|Friday, 21 September 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 11 October 2008 Issue No: 3018
 Greek, Maltese PMs discuss credit crisis, migrationVALLETTA (ANA-MPA - K. Melissopoulos)
Ways of dealing with the international financial crisis and illegal migration dominated talks held here on Friday between visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Malta's premier Lawrence Gonzi.
In statements after their meeting, both premiers underlined their concern over the repercussions of the global financial crisis, stressing the need for a radical response on all levels by governments and financial institutions.
Karamanlis called for coordinated action by European Union countries, urging them to use all means at their disposal to deal with the crisis, and repeated that the Greek government has taken steps to guarantee deposits in Greek banks.
The Greek premier also sent a message to Greek citizens, stressing that the government guarantees their entire savings deposits and emphasising that the government's goal was to reduce the impact of the crisis on households.
Karamanlis additionally stressed the need for courage and responsibility in the face of the crisis, so that measures might be taken to support and shield the economy and family incomes.
Asked if he feared the possibility of a recession, the prime minister underlined the need to remain calm and think clearly, while predicting that the impact of the crisis was only now about to become apparent.
Karamanlis noted that the crisis had coincided with a rise in oil prices and raw materials and reported that the EU growth rate was falling while unemployment levels throughout Europe were rising.
At the same time, he pointed to a move by the European Central Bank to cut interest rates by half a percentage point and underlined that European citizens must stay calm and maintain their confidence in the financial system.
Emphasising the need to take all necessary action to deal with the crisis, he also expressed a belief that the European financial system was safe:
"There is an interdependence of economies but we are not seeing the wild swings seen in the United States," he stressed.
According to Malta's prime minister, it was a time for "difficult and unpopular decisions that would help keep the economy strong and competitive."
While he agreed on the need for coordinated action on a European level, he stressed that every country must then adopt its own policy for dealing with the crisis.
In terms of tackling illegal migration, Karamanlis reiterated his support for the Treaty against illegal migration and described this as "the first but not the last step" in building up the necessary common and coordinated approach to the problems by the European Union.
He emphasised the need to reinforce policing of European external borders, through which illegal immigrants entered the EU, noting that this was a problem that affected all of Europe, and repeated a Greek proposal for creating a European coast guard to patrol EU sea borders.
Other issues discussed during the meeting were cooperation in the tourism sector and joint action in an EU framework for an integrated policy for islands.
Karamanlis then briefed Gonzi on Greece's positions on foreign policy issues like the Cyprus problem and the dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as well as the latest developments in the Middle East peace process.
Following his meeting with Gonzi, the Greek premier was received by Malta's President Edward Fenech-Adami and attended a luncheon given in his honour.
On Friday afternoon, Karamanlis was scheduled to visit the old city of Mdina and to meet the head of Malta's main opposition party, while on Friday evening he will be guest of honour at a dinner held by Malta's prime minister. He is to return to Athens on Saturday.
 PM Karamanlis in Paris on Sunday for special Eurogroup conferencePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will travel to Paris on Sunday to attend the special conference of the Eurogroup's 15 member-states.
The special conference will focus on Europe's further reaction to the economic and monetary crisis.
According to a French European Union Presidency announcement, the conference will start at 18:00 (Greek time) at the presidential palace in Paris.
 Bakoyannis briefs political leadership on latest Nimetz proposalForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday announced the conclusion meetings to brief Greece's state and political leadership on the latest proposal by UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz for resolving the nagging "name dispute" between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
"Everyone now has a complete picture of the negotiating process, which is ongoing. They know the proposal submitted by Mr. Nimetz. I had the opportunity to record in detail and on individual issues the positions of the parties," Bakoyannis told reporters.
She made the statement after concluding meetings on Friday with Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas and the heads of the smaller political parties in Parliament: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga; Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party leader George Karatzaferis.
These followed meetings held on Thursday to brief Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, President Karolos Papoulias and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.
Bakoyannis stressed that the government had followed a policy of keeping the political parties fully informed on the progress of the talks at the UN and of a "transparent exercise of policy" while at the same time seeking a "strong national front in a negotiation that is continuing and will continue, without a specific time limit".
Asked to comment on press reports claiming the Bush administration is "dragging its feet" on the issue of including Greece in the US Visa Waiver program, Bakoyannis referred to an announcement issued by the foreign ministry on the matter.
"Greece has never accepted the logic of pressure between allied countries," she added.
The new Nimetz proposal was welcomed as "a step forward" by Tsipras, though he stressed the need to clarify precisely how widely the proposed name would be used, while repeated his party's position in favour of a composite name containing a geographic determinant for all uses.
