|Wednesday, 16 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-11-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 21 November 2008 Issue No: 3052
 Parliament ratifies bill on bank liquidityThe discussion on the bill on the programmne for backing bank liquidity amounting to 28 billion euros was completed in Parliament late on Thursday afternoon with the ratification of all its clauses. Voting in favour were the deputies of the government majority, while the opposition voted against it in its entirety.
Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis said that the European Commission presented in early November its autumn predictions on the European economy, and they are for the worse regarding growth and employ-ment, however its predictions for Greece are far better compared to the Eurozone's average. He stressed that the plan was ratified by the European Commission and the approval was announced officially on Thursday.
The minister placed emphasis on that "by decision of the Finance minister the terms are set for the implementation of the plan and the participation of finan-cial institutions in it," adding that "with the decision the criteria for allocating liquidity to the financial institutions are set. The basic criteria are their capital adequacy, their share in the local credit market and their contribution to the financing of small and medium-size enterprises and of housing loans."
Alogoskoufis clarified that "liquidity being created and amounting to 28 billion euros does not constitute a burden for the state budget," while stressing that with the successful implementation of the plan the public sector will be receiving an amount of up to 500 million euros annually from banks.
He expressed the conviction that "ultimately, all the elements of the Greek banking system will rise to the occasion in this difficult period" and that "if they do not rise, there is the public sector that can ensure that they will rise."
Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou criticised the government, insisting on his party's position that the plan constitutes a "blank cheque" to the banks which was given following "negotiations that took place under the table."
He claimed that the lion's share of the 28 billion euros will be channelled to cover openings resulting from bonds issues and from loans to shipping that financial institutions have made.
Papandreou said that PASOK "has every reason to support every serious measure because being tomorrow's government it wishes to have the best of preconditions to take the country out of the crisis."
"This money is not yours but it belongs to the Greek people and we demand transparency. You are not giving us any guarantee that the liquidity will go to small and medium-size enterprises and to households," he said.
"If we waste the last ammunition with the guarantees of the public sector and no results are produced then developments will be dramatic and PASOK, being in government tomorrow, will be called on to handle a situation infinitely worse than the present one," he further said.
Papandreou further said that "a different government is necessary to enable the country to get out of this crisis," adding that "a government that will restore taxation justice, that will support the average and low incomes, that will restore basic functions of the social state, education, health, welfare, employment and insurance, that will create new wealth, by investing in knowledge, in research, in innovation, on the basis of the green development model. A government that will put an end to extravagance, political favours, untransparency and corruption" and this, as he said, "will be a PASOK government."
Replying to Papandreou, Alogoskoufis said that it is not the government that carried out secret consultations with the banks but PASOK's leader, who saw bankers one by one secretly.
"The government did not adopt the proposals of a representative of a bank, which has its headquarters abroad and is struggling rabidly against the plan to boost the liquidity of the economy, since it has invested in the degradation of the Greek credit system and of the Greek economy," he concluded.
 Huge public debt limiting room for fiscal policy decisions, FinMin saysGreek Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday said that a huge public debt was the weak spot of the economy, significantly limiting the room for manoeuvre in fiscal policy.
Speaking in Parliament, during a debate on a government plan to boost liquidity in the banking system, Alogoskoufis said a global financial crisis was affecting the Greek economy as well, although at a lesser extent compared with other Eurozone states, and noted that these effects were worsening because of a low competitiveness and huge public debt.
The Economy minister said the government was moving on with a concrete plan to deal with the impact of the crisis and that the aim of a plan to boost liquidity in the economy was to shield the economy from the effects of the global crisis.
The plan, he added, ensured the necessary liquidity in economy and was to the benefit of citizens. "That's why I believe that all banks will adopt it," he stressed.
Alogoskoufis said implementation of the plan would ensure 500 million euros -annually- in proceeds to state coffers. Earlier, the minister signed a ministerial decision to implementing the plan, after the European Commission have its approval on Wednesday.
