|Saturday, 22 September 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-11-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 14 November 2008 Issue No: 3046
 PM Karamanlis makes address on 'Quo Vadis Europe'Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed an event organised on Thursday evening by the "Constantine Karamanlis Institute of Democracy" on the theme of "Quo Vadis Europe?" referring to the present and future of Europe and proposing ways of handling the monetary crisis.
Former Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel was the official guest at the event, that was held at a downtown Athens hotel.
The prime minister placed emphasis on the need to coordinate efforts to curb and tackle the economic crisis at both European and global level.
Karamanlis assessed that the uncertainty of the crisis will be prolonged and that the pressure of an economic recession will increase all over Europe, pointing out in particular that Europe must place emphasis on social cohesion and on its social image.
He referred to the past of the European Union and, focusing on the present, said that the international crisis necessitates radical adjustments.
"The crisis is showing clearly what the EU must do. It must assume a leading role in the establishment of strong international institutions, capable of coordinating the interdependence of national economies, handling negative repercussions and strengthening positive prospects," he said.
The prime minister expressed support for the development of a leading, as he said, participation in the planning of a new architecture for the inernational monetary system, so that it can consolidate the stability and transparency of the monetary system, which will avert distortions and excesses.
"All this necessitates the joining of forces and joint actions. Only in this way will we be able to have the maximum result as soon as possible," he stressed.
Karamanlis further assessed that the world's economic map is now changing and on this map, as he said, the European economies need their own united and powerful presence.
He underlined that Europe must emerge as a leader in many issues of a global dimension, particularly with regard to the double energy and environmental challenge, the protection of the environment and of natural resources and the climatic change.
"In every case, the EU must handle collectively both the economic challenges and the many other global dangers. We must ask ourselves 'where is Europe going' and reply to the question 'which is the Europe that we want'," he said.
Lastly, Karamanlis mentioned that the Europe he is envisaging is "uttering a united and strong voice on the global economic and political stage, developing a strong international presence and being more political and effective."
 PM briefed by Transport MinisterPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Thursday with Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis at the Maximos mansion (government headquarters)
After the meeting Hatzidakis told reporters that he briefed the premier on progress in the international tender for national aircarrier Olympic Airways, in which he said interest has been manifested by 38 investors, adding that the EU transport commisioner recently stressed that the OA sale plan could become the model for other ailing European carriers such as Alitalia.
He also referred to the project for development of regional airports, noting that the Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) will very soon appoint consultants to seek out private investors.
Hatzidakis said he further discussed with Karamanlis the new generation optic fibres, a 2 billion euros investment in which the state will participate by 30 percent. The country will be divided in three large peripheries and in coordination with the EU, in autumn next year, the ministry will be ready to launch the relevant international tender.
The transport Minister stressed that the government has decided to proceed with another major reform that concerns the transport of goods by road, namely a new framework affecting trucks and tanker trucks.
He also said that with consensus and careful attention, and in cooperation with the interested parties, but without making hasty moves, we will go ahead with this reform and give new momentum to the country's economy.
The landscape in this particular sector reminds us of the decades of '50s and '60s, and therefore modernisation is imperative in order to establish a new framework that will move us from the 'outskirts' to the heart of Europe.
 Karamanlis received Uruguay parliament headPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis received on Thursday President of Uruguay's Chamber of Representatives, the lower house of the country's bicameral General Assembly (parlia-ment) Alberto Perdomo Gamarra at the Maximos mansion.
Gamarra was accompanied by Greek parliament president Dimitris Sioufas and president of Greece - Uruguay friendship committee, MP Vyron Polydoras.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 Papoulias receives heads of OSCE, Uruguay Parliament delegationPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, followed by the head of Uruguay's Chamber of Representatives Alberto Perdomo Gamarra.
 FM receives Uruguay Chamber of Reps. presidentForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday received Uruguayan Chamber of Representatives President Alberto Perdomo Gamarra, who is on a formal visit to Greece at the head of a parliamentary delegation from the South American nation.
After the meeting, Gamarra assured that the Greek embassy in Montevideo will continue its operation, and stated that the goal is to reach a bilateral agreement on services and tourism sectors, considering the presence of several major Greek investors in Uruguay, primarily in the shipping sector.