Tsipras stressed that Greece had no reason to share the urgency of the outgoing US administration under George Bush for a resolution to the issue, or to align itself with NATO's agenda for the region.
Karatzaferis, by contrast, rejected the proposal outright and predicted that it would not be ratified by the Greek Parliament or even accepted by "... the Greek people". He echoed Tsipras in saying that Greece should not be rushed into a decision under US pressure.
"There is no reason for them to impose on us a link between the US elections and a rapid resolution of the issue. I believe we need a tougher stance on this issue," he said.
Papariga, on her part, repeated her party's position that the name should contain an indisputable geographic qualifier and stressed her party's concern over other issues raised by FYROM's leadership, warning of irredentist implications in the future beyond that of the name, such as claims of an ethnic minority.
Earlier, Bakoyannis briefed Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas.
After the 40-minute meeting, Sioufas said Greece was in the middle of difficult negotiations and added that "Parliament supports the national positions."
"We will work calmly and with a sense of responsibility to reach the desired outcome," the foreign minister stressed on her part.
Finally, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros cited statements by Bakoyannis and the announcement by the foreign ministry on the issue, when asked to give the government's position on the Nimetz proposals.
He also declined to say whether the government agreed with main opposition PASOK in rejecting a portion of the ostensible proposals, telling reporters that they would be informed of the government's stance in due course and when the proposals had been properly studied.
 PASOK calls for EU initiatives regarding financial crisisThe main opposition PASOK party called on Friday for "coordinated initiatives" on the part of the European Union for the handling of the crisis in international financial markets.
"Coordinated initiatives on a European Union level are needed for the handling of the crisis in international financial markets," party spokesman George Papaconstantinou told reporters at his daily briefing, expressing hope that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis would arrive at the Union's special summit next week "with concrete proposals that will be governed by a new concept regarding the Stability Pact and the role of the European Central Bank (ECB)."
The PASOK spokesman also said his party would "on its part continue to adopt a responsible stance".
 "The Study of the Modern History of Greece: An Oxford Perspective" conference opens in AthensForeign minister Dora Bakoyannis noted on Friday the historic ties between Greece and Britain, which celebrate this year their 175th anniversary of diplomatic relations, and stressed as their modern-day "mature and precious" bilateral cooperation, as well as their cooperation as EU partners and NATO allies "in a turbulent and uncertain world", while she also called for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to be housed in the state-of-the-art New Acropolis Museum.
Addressing representatives of the British intellectural elite at a conferencet titled "The Study of the Modern History of Greece: An Oxford Perspective", held at the Old Parliament building in central Athens, she said: "I am fully aware that I am touching on a sensitive chord for everyone. The return of the Marbles is a just demand for the culture of the City of Athens".
"Today, as Greece has the modern Acropolis Museum, there place must be in the environs of the Sacred Rock (Acropolis)," Bakoyannis said.
"I address myself to all of you and seek your assistance so that this cause may become the strongest bond of cultural cooperation rather than a point of friction between the two states," the foreign minister told the delegates.
Turning to the modern-day challenges, she stressed the usefullness of historians/researchers in extracting lessons, so as to face the "ethnicist exacerbations, secessionary tendencies, economic changes," such as those being witnessed by Europe today.
She described Greek-British relations as "excellent and precious", a relationship "that has neared maturity with the multiple aspects of cooperation".
"We are allies and partners," she said, recalling that "we were on the same side in the major wars of the century".
She said that both at bilateral level and within international organizations "we work closely together to meet the international challenges", and noted that the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Mediterranean "are at the front line of our bilateral relations, just as the war against poverty, organized crime and terrorism."
Referring to the international credit crisis, which Europe was at this time making efforts to withstand, she said that "cooperation between our countries is of particular importance", and, although "there have been and are divergences and disagreements on specific matters", they were being tackled through "frank discussion.
British ambassador to Greece Simon Gass, speaking in turn, praised the traditional bonds between the two countries, despite the occasional disruption of relations in the past due to the Cyprus issue, said that, today, "we look forward to the Greek Presidency of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe" in 2009", at a time when the EU's relations with its neighboring countries were being put to the test, adding that Britain anticipated an "active, dynamic and creative" Greek OSCE presidency.
Noting Britain's support of and contribution Greece's national struggle for national independence, Gass said that today, too, "there must be corresponding support for the peoples whose human rights are being violated", adding that he believed that independence struggle leaders Ypsilantis and Kolokotronis "would have no objection to that".