 Government defends 28-bln-euro package for banksGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday stressed that the government's plan for boosting bank liquidity was "rounded, substantial and effective".
"It was presented by the prime minister on Wednesday in Parliament. It is a plan for supporting the Greek economy and that is how it will operate," he said.
He was commenting on concerns expessed by the Bank of Greece that the 28-billion-euro package envisaged by the bill might not be enough.
 Government on leak concerning PASOK, Vatopedi probeThe government on Thursday sharply criticised the stance adopted by main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou in concealing his knowledge of the blackmail case connected to the Vatopedi land swaps, after a meeting between Papaconstantinou and the businessman being blackmailed was leaked to the press.
"Instead of taking any evidence he had to a public prosecutor - and may I point out that he is also an MP - he conceals what he knows for a long time, for two months. He assents to the summoning of witnesses that proved to be false witnesses belonging to a troop of people that are directly linked to the blackmail DVD," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros pointed out in statements to reporters.
Antonaros said the information raised "huge moral and political issues" because a senior member of the main opposition party had consented to the summons of questionable witnesses before the Parliament fact-finding commission investigating the case, and he talked about a "guilty common secret" that bound both Papaconstantinou and the businessman Athanassios Papistas to silence and made them conceal their meeting.
He further accused Papaconstantinou of having organised the summoning of the specific witness - lawyer Stamatia Sotiropoulou - by supplying some of its members with targeted questions that led to specific answers.
According to Antonaros, PASOK's spokesman had then sought to gain petty political capital from the affair by linking those involved to ruling New Democracy, while concealing his own links and knowledge of the affair, and by allowing what he knew to be an unreliable witness to make damaging statements implicating the premier.
Antonaros further suggested that PASOK might be trying to lay the blame on ND in order to conceal its own involvement and did not rule out the possibility that PASOK leader George Papandreou had been aware of the DVD's existence, especially after Sotiropoulou's testimony.
In statements before the Parliament investigation committee, Sotiropoulou said that Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis had identified the case as coming from "high up" and even named Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Soon afterwards, however, the committee was alerted to the existence of a DVD showing that Sotiropoulou's partner Michalis Koukovinos had at the time been guilty of blackmailing Papistas over the case and her claims about Psomiadis' statement were contradicted by the other witness that she cited as present, Constantina Kanou.
Continuing its investigation, meanwhile, the Parliament investigation committee on Thursday heard testimony from one of the major shareholders in the company Noliden, Spyros Polemis, who had bought the former Olympic property in Thrakomakedones given to the Vatopedi monastery during the land swaps.
The witness surprised members of the committee with his claim that he had agreed to make a nine-million-euros donation to the monastery, conditional on getting the management of a rehabilitation centre for the disabled set up on the site, entirely on the basis of a verbal agreement with nothing set in writing, as well as his claim that he had taken all information given to him about the property on trust, paying out 41 million euros for it without employing either lawyers nor surveyors to ensure that the monastery's assertions were true.
MPs also heard from the witness Aikaterini Peleki, the notary that had drawn up the contracts for the land on behalf of the monastery and also the wife of politician and former minister George Voulgarakis. She insisted that she had not acted improperly in drawing up the contracts and said that it was the responsibility of state services to contest points in her contracts that they considered inaccurate, which they had not done.
 Alavanos on Vatopedi land swap investigation by ParliamentCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos on Thursday said that the Parliament investigation into the Vatopedi land swaps was exposing a scene of corruption from which neither of the two main parties had succeeded in protecting themselves.
"We feel bitterness, disenchantment and indignation at the exhalations of a sewer arising from the Vatopedi issue and from which, unfortunately, neither the government nor the main opposition have protected themselves," Alavanos said.
He stressed the need for all the facts of the case to come to the fore, however painful, rather than being allowed to fester "and have a mire under the country into which we might all sink".
"In this sense, all these issues that are being made known to the Greek people are a positive contribution to the country of the institution of the investigation committee," he added.