He also referred to Greece's strategic position as a gateway to the EU for Uruguayan exports.
During his visit to the country, the Uruguayan political leader is scheduled to have meetings with the entire political leadership in Athens.
 FM outlines Greek OSCE presidency's prioritiesGreece's aspiration to exercise the 2009 OSCE presidency as an "honest broker" adhering to the organisation's objectives, was underlined on Thursday by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who addressed the "Ambassadors' Forum" in Athens on the upcoming Greek OSCE presidency.
Bakoyannis stressed that the goal is to achieve the greatest possible consensus and to strengthen the organisation's role in early warning, crisis prevention and management.
Outlining the main objectives of the Greek presidency, to be launched in January 2009, and in succeeding Finland, Bakoyannis underlined that Athens will focus its efforts on the Caucasus and Central Asia, with an emphasis on the "day after the crisis" in Georgia.
The foreign minister referred to the constant communication and coordination with the directly involved parties and pointed out that this was the purpose of a meeting she had a few days ago in Athens with her Georgian counterpart Eka Tkeshelashvili, followed by Wednesday's telephone communi-cation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Looking at the crisis from a different perspective, the foreign minister stated that it could be "the grounds for a revised security structure in Europe's geopolitical map taking under consideration the EU and NATO enlargement as well as Russia's strategic role," while pointing out that Greece is ready to host a summit meeting if decided by the OSCE partners.
Bakoyannis underlined the historical ties shared by Greece and the Mediterranean region countries, stressing that it intends to further strengthen relations with them, a role already undertaken since 2008 when it was a member of the Troika.
Addressing the forum, OSCE Secretary General Amb. Marc Perrin de Brichambaut pledged to assist the Greek presidency and underlined that security has three dimensions: political-military, financial-environmental and the human dimension which is the responsibility of the OSCE. He also expressed certainty that Greece will meet the challenge having acquired the necessary experience from its three EU presidencies and the recent UN Security Council Presidency.
Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos pointed out that the ability of the Greek diplomacy to achieve consensus will be highlighted during the OSCE presidency.
 Papandreou to chair SI meeting in MexicoMain opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou will chair a meeting of the SI's council which will be held in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, on November 17-18.
Issues to be debated at the SI council meeting include:
-The return of politics: the governments' and the regulatory frameworks' crucial role in securing a sustainable and fair world economy,
-New possibilities of international and multilateral cooperation following the U.S. presidential elections,
-New approaches to policies of social justice and their incorporation in the economies of developing countries,
-Dealing with inequalities and reinforcing regional cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean.
On Sunday, Papandreou will chair a meeting of the SI's Presidium, while the two meetings are held under the auspices of two Mexican parties-members of the SI, the Partido Revolucionario Institicional (PRI) and the Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD).
On Friday, the main opposition leader is also due to address a conference on the economic crisis, international security and the new world economic architecture, in New York.
 PASOK spokesman on bank interest ratesMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papa-constantinou, commenting on what he said was a "derogatory statement" made on Thursday by government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on PASOK's proposals on a decrease in bank interest rates, said that the government "is giving banks an alibi not to decrease interest rates."
Papaconstantinou added that the government "is providing an alibi for the interest rates of cards and consumer loans not to be decreased and indeed it is doing this on the day that the "euribor", which is an interest rate referring to many loans, is at the lowest level of the past 15 months," stressing that this is the government's policy to help the Greek loan holder.
The spokesman also commented on electric power prices, reminding of the announcement made on Wednesday by the Russian Gazprom company, which announced as decrease in natural gas prices in 2009.
 PASOK delegation visits Nikaia HospitalA delegation of the main opposition PASOK party headed by party Secretary Giannis Ragoussis on Thursday paid a visit to the Nikaia General Hospital, where they met and held talks with staff and management regarding the problems faced by hospitals. After the visit, Ragoussis pointed to long-standing shortages and criticised the government for allowing the national health system to virtually collapse.
"An emergency room that has been shut since 2004, nursing staff that are not hired. Doctors that do not suffice. Operating theatres that do not work due to a lack of medical and nursing staff. A National Health System that has been completely abandoned, in total collapse. In Greece at this time, only rural police are being hired and there is only money for the 'golden boys' of this government. We pledge to work for a new National Health System that will give to the Greek people, to Greek citizens, the certainty that the state respects them, that the state protects them," he said.