"Europe's voice is powerful, and we should not be afraid to use it," the British ambassador stressed.
Greek foreign ministry spokesman, in a brief greeting, noted that the conference was a follow-up to Bakoyannis' visit to Oxford last November, adding that its purpose was to enhance the cultural ties, but also the broader bonds, between the two countries, noting that modern-day Greece was a stable, democratic, European country.
The conference is organized by the Greek foreign ministry's Department of Information and Public Diplomacy, in association with the department of South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX), St. Antony's College, University of Oxford and the British Embassy in AThens.
The aim of the conference is to highlight Oxford University's particular interest in the study of modern Greek history and not just ancient Greek civilisation, thus providing an opportunity for unknown aspects of this renowned university's scientific work and other activities to be presented, proving that there has always been a philhellenic climate at Oxford.
Speakers at the conference include renowned academics such as Margaret MacMillan, Professor of History, Warden, St Antony's College, Sir Michael Llewellyn-Smith, Former Ambassador to Greece, Honorary Fellow, St Antony's College, Richard Clogg, Professor of History, Emeritus Fellow, St Antony's College, and Renee Hirschon, Senior Research Fellow, St Peter's College, University of Oxford. Greek professors to address the conference include Konstantinos Svolopoulos, Academician, Professor Emeritus at the University of Athens, and Thanos Veremis, Professor of Political History at the University of Athens. The conclusions of the conference's proceedings will be presented by Honorary Ambassador Vyron Theodoropoulos. The conference will be chaired by Mr. Othon Anastasakis, Director of SEESOX, Fellow, St Antony's College. Following the conclusion of the proceedings, the guest speakers from Oxford and the other speakers will visit the new Acropolis Museum.
 KKE tables parliament question on pension fundsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Friday tabled a question in Parliament requesting additional measure to protect state-run pension funds.
In the question, addressed to the prime minister, the communist leader says such funds have invested in shares, mutual funds, structured bonds, posting, as she noted, "huge losses, while their reserves have to a large degree been exhausted..."
 Foreign ministry: Bush administration failure to include Greece in VWP 'unjustified'The Bush administration's failure to include Greece in the US visa waiver program at this stage is "unjustified," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos underlined on Friday.
"The US administration's decision not to include Greece, at this stage, into the visa waiver program for Greek citizens wishing to visit the United States, either for tourism, professional reasons or, above all, to visit their relatives -- members of the large Greek-American community in the United States -- is unjustified," Koumoutsakos' full statement read.
In a statement later in the afternoon, the public affairs officer at the US embassy in Athens, Tom Miller, stressed that "the US and Greece have worked closely together on VWP, and we have made substantial progress. The United States is committed to working through the remaining issues with the goal of Greece's future entrance into the Visa Waiver Program and will do so once all of the documents meet the requirements of both governments."
On his part, Koumoutsakos, speaking at a regular press briefing in the morning, noted that the development "does not promote the enhancement of contacts between the two friendly peoples and better mutual understanding, which Greece desires."
Finally, he expressed Athens' hope that this is not a final decision on the part of the US administration.
According to an ANA-MPA dispatch from Washington, when asked about the issue on Thursday, a US State Department spokesman merely noted that "...obviously, the Visa Waiver Program is a topic of discussion with a number of countries, including good friends in Europe and around the world.
"...The only thing that I could say at this point generally about the Visa Waiver Program is that we continue to have good discussions with a number of our friends around the world about the Visa Waiver Program."
 Environment ministry denies reports on Kyoto Protocol suspensionGreece's environment ministry has denied reports that it failed to satisfy the United Nations Compliance Committee with its action plan for greenhouse gas emissions and thus failed to rejoin the Kyoto Protocol's emissions trading programme.
In an announcement issued on Thursday, the ministry said the reports regarding the results of an October 7 meeting of the Compliance Committee in Bonn were "completely inaccurate".
It said the meeting had discussed a plan submitted by Greece in July for a national system for measuring carbon dioxide emissions and for facilitating a visit by UN inspectors scheduled to take place in September. The Committee had then issued an announcement on Thursday asking for Greece to supply additional clarifications regarding the plan, which according to the ministry announcement had already been supplied to UN inspectors that visited in September and would be resubmitted to the UN Committee.
It also stressed that the visit by a seven-member team of UN inspectors had been thorough and yielded very satisfactory results, while a final decision concerning Greece's compliance with Kyoto protocol requirements would be made after the inspectors submitted their report within the next month.
