|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-11-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 8 November 2008 Issue No: 3041
 EU can contribute actively to handling of crisis, PM saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis- M. Aroni-V. Demiris)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday that the European Union has shown that it can contribute actively to the handling of the global credit crisis, with the means at its disposal adding that the EU's special summit here provided the opportunity for proposals, which the EU will be promoting at the Washington summit on reforming the international monetary system, to be shaped jointly.
Summing up the results of the special summit, Karamanlis said that the European Commission proposed on Friday, with the purpose of tackling the international economic crisis, an approach based on two pylons: Firstly, on a new monetary architecture in the framework of which a balanced intervention is required to support the banking sector. Secondly, on confronting the challenges of the crisis, namely in real economy.
The prime minister further said that the EU will act on the basis of a four-point proposal presented by the French Presidency with regard to the changes that must take place in the architecture of the international monetary system.
The new system that will be created must, as he stressed, have greater transparency and better supervision. Supervision must be entrusted to the International Monetary Fund, so that crises such as the present one will be avoided in the future.
"It is certain that we would not have reached the current serious crisis if the supervision of the monetary system had been better and its transparency had been greater," the prime minister said.
Commenting on recent economic predictions made by the European Commission, Karamanlis did not conceal the fact that "the news for the EU and for the eurozone countries in particular is not at all pleasant."
He noted, however, that as far as Greece is concerned, the Commission is predicting better performances than almost all the eurozone countries.
In parallel, the prime minister stressed that the Greek government is preparing specialised measures to relieve the financially weaker who, as he noted, are bearing a disproportionately big burden due to the repercussions of the crisis.
Karamanlis went on to say that a continuous effort and an integrated growth plan is necessary, which will support employment, small and medium-size businesses, households and incomes.
He reminded that Greece was among the first countries in the EU to guarantee citizens' bank deposits which, as he underlined, shielded confidence in the Greek monetary system.
He also recalled the plan to boost the economy's fluidity which aimed at the smooth funding of businesses, and with good terms, and which is being discussed in Parliament. Moreover, he referred to initiatives to back small and medium-size businesses, such as the guarantee fund guaranteeing 80 percent of their loans.
Referring to the role of banks in Greece, Karamanlis indirectly but clearly called on them once again to perform their task, stressing that no one has the right to convey the repercussions of the crisis to the citizens.
Lastly, he referred to the issue of high prices, saying that market checks have been intensified with the purpose of dealing a blow at profiteering and that those who have not received the message of government determination will pay the price of their options.
Responding to questions by the press, the Prime Minister, admitting that the economic crisis has a greater effect on the financially weaker, said that the government's plan to boost liquidity concerns backing for the real economy, meaning support for businesses and households that have borrowed.
"Some are claiming in an irresponsible way that the plan was done for banks," the prime minister said, adding that "the proof is that the banks are not hurrying to benefit."
The prime minister pointed out that considerable initiatives have been taken to support small and very small businesses, such as the guaranteeing of 80 percent of loans by the Guarantee Fund for amounts of up to 350,000 euros. He said that two crucial targets are achieved in this way: securing growth and strengthening social cohesion.
Karamanlis said that the government is protecting, with specific actions, jobs and it is creating new jobs and promoting development initiatives such as investments with public and private sector joint ventures, as well as the National Strategic Reference Framework programmes.
He further underlined that the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) alone will have proclaimed 50,000 jobs by the end of the year and another 140,000 jobs in 2009.
Lastly, Karamanlis said that the election of Barack Obama as the new President of the U.S. is creating many and great hopes in the European Union, not only for handling the monetary crisis, but for other issues as well, such as the combatting of climatic changes, the confrontation of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the tackling of poverty and the cracking down on international terrorism.
He further added that the EU is looking forward to deepening its relations with the United States. As far as Greece is concerned, he noted that "we are looking forward to close cooperation with the American government, on the basis of the historical relation between the peoples and on the basis of the alliance that we have."
 PASOK spokesman on special EU summitMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papa-constantinou, commenting on Friday on statements made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis after the European Union's special summit in Brussels, said that the premier was a "commentator of the crisis," adding that Karamanlis is "incapable of assuming initiatives and of providing solutions".
Asked to speak on what exactly had taken place in Brussels, the spokesman said that "the summit did not appear to have reached specific measures" and added that "the prime minister probably went without a plan."
