|Thursday, 14 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 31 October 2008 Issue No: 3034
 Karamanlis addresses Transparency International con'f in AthensGreek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday addressed the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) organised by Transparency International (TI) in Athens, as the closely watched event this year focuses on worldwide efforts to combat corruption amid the spectre of a global credit crisis.
"International corruption constitutes a common enemy that we are obliged to combat with a persistent effort, both on a national and international level," Karamanlis told delegates at the international conference.
The premier said the deeper problems of the real economy are now at the forefront, while cautioning that the world is faced with a recession of unknown intensity and duration.
"We are all responsible for the grim reality the world is faced with today ... and we need to deal with the real causes (of the recession)," he stressed.
In terms of Greece, Karamanlis said the country has passed from the stage of idleness to a gradual improvement in the international anti-corruption index.
The 13th IACC kicked off in Athens on Thursday with delegates from 135 countries taking part and speakers that included Greek Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, among others.
Hatzigakis noted that corruption was a phenomenon that eroded political life and contaminated society, while its persecution was a political act but one that needed to be carried out with due care and caution.
IACC Council chair Barry O' Keefe noted that the conference was an attempt to have a "positive impact on the future of the planet" and stressed the part played by corruption in the current credit crisis, while the president of TI Greece Costas Bakouris stressed the need for Greece to remain alert for high levels of corruption and find solutions for its eradication.
The chairwoman of Transparency International Huguette Labelle, meanwhile, said that corruption affected all aspects of life and resulted in the loss of vast sums on a global scale each year that could be used to improve people's lives.
The 13th IACC will consist of 40 working groups, beginning on Thursday and ending on November 2. The conference will focus mainly on the ÔÝëïòöüñìáòÁñ÷Þöüñìáòcauses and consequences of corruption on peace and security, natural resources and energy markets, climate change, and sustainable globalisation.
 Interior Minister Pavlopoulos addresses 13th Int' l Anti-Corruption ConferenceThe measures, initiatives and efforts of the Greek government, and particularly those of the ministry of the interior, aimedtackling corruption as well as their positive results observed lately in the country based on the findings of international and independent anti-corruption watchdogs, were underlined by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday.
Addressing the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Athens organized by Transparency International in cooperation with Transparency International's Greece national chapter under the auspices of the Greek government, Pavlopoulos referred to the causes that led to the spread of the international phenomenon of corruption such as ineffective controls, legal void, political and economic instability, poverty, and the crisis of values.
He called for mobilization of the international community and cooperation among control mechanisms, pointing out that Transparency International moves toward this direction emerging as a dynamic adversary of world corruption.
Pavlopoulos stressed that the fight against corruption has been elevated to top priority for the ministry of interior, which has already launched a number of interventions including measures in support of independent watchdogs and different forms of control mechanisms, promotion of e-governance in public administration and local government, adoption of measures against red tape, simplification of administrative procedures, publicizing of public project contracts, active participation of citizens in decision-making centers, among many measures.
Pavlopoulos also referred to the 2007-2013 Special Operational Programme on Administrative Reform being implemented, with an estimated budget of 631 million euros.
 PM Karamanlis meets with Ecumenical Patriarch BartholomewPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis met in Athens on Thursday with visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Also attending the meeting was Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. while the Ecumenical Patriarch was accompanied by Metropolitan John of Pergamon.
No statements were made afterwards.
 Ecumenical Patriarch meets with Ieronymos in AthensArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Thursday received Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Vartholomeos) in Athens.
Ieronymos welcomed Bartholomew and referred to their recent meeting at a synod of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches.
"We ascertained your wisdom, simplicity and love for the Church," Ieronymos said, reassuring the Ecumenical Patriarch "that all of us will provide our forces, however, small they are to the Patriarchate's mission."
Bartholomew reminded that Archbishop Ieronymos escorted him to his visit to Kiev, adding that before this specific visit much speculation had been aired. "As you all saw it (visit) was useful, necessary and imperative".
The Ecumenical Patriarch thanked Ieronymos for their common course, pointing at Ieronymos and Church of Greece's prospects.
