|Friday, 20 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Ôhursday, 16 October 2008 Issue No: 3022
 Greek gov't unveils 28 billion euros package to support banking systemGreek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday said an inner cabinet meeting approved a package of measures aimed at offering protection to Greek banks and strengthening the Greek economy amid an international credit crisis.
Presenting the package, Alogoskoufis said the government will offer a state guarantee worth 15 billion euros to all financial institutions in the country and noted that the move was aimed at cutting the cost of financing. Also, the package includes the issuance of special bonds to financial institutions, up to 8.0 billion euros, with banks offering adequate insurance for these bonds. The government will also offer up to 5.0 billion euros to strengthen Greek banks' capital base, with the Greek state purchasing banks' preference stocks.
The banking system in Greece, he add, has solid basis, but because of the crisis there was always the problem with rising interest rates and lack of liquidity. Alogoskoufis said the package of measures was taken to ensure fair competition, since other countries have taken similar measures to protect banks.
The measures are compatible with actions agreed during an ECOFIN meeting and an special Eurozone summit last week. The Greek minister reiterated the government's political commitment to protecting all bank saving deposits and noted that the package of measures would not put a burden on the country's fiscal condition.
Bank of Greece's governor, George Provopoulos, told reporters that Greek banks will take advantage of the government measures to avoid facing any competitiveness problems and said that the package of measures will be table to Parliament in the next 10 days.
 PASOK criticizes govt measures to support Greek banksThe main opposition PASOK party on Wednesday strongly criticized a government-sponsored plan to offer financial assistsance to Greek banks amid an international credit crisis, saying the package of measures announced by economy and finance minister was a "open cheque" to banks.
Louka Katseli, PASOK deputy responsible for economic affairs, speaking to reporters, said the government was offering cheap liquidity to Greek banks which in turn offered no insurance that increased liquidity would be distributed in the real economy to the benefit of Greek taxpayers.
The package of measures, included the offering of state guarantees and the issuance of special bonds, did not include any requirements over the capital adequacy ratios of banks, as it should, Katseli said, adding that the premium of 100-150 basis points that banks would pay to obtain Greek state guarantees for sums up to 15 billion euros was extremely low compared with international standards. The government was giving away around 100 million euros to banks, she noted.
 Greek FM on EU Lisbon TreatyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis expressed here Wednesday the hope that a "legal way" could be found to overcome the problem created by the Irish rejection of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty.
Speaking to the press on the sidelines of an EU Summit, Bakoyannis said the Union's foreign ministers were in search of a legal way to overcome the problem and underlined that such ways existed "on the horizon".
The Greek minister also urged countries which have not yet ratified the Treaty to do so.
Regarding energy issues, which are on the agenda of the Summit, Bakoyannis underlined that Greece's positions were in line with European positions as regards separating energy supply from energy distribution.
The Greek minister also referred to the composition of the EU's Reflection Commission on the Future of Europe (20020-2030), headed by former Spanish prime minister Felippe Gonzalez, saying that despite the fact that the Greek government had proposed the participation of former premier Costas Simitis as a member, the proposal was rejected by Gonzalez.
Commenting on the failure of talks on the issue of Georgia, held in Geneva on Wednesday, Bakoyannis expressed her disappointment, adding that "the size of the problem has become manifest, as well as the need for the EU to observe a very careful stance so as to maintain balances."
 PM tables motion for parliamentary fact-finding commission into Vatopedi-State property exchanges affairPrime minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday tabled a motion in parliament, counter-signed by 80 ruling New Democracy (ND) party MPs, calling for the setting up of a parliamentary fact-finding commission on the exchanges of properties between the State and the Mt. Athos monastery of Vatopedi.
The prime minister further requested of parliament president Dimitris Sioufas that the discussion of the motion take place in the afternoon of Wednesday, October 22.
According to the ND motion, "reasons of transparency and full implementation of the principle of legality mandate an investigation by parliament of the entire affair, since its creation, in other words from the time when the first Administrative Acts were issued, on which the concession of state properties to the Monastery were founded".
The motion proposes the establishment of the fact-finding commission for the purpose of examining the entire Vatopedi Monastery affair, "without obstructing in any way the ongoing investigation being carried out by the justice system and its further development".