Also called on to comment on the announcement by the National Bank on the "freezing" of loans owed by the unemployed who are receiving unemployment bonuses, Papaconstantinou said that PASOK has tabled a proposal on the "freezing" of loans and appealed to Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis to move in this direction for specific social groups with specific criteria "as the Spanish government has also done."
PASOK's spokesman also focused on Friday's meeting between party leader George Papandreou and Bank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos, pointing out that PASOK's president stressed to Provopoulos the need for the Bank of Greece to safeguard its independence, while also referring to PASOK's disagreements with the bill supporting banks, "particularly with fluidity not being conveyed to real economy".
Papaconstantinou further said that Provopoulos found PASOK's roposal on the "freezing" of loans as a special aid measure feasible and realistic.
 Koumoutsakos outlines Greek foreign policyForeign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Friday outlined the main directions of Greece's foreign policy, while speaking at the Athens Foreign Correspondents Association. He stressed that these remained steadfast, pivoting mainly around the European Union, international organisations and respect for international law, and that Greece was a country that favoured the status quo.
He referred to the start of Greece's two-year presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2009, pointing out that Greece was taking over at a critical time when it would have to handle exceptionally difficult issues that involved large players, such as the crisis in the Caucausus.
Regarding the EU, he said that this had boosted its international role under the French presidency, expressing hope that this impetus would continue afterwards as well and that the Lisbon Treaty will be signed.
 Education minister on college graduates' professional rightsThe government's intention to upgrade the higher education sector, increase spending and establish post-graduate studies departments abroad was underlined on Friday by Education Minister Evripides Stylianidis, who spoke in Parliament.
"The government cannot shutdown private (tertiary) colleges in Greece," Stylianidis underlined, in response to tabled questions by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga and SYRIZA Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos.
The two political leaders referred to a recent European Court ruling that mandates that Greece grant full recognition to degrees obtained from private colleges operating in the country that are affiliated with recognised universities based in the European Union.
"The bill passed in Parliament was far-sighted enough to provide that certain quality and safety conditions must be met by private colleges, reserving the right for the Greek state to even close them down if they do not comply," he said.
He also stated that the government is positive vis-à-vis a KKE proposal for the establishment of professional vocational schools.
 Court ruling giving Vistonida land to State issued on FridayA decision reached by a Rodopi First-instance Court that awards ownership of the land in and around Lake Vistonida to the Greek State, with the exception of the Ada Buru islet, was issued on Friday after a delay of several years.
The order to issue the 2003 court ruling was given by Supreme Court Vice-President Ioannis Papanikolaou, inspector of courts, who conducted a disciplinary inquiry into the case and said that the failure to issue the ruling originally reached by the court was irregular and not justified by the fact that the State had voluntarily waived its claim to the property.
The ruling was issued on Friday by the same court but with a new panel of judges and consisted of some 60 pages.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Anastasios Kanellopoulos has concluded a disciplinary and criminal inquiry into the actions of the Rodopi court president of that time, current appellate judge Maria Psalti, which culminated in the decision not to issue the court's ruling.
Kanellopoulos is expected to compile a report on his findings once the probe into the Vatopedi monastery land swap agreements - many of which concerned the Lake Vistonida property - is completed by a Parliamentary investigation committee.
The Parliamentary investigation committee has requested copies of the evidence files put together by Kanellopoulos and Papanikolaou, which are expected to be sent to Parliament on Monday.
 Greece, Bulgaria to expand cooperationSOFIA (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)
Athens and Sofia on Friday declared their common determination for expansion and further strengthening of cooperation between the two governments in the strategic sector of energy, in a joint statement issued by Greek development minister Christos Folias and Bulgarian economy and energy minister Petar Dimitrov after talks in Sofia on Friday.
"I deeply believe that this signature (on the joint statement) but also the others that will follow, lwill lead our two countries to a common future of energy security, multiple energy sources and close energy cooperation. And, of course, this comprises the basis for a neighborhood of peace and cooperation," Folias said in statements to the press after the meeting with Dimitrov.
The joint statement came after discussions between the two ministers on all issues, in the framework of a visit by Folias to the Bulgarian capital.
Dimitrov, in turn, expressed satisfaction with the energy cooperation with Greece, which he said was constantly increasing, despite the global financial crisis.
