|Saturday, 24 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-12-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 3 December 2008 Issue No: 3062
 FinMin: EU stimulus plan 'balanced'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday said the European Commission's 200-bln-euro plan to support Europe's economy was a "balanced" proposal.
Speaking to reporters after an ECOFIN meeting in Brussels, the Greek minister said the Commission's plan was, as a framework, the right answer to the economic crisis, setting the main directions for national fiscal policies and recommending measures to restoring financial liquidity and long-term reforms, in order to improving the competitiveness of European economy.
Alogoskoufis said the ECOFIN council discussed national plan to boost liquidity in the banking system, with the EU's executive presenting a new, more flexible, framework for the evaluation of liquidity plan not yet approved. "The Greek plan was one of the first to be approved," Alogoskoufis said, adding that boosting liquidity in the EU was necessary to fund small- and medium-sized enterprises, households and large investment projects.
Alogoskoufis said boosting liquidity in the banking system will help funding of large-scale infrastructure projects in the country, private investments and projects included in the government's investment law.
Greece has limited room to respond to the crisis because of its high fiscal debt, Alogoskoufis said, adding that the Greek government has already announced initiatives to supporting small- and medium-size enterprises and lower incomes in the country. "These initiatives are included in next year's budget," he said, adding that the government will do the best it can to help further.
"Implementation of the Commissions plan to support the European economy with 200 billion euros will depend of member states' fiscal condition and national governments' will to take full advantage of it," Alogoskoufis said.
EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, commenting on whether Greece has any fiscal policy "room" to respond to the crisis, reminded that the Greek fiscal deficit for 2007 was revised above 3.0 pct of GDP and expressed his confidence that the deficit will fall below the 3.0-pct limit in 2008.
 PASOK spokesman on economyMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papacon-stantinou spoke on Tuesday of "extremely alarming messages that include a great fall in turnover and a large number of dismissals," adding that "despite the beautification effort being attempted by the government the situation is going from bad to worse."
Papaconstantinou said that although a plan and initiatives are necessary "the government's only initiative is the return of receipts" that proves "the government's failure to do what is elementary and to crack down on tax evasion."
PASOK's spokesman further said that Ecofin "is not rising to the occasion since it is insisting on outdated conceptions on the Stability Pact while, on the contrary, the European socialists have adopted a 'manifesto' which shows the way to an exit from the crisis, while binding themselves for an employment pact that creates 10,000,000 jobs in an economy that will be based on 'green' development."
 PM Karamanlis confers with central bank chiefPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Thursday with Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos.
Before the meeting, speaking in front of television cameras, Provopoulos told Karamanlis that "we are in the middle of the storm and hope that things will return to normal" adding that the main problem faced had been the lack of liquidity.
As for the Greek plan, "I believe that things will progress normally".
Karamanlis noted that that was the aim of the government's plan for boosting liquidity in Greek banks, and called on the central bank governor to supervise the plan's implementation.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 Inner cabinet to discuss economic policy on WednesdayThe inner cabinet will be meeting at noon on Wednesday to discuss issues related to the economy, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Tuesday.
Asked to comment on the criticism of various aspects of economic policy expressed by ruling New Democracy MPs, the spokesman confined himself to saying that ND was "a living cell" and repeated that decisions regarding a cabinet reshuffle were the prime minister's exclusive prerogative. He also stressed that Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis had the prime minister's support.
Regarding the Eurogroup's decision not to approve a reduction in VAT in Greece, Antonaros said the council decided that there were more effective measures, while he stressed that the repercussions of the financial crisis in Greece were limited in comparison with other countries.
He also noted that the Greek plan for dealing with the crisis, along with that of two other countries, had been approved and that the plan proposed by France had run up against opposition.
About the government's intention to resort to borrowing in order to raise the money to support banks, Antonaros said the state was not borrowing for the banks but to secure the flow of cash for the whole economy.
Greece was borrowing at a high interest rate because it had a high public debt, he added.
 Ex-ministers appear before Vatopedi parliamentary com'tHigh-profile New Democracy MP and former minister Vassilis Magginas on Tuesday told members of a Parliamentary fact-finding committee probing the politically charged Vatopedi Monastery land exchanges that an Olympics Properties building in extreme northern Athens never belonged to the employment ministry, which he headed at one point.
Magginas told his fellow MPs on the committee that the property belonged to the National Public Real Estate Corp. (KED), which had the right to proceed with a transfer -- something it did with the Vatopedi Monastery.
According to Magginas, the property in question was not suitable to accommodate the ministry of employment. He nevertheless admitted that he had never visited the specific building, while he decided to cancel relocation plans when he agreed with recommendation in relevant studies.