Alavanos also criticised the behaviour of the two main parties, accusing them of reacting more like rival football supporters depending on the testimony supplied by witnesses at any given time.
 Slovak President met Minister of Macedonia-ThraceSlovak President Ivan Gasparovic, currently on an official visit to Greece, on Thursday met in Thessaloniki with Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Margaritis Tzimas, who hosted a luncheon in his honor.
The Slovak president referred to the very good bilateral relations between Slovakia and Greece, pointing out that they can be further improved particularly in the sector of economic cooperation. He also stated that after Jan. 1, 2009 when Slovakia will start using the euro there will be no obstacle in bilateral economic relations.
 Slovak President receives Gold Key of ThessalonikiVisiting Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic was presented on Thursday with the Gold Key of the City of Thessaloniki by mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.
Gasparovic was received at Macedonia Airport shortly after noon on Thursday by Macedonia-Thrace minister Margaritis Tzimas, after which the Slovak President was presented with the Key at a special ceremony.
Welcoming the Slovak dignitary, Papageorgopoulos welcomed him to the birth city of Saints Kyrillos (Cyril)and Methodios, and referred to Thessaloniki's position today in Southeastern Europe, noting that the northern Greek capital had a consistently upward and developmental course, and noted that Thessaloniki has been twinned with the Slovak capital.
Papageorgopoulos, a former sprinter, further noted that in Bratislava in 1972 he had equalled the European record of 10 seconds in the 100 meter race.
Gasparovic praised the activities and contribution of Cyril and Methodios, saying: They gave us the 'birth certificate' of our own civlization. They prompted us to develop and to find our cultural place among the other peoples. Shortly, the 1,200 years will be celebrated of their birth here in Thessaloniki. Children of your city, our spiritual brothers. We consider it our obligation to honor this anniversary. We diesre your participation also, in the spirit of the Christian and humanitariation traditions, just as the united, today, Europe sets out.
The Slovak President later attended a luncheon in his honor hosted by Tzimas.
Gasparovic's itinerary also includes a visit to the Kyrillos and Methodios Church, where he will meet with Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki, and a meeting with Thessaloniki prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis at Macedonia Airport before his departure for Bratislava.
 Thousands of inmates to be released from Greek jailsThe new measures announced by Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis for improving conditions in Greek prisons will result in the gradual release of 5,500 inmates by April 2009, while the draft law will be tabled in Parliament for approval within the day, the justice ministry announced on Thursday.
The inmate population will be reduced to 6,815 individuals from 12,315 today, thus settling the prison overcrowding problem, considering that the country's correctional facilities are designed to hold a total of 8,243 inmates.
Based on the new measures, a total of 1,740 inmates serving sentences of up to 5 years will be immediately released if they meet the terms outlined in the Penal Code, while nine individuals with severe health problems will also be among those whose prison sentences will be terminated effective immediately.
A hunger strike in protest to overcrowding and poor living conditions was launched in all Greek prisons earlier in the month with the participation of thousands of inmates.
Commenting on the draft bill, main opposition PASOK spokesman for domestic affairs Haris Kastanidis said the bill was inadequate and, in spite of containing some positive measures, could not address the problem as a whole.
He pointed to a need for different kinds of measures that struck directly at the cause of the problem, which changes to the penal and judicial code. As an example, he cited article 282 that governed the way that suspects were remanded in custody.
 Hunger strike in Greek prisons endsThe Committee of Prison Inmates on Thursday announced the end of the hunger strike which the prison inmates throughout Greece had started 18 days ago.
In its announcement, the committee said that on Friday the inmates will stop their hunger strike, viewing that the new adjustments made by the Justice Minister for the prison system was "a first step" in satisfying their demands.
However, the announcement stressed that the bill in question covers little of the inmates' demands and Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis was called on to accept their entire requests.
 Environment Minister meets Danish counterpartEnvironment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias met in Athens on Thursday with Danish Environment Minister Troels Lund-Poulsen.