Dimitrov noted that Greece and Bulgaria are partners in major natural gas and oil transport plans of strategic importance to Europe, citing the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and the South Stream natural gas pipeline.
Meanwhile, an announcement by the Bulgarian economy and energy ministry on the Folias-Dimitrov meeting noted, inter alia, that the construction of a second line lking the electricity grids of Bulgaria and Greece (from Maritza, Bulgaria, to Nea Santa, Greece) could begin in 2009, with the prospect of completion in 2011.
According to the ministry announcement, it was made known during the meeting between the two ministers that Greek investments in Bulgaria doubled in the first half of 2008 in relation to the corresponding period of 2007.
 'OA model' in EU discussed by Tajani in AthensTransport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Friday met with visiting EU Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for transport affairs in the Union, with talks expectedly focusing on the ongoing privatisation of state-run national carrier Olympic Airlines.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Hatzidakis expressed satisfaction over the strong interest showed in the tender and said he was optimistic that the procedures will be a success.
The two men also discussed developments in Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) and a government plan to modernise the loss-making Greek railways.
The EU Commissioner, speaking to the reporters, said the model implemented for Olympic Airlines has become a "prototype" for the EU in adopting other similar decisions and he announced that two meetings, of a technical nature, will be held in Brussels with Greek authorities to discuss developments in OA, OSE and regional airports.
 Gov't threatens NBG with sanctionsDevelopment Minister Christos Folias on Friday warned National Bank of Greece, amongst the largest banking institutions in SE Europe, with sanctions unless the bank repealed a series of "unilateral" decisions raising credit card interest rates for its customers, while adding that other domestic banks' practices are also under regulators' scrutiny
In a letter sent to National Bank's management and the Bank of Greece (BoG), the development ministry said National Bank's behavior is under investigation for breaching transparency regulations and that unless the bank takes back its decision it faces fines ranging from 1,500 to one million euros.
National Bank has inform customers of unilateral changes in contract terms, namely, higher interest rates and subscription fees.
Commenting on the issue, Deputy Minister George Vlahos said the ministry's intervention was not only aimed at revoking such terms but stopping any similar behavior by other financial institutions in the country.
"Any further burdening of consumers at this present negative conjucture is at least unfair. If banks need to boost their liquidity the government has announced a package of measures aimed at supporting the system. In any case, we will not allow this to happen to the expense of consumers," Vlahos said.
In a later statement, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis was quoted as saying that "banks should put public interest before private (interests) and if they do not do this on their own, we have the way to make them."
He made the comment in reference to the 28-billion-euro liquidity support package for domestic banks.
 BoG: Greek banks raised interest rates on deposits, lending in Sept.Greek banks raised their interest rates in September amid an international credit crisis, the Bank of Greece said in a report published on Friday.
The average one-day deposit rate for households rose by two basis points to 1.28 pct in September, the same rate for non-financial enterprises fell by four basis points to 1.09 pct, the average one-year time deposit rate for households rose by 12 basis points to 5.11 pct and the average repo rate jumped 54 bps to 4.76 pct.
Lending rates also moved up. The average rate on consumer loans was practically unchanged in September to 15.15 pct, the average rate for business loans rose 16 bps to 7.94 pct and the mortgage loan rate grew by 11 bps to 5.45 pct.
 PASOK leader confers with BoG gov.Economic developments in the light of the international financial crisis were discussed in a lengthy meeting between main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou and Bank of Greece Gov. George Provopoulos on Friday.
Upon his arrival at the PASOK leader's office, Provopoulos referred to Thursday's interest rate reduction by the European Central Bank, ECB.
Papandreou responded that he had a number of contacts at the European and international level during the past few days, and both men agreed that there is widespread pessimism in the economic sector.
 Tourism minister seeks EU-level action for tourismGreek Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Friday announced that he seeking action to support tourism on a European level by extending a proposal by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a fund to support investment in industry and small and middle-sized enterprises to the sector.
The minister said that he had sent a letter to that effect to French Economy, Industry and Employment Minister Christine Lagarde and French deputy minister for Commerce, craftmanship, SMEs, tourism and services Herve Novelli, in which he asks that support for the tourism sector be raised during a meeting of European competition ministers on December 1 in Brussels.
In his letter, Spiliotopoulos stressed that tourism is an important factor for economic growth that can contribute to Europe's economic recovery and calls for measures to protect the sector from unemployment caused by the global crisis.