Later on Thursday, the Ecumenical Patriarch will address an audience at the Athens Megaron. On Friday afternoon he will visit the northeastern city of Drama and afterwards will pay a visit to the western port city of Patras.
 Greek ambassador on statements by FYROM deputy FMSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
The head of Greece's Liaison Office here, Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou, replying to a question by the press on statements made on Thursday by Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Deputy Foreign Minister Zoran Petrov said that "I realise from the statements by Mr. Petrov that the government here does not want or does not dare to listen to the Greek positions and arguments. In any case, they are not serious things."
Earlier, Petrov had referred at a press conference here to slogans heard during the military parade held on the October 28 anniversary in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, and added that FYROM's oreign ministry will not summon the head of Greece's Liaison Office here to call for explanations because it believes that "there is no reason for her positions and comments to be heard."
 State Department on FYROM 'name issue'WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
US State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said on Thursday that the United States "wants to see the issue solved," while answering to a reporters' questions on the "name issue" of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). He added that the UN Secretary-General's special envoy, Matthew Nimetz, "is working in an effort to bridge the differences. This process will continue, and we need to support it and we will support it."
Asked whether Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is concerned over the fact that the matter has not yet been settled, Wood noted that "the Secretary of State is trying to work with the sides for there to be a solution to the name issue. And we will continue to do whatever we can. But the matter is being handled by envoy Nimetz."
 Papandreou slams government handling of crisisThe crisis now faced by Greek citizens was the result of political choices made by ruling New Democracy (ND), main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou asserted on Thursday. He also accused the government of "tragic delays" in dealing with the financial crisis.
Speaking at the Andreas Papandreou Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISTAME) on the issue of cartels, PASOK's leader said that, depending on what policy was followed in dealing with banks, Greeks would know in a few weeks time whether thousands will be made jobless.
According to Papandreou, the country had to deal with the constant deterioration of public goods and services in addition to the credit crunch and ND's policies had made Greece more vulnerable to the global crisis that was on its way.
Referring to the package of measures to support banks announced by the government, PASOK's leader raised questions about how the 28 billion euros pledged by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis would be found and the fact that they were being handed out "without transparency, without rules and without guarantees".
He said the government should at the very least have obtained a guarantee that banks would then use this money to support the real economy but instead borrowers were under additional pressure from higher interest rates and cutbacks in loans.
"The government has either not understood or is trapped by its internal weaknesses, or even worse is using the crisis to cover up a policy of redistribution in favour of strong," PASOK's leader added.
While agreeing on the necessity to support the financial system in order to restore cash flow to markets, he called for greater supervision and control of banks by the state, forcing bank shareholders to increase share capital in exchange for public funds and other measures to finance banks, hand out loans and supervise the financial system.
He also made a number of proposals for the support of lower incomes, small and middle-sized businesses, subsidised social insurance contributions for first-time workers, jobs for older, unskilled workers and an increase in unemployment benefit, while calling for more measures to protect borrowers and the abolition of recent property tax measures taken by the government.
On a European level, Papandreou said there should be a new European framework in which public spending and investments did not count towards the public deficit and welcomed statements by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in the direction of such reforms.
PASOK's leader also urged a stronger supervisory role for the European Central Bank and a broadening of its remit in order to fight unemployment and foster growth in Europe.
Turning to problems in Greece, meanwhile, PASOK's leader pointed to exorbitantly high prices and the government's inability to curb these, noting that the underlying explanation was a lack of rules that allowed the formation of cartels that destroyed the economy and encouraged corruption.
"The government must establish rules regarding how we behave toward each other and to protect citizens," he noted and criticised the ruling party for expressing the will of specific interests and failing to protect people's income.
 KKE SG meets Cyprus House PresidentNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos/CNA)
Visiting General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Aleka Papariga said here Thursday that real and substantive pressure must be exerted on Turkey, taking into consideration the UN resolutions and recalling that the Cyprus problem is a problem of invasion and occupation.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Cyprus House President Marios Garoyian, Papariga also noted that Cyprus must be a united, federal state, without any guarantees. "There can not be a solution which would allow partition through the window," she emphasised.