Under Article 144 of the Rules of Parliament, the plenary of the 300-member House may set up fact-finding commissions comprised of parliamentary members to examine specific matters of public interest, and the relevant motion must be signed by one-fifth (60 MPs) of the total number of deputies.
The motion is then entered into the agenda, while debate of the motion is conducted in accordance with the provisions governing a general interpellation, and must be completed in one sitting. An absolute majority of the MPs present at the debate -- which cannot be less than two-fifths (120) of the total number of MPs, is required for a parliament plenary decision to set up a fact-finding commission.
The relevant letter to Sioufas by the 81 New Democracy MPs (Karamanlis, who is also an MP, and 80 other ND deputies) states that the investigation currently underway at both judicial and administrative level "reveals that the Vatopedi Monastery case has significant aspects that directly touch upon the public interest".
The government, with its decisions for both the revocation of the controversial Administrative Acts and the stay of enactment of any other related Administrative Acts, has taken all the necessary measures to protect the interests of the State, the letter added.
 Justice hangs on to Vatopedi case as PM seeks Parl't probeAppeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos on Wednesday announced that an investigation of the Vatopedi Monastery land exchange deals by his office will continue, in spite of a move by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis the same day to set up a Parliamentary investigative committee to examine the case.
According to Karoutsos the investigation will continue under Appeals Court prosecutor Efstathia Spyropoulou, the third prosecutor just recently assigned to the case, and was expected to be completed in about a month's time.
One of the first steps she is expected to take as part of her investigation is to summon employees of the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation and the Legal Council of State to testify as suspects.
It is not yet known whether the two prosecutors originally assigned to the case, Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou, intend to return after their resignations were not accepted by the justice ministry. Sotiropoulou was back at work on Wednesday, serving on a panel of judges in a trial that began on October 6, while Kolioussis stayed away and claimed to be unwell.
Under the law, their resignations will become automatically accepted after 30 days if they have not proceeded to retract them.
The two prosecutors resigned from the case and their office on Tuesday, citing an inability to comply with the instructions they received from Karoutsos to continue investigating a case that, in their judgement, pointed to the involvement of ministers and had to be sent to Parliament.
Karoutsos and Supreme Court Prosecutor George Sanidas defended the decision to continue investigating on Tuesday, saying that the evidence turned up by the two prosecutors was not sufficient to support criminal charges against those involved.
 Political party reactions to Parliamentary probe of Vatopedi caseGreece's political parties had mixed responses on Wednesday to a government move for a Parliamentary investigation committee to look into the Vatopedi Monastery land deals. Some urged that Parliament skip straight to an ad hoc preliminary examination committee that might decide whether liable ministers should stand trial.
Main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou urged the government to accept the proposal for an ad hoc preliminary examination committee, adding that this would make an investigative committee redundant, and asked the other parties to support the proposal.
The spokesman also said the government was in a panic and had sounded a "disorderly retreat" for fear of revelations that would prove undeniable responsibility by its members, in a desperate attempt to protect those responsible and buy time.
A Parliamentary spokesman for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Achilleas Kantartzis repeated his party's demand for a full investigation of the Vatopedi land deals, both through a Parliamentary investigation to reveal the full extent to which the state's property had been looted by transactions under New Democracy and PASOK governments and, if ministerial culpability arose, to then move to an ad hoc preliminary examination committee.
SYRIZA Parliamentary Group leader Alekos Alavanos called for an investigative committee to go as far as a decade back in probing possible political responsibility in the Vatopedi Monastery land exchange deals with the Greek State.
Alavanos also stated that the case file should be sent to Parliament, adding that a preliminary examination committee should be set up immediately if "ruling New Democracy (ND) party government ministers and deputy ministers are found liable, as the prosecutors assigned to the case maintain".
He also disagreed with PASOK's stance of equating an investigation committee with a preliminary examination committee, noting that the latter would focus exclusively on investigating the scandal as this related to ND and also because it could lead to a trap that would work in favour of ND and the guilty parties.
"According to Parliamentary regulations, if Parliament decides not to set up such a preliminary examination committee, then no new proposal to press charges based on the same events can be tabled," he added.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, on his part, supported going directly to a preliminary examination committee and said that his party would not support the motion for an investigation committee tabled by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
"We will not compromise nor accept the Karamanlis proposal. We want a preliminary examination committee because an investigative committee means a lot of talk but little substance," he added.