 KKE leader predicts early electionsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga predicted on Thursday that there would be early general elections in the country, adding at the same time that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis "is keeping a surprise in store".
"It is obvious that the government can not finish its work. Now, whether elections will be held next Spring or just before euroelections (next June) I am not in a position to know exactly. I believe that the prime minister is keeping some sort of surprise in store, and this according to gallops and his advisers," Papariga told reporters after a meeting with a delegation of women's organisations.
Responding to a question on the world economic crisis, Papariga said that "after Germany's official entry into recession, it is being proven that all those, that is the government and the other opposition parties, who attribute the crisis exclusively to the banking system, interest rates and credit cards -which of course constitute a problem- they are misleading and deceiving the people. And this because the crisis is generated in the real economy, in profit making, the ultra-exploitation, so that the response should be measures for the protection of workers, poor farmers and medium income earners and not only the adjustement of particular aspects of the problem."
 SYRIZA protest against bank 'rescue' packageA demonstration against the proposed measures for supporting the banking system was organised by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group in central Athens on Thursday, outside the headquarters of the National Bank of Greece (NBG).
"Never before and in such a clear way have the sins and culpability of banking capital come to the fore, which have led the entire planet into an unprecedented crisis," said SYRIZA leader Alekos Alavanos while addressing the rally.
Speaking under a banner reading "Measures for society and not for bankers," Alavanos stressed the need for radical changes to the financial system and called for "a different policy, not [based on] half-measures".
He repeated his party's call for fully nationalising the NBG, controlling interest rates, abolishing collection companies and the 'unacceptable situation' involving the inter-banking system Tiresias monitoring the credit history of individuals, as well as measures to support young people, loan holders, small businesses and farmers.
 Karatzaferis meets bank employee trade unionistsPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis on Thursday met representatives of the bank staff union OTOE and proposed that a supervisory body for monitoring the management of a 28-billion-euro government 'rescue' package for banks include a representative of OTOE among its members.
Karatzaferis also criticised the programme, saying that the money used to support the liquidity of banks would come from tax payers that could ill afford it.
 Former Turkish FM Yakis on Black Sea, crisis in GeorgiaTurkish National Assembly European Harmonisation Com-mittee President and former Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis said in an address at a downtown Athens hotel on Thursday on the theme of "The Black Sea and the crisis in Georgia" that the existing challenges and dangers in the Black Sea region have been aggravated by the crisis in Georgia.
Focusing on Russia's role in the crisis in Georgia, Yakis said that "before, we were not aware that the meanings of 'back yard' and 'overseas proximity' could be translated into specific action. We now know that they mean what they say."
He believes that, on the one hand, due to the emergence once again of Russia as a powerful force under Vladimir Putin and thanks to the increase of oil and natural gas prices and, on the other, due to the deployment of elements of the American anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia was seeking an opportunity to proceed with a display of power. And this golden opportunity was given to it with the intervention of the Georgian forces in Southern Ossetia, Yakis added.
The promotion or not of the energy cooperation agreement between the European Union and Russia, for whose negotiations Brussels decided to go ahead recently, would play no role in Moscow's stance in the crisis, according to Yakis.
"Russia would be a claimant with or without the energy cooperation agreement with the EU. In no equation in the region, either for the Black Sea or also for the EU, can Russia be ignored. Russia is destined to be a claimant in all cases. It will continue to display a claiming policy in every case that will arise," he said.
Lastly, Yakis stressed that the main reason that the programme for the construction of the "Nabucco" pipeline, which is destined to provide Europe with natural gas, sidestepping Russia, is at a very primary stage, is that the initial precondition is lacking, namely the locating of deposits having adequate deposits to supply a pipeline with the transportation capacity of "Nabucco."
"Only Iran can supply a pipeline such as 'Nabucco'. At this stage, 'Nabucco' is obscure," Yakis pointed out.
 Former Turkish DM Yakis praises role of energy pipelines in regional stabilityFormer Turkish defence minister Yasar Yakis on Thursday emphasised here that the construction and operation of energy pipelines contributes greatly to regional stability.