The two ministers exchanged views on all the important environmental issues facing the international community and on environmental policy which is being implemented by the European Union.
In this context, an in-depth debate took place on the issue of climatic change in view of the meeting of the United Nations' member-states in Poznan, Poland, (December 1 to 12) but also on the World Conference which will be held in December 2009 in Copenhagen, for the post-Kyoto era.
Furthermore, the two ministers discussed the issue of the promotion of "green" energy, in view of the "Package for Energy" which is being advanced by the European Commission and will be discussed in the next EU Environment Ministers meeting on December 4.
 Supreme Court orders inquiry into Toplou Monastery caseCrete Appellate Court chief prosecutor Vasiliki Theodorou will launch a preliminary inquiry into the case of Toplou Monastery following orders issued by Supreme Court Prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas on Thursday. Sanidas studied the case in response to a complaint filed last month by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos.
The complaint concerns the exploitation by the Toplou Monastery on the island of Crete of roughly 2,600 hectares that has been disputed for approximately two decades. The land is claimed by both the Greek state and the monastery.
Alavanos on Thursday expressed satisfaction with the Supreme Court prosecutor's decision to investigate, saying it vindicated a "persistent effort that SYRIZA has undertaken to bring this problem to the forefront and to protect a unique spot from an economic pillaging".
 PASOK spokesman responds to criticismMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papa-constantinou, referring to his meeting with businessman Athanasios Papistas, said on Thursday that he did not feel exposed. He also said that he felt "covered" by his party leader George Papandreou.
 Geraris on Parliament right to request personal dataThe head of the Authority for the Protection of Personal Data Christos Geraris on Thursday informed Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee that his agency had ruled that Parliamentary rights of control superseded protection of personal data.
He said the decision had been made in connection with a case involving Parliament's rights to request files from the Foundation for Social Security (IKA).
"When IKA put the issue to us, we replied that the exercise of Parliamentary control takes precedence, as it is a fundamental principle of our regime and that IKA therefore had an obligation to send all files to Parliament," Geraris said.
 Spiliotopoulos sanguine that Greek tourism will 'weather' crisis"Greek tourism will weather this global financial crisis as it did in similar instances in the past," stressed Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos. He was speaking in a ceremony held Thursday in Athens to award distinctions to prominent personalities in art and culture instituted by the"xenia" International Tourism Industry Exhibition.
The minister stressed that coordinated action by all parties involved in the sector and the launch of specialized products will ensure that Greek tourism will exit the crisis unaffected.
The tourism development ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization, GNTO, have already prepared a strategy aimed to protect Greek tourism by focusing on traditional and new tourist markets, Spiliotopoulos pointed out.
The 40th "xenia" Exhibition will be inaugurated at ExpoAthens on Friday, November 21 by Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and will run until November 24. The exhibition will feature a "xenia" study on Luxury Tourism in Greece and abroad.
 Pavlopoulos addresses meeting on public information pricingThe importance of the availability of public sector information to the citizens was underlined by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, addressing a conference Thursday on the pricing of commercial use of public sector information.
The volume of the public administration produced information is huge and if priced constitutes for many countries a new, emerging source of wealth, he said, adding that based on a study conducted in EU member-states in 2002 the overall price value was approximately 68 billion euros corresponding to 1 percent of the European Union GDP.
Pavlopoulos stated that Greece has responded to its EU obligations and two years ago harmonized the national legislation with the relative EU directive, pointing out that a price ceiling has already been set.
 Folias meets Arab bank union chairmanDevelopment Minister Christos Folias met on Thursday with Adnan Yusuf, Chairman of the Union of Arab Banks (UAB) and CEO of Al-Baraka Banking Group (ABG), as well as members of UAB's board. The meeting was held in the framework of the second Arab-Hellenic Economic Forum.
Folias underlined the need to further reinforce Greek-Arab business cooperation and strengthen the social role of finacial institutions in light of the current global crisis.