Magginas also referred to an April 2007 visit to his ministry office by a delegation of Vatopedi Monastery monks, stating that they had expressed their intention to create a non-profit foundation. Magginas added that the monastery's leadership had apparently also discussed the plan with his predecessor, based on the newest information.
Former deputy finance minister Apostolos Fotiadis, who served in the last four-year term of a PASOK government (2000-04), also testified on the property swap between Vatopedi Monastery and the Greek state.
Fotiadis has been called to appear before the committee for accepting two recommendations by the Land Bureau Legal Council, based on which the Greek formally recognised the Vatopedi Monastery's ownership over Lake Vistonida, in the Xanthi prefecture of Thrace province.
Local authorities in Xanthi protested the decision, with Fotiadis then bringing their arguments to the attention of the Legal Council. The State went to court with the Monastery in November 2003 and won the case. The court ruling, however, was never issued because the State and the Monastery entered an out-of-court settlement and proceeded with the land property swap.
In his testimony before the inquiry committee Fotiadis maintained that in March 2003 when the party of New Democracy (ND) came to power, three Legal Council recommendations had already been rejected and sent back to be reexamined based on the evidence presented by the local authorities in Xanthi while a court trial had been won by the State.
Responding to tough questioning by the MPs as regards his earlier actions, Fotiadis cited "respect for the law" concerning his decision to endorse the Legal Council decisions giving Lake Vistonida to Vatopedi Monastery.
Fotiadis also claimed that the Lake Vistonida file he had received was incomplete maintaining that the favorable for the Greek State Council of State No 11/2000 decision was missing as well as the characterization of Lake Vistonida as protected area by the Treaty of Ramsar while, in addition, he was not aware of the fact that the region was a national park.
He stated that he had no briefing on behalf of the ministry of environment, town planning and public works but he too never briefed his successor Petros Doukas on the pending case when he handed over his portfolio.
Voulgarakis testifies in Vatopedi probe, denies responsibility
Former culture minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday denied any sort of responsibility for the land swaps between the state and the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos, the contracts for which were drawn up by his wife Katerina Peleki and signed during his tenure at the ministry.
"I bear no responsibility. Not just political but any sort of responsibility - in the sense that my involvement in this affair was nil. I would be responsible if I had changed the status of the archaeological sites, if I was administrator of the properties, if I was owner, holder or had use of those plots of land, if I had contravened through one of my orders or ministerial decisions a presidential decree, a law, or any other thing," he said while testifying before the Parliamentary investigation committee that is conducting a probe into the affair.
Among the contracts signed was one for a site of 860 hectares at Ouranoupolis that the local curator of Byzantine antiquities Ioannis Tavlakis considered a "protected archaeological site belonging to the State" and not eligible to be exchanged.
According to Voulgarakis, however, the curator's opinion was not supported by ministry services and, as minister, he had seen no evidence that might make him suspect the possibility of an illegal offence, since the document sent by Tavlakis arrived after the contract had been signed.
"It was not even clear to me that it concerned the specific contract drawn up by my wife. The issue had not concerned the press and I had no reason, as culture minister, to deal with it because I saw nothing written about it, no one told me," the former minister said.
Voulgarakis also argued that the transfer of property within archaeological sites was not prevented by Greek law, even when a site had been listed as archaeological, and that there were no rules requiring that the ministry approve such real estate transfers.
The former minister insisted on his argument, even when members of the committee pointed out that his views concerning the specific site were not shared by his successor Mihalis Liapis. An MP cited a document dated April 3, 2008 in which Liapis had described the property as part of a region that had been designated a historic monument listed for conservation since 1965, Liapis had asked the ministry's legal advisor whether the culture ministry had the right to seek the cancellation of the contract.
At Voulgarakis' request, the MP then read the reply of the ministry's legal service, which had arrived on November 14, 2008 and simply said that "it has become infeasible for our office to reply to the above document".
Asked to comment on his wife's involvement in the whole affair as a notary, Voulgarakis said that she had acted in good faith, in the framework of her duty as a notary, and "all these things that have come to light, she could not have even imagined".
 PASOK spokesman on Vatopedi issuePASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou said on Tuesday that the pieces of the puzzle in the Vatopedi issue show the dimensions of the scandal and strengthen the view that there had been focal planning.
"For us the revelation of the truth and rising to the occasion is a matter of honour," he said.
Papaconstantinou added that "the ruling New Democracy party is trying, like a drowning man, to grab itself by the hair" and criticised the government for making "communication handling, such as for example with a non-paper that is attempting to turn white into black," while noting that "it would be good if all of us read the Factfinding Committee's minutes."
 Alavanos on Vatopedi, economic issuesRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday described the Vatopedi Monastery land swaps affair as a "long-standing scandal of the system" that involved past and present governments of both main parties.