On his part, Garoyian said that the stance of the Turkish side does not leave any room for a successful outcome of efforts to achieve a Cyprus settlement that will be viable and functional and will really create the preconditions for the establishment of peace, stability and prosperity of all the people of Cyprus.
He added that the Greek Cypriot side will continue with insistence and patience to be positive, constructive and creative, submitting proposals that will fully abide with the UN resolutions and the EU principles and values.
"Our proposals and positions," Garoyian noted, "aim at the creation of all those preconditions with a view to establish a functional and viable state."
Garoyian reiterated that the Turkish side holds the key for the achievement of progress and an agreed settlement to the Cyprus question, on the basis of international law principles, the UN resolutions and the European law.
He said that he had a useful and substantial discussion with Papariga on developments in the Cyprus question, issues regarding Hellenism and international policy issues. Garoyian noted that he briefed Papariga on the proposals and positions of the Greek Cypriot side at the ongoing negotiations aiming to solve the Cyprus question.
Papariga said that her visit to Cyprus aimed at "expressing our solidarity and support to efforts for a Cyprus settlement" by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and his government.
The Greek communist leader also met with right-wing Demo-cratic Rally (DHSY) party President Nicos Anastassiades, before winding up her visit to the island republic.
 SYN leader: ND a caretaker government with an expiration dateCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday termed the New Democracy (ND) government as a "caretaker government with an expiration date", addressing a press conference during a tour of Larissa.
He said that what the ND government would do up until general elections was to give even more to those running the country, "in other words the big bankers and big contractors", while he also opposed the government's endorsement of the so-called "Alogoskoufis plan" for injecting 28 billion euros into the banks.
Tsipras also attacked main opposition PASOK and its leader George Papandreou, criticizing the latter's recent statements on the need for a national strategy of understanding on the economy.
In reply to questions, he once again rejected the prospect of an electoral collaboration with PASOK, stressing that his party wanted a radical upset of "a policy that in the past had been termed 'modernization' and today is termed 'reforms'."
He said it was necessary to form a government comprised of the Left forces, communists, socialists, ecologists and the wider forces, with SYRIZA as the nucleus.
In view of the international financial crisis, he stressed the need for boosting the public sector and wealth.
 Alavanos files complaint with prosecutor over Crete monastery caseRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos on Thursday filed a complaint with the Supreme Court prosecutor regarding the Toplou Monastery case on the island of Crete.
The complaint mentions that the case, concerning exploitation of roughly 2,600 hectares in the Kavo Sidero region -- the northeastern tip of Crete -- is pending for approximately two decades. The land is claimed by both the Greek state and the monastery.
According to Alavanos' charges, the monastery turned over the property to its own charitable foundation, the Panagia Akrotiriani Foundation, which then leased the land to the British firm Loyalward Ltd. (currently Minoan Group) for a period of 80 years.
Alavanos maintains that the case negatively affects public interest due to the foundation's non-profit charter, and because it falls under the supervision of the ministries of finance, culture and agricultural development.
 Greece, Malta focus on illegal migration problemBilateral cooperation on migration issues dominated talks here on Thursday between the interior ministers of Greece and Malta, Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Carmelo Bonnici, respectively.
"The countries of the Mediterranean region, and specifically Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus, share common problems and their goal is to promote legal migration while taking measures against the illegal movement, with the purpose of protecting the people and human rights," Pavlopoulos stated after the meeting.
The Greek interior minister also said that closer cooperation between these countries was proposed by his Maltese counterpart, aimed at creating a "cooperation framework that could later spread to other countries as well, such as France and Spain..."
On his part, Bonnici referred to the finalising of the Pact on Migration and Asylum, adding that the goal is to continue the effort launched by the French EU Presidency.
He also stressed that the illegal migration problem is common for the four aforementioned countries, which are also faced with a huge number of asylum seekers, unlike other countries.
"We want the rest European countries to acknowledge this burden and support us," the visiting Maltese minister added.
 Chinese minister meets General Communications SecretariatChinese Radio, Cinema and Television Minister Wang Taihua met in Athens on Thursday with the leadership of the General Communication Secretariat-General Information Secretariat.
