|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-11-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 22 November 2008 Issue No: 3053
 Greek economy to grow by 2.7 pct in 2009, state budgetThe Greek 2009 state budget aims at ensuring satisfactory economic growth rates, further reducing deficits, combatting poverty by enacting a National Fund for Social Cohesion, boosting fiscal transparency, restructuring the management of state enterprises, local authorities and public hospitals, continuing a tax reform program and further cutting unemployment and ensuring the viability of the social insurance system.
The state budget, presented by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogo-skoufis, was accompanied by a special report called: "Programs' budget 2009" presenting the advantages resulting from the introduction of a new tool of fiscal management.
According to the introductory report of the 2009 budget, "an international economic crisis, envisaged by international organisations, will continue in 2009 with significant consequences on the real economies, including the Greek economy".
The budget envisages that the Greek economy will grow by 2.7 pct in 2009, down from 3.2 pct in 2008 and 4.0 pct in 2007, the inflation rate will slow to 3.0 pct next year, from 4.3 pct in 2008 and 2.9 pct in 2007, while private consumption will ease to 2.2 pct from 2.3 pct in 2008 and 3.0 pct in 2007.
Investments are expected to rise by 1.5 pct in 2009, from 0.1 pct this year and 4.9 pct in 2007, while public consumption will rise by 1.0 pct from 2.7 pct in 2008 and 7.7 pct in 2007. The unemployment rate is forecast to remain at 7.5 pct next year, unchanged from 2008, but down from 8.0 pct in 2007, while real average wages will rise by 3.5 pct in 2009, from 3.8 pct in 2008 and 5.8 pct in 2007.
The state budget also envisages a continuation of a third phase of tax reform program, which includes cutting the tax factor to 25 pct next year, from 27 pct in in 2008, higher tax exempt ceilings for personal incomes and tax exempt social benefits for families with three children.
Regular budget revenues for 2008 are forecast at 57.340 billion euros, up 10.7 pct from 2007, rising to 64.200 billion euros next year, up 12 pct from 2008, of which 26.720 billion euros were direct taxes. Budget spending this year are expected to rise to 60.456 billion euros this year, up 1.398 billion from original budget estimates, rising to 65.978 billion euros next year, up 9.1 pct from 2008.
The public investments program is expected to total 8.8 billion euros next year, up 300 million euros compared with initial forecasts made in the draft budget plan. EU funds' inflows are expected to reach 6.634 billion euros next year, down from 7.980 billion in 2008.
The general government's debt is expected to reach 237.930 billion euros next year, or 91.4 pct of GDP, down from 228.868 billion or 93.1 pct of GDP this year.
 Greek stimulus plan will be implemented, FinMin saysThe Greek economy's strong resistance to pressures from a global economic crisis is the result of a reform policy implemented by the government since 2004, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters while presenting the 2009 state budget, the Greek minister stressed that the crisis was hitting the Greek economy to a lesser extent compared with other Eurozone countries.
Commenting on a plan to support the Greek economy and the banking system, Alogoskoufis expressed his belief that all financial institutions would be included in the plan. "The plan ensures that the credit system will continue offering loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises and to larger enterprises. It will protect unemployed and workers in danger of losing their job if there was not enough funding of the economy. It also ensures continuation of large infrastructure projects. The plan will be implemented fully," he told reporters.
Alogoskoufis said the government was using all room available to support growth, employment and social cohesion, saying that this room could be larger if the government did not had the huge burden of public debt inherited by previous governments.
"Our choice is to protecting low incomes, to strengthen social cohesion. We activate a National Fund against Poverty using funds from the state budget. We move forward with specific actions to support low income earners, pensioners and unemployment, because this is our commitment," he said.
The Greek minister said the European Union has agreed to be more flexible in implementing a Stability Pact but stressed that no decision has been taken to revise the Pact's main goals.
 PASOK slams government economic policyCommenting on the draft budget tabled by the government on Friday, main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papa-constantinou said the country needed a change of course that could not be effected by "a government in the throes of collapse, such as the present one".