 ND secretary meets OTOE bank staff union presidencyRuling New Democracy Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis on Thursday met with the presidency of the bank workers' union OTOE.
After the meeting, Zagoritis stressed that the government's policies aimed to shore up the real economy and guarantee deposits, while avoiding any increase in unemployment or decrease in employment.
He also criticised main opposition PASOK, claiming that its was making unrealistic promises and proposals, such as that for a ceiling on interest rates that was contrary to European regulations.
OTOE asked that it participate in the Council set up to monitor the administration of the 28-billion-euros support package for banks and that the government take measures to reduce interest rates.
 Attica Bank securitizes 388-mln-euro mortgage loansAttica Bank on Thursday announced the successful completion of a securitization of mortgage loans, worth 388 million euros, through the issuance of a bond loan worth 353 million euros. The bond issue was arranged by a UK-based company, named "Stegasis Mortgage Finance plc".
The bond loan was rated AAA by Fitch credit rating agency. UBS Investment Bank acted as a consultant to the deal, while Eurobank was deputy manager of the portfolio.
 Farmers blockade Greek highwaysGreek farmers, the majority of them tobacco growers, with roughly 300 tractors, are engaged since Tuesday in periodic blockades of the Athens-Lamia national motorway in the section of Atalanti. The protesting farmers demand that they continue to receive subsidies until 2013 in view of relative European Commission decisions.
Another group of protesting farmers with over 220 tractors has blockaded the national motorway near the city of Lamia, central Greece.
The mobilizations will continue until late in the evening and motorists are advised to use alternative routes to avoid any inconvenience.
 Tourist arrivals down 1.4 pct in Jan-Oct, reportGreek tourism has already begun seeing the first signs of the effects of a financial crisis, with tourist arrivals down by 1.4 pct in the 10-month period from January to October, a report by the Institute for Tourist Research and Forecasts (ITEP) said on Thursday.
The report said that most competitor-countries suffered declines during this period with the exception of Turkey and Croatia which recorded increases. Tourist arrivals in Spain fell 1.3 pct, in Italy were down by 1.0 pct and in Cyprus eased 0.6 pct during the 10-month period.
ITEP said the decline in tourist arrivals figures (measured by air transport arrivals) reflected mainly a negative trend in the last three months of the survey (August-October), while it stressed it was even more worrying the fact that major touristic regions of the country (Crete, Dodecanese islands, Ionian islands) suffered more, with the Dodecanese islands recording a 2.0 pct decline, Ionian islands were down 1.4 pct and Crete fell 0.4 pct). Cephalonia (15.1 pct), Mykonos (3.8 pct) and Chios (22.6 pct), however, recorded the biggest percentage increases.
ITEP said it expected the tourism sector to witness an even more difficult year in 2009, while it noted that despite a decline in tourist arrivals, tourism foreign exchange inflows grew by 4.0 pct in the 10-month period.
 Greek merchant shipping fleet totals 2,071 shipsGreek merchant shipping fleet totaled 2,071 ships with a total tonage of 38,695,255 grt, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that 628 were cargo ships, 509 tankers and 934 were passenger and other kind of ships. The Greek merchant marine fleet grew by 5.3 percent in the period from January 2001 to September 2008, while tonage was up by 41.6 pct over the same period.
 Titan Group, IFC, EBRD sign contractsThe Titan Group, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have gone ahead with the signing of contracts, the main objective of which will be that IFC and EBRD will be loaning, on the one hand, and will be participating in the share capital of the ANTEA Cement Sh. A. company, a subsidiary of the Titan Group in Albania, on the other.
As a result, participation in ANTEA's capital will be shaped as follows: the Titan Group with 37.8 million euros and IFC and EBRD each with 12.6 million euros.
In addition, the three partners will undertake the obligation to loan ANTEA: the Titan Group with 50.4 million euros and IFC and EBRD each with 16.8 million euros.