The Chinese official underlined the strengthening of the political, economic and cultural relations which have developed, particularly in recent years, between Greece and China.
Wang Taihua, who met with government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, General Information Secretary Panos Livadas and Communications General Secretary Margarita Papada, also expressed his joy for visting Greece for the first time, describing his visit as "a life's dream."
The Chinese minister referred to "the valuable help by the Greek government" in the efforts of the people and government of China for the successful hosting of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
He noted the importance of journalistic exchanges between the two countries and the cooperation of Greek Radio and Television (ERT) with the Chinese state television CCTV, which, he said he hopes, will be concluded with the signing of an agreement during the official visit of the President of China to Athens in November.
 Parliamentary discussion on Olympic Airlines employeesTransport and Communications Minister Costas Hatzidakis on Thursday confronted the attack launched by the main opposition PASOK party, regarding the course of the privatisation of the ailing Olympic Airines, by reminding of past statements made by PASOK leader George Papandreou and other members of his party.
The transport minister and those addressing Parliament on behalf of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party, during the discussion on arrangements for the national carrier's employees, stressed that the solution proposed by the government was the only explicit and realistic one and, consequently, it has already secured the consent of the European Commission and of the large majority of employees.
"In 2005, Papandreou in his address at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) had said that the government 'must prepare a serious action plan to enable whatever privatisation process to be completed'," Hatzidakis reminded.
"(PASOK deputy) Evangelos Venizelos had likewise stressed the need in 2005 for 'the continuation of a legitimate, honourable and transparent privatisation process'. Today, PASOK is trying to hide behind excessively vague formulations," the transport minister added.
ND rapporteur Lefteris Avgenakis reminded of past statements made by PASOK's transport minister Christos Verelis that "the citizens are not prepared to pay money to companies that have huge problems" and that "the solution lies with the seeking of private capital through the sale of a majority part of the company."
PASOK Parliamentary representative Christos Papoutsis said that "the PASOK government was interested in saving Olympic and not in how to sell it away" and added that "from the beginning of the economic crisis until today over 40 companies have merged or called for state backing."
Yiannis Mavrikos said on behalf of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) that the government "is privatising OTE (the Hellenic Telecomunications Organisation), the ports, roads, such corporations as DEH (the Public Power Corporation), which are profit-making, while it is preparing to sell Agrotiki Asfalistiki and Ethniki Asfalistiki."
Th. Leventis of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) wondered why "all this that is being forwarded for coverage by the state budget is not mentioned in its draft plan which has been tabled" and added that "evidently there will be no listing of these funds."
Asterios Rondoulis of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party asked the minister "why didn't you send the administrations that were responsible for this mismanagement at Olympic to the public prosecutor" adding that "somebody might think that you fraudently supported a practice that was leading to the company's bankruptcy and this is called fraudulent bankruptcy."
 SYN supports striking metro, OA workersThe Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party on Thursday issued an announcement declaring its support for striking metro and Olympic Airlines (OA) workers, who are fighting for the signature of a collective agreement and to prevent OA's break-up and sale, respectively.
"The government, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, has somehow found 28 billion euros that it scandalously intends to donate to bankers but it is indifferent to the need for wage increases for workers. It considers it necessary and fair to give all that money for free to bankers but not to support the national carrier with much less money. These neoliberal policies do not call for "fixes" but social and political struggle to defeat and overturn them," SYN's announcement stressed.
 Gov't: bank plan to boost growthA draft bill to boost liquidity in the domestic banking system is not aimed at supporting banks but supporting and strengthening the Greek economy, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis emphasised on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said banks were the "vehicle" to boosting liquidity in the market and said implementation of a 28-bln-euro plan was "very significant", since the plan would support growth, small- and medium-sized enterprises and employment amid a very difficult international economic situation.
The plan, Alogoskoufis said, was fully compatible with deci-sions taken in the Eurozone and its main points are:
- state participation in banks' equity capital through the purchase of preferred stock, while a representative of the state will participate in banks' board with the right to veto profit distribution decisions. Banks' managers will not be allowed to compensation exceeding the pay of Bank of Greece's governor, while bonuses will be scraped. Alogoskoufis said that during the implementation of the plan, banks will not be allowed to distribute more than 35 pct of profits to shareholders, while an Implementation Supervision Council will be set up, chaired by the FinMin and Bank of Greece's governor.