 PASOK seeks Parliament inquiry targeting RoussopoulosMain opposition PASOK on Wednesday tabled a motion for an ad hoc Parliamentary preliminary examination committee to investigate possible criminal liability in the Vatopedi Monastery land exchange deals by Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and former ruling New Democracy ministers Petros Doukas and Evangelos Bassiakos. The proposal was tabled by PASOK leader George Papandreou and signed by 101 main opposition MPs.
The move comes hard on a motion tabled by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for a special Parliamentary investigation committee to look into the land exchange deals, in which prime pieces of public real estate were exchanged with land of marginal value on the shores of Lake Vistonida, leaving the state deeply out of pocket.
In addition to Roussopoulos, PASOK accused former finance minister Petros Doukas and former agricultural development minister Bassiakos of criminal breach of faith against the public sector.
Specifically, the charges are related to decisions issued by Doukas in 2004, in which he accepted the recommendations of an advisory body for state real estate and tradeable property as well as a report issued by the Legal Council of State, through which the state sector essentially dropped a suit against the Vatopedi Monastery over a property case that was being tried before a Rodopi court.
The charge against Bassiakos relates to his signature in 2005 of a decision that put the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation in charge of exchanging pieces of state property with the monastery's stake in lands in and around Lake Vistonida, while both ministers are held liable for a joint decision in 2006 that again placed Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation in charge of the land exchange process.
PASOK said that Roussopoulos should be investigated as the moral instigator of the above offences and that the inquiry should also extend to the possible participation of other persons as accomplices or participants.
PASOK MPs stressed the urgency of launching such an inquiry, noting that "high chance" that the present Parliament would be dissolved and that acts committed under the previous government would then automatically escape prosecution under the law.
Attached to PASOK's motion was the letter of resignation given to their superiors on Tuesday by the two appeals court prosecutors investigating the Vatopedi case, Ilias Kolioussis and Eleni Sotiropoulou, in which they cite finding evidence implicating members of the government and pressures from their superiors not to refer the case to Parliament as one of the reasons for their decision to resign.
The PASOK motion will be discussed by Parliament's plenum and then put to a secret ballot, in which the persons against whom the proposal is directed have no right to vote. Setting up such an ad hoc preliminary examination committee requires an absolute Parliamentary majority of 151 votes or more.
If Parliament rejects the motion, however, no new proposal to press charges based on the same actual events can be tabled, which means PASOK must secure the support of both other opposition parties and some members of the governing majority that has 152 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament.
 Athens: FYROM PM cultivating nationalistic climate in his countryA foreign ministry spokesman in Athens on Wednesday again pointed to widely reported statements by the premier of the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as genuinely nationalistic.
"Mr. (FYROM PM Nikola) Gruevski is cultivating a climate of nationalistic hysteria in his country," spokesman George Koumoutsakos charged, ominously warning that the current government in Skopje is reviving the spectre of tyranny in the heart of the Balkans.
"...which, consequently, leads most assuredly down the path of isolation of his (Gruevski) country from European and Euro-Atlantic institutions," said Koumoutsakos, who, in fact, cited the Shakespearean line of "Serpent's egg".
In statements carried by media outlets in Skopje on Tuesday, Gruevski was quoted as calling the brief detention of a television crew from Skopje -- near military training grounds in extreme northwest Greece -- a "serious precedent", as well as an "abuse" of Greece's status within the European Union and "an attempt to demonstrate power instead of democratic capacity of a 21st century EU member-state..."
 Statement by NATO spokesman on FYROMBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
NATO spokesman James Appathurai expressed the intense displeasure here on Wednesday of NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer regarding a telegram by the news agency MIA of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The agency dispatch presented the NATO Secretary General "willing" to bring for discussion at the Alliance the case of the "incidents", with which FYROM through a demarche claims that they occurred recently in the region of Florina, northern Greece.
According to the NATO spokesman, Scheffer never expressed similar views with the Prime Minister of FYROM, whom he met in Brussels on Wednesday.