Yakis, who chairs the Turkish national assembly's committee for European harmonisation, arrived in the Greek capital to address the 3rd annual lecture series hosted by the International Centre for Black Sea Studies, as he spoke on the topic of "The Black Sea and the Crisis in Georgia".
Yakis said the verifiably improved relations between Greece and Turkey are, in part, due to the increase in bilateral trade and growing economic ties, which he said may be reflected positively in the political sector.
Additionally, he said any future prospects of shipping Iranian natgas to the west would have to come via a new pipeline, as the current Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline would not be able to accommodate the extra volume.
Asked about the recent warfare in Georgia and its repercussions on the international energy market, Yakis emphasised that all of the affected parties "will pay the maximum attention to not overturning this balance".
 Justice ministry denies prisoner death due to hunger strikeThe justice ministry on Thursday denied rumours claiming that 32-year-old prison inmate Nikolaos Bardakis had died as a result of his participation in an ongoing hunger strike by protesting prisoners.
"No prisoner death as a result of hunger strike or lack of food has occurred in any detention facility in the country," a ministry announcement said and criticised those "irresponsibly" spreading the rumour.
The ministry stressed that Bardakis had not been part of a hunger strike and continued to receive prison meals as normal, without ever complaining of ill health. It also noted that the prisoner had been a known drug user and that he had recently refused to undergo a urine test requested of him, while a small bag of an unknown chemical was found in his cell after his death.
According to authorities, Bardakis had been rushed to Grevena General Hospital on Tuesday, where he was diagnosed as being in a coma possibly induced by drug use, and then released and returned to prison on Wednesday, where he had refused to cooperate with prison authorities and undergo a drug test, reacting violently. Shortly afterward, he was found dead in his cell.
 Gov't welcomes National Bank relief measuresDevelopment Minister Christos Folias expressed satisfaction for a response by the National Bank of Greece over his recent call for consumer relief measures with the adoption of a second package of measures, including lower interest rates and easier payments of credit card debts.
Folias also expressed certainty that "other banks will follow suit for the sake of balance, economy and the consumers."
 Consumer hotline statisticsThe "1520" Consumer Hotline established by the General Secretariat for Consumers received 3,915 calls during the month of October, according to figures made public on Thursday. The majority of the calls (3,349) were requests for information while 566 concerned consumer complaints.
Most of the complaints were made against telecommunications companies (114), faulty-unsafe industrial goods (90) and retail stores, supermarkets (59), followed by foodstuffs and alcoholic beverages, restaurants, fuel, misleading advertisements etc.
 BoG on bank support planGreek banks are healthy and solid, but prolonged volatility in international money and capital markets gradually leads to conditions of a credit squeeze, with all its negative repercussions, George Provopoulos, the governor of the Bank of Greece, told a meeting with the board members of the Association of Hellenic Banks on Thursday.
The Greek central banker urged banks to take advantage of a government plan aimed to boost liquidity in the domestic banking system and to avoid any negative consequences for small and medium-sized enterprises, households and the economy, in general.
he Bank of Greece will be responsible for the technical procedure of the plan and has already prepared its services in order not to waste any valuable time.
"This project, although complicated enough technically, is crucial for the speedy and smooth implementation of the plan," Provopoulos said.
He also strongly criticised banks for raising their interest rates with no justification or without transparent actions, saying they were creating a climate of distrust vis-à-vis the banking system at a time when the society's acceptance of their role was necessary to ameliorate the consequences of an international crisis. He also urged banks to offer the necessary credit facilities to borrowers, households, enterprises (particularly small- and medium-sized), while he also expressed reservations over recent proposals to freeze repayment of debts for a period of time.
Provopoulos said any relaxing of supervisory criteria would be risky for the country and its banking system, since it could create problems to banks' access in international capital markets.
 FinMin Alogoskoufis makes address at 'London School of Economics'LONDON (ANA-MPA)
Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis made an address at the London School of Economics on Thursday on the theme "Europe, the crisis and the global economy," stressing that what is required to overcome the international monetary crisis is effective coordination at global level.