The announcement ended by stressing the ministry's complete dedication to the package of EU proposals for dealing with climate change, noting that Greece's 2nd national plan for allocating emissions rights had been approved by the European Commission and its Emissions Trading Register praised by the UN for successfully completing procedures to link up with the international register.
In addition, it noted, the latest UN figures showed that Greece remained within Kyoto target levels, with emissions up 24.6 percent against a target increase of 25 percent for 2008-2012.
 PASOK on Kyoto protocol compliance by GreeceMain opposition PASOK on Friday slammed the environment ministry's leadership over what it said was a failed attempt to rejoin the Kyoto greenhouse gas emissions trading programme, saying that the country had been "given a new red card by the UN Compliance Committee" for the Kyoto Protocol the previous day.
PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou made the statement in comments on Thursday's decision by the UN Committee that Greece had failed to demonstrate its ability to measure carbon dioxide emissions and could not re-enter the Kyoto Protocol trading programme from which it was ejected in April, rejecting the action plan presented by Greek officials as inadequate.
Papaconstantinou urged Environment Minister George Souflias to devote some time on environmental issues instead of occupying himself entirely with ruling New Democracy's internal problems and the various party 'rebels'.
He also urged Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to move on past pledges to create a separate environment ministry, independent from the public works ministry, that he had already agreed with.
 High-ranking US diplomat on environmental policy, US public imageUS Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy in Europe Colleen Graffy briefed local journalists on Thursday over the Bush administration's oft-maligned global environ-mental policy as well as America's public image in the world.
The meeting, held the US embassy in Athens, touched on Washington's need to listen to voices outside the United States, as well as to encourage communication between Europe and America on important global issues, like climate change.
"There needs to be a new understanding of US environmental policy," Graffy told reporters, highlighting the need for Washington to regain the trust of the European public. "US embassies can help to change public cynicism by communicating and informing them about our work."
Graffy cited Washington's commitment to negotiating a post-2012 climate change agenda under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by the end of 2009. She also pointed to Washington's environmental projects in Cyprus and Bulgaria, which form part of a "Green Diplomacy" initiative aimed at helping European countries achieve environmentally responsible growth.
The high-ranking US diplomat's tour comes on the heels of a survey by World Public Opinions in 2007, which reveals that one in two people in 25 countries worldwide disapprove of US handling of the global warming issue.
Graffy conceded that the "(US) federal legislation may not be as progressive as local efforts" to curb climate change, but reminded reporters that Washington has spent more than US$37 billion on projects for the environment.
"You do not spend that much on something you don't believe in," she noted.
 Gov't sets new investment rules for pension funds; parties reactEmployment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Friday signed a ministerial decree setting new investment and code of conduct rules for the country's state-run pension funds.
The decree specifies clearly all investment vehicles and management rules, aiming to boost investment safety and performance and to ensure liquidity for pension funds. The new rules also set a time horizon of investments, focusing on high liquidity securities, while it also sets an investment policy plan, constant risk assessment and constant performance evaluation.
The plan also sets code of conduct rules over investment behaviour of pension funds aimed at promoting credibility and total transparency.
The minister told reporters that the government has set strict rules to ensure pension funds' finances.
"The Greek state guarantees pensions, today and in the future. Pension funds' reserves are not in any danger since they have no exposure to so-called 'toxic' products".
Reacting to the announced measures, opposition parties expressed doubts about whether these were sufficient to protect the future pensions.
"In days of crisis, such as the ones we are going through, prayers and well-wishing with no backing are not enough, especially when they concern the management of assets of social insurance funds," said main opposition PASOK's MP Evi Christofilopoulou.
She also noted the government's failure to reply to PASOK's accusations that it was deliberately withholding information about the precise assets of funds in order to hide the fact that these had shrunk by five billion euros over the last two years.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) stressed its opposition to what it called the jeopardising the pension funds' capital assets via investments in stocks and shares, demanding the return of all moneys lost by "unsafe investments" made by government-appointed pension fund managers.
Speaking for the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), MP Panagiotis Lafazanis criticised the measures as the "final blow for the money of the insured and the future of the social insurance system."
 FinMin in Washington the IMF, World Bank meetingsWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA / T. Ellis)
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis is expected here later in the day, heading up a Greek delegation to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
During his stay in the US capital, Alogoskoufis is scheduled to meet with IMF and World Bank officials as well as senior executives of international financial institutions.
On Saturday and Sunday, he will attend IMF proceedings and on Monday he will be amongst the speakers to address the organisation's plenary session. A formal reception hosted by Greek ambassador to Washington, Alexandros Mallias, in honor of the Greek delegation is also scheduled to take place.
Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Yannis Papathanasiou, Bank of Greece Gov. George Provopoulos, senior government officials and bank executives will comprise the Greek mission.
 SEB president on economic crisisGreek Industries and Enterprises Federation (SEB) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos said on Friday, referring to the economic crisis, that "the international community is paying for the sins of a monetary system that was allowed to speculate uncontrollably, instead of investing productively."
Daskalopoulos added that "fortunately, our banking system in Greece had the wisdom not to succumb to the temptation of similar practices and for this reason it is stable, with strong endurances. Fear and panic are the worst adviser in such circumstances. At this time, only a more determined and coordinated political action, both at national and international level, can prevent economic derailment and place growth once again on firm and productive bases."
 GSEE against longer shop opening hoursThe General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation, on Friday said it supported the demands and struggle of the Federation of Private Employees of Greece in seeking "humane, dignified and absolutely convenient" shop opening hours and better working conditions for staff in the retail trade sector.
According to GSEE's announcement, the problems faced by retail trade were not the result of limited opening hours but of a shortage of disposable income by potential customers, whose money was being eaten up by taxes, austerity measures and high prices. It accused all those who failed to see this as "wilfully blind" and "in the wrong line of business".
"As long as this policy continues they need not hope that the problem will be solved, because even if they stay open 168 hours a week, shops will still be empty as long as pockets are empty!" the trade union federation said.
It stressed that workers would unite in fighting this "medieval-type labour barbarity and the eradication of small and medium-sized businesses for the benefit of department stores and multinationals".
 Deputy employment minister on women's employmentThe "Women-Employment" programme, which has been implemented by the Drama Ladies Union and is part of the regional programme of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace for the period 2000-2006, budgeted at 200,000 euros, has provided 145 people with the opportunity of distancing themselves from labour sidelines and constituting a link of the production chain.
The results of the action were presented at an event organised by the Drama Ladies Union on Friday, with Deputy Employment and Social Protection Minister Sofia Kalantzakou being the main speaker.
Kalantzakou stressed that despite progress achieved in past years, the challenge to include a bigger percentage of women in the labour market remains "alive" for the government, adding that in all the programmes of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED), at least 60 percent of posts have been taken exclusively by women.
 Deputy Employment Minister visits DramaDeputy Employment & Social Protection Minister Sofia Kalantzakou visited Drama on Friday.
She announced the continuation of the programme "Reconciliation of Professional and Family Life", through which are served 6,000 children in kindergartens throughout the country.
The deputy minister stressed that the objective of the programme which is being implemented with the support of the European Union, is to increase the number of children which are being served to 16,000. The cost of the specific programme amounts to 280,000,000 euros.
Kalantzakou was the main speaker at an event organised by the Municipal Odeon of Drama on the theme "Women and Employment".
 HS teachers' union again advocates industrial actionThe leadership of public secondary school teachers (OLME) decided late Thursday night to recommend repeated five-day strikes, starting on Dec. 1, to its members.
The final decision will be reached at a general assembly of local unions, scheduled to take place in Athens next week.
 Greek market watchdog bans short selling until Oct. 31Greece's Capital Markets Commission on Friday announced a ban on short selling, valid immediately, until Oct. 31, 2008. The decision was taken during an extraordinary meeting of the Greek market's watchdog, in view of the latest negative developments in the Greek stock market.
 Greek exports down 5.9% in Aug.The value of import-arrivals fell by 13 percent to 3.582 billion euros in August 2008, compared with the corresponding month last year, the National Statistics Service announced on Friday.
The statistics service, in a monthly report, said the value of export-deliveries fell 5.9 pct in August to 1.185 billion euros, compared with August 2007.
 Greek industrial production index down 1.8% in Aug.Greece's industrial production composite index fell 1.8 pct in August, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Friday. The statistics service, in a monthly report, attributed the 1.8 pct decline of the index to a 3.0 pct drop in manufacturing production, a 0.9-pct increase in mining production and a 1.7 pct rise in electricity-natural gas-water production.
The import price index in the industrial sector jumped 11 pct in August, compared with the same month in 2007, reflecting a 2.7-pct increase in the Eurozone index and a 22.6-pct jump in the other countries index.