- the state will offer guarantees for medium-term borrowing by banks,
- special bonds will be issued.
Alogoskoufis said the plan will not burden the state budget, while it will benefit taxpayers since the state will collect approximately 500 million euros in commissions.
Our aim, he added, is to limit unfavourable effects from an international credit crisis on the Greek economy, to benefit small- and medium-sized enterprises and to boost public works.
Alogoskoufis reiterated that the government has made a political commitment of guaranteeing all savings deposits in the country.
 PASOK economic affairs rapporteur on statements by FinMinMain opposition PASOK party economic affairs rapporteur Louka Katseli, referring on Thursday to statements made by the Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on the draft law on supporting the monetary system, she said that "the government is continuing to present with instalments the plan on the 28 billion euros with which it is providing banks with a 'carte blanche'."
"Nowhere in the bill is the participation of the Hellenic State in banks' share capital raised as a precondition, to enable the participation of banks in the other two parts of the plan to be approved. The clarifications by Mr. Alogoskoufis show a lack of seriousness to say the least," Katseli stressed.
 Minister speaks in Thessaloniki on Greek tourismTourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos, inaugu-rated in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Thursday evening the pavilion of the National Tourism Organisation of Greece (EOT), within the framework of the 24th International Philoxenia exhibition of Helexpo.
He expressed "the determination of the political leadership of Greek tourism to take all the necessary measures which will safeguard the Greek tourism product against the international economic crisis."
"Our objective is to show yet again that Greece is the country of the Eurozone, which for another difficult year will have a tourism product which will withstand," the minister said.
"The strategy will be two-phased and will include on the one hand specialised strategies for the traditional markets, Britain, Germany and the United States, and on the other, the strengthenining of extroversion of the emerging markets of eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine etc.) but also other countries such as India, where EOT plans to soon open offices."
 National Bank scraps plan to sell insurance activitiesNational Bank on Thursday announced that it was cancelling a procedure to find an international insurance group as a strategic partner for its insurance activities, in the wake of a crisis in international financial markets.
In an announcement, National Bank said it believed in the growth prospects of insurance activities, in Greece, southeastern Europe and Turkey, and noted that it would support the implementation of National Insurance's business plan with the promotion of bankassurance.
"National Insurance with its prestige, credibility and its leading position in the market, is in an advantageous position to exploiting opportunities arising today because of financial developments, offering the necessary guarantees to its customers," the statement read.
 Ministry fines supermarkets for misleading sales practicesThe development ministry on Thursday imposed a 300,000-euro fine on one of the Carrefour hypermarket stores in Athens, while it also recommended the closure of the store for misleading sales practices.
The ministry also recommended the imposition of fines on another Carrefour store in Athens, with similar recommendations made against the supermarket chains of Veropoulos and Atlantic, also for misleading sales practices.
The fines were imposed after inspections found price differences between the shelf and the counter.
The ministry also imposed a 1.27-million-euro fine on a number of companies for failing to present cost pricing evidence.
 Eurobank says net profits up 4.6 pct in Jan-SeptEurobank EFG Group on Thursday said its organic earnings rose by 17.8 pct in the nine-month period from January to September to 560 million euros despite unfavourable conditions prevailing in the global banking and financial system, which negatively affected revenues from financial transactions, assete management and securities transactions.
Net after tax and minorities earnings grew 4.6 pct to 647 million euros in the same period, Eurobank said. Net earnings from Southeastern Europe more than tripled in the nine-month period to 135 million euros, from 42 million last year, contributing 20.8 pct to total profitability of the group, up from 6.6 pct in 2007.
Satisfactory liquidity allowed a smooth growth of activities in Greece and Southeastern Europe. Saving deposits grew 42.5 pct to 46.1 billion euros, with deposits in Southeastern Europe more than double to 9.3 billion euros. The lending to deposits rate eased to 119.9 pct this year, from 130.1 pct in 2007.
Lending portfolio growth rate slowed in the January-September period to 56.5 billion euros, with loans in Southeastern Europe more than doubling to 15.1 billion euros (mostly in Poland and Cyprus).
Loans to enterprises and households grew 31 pct to 30 billion euros. Eurobank said its exposure to so-called "toxic" assets was zero.
Revenues grew 16.7 pct to 2.4 billion euros in the nine-month period. Southeastern Europe's contribution to total group revenues jumped to 32.8 pct this year, from 20.8 pct in 2007.
 Greek retail sales volume down 4.1% in Aug.Greece's retail sales turnover index fell by 0.9 pct in August, compared with the corresponding month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday. The statistics service, in a monthly report, said the retail sales volume index (turnover in fixed prices) fell 4.1 pct in August, from the same month in 2007.
 Greek PPI up 9.1% in Sept.Greece's Producer Price Index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) jumped 9.1 pct in September, after increases of 4.0 pct and 3.6 pct in the same months in 2007 and 2006, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The statistics service said the PPI was down 0.8 pct in September from August 2008 and attributed the 9.1 pct increase of the index to an 18.9 pct jump in energy goods prices, an 8.5 pct rise in intermediate goods, a 4.4 pct rise in durable goods prices and a 2.5 pct increase in capital goods prices.
 Greek stocks up 2.04% on Thur.Greek stocks continued moving higher for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, following a recovery trend prevailing in international markets. The composite index ended at 2,009.99 points, up 2.04 pct, with turnover a low 238 million euros, of which 4.5 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Food/Beverage (6.88 pct), Oils (4.40 pct), Telecoms (3.27 pct), Utilities (3.26 pct), Banks (2.35 pct) and Financial Services (2.26 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (2.90 pct), Personal/Home Products (2.17 pct) and Insurance (1.81 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.94 pct, the FTSE 40 index was down 0.06 pct and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.02 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 163 to 72 with another 51 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +4.40%
Personal & Household: -2.17%
Raw Materials: +1.45%
Travel & Leisure: -2.90%
Food & Beverages: +6.88%
Financial Services: +2.26%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Bank of Piraeus and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 11.60
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.50
HBC Coca Cola: 10.20
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.80
National Bank of Greece: 16.44
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.50
Bank of Piraeus: 9.90
Titan Cement Company: 13.30
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover a low 84.532 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.99 pct. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 13,233 contracts worth 71.363 million euros, with 27,432 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,688 contracts worth 12.255 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,315), followed by Marfin Investment Group (1,980), OTE (1,605), PPC (1,226), GEK (1,719), Marfin Popular Bank (1,123), Hellaktor (1,059) and Mytilineos (954).
 Foreign Exchange Rates: FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.287
Pound sterling 0.802
Danish kroner 7.51
Swedish kroner 9.983
Japanese yen 124.99
Swiss franc 1.481
Norwegian kroner 8.622
Canadian dollar 1.620
Australian dollar 1.982
 Culture minister inspects Acropolis restorationCulture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Thursday inspected works for the restoration of the Athens Acropolis, after which he praised the effort underway.
"The work to preserve and highlight the monuments provides a unique experience for visitors to the Sacred Rock, since a more comprehensive image of the Acropolis is formed that allows the monuments to be better recognised and understood," he said.
Liapis reported that work was continuing at a brisk pace, with the greater part of the restoration expected to be complete in three months time. According to experts, about 1,000 pieces of marble have been placed in their proper position since work started in the year 2000.
At the Propylaia, the entrance to the Acropolis, the scaffolding is expected to be removed in about a month's time, providing visitors of a unique experience of a roofed space in one of the most impressive monuments of antiquity.
The restoration work included the cleaning of the roof of the Erechtheion temple supported by the Caryatids using a new laser technique that combined the use of ultraviolet and infra-red light.
The minister was also briefed on the installation of a network of seismic sensors to check and monitor the behaviour of the buildings during earthquakes, as well as the installation of a fibre optics in the walls.
In the much larger Parthenon building, the placement of some 209 missing stones is expected to be completed in early 2009, while restorers are nearing completion of repair work to the north aspect of the building, which was the largest restoration programme carried out on the Acropolis.