Furthermore, the spokesman termed as "groundless" a reference by FYROM's news agency which claimed that Scheffer was "extremely positive" regarding the person of FYROM's Prime Minister.
 FM to meet OSCE official ahead of assumption of rotating presidencyA foreign ministry spokesman on Wednesday announced that Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will receive the OSCE human rights office director in light of Greece's assumption of the organisation's rotating presidency.
Spokesman George Koumoutsakos said the meeting will focus on the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights' (ODIHR) operation, jurisdiction and role within the wider spectrum of the OSCE responsibilities.
The meeting is scheduled in Athens on Monday.
 Papoulias wraps up visit to VietnamHANOI (ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic President Karolos Papoulias concluded a four-day visit to Vietnam with the inauguration of a school building, whose construction was financed by Greece.
The 200,000-euro school, with a capacity of 500 students, was built in the ancient city of Hue, in central Vietnam.
Greece also donated 100 wheelchairs and 40,000 euros for disabled children as well as 30,000 euros for the construction of a bridge outside Hanoi.
During his visit, Papoulias had a series of meetings with the country's top state and political leadership, while three bilateral agreements were signed concerning investments in renewable energy sources and cooperation at foreign ministry level.
Papoulias returns to Athens on Thursday.
 FM spokesman on Cyprus issueThe foreign ministry on Wednesday described as a "positive initiative" Cyprus president Demetris Christofias' decision to cancel the military exercise code-named Nikiforos.
Foreign minisry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, in reply to press questins, said that, judging from the result -- given that Christofias' move was followed by a decision by the Turkish Cypriot side to cancel its own "Taurus" military exercises -- the Cyprus President's decision was a "positive initiative" that "contributes to the creation of an appropriate climate for enhancing the negotiations effort for resolving the Cyprus issue".
 FM spokesman again comments on US visa waiver programForeign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Wednesday again touched on Washington's failure to include Greece in the US visa waiver program, when asked to comment on a Bush administration refusal to fulfill Athens' long-standing request. Koumoutsakos pointed to a previous foreign ministry statement on the subject, whereby "the Greek side expresses a hope that this will not be an irreversible decision."
A statement issued afterwards by the US embassy noted that the process is in progress, he added.
Responding to a question on whether Greece's exclusion from the visa waiver program qualifies as some sort of "retribution" by the outgoing Bush administration for certain aspects of the Greek foreign policy, Koumoutsakos repeated a statement by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, namely, that Greece neither comprehends nor accepts the application of pressure tactics between allies.
 Kiltidis in Cyprus for European conferenceDeputy Agricultural Development Minister Constantine Kiltidis will represent Greece at the European Conference on Agricultural Development, due to take place in Cyprus's coastal city of Limassol on October 16-17.
 Obama calls for a solution ending the Turkish occupation of CyprusNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panayiotou/CNA)
Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama issued on Wednesday a strong message to the Greek American Community, referring to the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, the FYROM issue and the Patriarchate's problems in Istanbul.
The National Chairman of Greek-Americans for Obama, State Treasurer from Illinois Alexi Giannoulias, speaking exclusively to the Greek News revealed Obama's message, that is going to be released later on.
"Senators Obama and Biden have demonstrated, once again, their understanding of issues of importance to our community and their commitment to the rule of law and to justice", Giannoulias told the Greek News.
"This statement, while just a beginning, provides a solid basis from which our community can engage with the Obama-Biden administration and shows that we may once again have friends in the White House", Alexi Giannoulias concluded.
It is the first time ever that a major Presidential candidate refers to "Turkish occupation" he said.
According to the Statement "Barack Obama and Joe Biden have been true friends of the Greek American community throughout their careers in public service. Obama has worked closely with this community, especially the large constituency in Chicago, Illinois, and always supported the Greek community's participation in the American political process".
Regarding the Cyprus issue, the statement notes that "as president, Barack Obama will show U.S. leadership in seeking to negotiate a political settlement on Cyprus. He believes strongly that Cyprus should remain a single, sovereign country in which each of the two communities on the island is able to exercise substantial political authority within a bi-zonal, bicommunal federation".
It underlines that "there must be a just and mutually agreed settlement of difficult issues like property, refugees, land, and security. A negotiated political settlement on Cyprus would end the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus and repair the island's tragic division while paving the way to prosperity and peace throughout the entire region".