 Greek stocks plunged 5.23 pct on FridayGreek stocks suffered another heavy blow in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, amid a continuing massive sell-off in international markets. The composite index ended 5.23 percent down at 2,372.09 points, with turnover rising to 377.5 million euros. All sectors moved lower, with the Insurance (8.39 pct), Personal/Home Products (8.24 pct), Telecommunications (7.05 pct), Industrial products (6.86 pct) and Commerce (6.58 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 5.34 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell 5.04 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 5.66 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 240 to 25 with another 20 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -4.42%
Personal & Household: -8.24%
Raw Materials: -6.58%
Travel & Leisure: -3.63%
Food & Beverages: -5.78%
Financial Services: -2.97%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, Jumbo and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 12.78
Public Power Corp (PPC): 8.90
HBC Coca Cola: 10.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.90
National Bank of Greece: 23.20
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.68
Bank of Piraeus: 11.06
Titan Cement Company: 22.50
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover at 116.105 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.57 pct 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 15,632 contracts worth 100.261 million euros, with 30,247 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was one contract worth 13,850 euros with five open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,059 contracts worth 15.209 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,960), followed by Eurobank (838), Marfin Investment Group (615), OTE (1,179), PPC (1,085), Intracom (695), Marfin Popular Bank (1,665), Intralot (317) and Hellenic Postbank (604).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened further to reach 0.98 percent in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with turnover shrinking to 385 million euros, of which 150 million were buy orders and the remaining 235 million euros were sell orders. The Greek bond yielded 4.97 pct and the German Bund 3.99 pct.
In money markets, interest rates eased for the first time since the European Central Bank cut its interest rates by 50 basis points. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.489 pct, the six-month rate 5.431 pct, the three-month rate 5.381 pct and the one-month rate 5.118 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.368
Pound sterling 0.804
Danish kroner 7.508
Swedish kroner 9.728
Japanese yen 135.76
Swiss franc 1.529
Norwegian kroner 8.484
Canadian dollar 1.596
Australian dollar 2.070
 Ecumenical Patriarch addresses opening of Orthodox summitISTANBUL (ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas)
A gathering of primates of Eastern Orthodox Churches for a synod called by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Vartholomeos) on the occasion of the Year of Apostle Paul celebrations began here on Friday, with ecclesiastical sources characterising the Church leaders' positive response to the invitation as a major and symbolic gesture.
Addressing the Prelates, Bartholomew referred to the core of the Eastern Orthodox Church structure, its autocephalous nature, (described by total canonical and administrative independence), blaming it for the often observed signs of unity within the Church. The Ecumenical Patriarch underlined that chauvinism or ethnic-racial overtones should be cast aside for the sake of the unity of the Orthodox Church.
Bartholomew suggested the activation of an agreement reached in an inter-Orthodox conference in 1993 as a move that could have a direct effect in promoting unity by boosting dialogue with other Christian Churches and solving existing problems.
The gathering will be attended Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, due to arrive Saturday, the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II, Antioch Patriarch Ignatios and Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos, the Archbishops of Cyprus Chryssostomos, Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, Tirana and All Albania Anastasios, Czech Lands and Slovakia Christoforos, Finland Leo as well as Metropolitan of Tallinn and All Estonia Stephanos.
The Churches of Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia and Poland are represented by high-ranking ecclesiastical hierarchs.
 European Heritage Days in the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified ForestSpecial events were held at the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest in Sigri on the occasion of the 2008 Cultural Heritage Days.
The events held on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesvos focused on earthquakes and monuments and how natural disasters are being recorded on natural and cultural monuments in the Aegean Sea region.
The European Heritage Days are aimed at raising public awareness on cultural heritage protection issues and strength-ening the collective memory of the European people.
The Petrified Forest of Lesvos is located in an area enclosed by the villages of Eressos, Antissa and Sigri. Isolated plant-fossils have been found in many other places of the island, including the villages Molyvos, Polichnitos, Plomari and Akrasi. The formation of the Petrified Forest is directly related to the intense volcanic activity on Lesvos island during late Oligocene - middle Miocene periods. Along with the volcanic activity, hot solutions of silicon dioxide penetrated and impregnated the volcanic materials that covered the tree trunks. Thus the major fossilization process started with a molecule-by-molecule replacement of organic plant by inorganic materials. In the case of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos, the fossilization was perfect due to favorable fossilization conditions that preserved morphological characteristics of the tree trunks such as the annual rings, barkers, as well as the internal structure of the wood.
 Greek Ombudsman speaks on child & adolescent mental healthIn his capacity as Children's Advocate, the Greek Ombudsman George Kaminis spoke on Friday about his deep concern at the deterioration of mental health services for children and adolescents.