ANTEA, a company through which the Titan cement group is active in the Albanian market, is in the process of building a new cement production factory in Albania. The new factory will have a production capacity of 1.5 million tons and is expected to go into operation by the end of 2009.
 Greek stocks end 4.24 pct downGreek stocks plunged in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the composite index of the market ending at 1,816.58 points, down 4.24 percent. Turnover was a low 170.3 million euros, of which 10.6 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Healthcare (6.55 pct), Raw Materials (6.36 pct), Travel (5.61 pct), Banks (5.30 pct), Commerce (5.04 pct) and Utilities (4.46 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Media (1.09 pct) and Food/Beverage (0.77 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 4.68 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 4.44 pct down and the FTSE 80 index eased 2.52 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 187 to 39 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.28%
Personal & Household: -3.51%
Raw Materials: -6.36%
Travel & Leisure: -5.61%
Food & Beverages: +0.77%
Financial Services: -4.19%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, HBC Coca Cola, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.78
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.06
HBC Coca Cola: 11.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.24
National Bank of Greece: 13.04
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.54
Bank of Piraeus: 7.12
Titan Cement Company: 11.46
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices were traded at a widened discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover a low 79.949 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 3.83 pct. Volume was 15,495 contracts worth 71.472 million euros, with 29,022 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,853 contracts worth 8.115 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,535), followed by Marfin Investment Group (498), PPC (1,157), GEK (1,630), Alpha Bank (668), Marfin Popular Bank (1,155), Intralot (437) and Myltineos (290).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 270 million euros on Thursday, of which 85 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 191 million were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 70 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 140 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.88 pct and the German Bund 3.40 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates fell further. The 12-month Euribor rate was 4.21 pct, the six-month rate 4.11 pct, the three-month rate 4.07 pct and the one-month rate 3.61 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.264
Pound sterling 0.848
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 10.321
Japanese yen 120.83
Swiss franc 1.541
Norwegian kroner 8.941
Canadian dollar 1.594
Australian dollar 2.008
 PM addresses event on Athens University Medical SchoolPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis praised the work of the Athens University's Medical School, while speaking on Thursday night at an event held at the Athens Concert Hall on the occasion of the 170th anniversary of the School's founding.
Karamanlis stressed that the Medical School of the Athens Kapodistriako University has been pruducing for 170 years considerable work in peak medical research and in preparing capable, informed and responsible doctors and its work ranks it among the leading medical schools in the world.
The Medical School, together with the Law, Philosophy and Theology Schools, was one of the four founding schools of the first modern Greek University, the Athens National and Kapodistriako University in 1837, the prime minister stressed and added that this work is being continued today fully and in accordance with international excellence models.
Karamanlis then referred to the government's reformist effort in the sector of education, particularly in Higher Education where, as he said, "government policy is already supporting higher education establishment self rule, meritocracy in the judgement and development of their staff, the effective and transparent management of public expenditures for Higher Education."
He went on to say that his goevernment "is enacting their smooth functioning. It is ensuring the student's freedom of choice with the abolition of the one book and it is consolidating democracy with the establishment of the students' universal vote for the election of bodies."
Karamanlis concluded his address by saying that the government's aim is to have Greece transformed from a country having students leaving to study abroad, to an International Education Centre that will utilise education as its comparative advantage in the international environment.
 Engraving exhibition at TechnopolisThe evolution of Greek etching is being highlighted in the Panorama of Greek Engraving exhibition inaugurated by Culture Minister Michalis Liapis at the Technopolis cultural center in Gazi, Athens.
The exhibition, hosted by the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece, offers a unique opportunity to visitors to admire over 600 works on display, stated Liapis on Wednesday during the formal opening, stressing that the ministry of culture supports such initiatives referring to the recently held Biennale on Rhodes with works by Mediterranean artists.
 Four under arrest on human trafficking chargeAuthorities on Thursday said that four people had been placed under arrest in Megara on charges of human trafficking, among them three foreign nationals aged 23, 27 and 14, respectively, and a 28-year-old Greek woman.