"The country needs a government that will immediately proceed with measures to build trust between the citizens and the state," he added, stopping the wastefulness, client politics, untransparency and corruption seen under the present government.
According to Papaconstantinou, the last days had given ample signs that the present government was in the process of desintegration, which were symptoms of the "end of an era".
Regarding the draft bill for supporting banks and the economy, the spokesman said that this would not solve problems with liquidity on the market but instead cause several problems. He faulted the bill for a lack of transparency and for providing no guarantee that cash would be available to those having real need, while pointing out that no one had any clear idea about the true financial state of the banks themselves.
He said that PASOK would monitor the implementation of the bill in order to ensure that the money given to the banks eventually made its way back to Greek citizens and was not used to simply improve the financial position of banks.
 PM sternly defends gov't record on employment, economic policy"This juncture calls for a measure of responsibility without populist practices," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis emphasised on Friday, speaking in Parliament in response to a tabled question by the head of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group on the effects of the global economic crisis on the younger generations.
"The present juncture does not allow for populism or measures that could prove disastrous," he stressed.
The most pressing social problem stemming from the unprecedented global crisis is skyrocketing unemployment, he said, adding that support of the real economy is a priority.
Referring to the latest legislative initiative undertaken by the government, he said that it constitutes a fundamental and necessary precondition to ensure the financing of the small and medium sized businesses, support economic activity and protect employment. "This is a substantive response to young couples wishing to get their own house and need a loan and the most drastic response aimed at preventing economic activity slowdown that would subsequently have a negative effect on the employment rate.
On his part, SYRIZA Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos referred to the draft state budget, pointing out that the banks are set to receive the sum of 28 billion euros to boost and guarantee liquidity, while for the employment ministry and the ministry of education 11.3 billion and 7.2 billion euros, respectively, have been earmarked.
Karamanlis stated, in response that the references made by Alavanos, that his intention was to engage in demagogy.
Referring to what he called "systematic efforts" made by the government to boost employment-related prospects for the younger generations, Karamanlis reminded that policies proposed for a qualitative upgrading of education and reforms were met with strong opposition, while a policy currently promoted to support the real economy, protect employment and reduce interest rates is also met with disinformation and wanton populism.
"Wishful thinking will not solve problems," Karamanlis stated.
He also referred to a reduction of the unemployment rate from 11.2 percent in March 2004 to 7.1 percent last August, while as regards the younger generations, he stressed that unemployment has dropped from 30.2 percent to 19.2 percent.
 PM warns Turkey over 'unilateral actions' in AegeanPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday warned Ankara that the "unilateral Turkish actions on the Greek continental shelf" had no legal basis, while answering a question put to him by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis in Parliament regarding the presence in the Aegean of a survey boat commissioned by Turkey to prospect for oil.
Noting that Greece did not want tension but the improvement and full restoration of bilateral relations with Turkey, Karamanlis nevertheless underlined that Athens would "in no case accept a 'faits accomplis'".
"We are not satisfied by the degree of Turkey's response so far to Greece's sincere desire for a constant improvement in our relations," he said.
Karamanlis said that Greece had responded immediately in a cool, responsible and effective manner to the Turkish attempt to survey for oil south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo.
"On the one hand, we averted any form of de facto claim on a part of the Greek continental shelf in that specific region of the sea. On the other hand, we avoided igniting tension that would obviously benefit neither the Greek nor the Turkish people," he told MPs.
The premier also underlined that "the unilateral Turkish actions that occurred on the Greek continental shelf, without Greece's previous agreement, have no legal basis. They in no way constitute precedent. They cannot cast any sort of doubt on Greek territorial rights," Karamanlis stressed.
Replying to the LAOS leader's questions, Karamanlis further emphasised that "Greece has and retains intact the option to exercise all its rights in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean as these arise in international treaties, international law and the law of the sea".
He also noted that delineating the Aegean continental shelf, "which is a real outstanding issue between the two countries" could and should be resolved peacefully by jointly applying to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
 Inner Cabinet focuses on int'l economic crisisPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis reiterated on Friday that the country is facing "a very difficult international financial crisis that people have not experienced since the end of WWII ," in opening an Inner Cabinet meeting.