"It would also give Cypriots a firm foundation on which to build their future after many years of division and uncertainty. It would help foster better Greek-Turkish relations, strengthen Turkish democracy, reduce the risk of military conflict, and remove a major obstacle to Turkish membership in the EU", says the statement.
On the issue of the Former Yugoslav Repuiblic of Macedonia (FYROM), it stresses that "Barack Obama was one of three original lead co-sponsors of Senate Resolution 300, which urged that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia work with Greece within the framework of the United Nations process to reach a mutually-acceptable official name for that country and achieve longstanding United States and United Nations policy goals".
"Obama supports the UN-led negotiations and believes that there can and should be an agreement between Skopje and Athens on a mutually-acceptable name that leads to greater stability in the Balkans", it adds.
Regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the statement notes that "Barack Obama was one of 73 Senators who signed a letter to President Bush in 2006 urging him to press Turkey to restore the full rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Christian Church in Istanbul. He has sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a personal letter on the same matter".
It concludes that "Senator Obama calls on Turkey to respect the Ecumenical Patriarchate's rights and freedoms, including its property rights. Turkey should allow the reopening of the Patriarchate's school of theology on Halki Island and guarantee the right to train clergy of all nationalities, not just Turkish nationals".
 FinMin on EU Summit sessionsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, in statements to the press on the sidelines of the EU Summit here on Wednesday, said that all European Union member-states agreed, in general terms, with a proposal submitted by the 15 eurozone countries for dealing with the current global cradit crisis.
However, Alogoskoufis recognised that certain countries, such as the Czech Republic, had a different approach on dealing with the crisis.
The econony minister stated that what is necessary is to avoid repercussions on real economy. He further noted that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, during his intervention at the Summit, underlined the need for the citizens to be supported, for employment to be promoted and for unemployment to be combated.
Alogoskoufis added that the proposal by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on reforming the international financial and credit system and suggesting the better supervision of the banking system, was being discussed at the Summit, adding that Greece supported this proposal.
Finally, regarding the revised Stability Pact, the economy minister stressed that it would not change, given that the same Pact foresees that in "extreme cases", such as the present one, there will be "flexibility".
 Greek inflation slows to 4.7% in Sept., EurostatBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Greek annual inflation slowed to 4.7 pct in September, from 4.8 pct in August, Eurostat said on Wednesday. The EU executive's statistics agency, in a monthly report, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone eased to 3.6 pct in September, from 3.8 pct in August, but remained sharply up compared with a 2.1 pct reading in September 2007. In the EU, the inflation rate was 4.2 pct in September, from 4.3 pct in August and 2.2 pct in September 2007.
The Netherlands (2.8 pct), Germany (3.0 pct), Portugal and Ireland (from 3.2 pct each) recorded the lowest inflation rates, while Latvia (14.7 pct), Bulgaria (11.4 pct) and Lithuania (11.3 pct) the highest rates.
The inflation rate fell in 17 member-states, it remained unchanged in two and rose in eight member countries.
 Athens hotels say occupance rates down 5.5 pct in AugustAthens hotels reported a 5.5 percent decline in their average room occupancy rates in August and a 2.7 pct decline in the January-August period. A monthly report by the Association of Athens-Attica Hoteliers said that average room price and revenues per available room rose by 5.3 percent and 2.5 percent, in the eight-month period, respectively.
Three-star hotels recorded the biggest percentage decline in occupancy rates in August (-9.0 pct), followed by five-star hotels (-9.0 pct), four-star (4.0 pct) and two-star (3.0 pct).
Tourism Development ministry announced that tourist arrivals rose by 2.6 percent in the nine-month period from January to September, while tourism foreign exchange revenues grew by 6.0 pct over the same period.