 Merchant marine minister holds talks with European Commission vice presidentMerchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras met on Friday with European Commission Vice President and Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani with Greece receiving assurances that the European Commissioner will support the country's positions.
Systematic cooperation at experts level was also agreed and, in this framework, a new meeting will be held in Brussels in early December and port infrastructure issues will also be discussed.
Progress in the renewal of the Greek Register's recognition by the European Commission was ascertained during the talks on the issue of greenhouse exhaust emissions by ships, as well as on the issue of sea inland transport-Cabotage.
 EIB holds conference on SMEs funding to GreeceEuropean Investment Bank's management and executives will visit Athens next week to participate in an information conference held on Tuesday over the bank's activities in the wider region. Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the bank's president Philippe Maystadt will address a special event on Monday on the occassion of the celebration of EIB's 50 years.
EIB has already announced a plan to supporting the European economy and the financial system through the offering of a loan facility worth 30 billion euros. These money will be used to fund small- and medium-sized enterprises in Europe, with 15 billion euros will be earmarked in the period 2008-2009.
European Investment Bank has already offered funds worth 5.4 billion euros in the period 2003-2007 in Greece and expects that funds this year will total 1.2 billion euros.
EIB is currently in talks with four Greek banks to sign partnership agreements, in addition with the four banks already in partnership (Piraeus Bank, Eurobank, Emporiki Bank and PanCretan Bank).
European Investment Bank said 32 pct of funds offered to Greece in the previous five years financed infrastructure projects, 12 pct were used by the Athens Metro, 23 pct in urban infrastructure, 18 pct in energy, 11 pct to commercial banks for loans to Greek SMEs, 4.0 pct to education projects and 1.0 pct to tourism.
 Tsipras voices support f or Altec employeesCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader Alexis Tsipras on Friday expressed support for employees of Altec Telecom threatened with redundancy and promised that SYN would be at their side, during a meeting with the firm's employee association the same day.
Tsipras said Greek judicial authorities should intervene and investigate the possibility that the company had "fraudulently declared bankruptcy" when it was in fact profitable "while not hesitating to lay off employees".
 Building activity down 21.3% in Aug.Building activity dropped 21.3-percent in August, compared with the same month last year, with the number of building permits issued in the month falling by 19.2 percent, the National Statistics Service announced on Friday.
The statistics service, in a report, said building activity in the private sector fell 15.8 pct in the January-August period (in volume), compared with the corresponding period last year, while the number of permits issued fell by 17.1 pct.
In total, building activity in the public and private sectors fell by 15.7 pct in volume and 16.9 pct in permits in the eight-month period.
 Greek stocks end 1.77 pct higherGreek stocks resumed their upward trend in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, pushing the composite index of the market 1.77 percent higher to end at 2,107.10 points. Turnover was a low 167.6 million euros, of which 7.8 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Constructions (6.61 pct), Telecoms (5.25 pct), Banks (2.40 pct), Technology (2.08 pct) and Travel (1.89 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Financial Services (0.38 pct), Utilities (0.34 pct) and Media (0.10 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.39 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.05 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.88 pct. Broadly, advancers led deciliners by 132 to 91 with another 55 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.62%
Personal & Household: +0.59%
Raw Materials: +0.06%
Travel & Leisure: +1.89%
Food & Beverages: +1.20%
Financial Services: -0.38%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Public Power Corp (PPC), OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 11.58
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.60
HBC Coca Cola: 11.92
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.40
National Bank of Greece: 18.30
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.08
Bank of Piraeus: 10.06
Titan Cement Company: 13.50
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contracts were traded at their fair prices in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover shrinking to 78.890 million euros. Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 12,109 contracts, worth 66.655 million euros, with 26,955 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,409 contracts worth 78.890 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,466), followed by OTE (1,211), PPC (947), Marfin Popular Bank (970), Intralot (699) and Hellenic Postbank (766).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 235 million euros on Friday, of which 135 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 80 million were sell orders.
The five-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2011) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 45 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German Bonds shrank to 141 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.09 pct and the German Bund 3.68 pct.
In the interbank market, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 4.59 pct, the six-month rate 4.54 pct, the three-month 4.47 pct and the one-month rate 4.10 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates: Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.285
Pound sterling 0.814
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 10.134
Japanese yen 125.28
Swiss franc 1.510
Norwegian kroner 8.790
Canadian dollar 1.534
Australian dollar 1.924
 Stolen "Descent from the Cross" icon returned to GreeceLONDON (ANA-MPA/L. Tsirigotakis)
A valuable icon stolen back in 1978 from the St John the Baptist Monastery in Serres, northern Greece, has been handed over to the Greek embassy education attaché in London.
