed first hand on developments and the positions of the president.
''Satisfaction was also expressed about the President's statement at the General Assembly, which was a speech that clearly presented the longstanding positions of the Greek Cypriot side, the principles on which the Greek Cypriot side is pursuing a settlement,'' Stephanou added.
Replying to questions, Stephanou said that, ''having in mind that the ownership of the process is in the hands of the Cypriots, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, and as provided for in the mandate and the good offices mission of the Secretary General, the role of the UN is to assist and not mediate.''
Stephanou pointed out that the settlement has specific principles included in a plethora of UN resolutions, and thus the Security Council has the basis on which it must and can move.
He noted that President Christofias reaffirmed his commitment to work with determination and flexibility, adding that this did not mean dismissing the principles of a solution.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 US see new spirit developing in efforts to solve Cyprus problemNEW YORK (CNA/ANA-MPA)
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met with her Cypriot counterpart Marcos Kyprianou on Thursday in New York, referred to a new opportunity to solve the Cyprus problem and the new spirit developing for some time.
During the meeting, Rice and Kyprianou discussed the Cyprus problem and the US official reiterated intentions to support the process for a settlement.
Rice said ''we were looking forward to this conversation because we obviously like to be supportive as the process trying to resolve the Cyprus dispute moves forward.''
''I think there is a good chance again. I think there is a new spirit developing for some time and I look forward to your thoughts how we may push forward,'' she added.
Kyprianou said he elaborated on the Greek Cypriot side's positions regarding the process for a settlement and the role of the international community.
He furthermore called on the US to exert influence on Turkey. ''Turkey is holding the key to the solution and there are indeed sectors that are directly linked to Turkey and of course it stands to reason that the US are in the best possible position to encourage, exert pressure on Turkey so that it is positive, not only in the process, but in the result, and the result must guarantee unity, reunification, the future of Cyprus.''
Replying to questions, Kyprianou said the meeting was important, despite the fact that the US administration's term expires at the end of the year.
On Thursday, Kyprianou met in New York with his counterparts of Oman, Palestine, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Serbia and Ghana, whom he briefed on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and discussed bilateral relations. With Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al
Malki, Kyprianou also discussed the Palestinian question.
Kyprianou participated on Thursday morning in the session on the millennium development goals, and in the evening met with the American-Hebrew Committee, the members of which he briefed on the Cyprus problem.
 Garoyian receives delegation of France - Cyprus Friendship GroupNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Acting President of the Republic of Cyprus and President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian received Friday a delegation of the France-Cyprus Friendship Group from the French Senate.
According to an official press release, Garoyian informed the delegation about the latest developments regarding the Cyprus issue and the substantive negotiations which began this month between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus with a view to reunite the island, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.
The French delegation comprises Chairman of the Friendship Group Andre Rouviere and Senator Gerard Roujas.
During the meeting, Garoyian stressed that a positive attitude is needed from the Turkish side in order to achieve progress.
Rouviere, who also met former Chairman of the Cyprus-France Friendship Group at the House of Representatives, Nicos Anastasiades, said that the presence of the Turkish army in northern occupied Cyprus does not allow Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to have a free hand in the negotiations process.
This, he said, encumbers the process to reach a Cyprus solution. The French Senator also referred to the very close relations between Cyprus and France.
During the meeting, Anastasiades said that there is identity of views among Cypriot political parties regarding the political settlement.
The solution should be based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with one nationality, one international personality and one sovereignty, he added.
Anastasiades also said that the Cypriot state which will emerge, should be functional and should safeguard human rights for all its citizens.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 T/c Peace Platform calls for return of FamagustaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Cyprus Peace Platform, which is based in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, has called for a population census to take place at both communities of the island which will be monitored by international experts, prior to the referenda that will take place as agreed by the two leaders on the island.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have decided that the agreed solution to the Cyprus problem will be put to separate simultaneous referenda to the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot community.
A fresh attempt to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem began this September when the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, began substantive negotiations with a view to reunify Cyprus.
Platform Spokesman Ozkun Kutalmis said the procedure that began on 3 September should protect the rights of both communities according to the UN parameters. He further underscored that this procedure should be expedited.
He stressed that a solution should provide for a bizonal, bicommunal federal Cyprus, based on equality, with a single sovereignty, international identify, as agreed by the leaders during their 1st July meeting.
The Platform spokesman further said that both leaders have a duty and responsibility to expedite the process for a solution.
He also referred to confidence building measures which will help the negotiations, such as opening more crossing points, demilitarization, halting all military manouevres, abolishing chauvinistic elements from education and the return of Famagusta to its lawful citizens.
Kutalmis said the return of Famagusta to its inhabitants will provide economic, social and political development for both communities.
He also said that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat should not waste time during the negotiations for the sake of Turkey's accession to the EU but should create the conditions that will help a solution.
Kutalmis further called on both Talat and President of the Republic Demetris Christofias not to impair the positive atmosphere that has been created during the talks.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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