Police said the three foreign nationals had approached a 25-year-old foreign woman at Larissis station the previous week and offered to give her a ride to the home of a friend. Instead of taking her to her friend, however, they had had abducted her and taken her to a rural area outside Megara, where she was locked in a house occupied by the 27-year-old and a 28-year-old Greek woman.
The 23-year-old apparently threatened the victim at gunpoint and, assisted by the other three, had taken her to different locations every day and forced her to engage in sexual intercourse with several persons in exchange for money.
The girl managed to escape two days ago and sought help from the Megara police, which launched an operation and arrested the suspects.
All four were led before a public prosecutor on Wednesday.
 Stop the War meeting dedicated to slain journalistA meeting organised by the peace activists Stop the War Coalition in Athens on November 29-30 will be dedicated to the memory of slain war correspondent Georgios Kilaris, who was fatally wounded and died in Afghanistan.
The meeting to promote peace will be held in the Athens Law School with the participation of 13 countries from the area of the Balkans, Europe and the Middle East.
During a press conference on Thursday, organisers stressed that several journalists had been killed at various war fronts during the 21st century and that war correspondents had become "targets". They also criticised Greece's political and military leadership for inertia in dealing with Kilaris, who was not among the journalists with "state backing", and pointed to the fact that he had been transferred to 11 different hospitals before his death at KAT.
 UNICEF awards for children's rights dayThe Hellenic National Committee for UNICEF on Thursday awarded the prizes for the nationwide competition "Children write and draw their rights" to mark Universal Children's Day set up on the anniversary since the Declaration of the Rights of the Child by the United Nations.
A distinction was also awarded to UNESCO Good Will Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyannis for her ongoing contribution to the protection of children's rights.
The event was held in Athens, in the presence of Deputy Education Minister Andreas Lykourentzos.
 Illegal immigrants intercepted in AvlonaTwo foreign nationals were arrested after they were discovered carrying 11 illegal immigrants hidden in a special compartment in a truck in the Avlona area, authorities announced.
They said the arrest was carried out on Wednesday, when the two foreign nationals came to pick up the illegal migrants in order to take them to Italy via the port of Patras for the sum of 100 euros each.
 Two brothers arrested for child porn on CreteTwo brothers from Crete aged 26 and 30 years old, respe-ctively, were arrested for distributing extremely hard child porn on the Internet, authorities announced on Thursday.
The case was cracked based on information supplied by Interpol, which said that child pornography had been tracked to Crete.
A raid on their homes revealed hundreds of digital files containing child pornography, which were confiscated and sent for analysis, and the two brothers were led before a public prosecutor.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy weather, local showers and southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 4-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -1C and 22C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with southwesterly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 17C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis' address at his ruling New Democracy parliamentary group's meeting on Wednesday dominated the headlines Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition PASOK rigged the Lake Vistonida scam in the State-Vatopedi monastery land exchanges scandal".
APOGEVMATINI: "Revealing documentation on Vatopedi monastery set-up protagonists".
AVGHI: "Government is leading (the country) and heading (itself) to the cliff's edge - The government's course is downward and irreversible".
AVRIANI: "PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou was aware of the blackmailing tape in the Vatopedi monastery case".
CHORA: "Medical suppliers raided the empty hospital storehouses".
ELEFTHEROS: "Karamanlis' electoral platform - For a third ND term in office".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Mystery-meeting blowing everything to pieces in the Vatopedi monastery case".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Games with the 'sacred' (Vatopedi monastery) bank accounts".
ESTIA: "Dangerous populism - The new threat to the Greek economy".
ETHNOS: "Blackout in parliament's fact finding commission- ND attempting to cover up the Vatopedi monastery scandal".
KATHIMERINI: "Karamanlis outlines the dilemmas posed by the global financial crisis".
LOGOS: "Karamanlis: The economy is a national cause - Small enterprises facing the spectre of closure".