Karamanlis told his ministers that in such difficult circumstances "our responsibility to respond effectively to demands is heightened," adding that "we must initially ensure that repercussions for real economy will be diminished, and secondly, to actively support weaker social-economic strata".
"Responsibility is mandatory, along with hard work, communication with society, team spirit and effectiveness," he concluded.
FinMin George Alogoskoufis briefly presented the 2009 draft state budget at the meeting.
 FM continues contacts ahead of OSCE chairmanship; talks with Pakistan envoyForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held separate meetings Friday with OSCE Special Representative Eva Biaudet, Coordinator for Combating Trafficking of Humans, as well as the ambassador of Pakistan to Athens, Iftikahar Hussain Kazmi.
The meeting with the Finnish diplomat was held within the framework of a series of contacts the foreign minister is holding ahead of the upcoming Greek OSCE chairmanship in 2009.
On Thursday, FM Bakoyannis received OSCE High Commis-sioner on national minorities and Norwegian ambassador Knut Vollebaek, while on Wednesday she briefed OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Joao Soares.
 Papoulias, Bakoyannis address GSEE con'fEurope will have to adopt a public policy for the relief of the majority of the people hit by the global financial crisis, President Karolos Papoulias emphasised during the opening an international conference of trade unions on Friday.
Speaking at the conference on the worrying issue of forced labor and trafficking, hosted by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) in Athens, Papoulias said the EU must display flexibility as regards the Stability Pact, using the individual citizen as a point of reference.
He also underlined that the global economic crisis constitutes a "challenge and an opportunity for Europe".
Papoulias underlined that slavery and slave trade are among the darkest pages in human history, underlining the importance of human rights.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis also addressed the conference, stressing that trade unions can become the voice of people who are helpless and while at the same time clarifying that she is referring to a well-meaning trade union movement, also noted that the trade movement contributes to a viable economy and development.
Bakoyannis said that according to international figures, a total of 12.3 million people are victims of forced labor worldwide, while forecasts show an increase of the unemployed by 20 million.
"Neither the free economy nor open societies are to blame for the situation," she said, stressing that the problem stems from the lack of rules, regulatory framework and control mechanisms. The foreign minister suggested stricter penalties for culprits, increased protection for victims and higher public awareness.
 PM meets EU environment commissionerPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday met European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas. No statements were made after the meeting.
 PM Karamanlis to visit VolosPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will visit the city of Volos, central Greece, on Saturday.
His itinerary includes visits to the Chamber of Volos, the Goritsa tunnel on the under construction Volos Ring Road and the Dairy Industry Cooperative (EBOL) at the city's Industrial Zone.
 Papoulias meets EU Commissioner, Prof. LinnerPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Friday received visiting European Commissioner for health issues Androulla Vassiliou.
Earlier, the president had also had a meeting with visiting Swedish academic and author Prof. Sture Linner, who was accompanied by the board of the Hellenic Philosophy Society.
 Development minister meets EU health commissionerDevelopment Minister Christos Folias on Friday met visiting European Commissioner for health issues Androulla Vassiliou.
The Commissioner expressed satisfaction with the level of cooperation between EU services and the Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) and the agency's efficiency, while expressing her desire for better coordination of action that will benefit consumers.
Folias, on his part, underlined that the safety and quality of foodstuffs and the protection of consumers' health was the top priority for the development ministry and the government.
 Papandreou meets with Slovak presidentMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Thursday afternoon received visiting Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic, followed by the president of the OSCE Parliamentary assembly Joao Soares.
He also met with British ambassador in Greece Simon Gass.
No statements were made after the meetings.
 Papandreou tours Athens-area hospital, criticises gov'tMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Friday toured an Athens-area hospital, where he noted, among others, that it is "a pity that the people's major investment, the Attikon hospital, is not able to serve as a university hospital or even offer medical support to the poorer areas of (western) Athens."