 Greek stocks plunged 7.04 pctGreek stocks plunged 7.04 pct in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, following a sharp drop in other European markets over fears of a global economic recession. The composite index of the market ended at 2,381.57 points, with turnover at 281.3 million euros, of which 19.1 million euros were block trades. All sectors moved lower, with the Financial Services (9.56 pct), Constructions (9.32 pct), Banks (8.39 pct), Personal/Home Products (7.84 pct), Raw Materials (7.45 pct) and Utilities (6.81 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 7.53 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 5.88 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index ended 5.06 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 218 to 39 with another 22 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -5.99%
Personal & Household: -7.84%
Raw Materials: -7.45%
Travel & Leisure: -1.87%
Food & Beverages: -4.93%
Financial Services: -9.56%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, Alapis and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 12.04
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.22
HBC Coca Cola: 10.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.74
National Bank of Greece: 22.90
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 11.38
Bank of Piraeus: 11.18
Titan Cement Company: 20.10
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 86.066 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.17 pct and the October contract on the FTSE 40 index near its fair price.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 10,751 contracts worth 72.926 million euros, with 29,449 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was three contracts worth 42,515 euros with five open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,578 contracts worth 12.522 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,676), followed by PPC (1,366), Piraeus Bank (778), Marfin Popular Bank (1,623), Mytilineos (576) and Hellenic Postbank (537).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 1.170 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 645 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 525 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018), was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 805 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 0.85 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.96 pct and the German Bunds 4.14 pct.
In money markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.31 pct, the six-month rate 5.23 pct, the three-month rate 5.16 pct and the one-month rate 4.86 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.373
Pound sterling 0.782
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.92
Japanese yen 139.29
Swiss franc 1.554
Norwegian kroner 8.672
Canadian dollar 1.596
Australian dollar 1.972
 Ecumenical Patriarch on RhodesEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Vartholomeos) and the Orthodox Primates accompanying him on a tour tracing in the travels of the Apostle Paul, are on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes.
Later in the afternoon, the Orthodox clerics will attend a symposium dedicated to the life and work of the Apostle Paul, organised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Bartholomew is accompanied by Patriarchs Alexy of Moscow and All Russia; Theodoros of Alexandria and All Africa; Ignatius of Antioch; Theophilos of Jerusalem, as well as Archbishops Chrysostomos of Cyprus, Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, Anastasios of Tirana, Christopher of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Leo of Finland and Stephanos of Tallinn and Estonia.
The Churches of Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia and Poland are represented by hierarchs.
 Greek Parliament delegation in SydneyMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA / S.Hatzimanolis)
A four-member Greek Parliament delegation will attend the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Oceania Region General Assembly meeting to be held in Sydney at the end of the month.
The MPs to attend are Varvara Nikolaidou (KKE) 5th vice-president of the Greek Parliament, Theodoros Karaoglou (ND), Panagiotis Sgouridis (PASOK), and Adonis Georgiadis (LAOS).
Greece's ambassador to Australia Giorgos Zois will also attend the convention.
 Meeting on Actions on the Communication of EuropeBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
A meeting organised by the European Commission was held here on the theme of "Actions on the Communication of Europe" and was attended by the heads of European Union member-state institutional communication, the heads of the Commission's Delegations and of the European Parliament's Information Offices. Greece was represented by Information Secretary General Panos Livadas.
Livadas outlined during his address the policies that have been planned and are being implemented by the Greek government to safeguard social cohesion from the consequences of the greatest postwar financial crisis.
He also underlined the importance of the role of European solidarity during major crises as a means of strengthening the European identity of citizens and the idea of European integration.
Livadas further stressed that economic growth and social solidarity constitute two similar and interrelated processes, to the degree that the one supplements and provides the preconditions for the other to be achieved.
 EU cities radio station ForumThe first radio Forum for major European Union cities will be held in Athens between October 17-19, with the aim of creating a new local radio station network in Europe, similar to that of Euranet (in which nationwide radio stations are participating).
The initiative belongs to Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and over 13 radio stations have been invited to participate.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Kaklamanis said that the municipal radio station 'Athens 9.84' will be expanding its activity beyond Athens with this initiative.
Kaklamanis also said that, "despite what is being heard," both 'Athens 9.84' and the foreign language station AIR 104.4 will continue to exist, stressing that "this is a wager that will not be lost."
 Interior minister on foreign nationals programmeForeign nationals who have succeeded in passing Greek language adequacy examinations will have privileges in their work and the right to vote in the next municipal elections.
These are the first 890 foreign nationals who had participated in the examinations and will be included in this status acquiring privileges equal to those of Greek citizens regarding their social security and their work.