The "Descent (or Deposition) of Christ from the Holy Cross" Byzantine-era icon, with an estimated value of one million pounds, was returned to the Greek authorities by Scotland Yard.
After it was stolen, the icon was cut in half to fit in a suitcase and at some point it ended up in the possession of a Greek shipowner and collector of contemporary Greek art who died a year ago in London.
The Greek culture ministry was informed that the icon was in his possession when months before his death he had offered it up for sale to the Benaki Museum in Athens.
The British authorities, after being notified by the Greek embassy that Greece intended to bring the case to justice, seized the icon and released it when the court ruling came out in favor of the Greek side.
 Ecumenical Patriarch visits LamiaEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Friday paid a visit to the city of Lamia in the prefecture of Fthiotida, accompanied by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece and a delegation of metropolitans 23 metropolitans from dioceses all around the country.
The Patriarch had a number of engagements in the city, where he is to be declared an honorary doctor of the University of Central Greece on Friday night.
 Award in memory of late ANA-MPA correspondent in RomeROME (ANA-MPA / Th. Andreadis-Syggelakis)
The Sant' Andrea University here on Friday bestowed the Premio Migliore Tesi di Laurea 2008 award in memory of Lakis Hatzikyriakos, the ANA's correspondent in the Italian capital who also wrote for many other Greek media outlets.
Hatzikyriakos died a year ago.
The award was accompanied by a monetary sum collected from mourners instead of traditional memorial wreaths at his funeral.
The recipients of the award are two graduates of the school of medicine at the Sant'Andrea University's clinic.
 Turkish consul visits Grevena, KarditsaTurkish consul Hakan Abaci on Friday paid a courtesy visit to Demosthenes Kouptsidis, the prefect of Grevena, a city in the western Macedonia region.
"I briefed Mr. Abaci of our intention to prepare a visit by local entrepreneurs to Istanbul, in cooperation with the Grevena chamber of commerce," the prefect told reporters after talks, which focused on issues of economic cooperation.
Abaci later visited the Karditsa municipality in central Greece, where he was received by local authorities.
 'Civil War in Prespes' con'fThe latest scholarly works on the 1946-49 Greek Civil War and its socio-economic impact in northwest Greece will be presented in a conference entitled "Civil War in the Prespes", scheduled to take place on Nov. 8-9 and hosted by the Prespes municipality.
Conference participants, including individuals who fought in the Civil War, will speak on a period of recent Greek history that affected the country's postwar course and also visit civil war-era monuments.
 3 foreign suspects charged in robbery attemptsThree Romanian nationals, aged 43, 32 and 31 years old, were arrested on robbery charges Wednesday in the upscale Kifissia district of northern Athens.
According to police, one of the suspects was allegedly preparing the robbery by deflating the tire of a bank customer's car while he was making an ATM cash withdrawal. The suspect was arrested at the scene.
The other two suspects allegedly tried to rob the bank customer while he was changing his tire.
A police investigation apparently revealed that the suspects committed seven similar robberies via the same method.
All three men were sent before a prosecutor.
 Illegal migrant trafficking ring dismantledA trafficking ring smuggling illegal migrants into Greece from Turkey via Evros River, at the Greek-Turkish borders, was dismantled following a joint operation conducted by police in Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis, northern Greece.
The arrest of 5 Iraqi nationals on the "Egnatia Odos" motorway, while picking up 15 illegal migrants from Iraq to transport them to Thessaloniki, was made possible when an undercover police officer managed to win their trust after working with them as a driver.
The operation for their arrest was launched when he was asked to pick up the 15 illegal aliens from the Greek-Turkish borders early on Thursday and bring them to Derveni where they were waiting for them.
 82 year- old reported missing found aliveAn 82-year old woman who was reported missing last Sunday was found alive in a farm field near the city of Trikala, central Greece by a local resident. According to the man who found her, the elderly woman had probably had attempted to cross the field but did not succeed and so she remaind for four days in an irrigation ditch. The first thing the woman asked for was some water.
The woman has been trasferred to the local hospital for a check-up.