Along those lines, he referred to what he called the "government's outrageous policy".
"This policy must be reversed. Access to high-quality health services is a right for everyone," he said.
The hospital's general director referred to a shortage of professional staff due to public sector hiring constraints and bureaucracy, citing delays in medical staff hirings for more than five years, to which Papandreou curtly responded that he's been hearing the same argument for five years, whereas the real culprit is massive cutbacks for the health sector.
The chief of the hospital's cardiology department, noted cardiologist and former PASOK health minister Dimitris Kremastinos, clarified that hirings are never enough, while asked for Papandreou's assistance in order to overcome the institution's staff shortage.
Gov't spokesman's reaction
Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, commenting on Friday, on Papandreou's statements at the hospital, responded that according to health ministry findings, when ruling ND government assumed power in March 2004 the hospital had a 25-30 percent operating capacity, while it has now reached 90 percent.
"Mr. Papandreou's visit today to the Attikon hospital is part of a temporary provocation, attempting to create impressions, which he is trying to cultivate, I would say, unsuccessfully. It is apparently part of the climate that PASOK is trying to cultivate," he charged.
 Papariga to attend KKE 90th anniversary eventsTwo-day events on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) will be held in Sparta, southern Greece, over the weekend.
KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga is scheduled to address an event on Sunday morning.
 Greek deputy interior minister meets UN SGNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece's Deputy Interior Minister Thanassis Nakos, who is representing Greece at the International Meeting on Migration at the United Nations, met on Thursday night with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, whom he briefed on the preparations for the hosting of the 3rd World Forum on Migration and Development, which will take place in Athens in November 2009.
Nakos invited the UN Secretary General to take part in the Forum and the invitation was accepted.
After the meeting Nakos told reporters that "he was very friendly with us and congratulated us for the willingness with which we undertook the organization of the 3rd World Migration Forum which will be held in Athens from November 2-5, 2009. It is a very important event."
 Discussion on Euro-Mediterranean DialogueThe Mediterranean region constitutes a strategic priority for Greece and the foreign ministry, stressed Deputy Foreign Minister Yannis Valinakis while addressing a meeting on the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue held at the European Parliament Offices in Athens on Friday.
The deputy FM stated that the EU-Mediterranean partnership relation goes a long way back and its course since 1995 is notable, pointing out that Greece regards the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue process as very important and contributes to its upgrading with new proposals and ideas.
Maritime transport, viable development, renewable energy sources and environmental protection are some of the areas of cooperation, he said, adding that a special emphasis is given on cultural cooperation. The University of the Aegean currently cooperates with 25 universities from Mediterranean countries and over the past 13 years a lot has been done in this direction, said Valinakis, pointing out that there is still room for greater cooperation.
European Parliament Vice-President Rodi-Kratsa Tsagaro-poulou characterized the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue as a priority for the EU and its peoples, stressing that the French President initiative came at the right moment. The EU interest in the Mediterranean is deep rooted and not recent, she said, adding that people in the region are looking forward to the strengthening of cooperation and the creation of an area of peace, security and prosperity. "If this endeavour succeeds, Europe and the Mediterranean will be an example," she pointed out.
French Ambassador to Athens Christophe Farnaud referred to the historic ties between Europe and the Mediterranean and stated that Greece, due to its geographical position, is the link between Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.
He underlined the French President's initiative that gives substance to the Euro-Mediterranean relation and underlined the importance of cooperation in sectors like the environment, transportation and energy, pointing out that EU funds have already been distributed.
Egyptian Ambassador to Athens Hamdi Loza referred to the importance of Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue and pointed out that the meeting was organized as an ad hoc initiative.
 Hatzigakis welcomes peaceful end to prison protestWelcoming the end of a hunger strike by protesting inmates in Greek prisons, Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis on Friday said the strike had ended in "a climate of self-restraint and understanding on all sides."
The minister underlined that this was the first time that a protest by inmates of this magnitude had ended peacefully, through successful dialogue and a synthesis of views, since such prison protests first started to occur in Greece in 1982.