This development was announced on Wednesday by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, during a press conference jointly held with Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.
In order for one to to be included in the "prolonged residence" status, he would have to attend Greek language lessons for 150 hours and Greek history and culture lessons for 25 hours.
"It is a fact that with the shaping of the institutional framework, as it was amended and is valid today, the process for certifying the adequate knowledge of the Greek language and of elements of Greek history and Greek culture is determined for the citizens of third countries who desire to acquire the status of prolonged residence," Pavlopoulos said.
Stylianidis said that "applications for participation in the specific process had been made by 1,214 people, of whom the large majority that neared 55 percent, were of Albanian nationality" and expressed the wish that the number of participants will increase throughout the years.
 Greek bid to host World Mountain Rescue Con'fA Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT) delegation has presented its proposal to host the next world conference on mountain rescue in Kalabaka, Trikala prefecture of central Greece, in October 2010 or 2011.
A candidacy file, presented at the World Mountain Rescue Conference held in the French Alpine city of Chamonix last week, included information on the wider region and the 3rd Conference on Alpine rescue, hosted in Kalabaka last May.
Kalabaka lies beneath the Meteora rock formations.
 Traveling salesman gunned down in street attackA gold jewelry traveling salesman was killed by two gunmen who snatched his bag and fled the scene in the district of Stavroupoli, western Thessaloniki, early Wednesday.
The incident occured when the two gunmen approached the salesman on the street and demanded at gunpoint that he hand his bag with the jewelry samples over to him. They opened fire and killed him in cold blood when he refused to do so.
A police manhunt for the arrest of the two assailants is in progress.
 Trio arrested for passing counterfeit 100-euro billsThree men, aged 29, 25 and 26, were arrested on Wednesday in the city of Veria, north-central Greece, on charges of passing counterfeit 100-euro banknotes.
The 29-year-old reportedly told police that he bought 20 counterfeit 100-euro bills from a Bulgarian national at half price, before passing nine at local stores with his accomplices.
The remaining 11 counterfeit bills were seized by police while a manhunt is underway for the reputed counterfeiter.
 Major drug haul in KalamataA 46-year-old man and his 31-year-old fiancé were arrested in Kalamata, southern Greece, when police found a loaded pistol in their vehicle, a development that led to a major drug haul.
According to reports, a subsequent search in their residences in Kalamata and Messini uncovered 355 grams of heroin, 42.3 grams of cocaine, a small quantity of hashish, two precision scales, a number of cartridges, shotguns, a bullet proof jacket and 150 unidentified pills.
 Port authorities locate 105 illegal immigrants in Lesvos, Chios & SamosPort authorities on Wednesday located and arrested in three eastern Aegean islands 105 illegal immigrants who lacked travel documents.
They reached the islands with dinghies from the Turkish coast; in Lesvos (64), Samos (28) and Chios (13).
All the arrested, among them 11 minors, were taken for precautionary reasons to the islands' hospitals to be submitted to medical examinations.
 Traffic stop yields illegal migrantsA 38-year-old driver and four illegal migrants from Albania were arrested on the Ioannina-Trikala motorway, central Greece, when their vehicle was pulled over by police and border guards.
The alleged migrant trafficker had picked up the four in a region near Ioannina, northwest Greece, and was transporting them south for a fee, according to authorities.
 Greece loses 2-1 to Switzerland in World Cup qualifierGreece lost 2-1 to Switzerland (halftime 0-1) in a 2010 World Cup Group Two qualifying soccer match played at the Karaiskaki Stadium in Piraeus on Wednesday night.
Switzerland's goals came from Alexander Frei in the 41st minute with a penalty and by Blaise N'Kufo in the 77th.
Greece's goal was scored by Angelos Haristeas in the 68th.
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather with northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 8C and 27C. Fair in Athens, with 3-4 beaufort variable winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 27C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 23C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDevelopments in the Vatopedi monastery scandal and the anticipated recovery of money markets dominated the front pages of Wednesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The resignations of the two Areios Pagos (Greek supreme court) prosecutors (investigating the exchanges of properties between the State and the Mt. Athos monastery of Vatopedi) were not accepted - The prime minister to bring the Vatopedi affair to parliament immediately".