As part of the whole project, the Acropolis Monument Preservation Service has undertaken to install a virtual reality room at the new Acropolis Museum, using funds given by the Information Society, that will give 3D tours of the history of the buildings and their restoration. This new digital display will be the first of its kind in an archaeological museum.
 Ombudsman, owners discuss 'child friendly' environments at Net cafesThe first meeting between the Children's Ombudsman Office and representatives of internet café owners in Greece ended with a consensus by participants over a more "child-friendly" environment for minors in such establishments.
Proposed improvements in all of Greece's internet cafés would include no smoking sections, better supervision by employees, guardians' approval, separate minor and adult seating and filter blocks on PCs to prevent access of inappropriate material by children.
According to the Children's Ombudsman, the legal framework regulating the operation of "cybercafes" is inadequate and legislation should be adopted immediately for the protection of underage internet users.
The Ombudsman also suggested the launch of public awareness campaigns targeting children, parents and the general public to brief them on the emerging risks.
 Report sees food agency delay in contaminated oil caseThe Hellenic Food Authority EFET was slow to take action in response to EU warnings about contaminated sunflower oil from the Ukraine, according to a report submitted to the General Inspector of Public Administration by a team of experts on Thursday.
Investigating the food agency's response to the crisis, inspectors found that EFET was mobilised on May 6 instead of April 25 when the warning from the EU originally arrived.
"The seriousness of this realisation would have been absolutely apparent if the specific foodstuff had proved dangerous for public health, something that was fortunately finally ruled out by the European Commission food safety department on May 27, 2008," the report noted.
It claimed that EFET had ignored a document sent via the European early warning system for foods on April 25, which said that a shipment of possibly contaminated sunflower oil had been sent to Greece from the Ukraine in February 2008.
The report further noted "great confusion" regarding which services were responsible for inspecting various kinds of foods.
On the other hand, it said that actions to inform consumers had been satisfactory in terms of which products were being withdrawn, recalled or confiscated but confused, delayed and unclear in terms of whether the contaminant was dangerous to people's health, with little explanation from domestic agencies of the warnings being issued by the EU.
 Europarliament team visits SamosA 9-member team from the European Parliament's transport and tourism committee visited the island of Samos on Thursda to discuss with local authorities matters concerning sea transports and port infrastructures, the problem of mass inflows of refugees, and tourism and environmental issues.
 Balkan veterinary agencies meet on LesvosTwenty five veterinarians from Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, the World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and high-level ministry of agricultural development will attend a Balkan meeting of veterinary agencies, underway on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesvos.
The meeting will focus on the measures that need to be taken against the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in the region's livestock.
 Foreigners attempt to abduct mother and infantFourteen foreigners on Wednesday afternoon forcibly entered the home of a family of compatriots, at Deleria, Larissa, central Greece, and attempted to abduct the mother and her three-month-old boy, with the purpose of selling it to a childless couple.
The incident occurred in front of the father who called the police and there was an immediate mobilisation.
Police set up a road block and finally the three private cars of the 13 culprits were stopped and they were arrested. They were led before the public prosecutor.
The mastermind of the plot is still at large.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy weather with variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 9C and 27C. Fair in Athens, with 2-3 beaufort variable winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 27C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 23C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's measures to fortifying the financially weaker strata in the ongoing international crisis and FinMin George Alogoskoufis and Enviroment and Town Planning Minister George Souflias' strong disagreement on the administration of the state finances dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS : "Stock markets rising - Rise on Athens Stock Exchange of 9.54 percent ".
APOGEVMATINI: "102.000 new hirings in public and private sector".
AVGHI: "Government's and banks' collusion - The 28 billion euros support was offered without any substantial reasons".
AVRIANI: "FinMin Alogoskoufis injects money into the market - 28 billion euros package".
CHORA: "Government playing games on the people's backs".
ELEFTHEROS: "Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia's rage against banks " We will not leave unprotected the citizens who have borrowed from the Workers' Housing Organisation".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The banks refusing two out of three loans - The credibility issue brings a drastic reduction in loan extension".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Arguments among top members of the government, to the backdrop of the financial crisis".