Alogoskoufis added that there must also be such a coordination so as to exercise fiscal policy to avoid a long and protracted recession. In parallel, structural reforms must be strengthened, as well as social policy, in order to handle the repercussions of the crisis on the financially weaker groups.
The minister placed emphasis on promoting structural reforms that increase productivity and protect the environment and on the assumption of new initiatives for further deregulating international trade and incorporating developing economies in the global economy. Mature reforms in global economic governance must be speeded up, so that Russia, China, India and Brazil can be incorporated, he said.
Alogoskoufis concluded by saying that an economic crisis is not only a threat but an opportunity as well.
"Let as correct the weaknesses of the previous model of globalisation and let us create a new model that will function for the benefit of all people in the world," he said.
 Gov't: civil servant lump sum guaranteedEmployment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Thursday underlined that the government guarantees the lump sum retirement payment of civil servants, speaking in Parliament on Thursday in response to a tabled question by a Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP.
Petralia stated that the Civil Servants' Welfare Fund has been restructured, pledging that a cashflow problem it faces will be settled in the immediate future. The minister also stressed that a "liquidation solution is out of the question for all pension funds."
 Eurostat: gap in gender employment rates reducedBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
The gap in employment rates for men and women is closing in Greece, as well as the rest of the European Union, according to figures released on Thursday by the European Statistics Service (Eurostat). In spite of this, the employment gap for men and women in Greece remains one of the largest in the EU, after Malta.
According to Eurostat, the difference in gender employment rates in Greece was reduced from 29.9 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2007. In 2000, employment rates for men were 71.7 percent and for women 41.8 percent, whereas in 2007 these rates increased to 74.9 percent for men and 47.9 percent for women.
In the 27 EU countries, the gender employment gap was reduced from 17.1 percent in 2000 to 14.2 percent in 2007, while in the Eurozone it went from 20.2 percent in 2000 to 15.4 percent in 2007.
Malta topped the list of countries with the highest gap in employment rates between men and women in 2007, at 37.3 percent, followed by Greece with 27 percent, Italy with 24 percent and Spain with 21.5 percent.
The smallest gap in employment rates was in Finland (3.6 percent), Sweden (4.7 percent), Lithuania (5.7 percent) and Estonia (7.3 percent).
Employment rates for men and women in the 27 EU member-states in 2000 was 72.5 percent for men and 53.6 percent for women. This increased to 72.5 percent for men and 58.3 percent for women in the year 2007. In Eurozone countries, the rate of employment was 71.4 percent for men and 51.2 percent for women in 2000, increasing to 73.4 percent for men and 58 percent for women in 2007.
 IOBE-SEV discussion on economy on Dec. 1The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) and the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) is organising a discussion on "The Greek Economy After the crisis: Seeking a new Developmental Model" that will take place at 17:30 on December 1, 2008 at the Theodoros Karatzas Building lecture theatre (82-84 Aiolou Street, Athens).
The event is being held to present a book authored by Prof. Ioannis Stournaras, IOBE's scientific director and Maria Albani, a Bank of Greece economist. The main speakers will be SEV Chairman Dimitris Daskalopoulos, the president of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) Giannis Panagopoulos and IOBE board chairman Michail Kortesis.
 Minister addresses French embassy event on private-public sector partnershipsTransport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Thursday addressed an event at the French embassy on the subject of the government's high-profile "public-private sector partnerships", which he called a very modern form of financing for infrastructure and major projects.
Referring to his portfolio, Hatzidakis said the initiative was especially important in Greece for funding and developing public transports, railways, new airports and telecoms.
He specifically pointed to new underground parking terminals in Athens, a new electric train depot and in efforts to reform Greek Rail (OSE).
 2nd Property Exhibition begins FridayThe 2nd Property Exhibition will open its gates at the Helexpo Palace trade fair centre in the Athens suburb of Maroussi on Friday, with 65 companies from Greece and abroad participating, and run until Sunday.
The 2nd Real Estate Conference is also being organised within the international trade fair and will take place on Saturday, during which the results of an Athens Economics University study on the real estate market in Greece and trends in 2009 will be presented.
 Helexpo's CEO to join UFI boardThe CEO of the Greek exhibition organiser Helexpo SA, Themis Kartsiotis, was elected to join the board of the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) in 2009-2010 during the UFI Congress currently underway in Istanbul, which ends on November 15.