He also referred to the new measures taken by his ministry to improve prison conditions and relieve overcrowding, saying that they "gave a second chance to those who found themselves in prison serving minor sentences".
Hatzigakis also praised the peaceful form of protest adopted by the inmates to press their demands, saying it was a "legacy for the future" and spoke of the "positive contribution" made by the political parties and the bodies involved in solving the problems of the correctional system.
 Stylianidis at EU Education Ministers CouncilBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Multilinguism, professional training, vocational orientation and lifelong education and training, as well as strengthening European cooperation at the level of educational units were the main issues examined here on Friday by the European Union's Council of Education Ministers, where Greece was represented by Evripidis Stylianidis.
The Education minister told reporters that "with regard to multilinguism, that constitutes a priority and the innovation platform of Greek national strategy for education, which bears the title 'Greek citizen of Europe-citizen of the world', I believe that we are within the European framework absolutely with the initiatives that we have undertaken, both for the support of the Greek language abroad and for the development and the certification of multilinguism in our country."
Stylianidis also said that "Greece is among the first countries that have introduced many foreign languages in all the levels of education and it is substantively and successfully implementing the policy of the state certificate as well in which over 200,000 examined people, until now, participated to certify foreign language knowledge."
During his address at the Council, the minister focused his attention on European cooperation at the level of educational units and the special treatment and training of people having a disability of any kind.
 Reception heightens Armed Forces Day celebrationsArmed Forces Day celebrations heightened on Friday with a reception held at the Armed Forces Officers Club attended by President Karolos Papoulias.
Also present at the reception were the defence ministry's political and military leadership, party representatives, foreign embassy military officials, armed forces officers, former president of the Republic Christos Sartzetakis, former prime ministers Constantine Mitsotakis and Ioannis Grivas and other dignitaries.
"Today we are honouring the members of the Armed Forces who are safeguarding the integrity of Greece with self-sacrifice and continuous efforts, rendering it a force of peace, stability, progress and development in the wider region," Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis said at the end of a church service held at the Athens Cathedral in the morning.
The laying of wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier followed, while the official hoisting of the Greek flag on the Acropolis had taken place earlier.
 2009 draft state budget tabled in ParliamentEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday delivered the 2009 draft state budget to Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas.
"I wish and hope this unprecedented global financial crisis is controlled, and that we experience the least possible consequences," Sioufas underlined.
Debate on the closely watched 2009 budget will begin next week in Parliament's economy and budgetary committee.
 Folias, Dimas address 'Apogevmatini' seminar on energyDevelopment Minister Christos Folias and European Commis-sioner for the environment Stavros Dimas were among speakers that addressed a seminar on energy conservation organised by the Greek newspaper "Apogevmatini" in Athens on Friday. In comments on the sidelines of the seminar, Folias also referred to the recent measures for banks tabled by the government.
"Bank must realise that business people and consumers are their clients and that we are all being judged at this time," he stressed.
The seminar entitled "Direct solutions to the energy crisis and practical methods of saving energy" was held in the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry under the aegis of the development ministry and with the support of the European Parliament and the Technical Chamber of Greece.
Replying to questions on the sidelines of the meeting, Folias repeated that the use of nuclear energy was not part of national planning for energy up until the year 2020 but that it was useful for the country to participate in international dialogue in order to keep abreast of developments, given that its immediate neighbours were investing in nuclear power.
In his speech, the minister outlined the actions taken by Greece to ensure energy security and boost its geostrategic role, adding that one of the key aims was to ensure a diversity of energy sources.
He also stressed the emphasis on developing renewable energy sources (RES) in order to ensure this diversity and meet EU targets for 20 percent penetration by RES in final consumption, 20 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and 20 percent energy conservation. According to Folias, meanwhile, these targets were the "threshold of a process and not the ceiling".
Folias reported plans for another 329 new investments totaling 1.2 billion euros in photovoltaic systems that would nearly double the country's current capacity, adding 919 MW to the already installed 1,100 MW.