ESTIA: "The economy is the government's Achilles' heel".
ETHNOS: "New crash in the government - Unfortunately the support package for the crisis went bankrupt".
KATHIMERINI: "Two opinions prevail in the higher ranks of the government on the crisis - Souflias vs. Alogoskoufis".
LOGOS: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will announce on Friday from parliament a package of measures for the financially weaker groups".
NIKI: "The government offers crumbs ".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The people must organise the counterattack to the financial crisis with demands for relief measures."
TA NEA: "Alogoskoufis, Soulias begin civil war over the...non-measures".
TO VIMA: "Maastricht collapses! Upset of the Stability Pact looms ahead".
VRADYNI: "First package against the crisis - Support measures for the middle incomes and the unemployed".
 FM calls on UK to act towards Turkey for a solutionLONDON (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Foreign Minister of Cyprus Marcos Kyprianou has expressed "restrained optimism" over the ongoing talks on Cyprus question, while he called on Britain and other "friendly countries" to act towards Turkey in order to contribute to the reunification of Cyprus.
Kyprianou was speaking at a dinner hosted Wednesday by the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood in London on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of the Cypriot Independence, which was attended by members of the House of Commons, the European Parliament, the Upper House and journalists.
Referring to Cypriot- British relations, he said that they entered a new phase after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Cyprus and UK last June, during Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' visit to London.
"The two sides can move forward to implement all that they agree on and continue the dialogue on those they disagree", Kyprianou mentioned.
He stressed that British-Turkish relations can't be an obstacle to the relations between the two countries, adding that "although there was not any notable outcome in the ongoing talks on Cyprus and their course had not so far been satisfactory, it is important the two sides to remain engaged in process aiming at finding a federal solution with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality".
He stressed that it was important the submitted proposals to serve towards these goal.
The foreign minister added that despite President Christofias' goodwill gestures, Turkey's stance has become stiffer.
Furthermore, he noted that "the new federal state must be the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus into a Federation and not a union of two independent states".
He pointed out that there was no need for guarantees, adding that Cyprus' full membership in the European Union is the best guarantee.
Referring to his meeting Wednesday with the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, he said that he called "for more effective stance on behalf of UK regarding the illegal exploitation of the Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied area of Cyprus that makes the solution of the Cyprus problem more difficult to find".
 Cypriot UN representative: human rights in Cyprus must be restoredNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Turkey violates human rights in Cyprus for the past 34 years, Ambassador Minas Hadjimichael, the country's Permanent Representative to the UN, stressed on Wednesday.
The Cypriot people have collectively been denied the basic right to peaceful existence as a result of the use of military force against Cyprus in 1974, by Turkey, contrary to all rules of international legal order, and the subsequent occupation of a substantial part of its territory, Hadjimichael said in his address to the Third Committee at the 63rd Session of the General Assembly.
He also stressed that approximately 43,000 Turkish troops maintain this occupation today and with it the human rights abuses it entails.
"The Turkish invasion resulted in mass violations of human rights, including the denial of the right to property; massive colonisation through the unlawful implantation of 160,000 mainland Turkish settlers; the destruction of cultural and religious heritage; usurpation and unlawful exploitation of property belonging to the nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees; suffering of a great number of families whose relatives are missing and whose fate is still unknown, and forcible division, along ethnic lines," he said.
He additionally pointed out that these and other massive violations of human rights of Cypriots have been repeatedly condemned by resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and by the European Court of Human Rights.
"A solution to the Cyprus problem must be found by the Cypriots, for the Cypriots," he stressed and added that the aim is a solution that will end the occupation and reunite the island and the two communities, restoring and safeguarding the human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots.
He clarified that what is sought after is a solution based on UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus, the High Level Agreements, the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the values and principles on which the European Union is founded. Full conformity with individual human rights standards for the people of Cyprus as a whole, regardless of their ethnic origin or religion, should be an integral element of any settlement, if that is going to be a just, comprehensive, functional and sustainable solution, he said.
Finally, Hadjimichael reiterated that the Republic of Cyprus will continue to uphold the highest standards of human rights for all its citizens and strive for the global protection and promotion of human rights and universal values.
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