 Greek stocks slide 1.53%Greek stocks ended 1.53 percent lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, again following a similar trend in international markets. The composite index ended at 1,979.79 points with turnover shrinking to 193.3 million euros, of which 3.9 million were block trades. Most sectors moved lower, with the Oil (4.66 pct), Banks (4.44 pct), Food/Beverage (4.31 pct) and Commerce (1.89 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Insurance (3.77 pct), Travel (3.62 pct) and Telecommunications (3.52 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index ended 1.94 pct lower, the FTSE 40 index fell 1.08 pct and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.71 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 148 to 68 with another 49 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -4.66%
Personal & Household: -1.11%
Raw Materials: -0.83%
Travel & Leisure: +3.62%
Food & Beverages: -4.31%
Financial Services: -0.53%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 9.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 8.88
HBC Coca Cola: 10.66
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.60
National Bank of Greece: 15.18
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.38
Bank of Piraeus: 8.90
Titan Cement Company: 12.08
ADEX closing report
Greek futures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to 78.422 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.98 pct. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 12,448 contracts worth 64.342 million euros, with 28,624 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,430 contracts worth 14.330 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,961), followed by Marfin Investment Group (1,030), OTE (1,476), PPC (1,824), OPAP (985), GEK (1,477), Intralot (713) and Mytlineos (363).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market fell to 450 million euros on Thursday, of which 200 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 250 million were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 150 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose to 151 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 5.16 pct and the German Bund 3.65 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates fell further. The 12-month Euribor rate was 4.37 pct, the six-month rate 4.30 pct, the three-month rate 4.24 pct and the one-month rate 3.89 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates: FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.262
Pound sterling 0.850
Danish kroner 7.507
Swedish kroner 10.198
Japanese yen 121.3
Swiss franc 1.503
Norwegian kroner 8.937
Canadian dollar 1.558
Australian dollar 1.975
 Culture minister hands over Olympic facilities to PatrasCulture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Thursday visited the port city of Patras in the west Peloponnese to sign for the handover to the municipality of Pampeloponnesian Stadium built near the city to host the 2004 Olympic soccer tournament and to inspect the city's soon-to-be completed archaeological museum.
At the ceremony for handing over the stadium, Liapis pointed out that this was accompanied by sufficient funds for its maintenance and to finance municipal sports and cultural programmes until the end of the year 2011.
He noted that most Olympic facilities had already been turned over to new public uses that were necessary for society, stressing that their use in a social context was central to the government's policy, so that tax-payers would earn a 'dividend' from the investment they had made in the Athens Olympics.
Inspecting work underway at the new museum, Liapis said that the project would receive an additional one million euros from the current budget in order for work to be completed by the end of December.
While in the area, the minister also met a group of protesting staff from the Aghios Andreas hospital, which has been closed since the earthquake of 8 June 2008 pending repairs and anti-seismic improvements and inspected completed works to maintain and showcase the medieval fort at Rio.
 EU official says efforts on waste management must continueA European official heading the European Commission Regional Policy General Directorate's department for Greece, Jacques Poncet, on Thursday said Greek authorities had made significant progress in improving management of solid wastes in the country but still had much work to do in order to reach the desired target.
"I believe that great progress has been made but there is much that still needs to be done in order to achieve the target. I think that Greece is on the right path, moving in the right direction but the effort must continue," he said after a meeting with Greece's ministerial committee for the management of solid wastes.
During the meeting with EU officials, the ministerial's chairman Deputy Interior Minister Athanassios Nakos outlined the work done by the committee so far and presented a detailed progress report that listed all the waste management projects underway in the 13 regions of Greece and efforts to close and restore illegal dumps.
In statements to reporters, Nakos said that there were 106 completed waste management facilities in Greece and a further 170 projects for such sites were underway, while 1,454 illegal dumps had already been shut down and restored and work was underway to close and restore another 1,093 by the end of the year, leaving less than 500 still in operation.
Nakos added that of the 1,102 illegal dumps for which there was an outstanding European Court decision against Greece (and for which the country faced hefty fines) 806 had already been shut down and restoration work was underway on another 280, which would leave only 16 still operating by the end of the year.