APOGEVMATINI: "Everything on the scandal to be brought to light - Karamanlis instructions for the Vatopedi case file to go before parliament".
AVGHI: "Panic in the government over the Vatopedi scandal".
AVRIANI: "Everything to be brought to light, on orders of Karamanlis".
CHORA: "Goodnight, and good luck - For the first time, simultaneous resignation of two prosecutors" investigating the Vatopedi affair, while the government rejected the resignations.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Enough is enough, Ephraim (Vatopedi Monastery abbot) does not govern us - Citizens demand 'catharsis, now' from justice system - Parliament must attribute the responsibilities on the decade-long scandal - Hour of decisions for the prime minister".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Two prosecutors broke the 'omerta' - Karamanlis being forced into preliminary inquiry into Vatopedi affair".
ESTIA: "Gordon Brown (British prime minister) showed the way (out of the crisis) - Karamanlis' big opportunity".
ETHNOS: "They said 'no' to the cover-up plan - Two judiciary functionaries stood tall in the Vatopedi affair".
KATHIMERINI: "New storm over Vatopedi affair - Karamanlis intervention following resignation of the two prosecutors".
LOGOS: "The government to announce...new measures for protection of the banks - Government will collect an estimated 700 million euros from the 'possession tax' on real estate properties".
NIKI: "Two prosecutors uncovered them - Blatant intervention to cover-up the mega-scandal (Vatopedi)".
RIZOSPASTIS: "High-standard career training after Lyceum - KKE discussion and action campaign for the TEI (Technical Education Institutions)".
TA NEA: "Justice put before the firing squad - Extreme cover-up operation on Vatopedi affair".
TO VIMA: "From crisis to crisis - After the Economy, Justice - Political storm - Two prosecutors resigned".
VRADYNI: "Smiles for the borrowers, too, after the substantial rise on the money markets".
 Christofias, Brown discuss Cyprus problem in BrusselsBRUSSELS (CNA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, met here Wednesday British Prime Minister Gordon Brown whom he briefed on the latest developments in the Cyprus issue.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the European Council in Brussels.
In statements to journalists, President Christofias said he informed the British premier about the latest developments regarding efforts to reunify Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.
''My effort is to keep Mr Brown informed about the developments. The special relations between Britain and Turkey and the influence London could have on the Turkish leadership to help achieve a Cyprus solution should be noted and taken into consideration'', he said.
The Cypriot president added it is important that the British prime minister is informed about the positions of the Greek Cypriot side, especially when he meets Turkish officials.
Asked whether they discussed the issue of guarantees, since Britain is a guarantor power of the Republic of Cyprus, President Christofias said they did not, but noted that this issue is always on the agenda of discussions and will be discussed at a later stage.
''Now, we are discussing other issues and want their support on other issues. The issue of guarantees is in general on the agenda but it is not a priority now'', he said, adding that it will most probably be among the last issues to be discussed during negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot community.
Unfortunately, he said, so far the guarantees have not helped the Republic of Cyprus, on the contrary. He added that as a result of that, the people of Cyprus have every reason not to favour the continuation of the guarantor powers' role, especially since the Republic of Cyprus entered the EU.
When the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960, following an anti-colonial struggle against British rule, Greece, Turkey and the UK were given the role of guarantor powers of the country's independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Earlier Wednesday, President Christofias received the Belgium-Cyprus Friendship Group at the Belgian Senate as well as Graham Watson, leader of the European Parliament's Liberal Democrat group, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
He expressed satisfaction with all his meetings, saying he informed them about Cyprus' stance regarding the ongoing direct negotiations aiming at reaching a solution of the Cyprus problem and reunite the country, which has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
''They are really interested in the course of the discussions'', he said, adding they hail the initiatives undertaken by the Republic of Cyprus regarding the Cyprus talks.
President Christofias said the stance of his interlocutors is very encouraging, adding that Cyprus' position on the Cyprus problem is based on principles.
The leaders of Cyprus and Britain also discussed the global financial crisis.
President Christofias informed Brown about the situation in Cyprus, saying that the country has not felt the strains of the crisis, expressing hope that this will not happen in the future either.
President Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community have been engaged in talks since September this year, with a view to iron out differences and find a mutually acceptable negotiated settlement.
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