He said legislation was about to be tabled in Parliament to regulate the processing of applications for larger photovoltaic investments, while also making provision for a targeted programme to allow easy, quick and profitable installation of photovoltaic systems on the roofs of buildings.
Commissioner Dimas, in comments on the sidelines of the event, noted that "green" energy, while expensive, was essential for the planet and at this phase could help in overcoming the financial crisis through the investments that could be made.
 Development ministry bill on photovoltaicsA bill prepared by the Development ministry concerning arrangements for photovoltaics, the joint production of energy and other issues was tabled in Parliament on Friday.
The bill anticipates the incorporation in national law of Directive 2004/8/EK "On promoting the joint production of energy based on demand for usefull heat in the domestic energy market."
The restriction of losses during the transfer of electric energy and the decrease in peak demand problems, due to a better distribution of energy production units, will provide high level energy services for consumers.
 Kouros 2008 entrepreneurship awardsThe ceremony regarding the Kouros 2008 Awards, carried out by the Entrepreneurship Club for the 14th consecutive year, was concluded successfully at a downtown Athens hotel on Friday.
The Development and Innovation Award was given by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis to Symeon Mavroidis, President and Managing Director and Apostolos Apostolakis of the E-SHOP GR SA company.
The Performance in the International Economic Field Award was given by Development Minister Christos Folias to Markos Veremis, Board President and Alexios Vratskidis, Managing Director, of the UPSTREAM SA company.
The Social Contribution Award was given by Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas to Panayiotis Tsakos, President of the Tsakos Group of Companies.
 City of Athens to hold first 'Intercultural Entrepreneurship Day'The first "Intercultural Entrepreneurship Day" will be hosted by the City of Athens migrant services department's intercultural centre on Sunday at the Melina cultural centre.
The presentations will cover topics such as successful examples of migrant enterprises; migrants and entrepreneurship; chara-cteristics and capabilities and entrepreneurship support programmes.
 Greek stocks end moderately up on FridayGreek stocks ended moderately higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, following a rebound in other European markets. The composite index rose 0.54 pct to end at 1,826.41 points with turnover a low 158.7 million euros, of which 7.8 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Commerce (5.94 pct), Food/Beverage (5.14 pct), Constructions (3.63 pct), Insurance (3.21 pct) and Utilities (2.27 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Healthcare (4.40 pct), Travel (4.39 pct), Chemicals (3.65 pct) and Media (1.38 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 0.52 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.72 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.19 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 118 to 86 with another 59 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.83%
Personal & Household: +0.54%
Raw Materials: +2.20%
Travel & Leisure: -4.39%
Food & Beverages: +5.14%
Financial Services: -0.82%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Bank of Piraeus and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.96
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.34
HBC Coca Cola: 11.62
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.40
National Bank of Greece: 13.46
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.50
Bank of Piraeus: 7.12
Titan Cement Company: 12.12
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover shrinking to 56.314 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.30 pct, while volume totaled 10,336 contracts worth 48.327 million euros, with 31,042 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 8,776 contracts worth 7.381 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,427), followed by Marfin Investment Group (618), PPC (548), OPAP (604), Alpha Bank (317), Marfin Popular Bank (1,191), Intralot (593) and Mytilineos (334).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 470 million euros on Friday, of which 192 million were buy orders and the remaining 278 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 105 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened to 159 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.90 percent and the German Bund 3.31 percent.
In interbank markets, interest rates fell further. The 12-month Euribor rate was 4.12 pct, the six-month rate was 4.06 pct, the three-month rate 4.02 pct and the one-month rate 3.54 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.270
Pound sterling 0.847
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 10.454
Japanese yen 120.25
Swiss franc 1.549
Norwegian kroner 8.998
Canadian dollar 1.628
Australian dollar 2.044
 Eurostat on demographic developments in EUBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
A report by the Eurostat European Statistical Service publicised on Friday on demographic developments in the European Union until 2050 revealed a "Europe that is aging."
About four employed people currently exist in the EU for each pensioner, while in 2050 there will be two employed for each pensioner since the percentage of people aged over 65 will increase from the current 17 percent of the population to 29 percent in 2050.
As regards Greece, people over 65 years of age account for 19 percent of the population in 2008 and in 2050 they will increase to 31 percent. In addition, the ratio between pensioners and employed people in Greece is the third highest among EU countries, behind Italy and Germany.
Regarding employment among people aged between 55 and 64, in 2007 in Greece about 27 percent of women were employed (with an average of 37 percent in the EU) and 42 percent of men (with an average of 45 percent in the EU).
According to Eurostat in 2006 about 38 percent of families in Greece having three or more children had an income that was below the poverty level (with an average of 28 percent in the EU of 25 member-states).
Lastly, according to data provided for 2005, Greece has the second lowest percentage of births outside marriage (5.1 percent) after Cyprus (4.4 percent). The lowest percentages following Greece are those of Italy (15.4 percent) and Poland (18.5 percent).
 Greek scientists in Sweden eventSTOCKHOLM (ANA-MPA)
The Society of Greek Scientists in Sweden, in cooperation with the Greek embassy, on Friday held a cultural and social event here.
In his address, Greek ambassador in Sweden Evangelos Karokis referred to Greek scientists' role and contribution in the highly developed Scandinavian nation.
The president of the group, ophthalmologist Christos Lenis, underlined the importance of Greek professionals in the country joining the organisation.
 Annual scholarships to students of Greek originCHICAGO (ANA-MPA)
Twenty five students of Greek origin received this year's scholarships of the Panhellenic Scholarships Foundation, in a ceremony which was organized by the foundation at Chicago University, in the presence of many officials.
The scholarships, worth 10,000 dollars each, were offered along with the corresponding praise to students who distinguished themselves for their performances, but also to those who need economic support.
The president of the foundation, Christos Tomaras, said that the objective is to offer help to Greek-Americans who excelled in their studies.
 Photo exhibition of ancient artifacts at Greek embassy in USWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)
An exhibition of photographs of ancient Greek artifacts that belong to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore was inaugurated at the Greek embassy here this week.
Amb. Alexandros Mallias stated that the exhibition is a forerunner of a major event on ancient Greek art to be hosted at the museum next fall.
The exhibition, entitled "Heroes! Morals and Myth in Ancient Greece", will feature a total of 120 significant artifacts hailing from major museums in the United States, Europe and Greece.
 Boy, 11, crushed by collapsed iron gateAn 11-year old boy was fatally injured and two other children were severely injured on Thursday evening near a new boat-yard in the capital of the Dodecanese holiday island of Rhodes, according to reports.
The three minors reportedly lived in an adjacent temporary gypsy encampment, authorities said.
The victim was crushed by a 1.5-ton iron gate, which fell on him under undetermined conditions as he was playing in the vicinity.
The two other minors were hospitalised in a Rhodes clinic.
A local prosecutor has ordered a preliminary investigation and an expert's probe to determine the exact reasons fro the iron gate's collapse.
 Rain on SaturdayCloudy weather, local showers and southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 5-10 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 22C. Partly cloudy in Athens with possibility of local showers, with southwesterly 7-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 14C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceNew revelations on protracted Vatopedi monastery affair and the tabling of the 2009 draft state budget in Parliament dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "3,720 inmates to be released immediately - Prisons to be decongested".
APOGEVMATINI: "Masks fall - Turmoil over secret (PASOK) meeting on Vatopedi monastery land exchange scandal".
AVGHI: "Farmers even poorer with new Common Agricultural Policy - What EU farm ministers decided unanimously in Brussels".
AVRIANI: "Main opposition PASOK and blackmailers have rigged the dirty tricks targetting (PM) Karamanlis".
CHORA: "Sacred threats - Monks using mob methods in Vatopedi monastery scandal".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "New Democracy and PASOK responsible for Vatopedi monastery scandal".
ELEFTHEROS: "PASOK, SYRIZA gaffe a 'gift' to New Democracy - They called unreliable witnesses to testify before Parliament's fact-finding commission on Vatopedi case".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Conspiracy. Blackmailers' gang with political contacts".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Supreme Court prosecutor orders investigation on the Toplou Monastery case in Crete".
ESTIA: "How the economy is affected - The hidden side of the financial crisis".
ETHNOS: "Ruling New Democracy MPs stab ministers in the back (on Vatopedi monastery case)".
KATHIMERINI: "The tension on Vatopedi monastery case escalates - Prevailing insinuations on government's implication".
LOGOS: "The bank support bill ratified in Parliament - FinMin George Alogoskoufis charges that PASOK cadres had secret meetings with bankers".
NIKI: "Government attempts to send attention elsewhere in order to escape from Vatopedi scandal".
RIZOSPASTIS: "All together for new rallies and strikes".
TA NEA: "Dirty war and the government at the end of the tunnel - ND, PASOK's head-on collision to the extreme".
TO VIMA: "Ministers will take special lessons on 'provisional' state budget".
VRADYNI: "Government's target is liquidity in market - 28-billion-euro bank support bill ratified in Parliament".
 President Christofias: Cyprus will not renounce its sovereign rightsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Those, either the leaders of Turkey, the Turkish Cypriot leader or any foreigners, who may consider that the Cyprus question must be solved by imposing a settlement which serves Turkey's interests or the interests of any other foreigner, are deceived, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias said here Friday.
In statements after returning from Russia, where he paid an official visit, Christofias said that he himself and other officials who accompanied him to Moscow are fully satisfied with the visit and they describe it as meaningful.
He said that the Political Declaration and the other agreements that were signed with Russia during his visit "depict the history of the relations between the two countries, which are also upgraded with great prospects for the future in all fields."
With regard to the position of Russia on the Cyprus question, Christofias said that "the Russian Federation has reiterated clearly its longstanding positions of principle with regard to the Cyprus question and the solidarity of the Russian people with the people of Cyprus."
Asked about the reaction of the Turkish Cypriot side with regard to the agreements and the Political Declaration signed in Moscow, Christofias underlined that Cyprus will not renounce its sovereign rights adding that "the relations between states are among the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus."
"If they consider, either these are the leaders of Turkey, the Turkish Cypriot leader or any foreigners, that the Cyprus question must be solved by imposing a settlement which serves Turkey's interests or the interests of any other foreigner, they are deceived," he added.
Consequently, he said, it is more than clear that we will continue our contacts and relations with all countries.
President Christofias said that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted the same way when Cyprus signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, reiterating that the Republic of Cyprus is an independent state.
"The only problem faced by the Republic of Cyprus is that the legitimate government cannot exercise sovereignty throughout its territory since Turkey, by violating international law, the charter of the United Nations and every notion of law, occupies 37% of Cyprus territory", he pointed out.
President Christofias also noted that Russia was always a supporter of Cyprus and a country that struggled in the Security Council for decisions based on principles, while he expressed the gratitude of the people of Cyprus to the leadership and people of Russia.
He reassured that Turkish Cypriots have nothing to loose adding that their interests will not be harmed by these principled positions expressed by Russia.
President Christofias expressed restrained optimism over the course of the ongoing direct talks on Cyprus issue as well as concern regarding some movements and reactions by the Turkish Cypriot leadership in relation to his visit to Moscow.
Invited to comment on statements of the Turkish Cypriot side about a two state solution of the Cyprus problem, he said that the Turkish Cypriot stance "is of our concern" and expressed the hope that "in the course of the talks any reservations and fears will not come true".
Commenting on the proposal introduced by the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for the recreation of a security system in Europe and elsewhere, he said that "the Russian proposal, which we welcomed, aims to restore order on the basis of the international law, the charter of the United Nations and the Helsinki final act providing for the respect of states' independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and the resolution of any dispute using peaceful means".
He also added that the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently chairs EU presidency, has said that a discussion on the Russian proposal it's worth taking place at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, wondering why Cyprus should not welcome such an initiative.
President Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community have been engaged in direct talks since September this year, with a view to finding a negotiated settlement that will reunite Cyprus, which has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
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