The speech formed part of "World Mental Health Day" and focused on the absence of specialized structures for the housing and treatment of children and adolescents with mental disorders or serious psycho-social problems.
Kaminis pointed out that a large number of children and adolescents with mental health problems are denied access to appropriate therapeutic centres and remain in unsuitable conditions with families or welfare agencies who are unable to provide them with the necessary support.
The housing vacuum has put a strain on the Emergency Unit at the Child Psychiatric Hospital of Attica, which had been scheduled to close by the end of 2006 with the as-yet unimplemented establishment of four children's clinics in general hospitals around Attica.
Kaminis emphasised a drop in service quality after a 50% decrease in State subsidies from 2007 to 2008. The subsidies are used to support non-profit organisations, such as the Association for the Psycho-Social Health of Children and Adolescents.
The Ombudsman has asked the Ministry of Health for information on their plans and intentions regarding this issue, but has yet to receive a reply.
 Parliament president welcomes youth in ParliamentParliament President Dimitris Sioufas welcomed on Friday night the 300 youth who will participate in the 13th session of the Youth Parliament's Educational Programme, assuring them that the deputies of all parties, the government, the ruling party and the opposition will listen to their political speech with great attention.
Sioufas, in the presence of main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy Education Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, gave a warm welcome to the pupils from Greece, Cyprus and Hellenism from all over the world who will be sitting in Parliament's seats for three days and who will become acquainted with Parliamentary procedures, wishing them all the best in their lives.
The Parliament president said that the pupils will be handling a unique opportunity to work and function as deputies and as representatives of the Greeks of their own generation to formulate their thoughts, their visions and their anxieties.
He also explained to them that ministers, deputy ministers and ministry secretary generals will be appearing at the meetings of committees to reply to questions raised by the youth deputies.
 Journalists Union expresses concern over journalist's injury in AfghanistanThe Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) expressed grave concern on Friday over the state of the health of journalist George Kiliaris, who was seriously injured in Afghanistan during a journalistic mission.
"The colleague of (the television channel) NET, whom was injured during his traveling in the region, under so far unspecified conditions, is being treated in a hospital in Kabul in a serious state," ESHEA said, adding that "the journalistic world expresses its wish for his speedy recovery and his safe return home."
 Film on the slaughter at Distomo by NazisVIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
The film "A song for Argyris" by Swiss Stephan Haupp, which deals with the slaughter at Disomo perpetrated by the Nazi occupation forces in Greece in June 1944, had its premiere in Austria on Thursday night with its screening at a cinema in Vienna.
The screening of the film, which was organised and supported by the Swiss embassy in Austria, was followed by a debate on the film.
The official premiere of the film took place last year in October at the amphitheatre of the Athens Benaki Museum and was honoured by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias. The film was awarded at the 2007 Thessaloniki Film Festival.
 Thessaloniki customs officers nabbed in contraband caseThree Thessaloniki customs officers accused of being involved in a contraband cigarettes case will appear before a disciplinary council, following a decision by Deputy Finance Minister Antonis Bezas on Friday.
A Thessaloniki prosecutor had indicted a total of five customs officers accused of multiple counts of breach of duty because of their involvement in cigarette smuggling. However, only three of them will appear before the customs service disciplinary council because the other two, among them a former customs office director, have already retired.
 Contraband cigarettes seized in ThessalonikiA large quantity of contraband cigarettes discovered in a container originating from China was seized by customs officers at the Port of Thessaloniki, it was announced on Friday.
Roughly 450,000 packs of cigarettes amounting to lost import duties of 1.35 million euros were discovered Thursday after an inspection in a container from China which, according to the accompanying documents, contained suitcases.
 Five illegal migrants, migrant trafficker arrestedThe driver of a van was arrested on the Tripolis-Argos national motorway in southern Greece, accused of transporting five illegal migrants from India, authorities announced on Friday.
The vehicle was seized and the driver was led before a prosecutor along with the five illegal aliens.
 Cloud, showers on SaturdayCloudy and showery weather with northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 26C. Partly cloudy in Athens with possible light showers, with 5-7 beaufort northeasterly winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 23C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 21C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe international financial crisis and the plunges on the stockmarkets, the amendment raising the deposits guarantee to 100,000 euros for three years, and the Vatopedi monastery scandal dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The 'heavy artillery' Ministers begin tours in the periphery".
APOGEVMATINI: "Economy ministry circular settles 640,000 citizens' debts to the state".
AVGHI: Opinion poll indicates that 75 percent of the citizens want more state intervention to fortify the economy".