 Merchant marine minister presents open sea ship in MytileneMerchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras presented at the port of the eastern Aegean island of Mytilene on Thursday the Harbour Authority's Open Sea Ship 60, which had arrived on the island a week ago to help the harbour authorities' task regarding the problem of illegal immigration in the region.
"Illegal immigration is an issue of top priority not only for Greece but for all the member-states of the European Union," the minister said during his brief address, adding that special operational planning for handling the phenomenon of illegal immigration anticipates the activation of the Open Sea Ship 60 that is already in Mytilene.
 Businessman Sokrates Kokkalis given award in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Businessman Sokrates Kokkalis was given the Fidipidios Award, being the founder of the Foundation bearing the same name and of the Programme of the same name at the Kennedy School of Government of the Harvard University, during an event held at the Harvard Club in New York on Wednesday night (local time).
Receiving the award, Kokkalis stressed that all his life he always did "what was right for the common good."
 Foreigner accused of 21 armed robberies in ThessalonikiA 41-year-old Georgian national accused of a number of armed robberies, mostly targeting Pro-Po football pool agencies in Thessaloniki, is being questioned by police.
Since last May, he is said to have committed a total of 19 armed robberies in an equal number of football pool agencies, while he also targeted two gas stations and a cybercafe, netting roughly 35,000 euros.
A police investigation is underway to determine if he was involved in other illegal activities as well, after finding in his possession a fake identity card and a forged driver's license.
 Youths torch ERT vehicle in downtown AthensA group of youths torched a vehicle belonging to the Greek Radio and Television (ERT) at 8:30 on Thursday night, shortly after a solidarity march in downtown Athens for prison inmates.
The vehicle was driving down Solonos street when the youths spotted it, ordered its driver out and threw a firebomb inside, resulting in a fire which destroyed it.
Riot police on standby near the spot chased the youths who, however, disappeared in the direction of Exarchia Square.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy weather with possible local showers and southeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 22C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with easterly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 16C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe early general elections rumors and the govenment's measures to combat the financial crisis dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS : "Inner Cabinet decides to give cash to farmers".
APOGEVMATINI: "Shame on four schools that refused to enrol pupils suffering from diabetes".
AVGHI: "Money for society not for bankers -Mockery with the pseudo-reduction in bank interest rates".
AVRIANI: "Former Prime Minister Costas Simitis confirms his 'divorce' with main opposition PASOK - Why the PASOK leadership is worried about high ranking cadres of the modernizing wing's movements".
CHORA: "Rage against the banks - Consumers' reactions multiply over the excessive cost of bank loans".
ELEFTHEROS: "Everybody against the government - They are looking for those responsible for the decline in the party's popularity".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Reactions over the bank loan contracts' fine print".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Banks and interest rates beyond control".
ESTIA: "Economy's domino - The dangers are visible in Greece".
ETHNOS: "Non-ending operetta in Public Power Corporation (PPC)".
KATHIMERINI: "The financial crisis worries the Greeks - Opinion polls indicate intense people's displeasure on government's handling of banks".
LOGOS: "The government exorcises 'expelled' New Democracy member and MP Petros Tatoulis and early general elections ".
NIKI: "The Chinese water torture - The government sinking the country in a bottomless quagmire".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Not a single Greek ship in Somalia - Government prepares an imperialistic foothold on the eastern African coasts".
TA NEA: "Household's eight counterattacks against banks' tricks".
TO VIMA: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlais will announce new 'life belt' measures in the following week - Freezing of debts to the State".
VRADYNI: "PASOK sinks in Vistonida lake - Revelations of Simitis government involvement in the Vatopedi monastery land exchanges made in the parliamentary fact finding commission".
 President: we have taken steps forwardNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat discussed here Thursday matters relating to the judiciary and as the president said after his meeting with Talat "generally speaking, yes, we have taken some steps forward."
"Today, Downer is justified in saying that more progress has been achieved than before," the president said, commenting on optimistic remarks by the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser Alexander Downer, who sits at the talks.
Responding to questions, Christofias said "we have done well today, to a certain extent."
He also noted that on Thursday he did not have a tete a tete meeting with Talat and added "having such private meetings is not an objective in itself. When necessary, we have such meetings."