NIKI: "Karamanlis living on another planet - He remains trapped in a glass tower".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Measures must be taken for people via direct state financing- Not a single cent to bankers".
TA NEA: "21 properties, among them schools and city squares, were given as a 'gift' to Vatopedi abbot Ephraim - No end in sight in the 'sacred' scandal".
TO VIMA: "The Bank of Greece sends out SOS - Asks for a long-term economy streamlining programme".
VRADYNI: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis poses to society the dilemma: Seriousness or populism".
 President Christofias concludes official visit to MoscowMOSCOW (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Republic of Cyprus will not concede any sovereign rights nor will it give in to any pressure, President Demetris Christofias warned here Thursday, responding to questions during a press conference, as he was concluding his official visit to Moscow, saying he is fully satisfied with the results of the visit.
The president also said that he expects a positive conclusion to efforts to clinch a Russian-Cypriot agreement to avoid double taxation, which will benefit both parties and described bilateral relations as exemplary.
Russia and Cyprus, he noted, share common political positions on international issues, he advocated the peaceful resolution of disputes and welcomed Russia's steady position of consistently supporting the struggle of the people of Cyprus to reunite their country divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion and to secure the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops.
In his opening remarks, the president said the Joint Declaration he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed here, and the bilateral agreements signed on various sectors, including health, finance, tourism and the economy, reflect the outcome of his official visit.
Christofias made a particular reference to two points in the Declaration.
The first is a proposal by Medvedev to reassess and redraft a security system in Europe and elsewhere, which will be based on the principles of international law and the Helsinki Final Act and the UN principles.
"This proposal deserves a lot of attention from the EU and the international community", he said, and noted also the stance the current EU president, the French President, has taken on the matter.
The second issue, he added, is the repetition in a most clear manner of the position of principle Moscow maintains on the solution of the Cyprus problem, which must be based on UN Security Council resolutions.
Referring to bilateral ties, he said these are excellent and exemplary of relations between states, adding that he would continue to work to develop them even further.
Replying to a specific question, he said he had not received a written letter from the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community in which Mehmet Ali Talat warns he would proceed with moves to upgrade the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, in northern Turkish occupied Cyprus, if there is no political settlement by the summer of 2009.
Christofias said that during private meetings he has with Talat, in the framework of UN-led direct talks, "a lot is said, he outlines his views and listens to my views and gets replies to his questions."
At this point, the president stressed that "I state categorically that the Republic of Cyprus is not going to relinquish its sovereign rights nor is it going to give in to pressure from anybody".
Responding to other questions, he recalled that the basis for a solution in Cyprus is already in place and this is the UN resolutions and the high level agreements of 1977 and 1979 between the two communities, pointing out that the unitary state of Cyprus will evolve to become a federal state.
"The Cypriots must become the masters of their own homeland and foreigners must leave us alone", he added.
Asked if Cyprus' European partners understand his support for Medvedev's proposal on a collective system of security, President Christofias said that his EU partners are fully aware of the fact that he is the leader of the communist party in Cyprus.
However, he pointed out that he had never felt any adverse discrimination in Europe because he is the General Secretary of AKEL communist party and noted also that his European partners approve the initiatives he has undertaken (with regard to efforts to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus).
"I wonder whether other EU members ask permission from other member states before they take a stance on an issue such as this proposal, which relates to a collective security system based on principles which the EU advocates as well", he added.
On cooperation on cultural and educational sectors, he said a draft agreement is being prepared and it will cover all the sectors of cultural exchanges.
He described as "unforgivable crime" the destruction of Cyprus' cultural heritage in occupied Cyprus by Turkey.
On energy matters, he said the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism met here with representatives of Gasprom Company to discuss such issues.
Replying to questions about the avoidance of double taxation between Russia and Cyprus, he said technocrats from both countries are working on this matters with a view to deal with it in a positive way.
The president returns home on Friday.
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS