|Sunday, 22 July 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 25 October 2008 Issue No: 3029
 PM Karamanlis to begin official visit to QatarThe government on Friday announced the itinerary of an official visit to Qatar by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, which begins over the weekend.
On Sunday, the Greek prime minister will address a one-day business conference and meet with the Emir of Qatar, as well as the Gulf state's prime minister and foreign minister, while he will also attend a reception hosted in his honor.
Karamanlis will also meet with expatriate Greeks and Cypriots at the new Greek embassy in Qatar, while on Monday he is set to tour several worksites of Greek construction companies active in the region.
The prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas.
 No vote on PASOK's Vatopedi motionNo vote was held at the end of a Parliamentary debate on Friday on main opposition PASOK's motion calling for an inquiry into whether ministers were criminally culpable in the Vatopedi land swap scandals.
The debate on the motion tabled by main opposition PASOK ended earlier than scheduled when Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas essentially confirmed the positions expressed by MPs still present in the chamber that the "conditions for carrying out a valid vote did not exist, the House does not decide and the proposal is not rejected".
"The fate of this motion ends today. Only a new motion can be brought again," Sioufas stated after the Parliament session.
Only PASOK and SYRIZA MPs remained in the chamber at the time, following the departure midway through the proceedings of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the earlier walkout by the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party. Ruling New Democracy MPs had stayed away from Friday's debate entirely, essentially making it impossible for the motion to pass.
The debate came just two days after Parliament unanimously adopted a ruling party motion for a Parliamentary investigation committee on the Vatopedi Monastery land swaps, in which lands of marginal value and disputed status along the shores of Lake Vistonida were exchanged with prime public real estate. In a new development on Friday, a Supreme Court justice announced that the Vistonida land rightfully belonged to the state anyway, according to an improperly suppressed court decision back in 2003.
KKE had walked out for fear that there would be an official record that the motion had been rejected by Parliament, which would rule out the option of tabling another motion for a Preliminary Examination Committee over the same events in the future.
"We are departing so that the way remains open for a preliminary examination committee and so that the investigation committee does not degenerate and investigates all the events, so that full light is shed on this case," said KKE spokesman Spyros Halvatzis.
Immediately afterward, SYRIZA MPs Fotis Kouvelis raised an issue of whether the house could be considered quorate, citing Parliament regulations that require the assistance of majority party MPs in reading the register, collecting votes and forming the voting committee.
He stressed that this was not a technicality but a fundamental and deeply political issue that concerned the operation of Parliament.
"All this is the result of an unprecedented behaviour that is deeply insulting for Parliament. You cannot proceed with the vote," Kouvelis said, referring to the majority party's decision to abstain.
PASOK spokesman Evangelos Venizelos agreed, noting that the government's "unheard of and tragi-comic initiative has placed us outside every Constitutional framework. Every Parliamentary regime is based on the principle of an explicit majority. Does this apply today? Is it possible to say that the conditions exist for a valid rejection of the motion," he said.
Sioufas, on his part, countered that all the above had been known at the start of the debate but the main opposition had not asked for it to be postponed, so the vote would have to go ahead.
Venizelos insisted, however, that PASOK's proposal remained on the table and was valid since the conditions did not exist for a vote in the chamber, at which point Kouvelis announced that SYRIZA also intended to walk out in order to prevent possible ministerial offences being written off.
The motion tabled by PASOK sought an investigation into possible responsibility for the land swaps by three current and former members of the government. These included former spokesman and minister of state Theodoros Roussopoulos, who resigned on Thursday, former agriculture minister Evangelos Bassiakos and current Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas.
The session ended when the Parliament president essentially "washed his hands" of the responsibility, declining to make the final decision:
"Even though Parliament regulations say that the 'President decides', I will not decide. The decision is taken by you, who are the majority," he said, declaring the session closed.
Commenting on the outcome of the debate, government spokes-man Evangelos Antonaros stressed that "PASOK's effort to cheapen the institutions by turning Parliament into a theatre for making impressions has led nowhere".
"The isolation into which the main opposition party today led itself should act as a lesson on where political cannibalism and irresponsibility inevitably lead," he added.
 Papandreou addresses Parliament on Investigatory Committee issueMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing Parliament on Friday during the discussion on the proposal for the creation of an Investigatory Committee to probe the Vatopedi issue, spoke of "the collapse of the government's credibility" as a result of the ruling New Democracy party's absence from the discussion.
Referring to the economic crisis that is now also touching Greece, Papandreou warned of a possible "new and huge crime against the Greek people" and proposed the "partial nationalisation of tottering banks".
"When the government cannot manipulate, it hides and escapes. It could not control the result in Parliament and fled, seeking a hideout in parapolitics and in the backstage," he said.
"We are before a new, intentional and conscious downgrading of institutions. There is no precedent in our history of the absence of the majority from the Parliamentary procedure. Just like they adulterated the results in the voting for the revision of the constitution, today they are not allowing the colleagues of New Democracy to express themselves freely, according to conscience, in a secret vote. They are manipulating their vote and their conscience with their withdrawal in order to make them accomplices," Papandreou added.
 Debate on PASOK motion for Vatopedi inquiry beginsDebate on a proposal by main opposition PASOK for a Parliamentary Preliminary Examination Committee to investigate the involvement of ministers in the Vatopedi land swap scandal began in Parliament on Friday morning, despite the absence of the ruling majority.
It was unclear at the start of the session whether there would be any vote on the issue, given that the abstention of ruling New Democracy has condemned the motion in advance, given that it needs an absolute majority of 151+ votes in Parliament in order to pass. Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party MPs also walked out of Parliament midway through the proceedings.
The debate comes just two days after Parliament unanimously adopted a ruling party motion for a Parliamentary fact-finding or "investigation" committee on the politically charged Vatopedi Monastery land exchanges with the state, in which lands of marginal value and disputed status along the shores of Lake Vistonida were exchanged with prime public real estate. Following Wednesday's debate, the House adopted the proposal without resorting to a roll-call vote since no party expressed opposition to the proposal.
The motion tabled by PASOK aimed at a Parliamentary investigation into possible criminal liability for the land swaps by three current and former members of the government. These include former spokesman and minister of state Theodoros Roussopoulos, who resigned on Thursday and is accused of being the moral instigator of the land swaps, former agriculture minister Evangelos Bassiakos and former deputy economy minister and current Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas, who signed off on the deals.
Parliament regulations state that if a motion for a preliminary examination committee is not passed there can be no new motion for such an inquiry based on the same events.
Taking the stand at the start of the debate, PASOK parliamentary spokesman Evangelos Venizelos stated that the government's abstention and the empty seats of majority MPs constituted an insult to the parliament and the sensitivity and intelligence of the people.
"A government that abandons the Parliament admits that it does not have support within it ," he stated, claiming that the government was afraid that it did not have the full support of its MPs.
LA.O.S leader George Karatzaferis stated that his party cannot "go along with the plans of the government," by staying in Parliament. According to Karatzaferis, ND intended to argue that the process begun on Friday had not gained approval and that parliament will not be able to re-examine issue.
On behalf of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Spyros Halvatzis stated that the ND absence and PASOK's insistence on having the debate on its motion on Friday "essentially leads to the burial of criminal offences related with the Vatopedi scandal," and he accused the two main parties of "colluding" to orchestrate a cover-up. He requested that the motion for setting up a preliminary examination committee in the future remain open.
SYRIZA President Alekos Alavanos described the situation as a paradox, since MPs were being asked to vote on whether individuals should be investigated for offences but the act of voting in itself ensured that these offences would be automatically written off.
Commenting on ND's absence, he said it was a sign of fear and a lack of concrete positions. He also echoed a call for PASOK to withdraw its motion before it was put to a vote, so that the option of a Parliamentary investigation of individuals remained open in the future.
Gov't again outlines opposition to preliminary examination committee
"The stance adopted by the government and the ruling New Democracy party (ND) reflects a sense of political and state responsibility," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said in reference to the party's decision to abstain from a debate and subsequent vote in Parliament on establishing a preliminary examination committee to investigate the politically charged Vatopedi Monastery case.
Antonaros reiterated that the government is interested in an in-depth investigation into the case and pointed out that the reasons that led to the decision were clearly outlined by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday.
He reiterated that at this point the government is against a preliminary examination committee, adding that this move will be considered if suspicions of criminal responsibility against ministers or MPs are backed up by adequate evidence.
The proposal for a preliminary examination committee would have been rejected if ND participated in the vote, Antonaros said, adding that according to the constitution, Parliament's statutes and the law on cabinet minister responsibility, statutory limitation would have been the only possible outcome.
"The government will not become an accessory in the efforts made by PASOK to blame ND for being indirectly responsible for such a development," Antonaros stressed.
 SYN leader comments on Vatopedi issue from RhodesCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Alexis Tsipras on Friday strongly criticised ruling New Democracy's decision to abstain from Friday's debate in Parliament on setting up a committee of inquiry to investigate possible ministerial involvement in the Vatopedi Monastery land swaps scandal.
"The developments with the departure of ND's Parliamentary group at a very crucial time prove that the government is unable to produce policy and is afraid of its own shadow," Tsipras said during a press conference held on the Aegean island of Rhodes, where he was on a visit.
Regarding Friday's vote in Parliament on whether to set up a preliminary examination committee, he said that there would be no point on having one following ND's departure and urged PASOK to withdraw its proposal so that it might be tabled again at a later date.
 Antonaros takes over as government spokesmanEvangelos Antonaros, up to now alternate government spokesman, on Friday morning assumed the post of government spokesman following Thursday's resignation by Theodoros Roussopoulos.
Handing over the post, Roussopoulos thanked the prime minister, his associates, and the staff at the General Secretariats for Communication and Information for their cooperation.
Supervision of the two general secretariats, which were previously part of Roussopoulos' portfolio, has been transferredInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
"When ND took over the government in 2004, one of the first innovations made was the abolition of the Press and Mass Media ministry. We forged a new course. Information acquired a freedom that was unprecedented in the country," Pavlopoulos said in turn, and praised Roussopoulos' role and contribution.
"I have a long-standing friendship with Theodoros Roussopoulos, and wish to stress devotion to all the work that has been done here, which will be completed, a task that will bear the seal of a man who worked with zeal and consistency," Antonaros said.
 Roussopoulos hands over to interior minister, AntonarosFormer minister of state Theodoros Roussopoulos on Friday handed over the reins of the general secretariats for information and communication to Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, following his resignation from the government on Thursday.
Roussopoulos expressed certainty that Pavlopoulos, who takes on the two secretariats in addition to his existing portfolio as head of interior, public administration, law enforcement and emergency services, will perform capably in his new duties in spite of his already heavy work load.
On his own part, Pavlopoulos referred to ruling New Democracy's decision after it won the 2004 elections to abolish the press and media ministry that existed up until that time, saying that today's handover demonstrated that this move was not just for the sake of "appearances" but a real shift in policy.
"We were one of the few, perhaps the only country in Europe, that had such a ministry. And this means a lot. In an age when the quality of Democracy is measured by freedom in the area of information, it is inconceivable to have a press ministry because its very presence denotes an effort to control and manipulate the media," Pavlopoulos said.
This change marked the start of a new course that was later put into action, especially in the state-supported media, he added.
The minister also praised Roussopoulos' replacement in the post of government spokesman, former alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, who took over on Friday as well.
He stressed that Antonaros would be in charge of briefing journalists and that he would not interfere in a way that would interfere with the free communication between journalists and the spokesman.
Antonaros himself, while briefing reporters on Friday, promised to analyse and present the government's policy and choices to the press on a daily basis and ensure that journalists had easy access to him in the same way as his predecessor.
 Former government spokesman suing television stationRuling New Democracy (ND) party State Deputy and former government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced on Friday that he was lodging a lawsuit against a television station.
"Resigning yesterday, I mentioned that free from now on from the commitments that emanated from the position of government representative, I will defend myself with every legal means," he said, adding that "I am resorting to Justice with the lodging of a lawsuit and a suit personally against the journalists George Aftias, George Vlachos and Yiannis Daskas, as well as the television station ALPHA for the lies and wretchedness that they continued to hurl against my person today as well. My tolerance towards slander has ended."
 Former minister's wife charged in connection with VatopediAthens First Instance Court judge Constantine Simitzoglou on Friday filed charges against notary public Ekaterini Peleki, wife of former merchant marine minister George Voulgarakis.
The charges are based on press reports claiming that she participated in limited liability companies and the fact that she drafted the contracts for transactions involving a designated archaeological site that was among the controversial land swap deals between the State and the Mt. Athos monastery of Vatopedi.
Peleki's case will be considered by the appropriate disciplinary council, which will decide whether to acquit the notary or impose some kind of penalty.
 Lake Vistonida property of state, court inspector rulesLake Vistonida and the lands that surround it, with the exception of the islet Ada Buru, are judged to be the property of the State according to a final but suppressed ruling that should have been issued by a Rodopi court in 2003, the justice ministry announced on Friday.
This was the conclusion reached by Supreme Court Deputy President Ioannis Papanikolaou, inspector of courts, after he conducted a disciplinary inquiry into the stalling of a case before a Rodopi first-instance court that tried the suit brought against the Vatopedi Monastery by the Greek State in 2003. The court failed to issue a verdict in the final stages, after the State said that it waived its rights in the case.
According to the inspector, the specific trial was shut down in a way that was not legal because the panel of judges had already convened and finalised their ruling, voting to hand over ownership to the state by 2-1. At that stage of the proceedings, the court had an obligation to announce its verdict and the two sides could no longer reach an out-of-court settlement or withdraw their suit, he said.
Papanikolaou has now ordered that the court's ruling in the case be published within the next few days by a different panel of judges, the justice ministry said. Since this makes the contested lands the property of the Greek state, it means that all subsequent land swaps with other pieces of state-owned land are invalid.
In the specific case, the court recognised the monastery's ownership of only 172 hectares on the islet Ada Buru, of a total 2,704.4 hectares initially claimed by the Vatopedi monastery.
 FM and French envoy discuss Barcelona ProcessForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held talks here on Friday with French President Nicola Sarkozy's special adviser Henri Guaino, who said afterwards that the purpose of his visit was the preparation of a ministerial meeting on the "Union for the Mediterranean", an idea promoted by the French government.
The ministerial meeting is scheduled for November 3-4 in Marseilles. Guaino said that visits to Bulgaria and Romania would follow his Athens visit with the same purpose.
A meeting was also held at the Greek foreign ministry earlier this week, during which preparations for the Marseilles conference were examined. Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, who chaired the meeting, had declared that the meeting focused on preparing Greece's "contribution to the shaping of Programmes to be implemented in the framework of the 'Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean'."
Valinakis reminded also that the programmes concerning the clean-up of the Mediterranean Sea, sea routes, solar energy, education, civil protection and small and medium businesses development.
The Marseilles, ministerial conference is expected to define the institutional framework in which the Union would function.
 Eurodeputies address conference on EURuling New Democracy (ND) party chief Eurodeputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis, addressing in Athens on Friday a two-day conference on "European Integration and European Parliament-The Significance of Developments and the European Citizen," termed the Lisbon Treaty a considerable step for Europe.
Varvitsiotis underlined the positive elements that the Lisbon treaty is bringing for the European Union and the European citizens and stressed that the EU is now acquiring a legal personality with the Treaty.
He also said that, in his view, the EU's sudden transition from 15 member-states to 27 was a mistake because this enlargement also included countries with a different mentality and pointed out that the solution for the EU is one alone: whoever wants to advance must go ahead.
ND Eurodeputy professor George Papastamkos said that the European integration of Europe of the "27" is showing more than ever the characteristics of homocentric circles, as well as the imbalance between the political, economic and social pylon.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) Eurodeputy Dimitris Papadimoulis referred to the present crisis and pointed out that we are experiencing the crisis of dogmatic neo-liberalism and of "casino-capitalism."
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) Eurodeputy ambassador George Georgiou said "we have watched with the latest crisis a voracious capitalism crawling in front of statism" and added that all are aware that the Lisbon Treaty is not active at the moment.
Main opposition PASOK party Deputy Andreas Loverdos also addressed the morning session, referring to the issue of Euroelections in light of the pending issue of the Lisbon Treaty and stressing that the delays due to the non-ratification "are delays that are functioning against us".
 FinMin holds talks with Employment, Development ministersFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis met on Friday with the employment and development ministers with the purpose of securing cooperation on issues regarding common duties.
Alogoskoufis and Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia discussed issues concerning the implementation of the Employment ministry's budget, as well as other issues of mutual concern.
The finance minister later met with Development Minister Christos Folias for an examination of matters concerning the implementation of the Development ministry's budget and, likewise, other issues concerning both sides.
 Gov't on economic crisis draft lawA draft law aimed at boosting liquidity in the Greek economy and protect it from the consequences of the international economic crisis has been tabled in Parliament.
Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros pointed out that practically all domestic banks will participate.
The draft law provides for state participation in banks' capital through acquiring preference shares of up five billion euros, while offering liquidity guarantees from international markets of up to 23 billion euros.
 Opposition proposes Monday debate in Parliament on economyMain opposition PASOK Parliamentary spokesman Theodoros Pangalos and Radical Left Coalition parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos tabled a proposal in Parliament on Friday requesting that the off-the-agenda discussion on the economy, called by the prime minister in response to the international economic crisis, be held on Monday instead of Friday.
"Holding the debate earlier will send a useful message of vigilance to the people," Pangalos said, while Alavanos stressed that "the latest international developments and the plunge recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange show that problems have permeated the real economy, reminding of the 1929 recession."
 EU Commissioner Kuneva cites goal of single EU retail marketEuropean Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Meglena Kuneva continued a visit to the northern city of Thessaloniki on Friday, where she noted that the European Commission wants to proceed with the establishment of a single EU retail market that will also have an electronic dimension.
Kuneva said such a development will give consumers the opportunity to make safe purchases within the EU borders.
"...The goal is the creation of an electronic cross-border market. Consumers shopping across Europe will be able to rely on a single set of core consumer rights based on the new Directive, adopted recently by the Commission. Therefore, Greek consumers will be able to do their shopping in Germany if prices are better without feeling reluctant to do so," she said.
Kuneva is set to present a "Green Paper" in December on the options afforded to consumers regarding class action lawsuits over misleading practices by retailers, damage restoration or profiteering.
 Hellenic Exchanges says net profit down 24 pct in Jan-SeptHellenic Exchanges SA on Friday reported a 24 percent decline in its consolidated net profits to 50.2 million euros in the nine-month period from January to September 2008, from 66 million euros in the corresponding period last year and said consolidated turnover fell 27 pct to 85.4 million euros over the same period.
The operator of the Greek capital markets, attributed the decline in its results to a sharp drop in share prices and a decline in average daily turnover to 352 million euros, from 461 million in the nine-month period in 2007.
Share trading revenues totaled 18.6 million euros, down 26 pct from last year, while revenues from clearing and settlement totaled 31.8 million euros, down 25 pct from last year. Revenues from listed companies dropped 68 pct to 7.8 million euros.
The derivatives market, however, reported a 16 pct increase in revenues to 8.4 million euros, while revenues from assets sales totaled 3.7 million euros. Earnings before tax totaled 62.5 million euros in the January-September period, down 28 pct from last year.
 Budget revenues up 4.8 pct in SeptemberBudget revenues grew by 4.8 pct in September, for a growth rate of 5.7 pct in the nine-month period from January to September 2008, compared with the corresponding period last year, the Economy and Finance ministry said on Friday. The ministry, in a report, attributed the slower growth rate in revenues to a decline in building activity in the country. The finance ministry said budget revenues fell 0.4 pct in August, compared with the same month in 2007, reflecting limited proceeds from VAT payments (up 0.9 pct), a 5.0 pct drop in tax agencies' revenues and a 0.5 pct rise in customs revenues.
VAT revenues grew by 1.0 percent in September, tax agencies' proceeds rose 3.9 pct and customs revenues were up 7.4 pct.
 Frigoglass says turnover up 10.9 pct in Jan-SeptFrigoglass on Friday reported a 10.9 pct increase in its nine-month sales, reflecting higher turnover in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa as well as the recent acquisition of SFA in Turkey.
The Greek company, however, said net profits fell 15.4 pct to 37.9 pct in the nine-month period from January to September, from 44.8 million euros last year. Earnings before taxes fell 10.8 pct to 58.3 million euros, while EBITDA rose 2.4 pct to 85.7 million euros.
 World Lottery Convention successfully completed in RhodesThe World Lottery Association successfully completed its annual congress and its commercial fair in Rhodes on Friday. OPAP's chairman and chief executive, Christos Hatziemmanouel, in his address said the successful organizing of the World Lottery Convention -the most important event of the industry- by OPAP, highlighted the Greek company's leading position in the world lottery market. Hatziemmanouel also noted that OPAP steadily continued its dynamic growth in the framework of policy priorities set by its management, aiming at improving efficiency and creating prospects for a further international and vertical expansion.
In the framework of this year's convention, titled (Sharing the Values of Fortune", participants exchanged views and were briefed over developments in the industry, particularly sustainable growth, corporate ethics and corporate governance.
The commercial fair, which brought together more than 35 companies, highlighted the progress made in the industry with innovative services and technological applications.
Main speakers of the convention included, ASE's president Spyros Kapralos, INSEAD's president Dr. Olivier Giscard D' Estaing, the president of AIPS Gianni Merlo and baroness Sheela Flather, member of the House of Lords.
 Greek stocks plunged 9.71 pct on FridayGreek stocks suffered their biggest one-day loss since 1989 in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday hit by a massive wave of aggressive selling, amid a very negative climate in international stock markets. The composite index fell 9.71 percent to end at 1,728.49 points, after falling as low as 1,626.64 points during the session. Turnover was an improved 333.4 million euros, of which 12.5 million were block trades.
All sectors moved lower, with the Media (16.3 pct), Food/Beverage (15.0 pct), Constructions (14.78 pct), Financial Services (14.78 pct), Insurance (13.23 pct), Technology (12.53 pct) and Industrial Products (12.50 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE 20 index ended 9.33 pct down, the FTSE 40 index plunged 11.44 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 12.07 pct lower. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 256 to seven with another 13 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -12.45%
Personal & Household: -8.27%
Raw Materials: -12.15%
Travel & Leisure: -2.89%
Food & Beverages: -15.00%
Financial Services: -14.78%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 9.80 ATEbank: 1.48
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.10
HBC Coca Cola: 8.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.14
National Bank of Greece: 11.88
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.00
Bank of Piraeus: 8.08
Titan Cement Company: 12.72
ADEX closing report
Greek futures contract prices saw their discount widen significantly in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover at 86.954 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.34 pct, while volume was 15,895 contracts worth 72.040 million euros, with 27,263 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 25,631 contracts worth 13.569 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (5,705), followed by Eurobank (1,481), Marfin Investment Group (2,210), OTE (1,312), National Bank (3,444), Alpha Bank (1,040), Intracom (1,243), Hellaktor (3,609) and Hellenic Postbank (710).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank dramatically to 280 million euros on Friday, of which 70 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 210 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 190 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.93 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.93 pct and the German Bund 4.0 pct.
In money markets, interbank rates fell slightly. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.03 pct, the six-month rate was 4.97 pct, the three-month rate 4.91 pct and the one-month rate 4.60 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.269
Pound sterling 0.812
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 10.061
Japanese yen 118.34
Swiss franc 1.468
Norwegian kroner 8.870
Canadian dollar 1.612
Australian dollar 2.067
 Thessaloniki 'twinned' with China's DongguanA twinning agreement signed on Friday by Thessaloniki and Dongguan is the third reached between the northern Greek city and a city in China, as similar protocols have been signed with Shenyang and Tianjin.
Thessaloniki's other "sister cities" include St. Petersburg, San Francisco, Melbourne, Nice and Cologne.
Dongguan, with a population of 7.5 million, is a major seaport and a commercial and tourist centre.
 Cloudy on SaturdayCloudy weather with northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 23C. Cloudy in Athens, with 5-6 beaufort northerly winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 20C. Cloudy and showery in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 18C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceMinister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos' resignation, and Friday's debate in parliament on a main-opposition PASOK motion for setting up a House preliminary investigation committee into the Vatopedi Monastery land transactions scandal, from which the ruling New Democracy (ND) party will abstain, dominated the front-pages of Athens' newspapers on Friday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "At last! End of Roussopoulos - And now, reshuffle?"
APOGEVMATINI: "Plan to boost civil servants' Welfare Fund".
AVGHI: "The government walks out - Roussopoulos resignation a blow for Karamanlis".
AVRIANI: "PASOK should return the kickbacks it received from Siemens and then demand inquiries and preliminary investigation committees - Karamanlis, bring their looting to light before the crooks eat you alive".
CHORA: "Martyr for Ephraim (Vatopedi Monastery abbot) - The Vatopedi scandal downed the Minister of State".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "As the government, in fear and panic, decided abstention from the preliminary investigation committee procedures, Roussopoulos resigns".
ELEFTHEROS: "He waited for them to escape, before resigning - An entire party defected from the preliminary investigation committee for Roussopoulos' sake".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The 'mailman' always strikes twice - Roussopoulos resigned in order to ease the introversion - Face-to-face now with the premilinary investigation committee, and possible return to the government after December 15".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Irregular retreat - Unprecedented: The ruling party abstains from parliament".
ESTIA: "Consecutive political mistakes - Now intimation of cover-up is created".
ETHNOS: "Admission of defeat and guilt - Unprecedented avoidance of battle by Karamanlis and disdain of parliament".
KATHIMERINI: "ND opts for abstention, in fear of 'leaks' (of its MPs in the vote on the PASOK motion)".
LOGOS: "The Vatopedi 'child' (Roussopoulos) out of the government - End of era for Roussopoulos - ND decides abstention from debate on preliminary investigation committee motion".
NIKI: "Irregular retreat by the guilty - Roussopoulos bails out, ND abstaining from the debate".
PARASKEVI+13 (weekly): "Roussopoulos' 'exodus' unties Karamanlis' hands".
PARASKINIO (weekly): "Finally - Karamanlis ousted Roussopoulos".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The experience of Socialism is a precious treasure - Strong KKE - 18th Congress of counter-attack".
TA NEA: "They're on the way out - The Karamanlis system collapsing - Roussopulos: The prime minister's right-hand-man obliged to resign".
TO VIMA: "Alone in the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) - Karamanlis without Roussopoulos - Who's turn next?"
VRADYNI: "Resignation for de-escalation (of tension), following the tabling of the (Vatopedi) case file in parliament and the establishment of a parliamentary fact-finding commission" decided by all the parties in parliament in a vote Monday on the relevant motion tabled by the ruling ND party.
 Cyprus President meets Chinese Vice PresidentNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on Friday expressed the belief that the People's Republic of China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, will continue to maintain the same position of principles to avert interventions on the part of Turkey against the Republic of Cyprus.
Christofias was speaking during a meeting he had in Beijing with the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping whom he briefed on the latest development in the Cyprus question.
On his part, the Vice President of China referred to the long standing and clear position of China on the Cyprus question, adding that his country supports a settlement on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions.
According to an official press release issued here, Christofias who is in China to attend the 7th ASEM Summit (Asia-Europe forum), noted the excellent and constantly developing relations between Cyprus and China, underlying the mutual solidarity between the two countries.
Christofias expressed his will for "a single China with two political-economic systems and a reunified Cyprus", noting that "the People's Republic of China as a permanent member of the Security Council constitutes a major support for the Republic of Cyprus."
"China's positions of principles constitute an example for other Permanent or Non Permanent Members of the UN Security Council," Christofias added.
Referring to the fact that Turkey has become a Non Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, Christofias said he is convinced that "China will continue the same policy of principles to avert interventions on the part of Turkey, that will contradict the UN principles and resolutions, against the Republic of Cyprus".
On the Cyprus question, President Christofias assured that everything possible is done and many initiatives are undertaken for the peaceful settlement of the Cyprus question on the basis of the principles of law and legality, with a view to restore the territorial integrity of Cyprus, to achieve demilitarization and the restoration of all Cypriots' human rights.
Referring to the bilateral relations between China and Cyprus, Christofias described them as excellent and expressed the will for the further strengthening in all fields, recalling the comitment of the two countries to improve their bilateral financial and commercial relations.
The Vice President of China referred to the long standing and clear position of China on the Cyprus question, adding that his country wants to achieve a settlement on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions.
The Chinese official congratulated President Christofias for the initiatives he has undertaken with a view to reach a Cyprus settlement, through a peaceful dialogue and assured that his country will continue to play an active role through the Security Council, to promote a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus question, based on the international law and the UN relevant resolutions.
Furthermore he stressed that China wants the traditional long-standing friendship between Cyprus and China to be further strengthened. He also said that the relations between the two countries are based on mutual understanding and mutual respect, noting that his country appreciates Cyprus's positions on China's national issues.
The Chinese official also elaborated on the financial and trade cooperation between Cyprus and China, noting the further prospects for investments in both countries.
 Cyprus President praises Malaysia's principled positions on CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias praised on Friday the principled position Malaysia in the framework of Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) regarding the Cyprus problem.
An official press release issued here Friday, notes that President Christofias met Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the sidelines of the 7th ASEM Summit in Beijing.
During the meeting, President Christofias thanked the Malaysian Prime Minister for his country's support towards Cyprus, as well as the reservations the Malaysian government expressed during the debate on a resolution on Cyprus at the latest OIC Heads of State and government meeting.
Christofias briefed Badawi on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, stating that he remains focused on the efforts to achieve a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem based on the international law and the UN resolutions.
The Cypriot president also referred to the inter-religious dialogue hosted in Cyprus in 2006, with the collaboration of Malaysia, expressing his wish for the enhancement of the relations between the two countries in this field.
Badawi expressed his appreciation for President Christofias' efforts for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus problem, expressing hope that these efforts will bare fruit soon.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The 7th ASEM Summit, which began today in Beijing, will focus on the current global financial crisis.
 US look to Cypriot leaders to chart path forward for solutionNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
US Assistant Secretary of State for international organisations Brian Hook said on Friday that the United States look to the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to chart the path forward and noted that the US role is to support those efforts.
Hook was speaking after a meeting in Nicosia with Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou, who said the government is waiting to see how the US contribution could be most helpful, adding that the Greek Cypriot side calls on all countries with good relations with Turkey to exert their influence, so that Turkey would be more positive.
Kyprianou noted that remarks from Ankara have not proven that Turkey is committed to the form of a solution under discussion in Cyprus and expressed hope that Turkey's election as a non permanent member of the UN Security Council would not affect the role the Security Council is playing in the Cyprus problem.
Hook said his office ''oversees the US engagement with the UN, so naturally UNFICYP is a part of that.''
He added that his trip to Cyprus gave him the opportunity ''to meet with UN officials on the ground here, particularly UNFICYP officials,'' noting that the renewal of the mandate of UNFICYP will be coming up in December.
''I wanted to talk with officials here to see how the mandate is going, if we need to make any changes to it. The US will support the renewal of the UNFICYP mandate, as we always have in the past,'' Hook said.
Hook noted that his trip also gave him the opportunity ''to meet the political leaders and to express our very strong support to the ongoing negotiations.''
''We look to the leaders to chart the path forward and it is our role to support those efforts, to facilitate where we can but to play a very supportive role, an encouraging role, because I think we all want to see a solution to the Cyprus problem,'' he added.
Kyprianou said his meeting with Hook was a continuation of his recent meetings with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, and that they discussed the role of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which the government finds ''very positive, useful and beneficial.''
The Cypriot minister informed Hook on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and the ongoing direct talks between the leaders of the two communities with an aim to reach a settlement, and also discussed Turkey's election as a non permanent member of the UN Security Council and ''the concerns of the Republic of Cyprus'' regarding this development.
He expressed hope that ''this will not affect the role the Security Council plays in the Cyprus problem.''
''I would not interpret this as a move against Cyprus but it indicates a reality of the new state of order, which we must take into consideration,'' he added.
Replying to questions, Kyprianou said the US are ''always ready to contribute but we are waiting to see how this contribution will be most useful,'' adding that ''at this point the process is between the two sides and the international community will have to become active at the appropriate moment.''
Kyprianou said ''we call on friendly countries, which have special relations with Turkey, to exert their influence so that Turkey is positive, not only verbally, but in the desirable result of this process, which must guarantee the reunification of the island.''
He pointed out that Turkish remarks ''have not proven that Turkey is committed to the form of the solution which we are currently discussing in Cyprus,'' adding that the form of the solution ''I consider agreed on, namely a bizonal bicommunal federation, with a single international identity, a single citizenship and a single sovereignty.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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