AVRIANI: "New settlement of 500,000 citizens' debts to the state", with down payment of 15 percent and 24 monthly repayment installments.
CHORA: "Back to statism - The international looting by (US President) 'Bush & Co.' dissolving globalisation".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Metal cages for human animals: 1.3 sq. meter 'boxes' used for transport of our detainees each".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "55 dossiers of Reinhard Siekaczek (Siemens slush fund manager) in the prosecutors' hands".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Vatopedi: 31 contracts for 260 state land properties that were exchanged for Vistonida lake".
ESTIA: "Wrong policy on taxation regarding the distribution of direct and indirect taxes ".
ETHNOS: "Witness 'burns' three Ministers in Vatopedi case".
KATHIMERINI: Opinion poll conducted by the newspaper indicates that "Prime Minister Karamanlis is more suitable for prime minister, but main opposition PASOK leads (in popularity over the ruling New Democracy)".
LOGOS: "Nervousness in East and West - Oil under 88 dollars (per barrel) - Hopes for more reductions in key interest rates".
NIKI: "Ephrem (Vatopedi Monastery abbot) constanly in and out of Maximos mansion (government headquarters)".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Call for counter-attack with a solid Communist Party spearheading the working classes' demands".
TA NEA: "Miracle,miracle Abbot Ephrem sold...108 percent of Lake Vistonida (to the State in exchange for 31 state land properties".
TO VIMA: "The State returns internationally returns and fortifies the banks - Unprecedent interventions in London and New York".
VRADYNI: "Civil war among banks, with victim the market".
 Cyprus President satisfied with Friday's discussionsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President Demetris Christofias expressed satisfaction with the outcome of Friday's meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which is part of UN-led negotiations to reach a comprehensive mutually acceptable settlement to the protracted Cyprus problem.
Speaking to the press on his return to the Presidential Palace after his morning meeting with Talat, at the UN-controlled Nicosia airport area, he said "I am generally satisfied".
Asked if there has been progress on the issue of the federal government, as Special Adviser of the UN Secretary General on the Cyprus issue, Australian former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had said earlier, President Christofias replied "whatever Mr. Downer has said expresses the leaders of the two communities".
On his private meeting with Talat before the start of Friday's talks, Christofias said the two had a friendly discussion, adding they will have more private meetings.
"There have been three meetings so far. I don't think we should give the message that the Cyprus problem should have been solved by now", he said, noting that there are five to six very important aspects of the problem on which the two communities have conflicting views.
"This is clear. Therefore, we more than anybody else, but also you, must be patient," he told the press.
President Christofias said that during the talks "we defend our views and positions to reach a solution on the various aspects of the Cyprus problem, a solution which will serve both communities", adding that this will continue as the process advances.
"We shall have progress which might not be so quick or at a great speed. So long as we have progress. Today we have made one or two steps which concern the powers of the central government", he concluded.
Downer announced that the leaders' meeting was productive and they agreed to meet on a weekly basis. Their next meeting will take place on Monday.
The two leaders discussed the issue of the powers of the federal government and made progress, the top UN envoy also said.
Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.
The aim of the full-fledged negotiations is to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem, which will safeguard the fundamental and legitimate rights and interests of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The agreed solution will be put to separate simultaneous referenda.
 House President: Greek Cypriot side attends talks in good faithNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian has expressed certainty that President of the Republic Demetris Christofias is attending talks to solve the Cyprus problem with good will and is acting in good faith.
''Undoubtedly he will propose issues that are fully in line with UN resolutions and EU principles and values,'' Garoyian said, and expressed hope that the Turkish side will at last respond, noting also that recently Turkish policy had become tougher, as expressed by the Turkish government and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Garoyian said ''we really want to send the message to the international community that it must act in a more effective way regarding Turkey,'' adding that Ankara ''holds the key to developments in the Cyprus problem.''
He pointed out that ''it is high time for pressure to be exerted on Turkey'' by the international community, so that it acts in a positive and constructive manner and the necessary climate is created for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Asked if he shared President Christofias' view that the negotiating basis has been clarified, Garoyian said he hoped this was true, adding that he has no doubt that, at every meeting with Talat, the President of the Republic insists on and reiterates the fundamental parameters and principles on which a settlement should be based.
''What remains to be clarified is the stance of the Turkish side,'' he pointed out, adding that doubts remain as to whether the Turkish side is seeking negotiations on these fundamental principles, which are fully adopted by the EU and the UN.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
President Christofias and Talat began direct talks on September 3, under UN auspices, with an aim to reach a settlement.
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