 Syrians stage protest in central AthensSyrian and other Arab immigrants demonstrated in central Athens on Friday afternoon against U.S. policies in the Middle East in the wake of last Sunday's bombing, by U.S. aircraft, of the city of Abu Kamal in Syria.
The "Alliance Stop the War" also participated in the demonstration which was held outside the U.S. embassy.
Demonstrators dispersed peacefully in about one hour.
 US Embassy closed on Tuesday in observance of Veterans DayThe US Embassy in Athens, the Consulate in Athens, the General Consulate in Thessaloniki and all US government offices in Greece will remain closed on Tuesday, November 11, in observation of Veterans Day, a US national holiday.
 Cloudy on SaturdayCloudy weather and possible local showers with northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 22C. Partly cloudy in Athens with slight possibility of rain, with 3-6 beaufort northeasterly winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 18C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe international credit crisis and ECB President Claude Trichet's announcement of a half-point reduction in its benchmark interest rate to 3.25 percent dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS: "Total ban on smoking in all public areas (as of January 1, 2010) - The draft law was tabled in parliament".
APOGEVMATINI: "The entrance of minors in bars is prohibited - The bill was tabled on Thursday in parliament".
AVGHI: "Interest rates: They're falling in Europe but rising in Greece -Small and medium sized enterprises are suffocating".
AVRIANI: "All banks are following FinMin George Alogoskoufis' plan to give cheap loans to people and enterprises that are facing the danger of shutting down".
CHORA: "Government, bankers in tough poker game - Alogoskoufis' 28 billion euros plan is up in the air"
ELEFTHEROS: "Mr. Karamanlis (Prime Minister), put order among the bankers - As the banks in Europe treducing the interest rates, the Greek bankers doing the opposite".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "PPC in another world .....PPC's president Takis Athanassopoulos sets a new surcharge on electricity bills at the same time that the households are suffocating from the high cost of living and their debts to banks".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Mockery with bank interest rates".
ESTIA: "Major concern over the economy - Banks, tourism and shipping are being affected".
ETHNOS: "Double shock for people after the increase in banks' loan interest and Public Power Corporation (PPC)rates".
KATHIMERINI: "New changes in the banks' rescue plan and intense 'behind-the-scenes'."
LOGOS: "Reduction of interest rates in Europe ....except Greece".
NIKI: "People in the grips of the high cost of living - The market moaning, the households suffering".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Call for uprise against the 65-hour working week and its supporters".
TA NEA: "The Greek miracle with the interest rates - They're falling outside and rising inside".
TO VIMA: "The interest rates are falling but the money in Greece is becoming more expensive -Trichet reduced the ECB interest rate to 3.25%.
VRADYNI: "The market suffocating - The lack of liquidity strangling the small and middle sized enterprises".
 Cypriot President Christofias congratulates US President-elect ObamaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, in a congratulatory message to Barack Obama on his election to the Presidency of the United States of America notes his call for change has created great expectations not only to the people of America, but to the whole humanity.
In his message released on Friday, President Christofias, on behalf of the people and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, expresses his "most heartfelt congratulations" on Obama's "historic election as President of the United States of America" and remarks that the people of Cyprus, and the world as a whole, "have followed with great interest the US election campaign".
''Your landmark victory comes at a time of many challenges that the international community is called upon to face and act on. Whether it be the financial crisis, poverty, social injustice, securing international peace and security, combating international terrorism, the environment and the energy crisis, all of these require international dialogue, engagement and cooperation'', he notes.
''Our two countries and people share common values and principles - values that you have consistently echoed: Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy, the rule of law. It is these values and principles that the people of Cyprus yearn to enjoy through a reunified island without occupation forces and it is this goal and objective that I am committed to achieve'', he adds.
The Cypriot President notes he is ''appreciative and encouraged by the principled position that both you and Vice President-elect Joe Biden have taken in support of a just and lasting solution of the Cyprus Problem, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation and the withdrawal of the occupation forces and the clear recognition that a solution will not only end the division of the island and its people, but will pave the way for peace and prosperity throughout the region''.
President Christofias says he looks forward to working with Obama to further strengthen the relations between the two countries, "both bilaterally as well as within the transatlantic partnership and on issues of wider international concern".
''Please accept my sincere congratulations and best wishes for every success as you prepare to assume the higher office of President of the United States of America", concludes President Christofias in his message to Obama.
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