The president, in response to press questions, explained that there are many issues he wants to discuss before talks move on to an exchange on a dispute resolution mechanism, and subsequently the property issue.
He expressed hope that by the end of the year, he and Talat will be able to "exchange our first positions and views on the property issue."
Christofias and Talat have been engaged in talks since early September, with a view to finding a negotiated settlement that will reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
 Downer says good progress achieved in judiciaryGood progress on the issue of the judiciary has been made in Thursday's meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the framework of direct negotiations, held since early September under UN auspices.
UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer, speaking to reporters after the eighth meeting of the leaders in the UN controlled buffer zone, said the leaders will meet again on Monday to discuss deadlock resolving mechanisms.
Downer stressed the importance of maintaining momentum, noting the discussions will continue into 2009.
In his remarks about the result of Thursday's meeting, Downer said the discussion was predominantly about the judiciary "and they made good progress on the issue of the judiciary".
In the meantime, he added, "the representatives and officials will be meeting here tomorrow (Friday) morning for further discussions about a range of different issues that the leaders had referred to them".
Asked on the process and the chapters that are under discussion and how they will progress, Downer said that they have been going through the process of governance and "have got a long way through that".
The best way to describe the process, he said, "is the three baskets of approach, that there is agreement reached, where there is convergence, if you like, that is in the first basket, where there is some disagreement and that short term prospects for negotiating - particularly through meetings of the representatives - an agreement, we call that the second basket and the third basket areas where there remain significant disagreements and some of that will be discussed at a later stage in the whole negotiating process".
So, Downer added, "they are working through the governance, power sharing chapter and identifying issues in the way that I have described".
However he said that some issues will come back much later in the negotiations, even though they will move on as time goes on, "they will move on to the next chapter which is the property chapter".
Asked when that will happen, Downer said "we will see. There is no particular time laid down for that, but they made progress today on the judiciary and they are moving on Monday to discussing deadlock resolving mechanisms and I think you could hope that they will get to property before too long".
To a question if there are plans to intensify the frequency of the leaders' meetings perhaps twice a week, Downer replied "no, I think the process is working quite well now, it's working a lot better than it did initially, I think it is working quite well, of course there have been two meetings this week and there will be a meeting again on Monday, so we are going through a period of quite a lot of meetings but the meetings of the leaders, as envisaged, they will be more or less on a weekly basis, depending a bit on scheduling."
Asked if there is a possibility for a solution to be reached before the Elections in the Europarliament, Downer replied "I wouldn't put a time on it. I think the important thing is that they maintain momentum. Obviously there will be easier issues and more difficult issues so the momentum won't be straight line momentum but never the less they need to maintain momentum and not lose momentum. I think to set themselves artificial deadlines will make the process more difficult than easier".
 House President: Ankara holds key to Cyprus solutionYEREVAN (CNA)
The key to a solution of the Cyprus problem lies in Ankara, House President Marios Garoyian has stressed, during a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian, on the last day of his official visit to the country.
Garoyian described the discussion with the Armenian Foreign Minister on the Cyprus issue as "very substantial, fruitful and constructive", noting that they also discussed issues relating to Armenia, such as the country's relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan, as regards the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.
"We had the opportunity to exchange some thoughts on efforts to achieve stability in the sensitive region of the Caucasus'', he added.
Garoyian briefed Nalbandian on the current phase of the Cyprus problem, and referred to the continuing Turkish intransigence.
He also talked about efforts undertaken by the President of the Republic of Cyprus and noted the constructive stance of the Greek Cypriot side at the peace talks, which began early September to reach a comprehensive solution and end the 34 years of Turkish occupation of the island's northern third since 1974.
"Once again I stressed that the key to the solution of the Cyprus problem is in Ankara, which also holds the key to the resolution of other problems, such as the closed borders with Armenia and Turkey's refusal to recognise the Armenian Genocide", he underlined.
After the meeting with the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Garoyian paid a visit to the memorial of the Armenian Genocide, where he symbolically planted a tree as previous House Presidents had done.
Furthemore, Garogain visited the Patriarch of the Armenians and he was received by the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan marking the end of his visit to the country.
House President and his entourage return home on Friday.
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