Commenting on the latest revelations uncovered by Parliament's investigation into the affair, Alavanos said that it was imperative that the Parliamentary committee establish conditions that prevented a repetition of such scandals, in addition to uncovering the truth.
Alavanos then criticised the decisions taken by Monday's ECOFIN council, claiming that adherence to the Stability Pact and the Lisbon Treaty would not protect against the storm but act like a stone that would drag economies to the depths.
He also appealed to Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos to provide a solution to the problems faced by the 15 economic migrants in Hania, who have been on hunger strike for the past 20 days demanding simpler procedures for obtaining work and residence permits.
According to Alavanos, six of them have already been admitted to hospital and the minister should intervene on humanitarian grounds.
On the issue of tax policy, SYRIZA's leader repeated his party's position in favour of lower VAT for basic goods and services, as well as those related to the country's development and activities to boost employment, while increasing taxes on luxury goods and services.
 SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman on Vatopedi probeA parliamentary fact-finding committee examining the controversial property swap affair between Vatopedi Monastery and the Greek state will not issue a single report but five, each corresponding to the five political parties represented on the committee, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary spokesman Fotis Kouvelis predicted on Tuesday.
However, he pointed out that crucial issues will be brought forth concerning the Vatopedi furor, adding that it will be determined after the testimonies of politicians whether the parliament's plenary session will proceed with setting up a preliminary examination committee.
Referring to such likelihood, Kouvelis said his party will outline its position clearly, and at the appropriate time.
He stressed that it is imperative for his party to present an alternative agenda and commenting on the popularity decline reflected in recent opinion poll results, he said that it should be considered as a warning coming from the people. He predicted early elections and, at the same time, he ruled out cooperation between PASOK and SYRIZA saying that the necessary preconditions are absent.
According to Kouvelis, the consequences of the international financial crisis, which are expected to be felt more intensely in 2009 can only be faced through a new policy, pointing out that state intervention should become stronger in critical sectors of the economy to minimize the impact of the crisis.
 Event honours academics seeking Parthenon Marbles returnCulture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Tuesday addressed an event held at the new Acropolis Museum in honour of three academics who have made great contributions to the effort for the return of the Parthenon Marbles currently held at the British Museum in London.
The three are Prof. Tonio Holscher, professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Prof. Louis Godart, advisor to the Italian President for the Conserva-tion of Artistic Patrimony and professor of Mycenean Philology at Federico II University of Naples, and Prof. Antonia Sofikitou, who is chair of the Italian Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles and teaches Modern Greek Literature at the University of Palermo.
Liapis praised the "inestimable contribution" made by the three to Greece's efforts to bring back the sculptures removed from the frieze of the Parthenon and taken to London by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, so that they can be reunited with the rest of the world-famous monument.
According to the minister, the three academics were "citizens of the world" and "ambassadors of the ancient Greek spirit".
Tuesday's event at the Acropolis Museum also coincided with the return from Sweden of an architectural fragment taken from the Athens Acropolis, which was returned by an ordinary Swedish citizen who had inherited the fragment from her Austrian grandfather, a soldier during the Second World War. It was returned via the Swedish Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, which the woman originally contacted.
The marble fragment bears wavy carvings, similar to those found on the capitals of ancient columns, and an inscription saying "souvenir from the Athens Acropolis" in the form of modern Greek known as "katharevousa" that was quite widely used in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its return to Greece will allow it to be studied and properly dated.
During his address, Liapis also announced the results of a UNESCO intergovernmental committee meeting for promoting the return of cultural assets to their country of origin, which decided to adopt a resolution that recognises and underlines the need to return cultural items to their country of origin, especially those considered to be of outstanding global importance.
 Gov't points to milestone reforms in Greek family lawLegislation establishing a legal precedent for cohabitation between heterosexual couples with a view to granting couples living together the same rights as married ones was published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday, identified as state Law No. 3719/08.
The new law also features new provisions for divorce proceedings, parental care for children born out of wedlock as well as returns the right of spouses to a add the surname of their spouses to their own (a double-barreled surname).
Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis stressed that the reforms constitute a major breakthrough in Greece's family law sector, solving serious social problems while offering a wider spectrum of options to men and women and guaranteeing the rights of unmarried mothers and thousands of children born out of wedlock.
According to the ministry, the civil union law allows two adult heterosexual individuals to live together after signing a cohabitation pact merely certified by a notary public.
Such a pact is not allowed to be reached in case any of the parties interested is already in a marriage or has signed a cohabitation pact that is still valid. Also, a cohabitation pact cannot be signed by relatives or by an adopted parent and the adopted child. Granting a palimony can be included in the cohabitation pact or in a document signed afterwards. Parental care for a child born while a cohabitation pact was is effect belongs to both parents.
The Parental care issues are covered by relative Civil Law clauses concerning children born in a marriage.
As regards divorce procedures, a divorce is granted automa-tically if spouses are separated for at least two years even if the plaintiff is blamed for the breakup.
The double-barreled last name clause provides that following an agreement between the spouses each of them -- or one of them -- can combine their last names thus forming a two-part surname. The double-barreled last name ceases to be in effect in the case of divorce, whereas in the case of death of one of the spouses it can be changed at the request of the surviving spouse.
Concerning children born out of wedlock, parental care belongs to the mother. If the father recognizes a child born out of marria-ge can also be granted parental care if there is an agreement with the mother or if she is unable to care for the child.
 Health minister inaugurates nursing home for disabledHealth Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday inaugurated a new and ultra-modern nursing home for the disabled named the "St George" Social Protection Institute in the Stavraki region of Ioannina, northwest Greece.
The home currently houses 60 patients from areas all around the Epirus region and, once new staff are taken on, will be able to provide care for up to 100 patients.
The minister later attended a ceremony at the Hatzikosta General State Hospital in Ioannina, during which he unveiled a bust of the original benefactor George Hatzikostas, who donated the money to build the city's first hospital at the start of the previous century.
 EU Council of competitiveness ministersBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Deputy Development Minister Stavros Kalafatis supported the European Commission's proposal on the founding of a private European company in the framework of the European Union's "Small Business Act" initiative at the EU Council of competitiveness ministers that took place here on Tuesday.
According to Kalafatis, the new business tools, such as the Private European Company, should contribute to a decrease in the administrative burden for the European businessman, as well as for every potential investor outside the EU.
The Private European Company will allow businessmen, through its flexible structure, to be active in all EU member-states and to establish a company at a low cost.
Referring to obstacles raised by certain member-states regarding the necessary founding capital, Kalafatis said that "the global crisis that we are experiencing has provided us with many examples of businesses that met the demands of their creditors, despite having smaller amounts of capital, and which failed in the specific sector and were led to liquidation."
For these reasons, according to the deputy development minister, Greece believes that for a private European company to be established it must not necessarily be active, during its commencement, in another member-state as well, apart from the one in which it is based.
Kalafatis also referred to the effort made by the development ministry's leadership, over the past three months, to support the Small Business Act initiative, adopting the corresponding "Small Business Act for Greece" initiative.
 Greek energy policy detailedGreece's main targets in the energy sector are boosting security of sources and promoting the use of alternative sources of energy, as well as conservation measures, Development Minister Christos Folias told a conference on EU energy security in Paris on Tuesday.
In his address, the Greek minister stressed, however, that even if it achieved its targets by 2020 -- a 20-pct cut in CO2 emissions; 20-pct increase in energy efficiency and 20-pct of consumption coming from alternative sources -- Europe would still continue importing energy in the future.
An under-construction oil pipeline linking Burgas with Alexandroupolis, the South Stream natural gas project and the ITGI natural gas pipeline ensured secured energy supplies for Greece, and at the same time, contribute to the EU's energy security, Folias said, adding that Greece was fully responding to the Union's strategy for creating new energy infrastructure.
Folias, who holds the energy portfolio, underlined that Greece will soon have one of the largest terminal stations for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Europe, after completing the upgrading of a terminal station on the islet of Revythoussa, near the main port of Piraeus. He also said that Athens was promoting political dialogue with neighbouring countries on energy issues.
The Paris conference on energy security is part of the second reform of energy strategy in the European Union.
The conference was organised by the current French EU presidency.
 Conference in Vienna on Austrian investments in GreeceVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
Attracting Austrian investments toGreece and highlighting sectors of cooperation between Austrian and Greek companies was the objective of a one-day conference held at the Economic Chamber of Vienna hosted by the Economic and Commercial Affairs Office of the Greek Embassy.
The conference, held Monday in cooperation with the Federal Economic Chamber of Austria and the Hellenic Centre for Investment (ELKE - "Invest in Greece Agency") was attended by 40 representatives of Austrian businesses and was met with the positive response of the Austrian business sector.
According to official figures presented, the Greek economy growth rate predicted by the EU and the OECD is at 2 percent and 1.9 percent respectively, more than double the predicted growth rate in the Euro-zone countries.
Speakers referred to Greece as being a stable reference point favoring business cooperation in the region of SE Europe and a market of 140 million consumers.
The conference is placed within the framework of the Greek foreign ministry initiatives and the General Secretariat for International Economic Relations aimed at forging partnership relations abroad and expanding the financial-commercial cooperation and investments in Greece.
 Bank Association denies claims of sharp increase in foreclosuresThe Hellenic Bank Association on Tuesday categorically denied claims by the president of the National Federation of Borrowers' Protection Unions, V. Kritikos, over a sharp increase of foreclo-sures in the country in the second half of 2008.
Christos Gortsos, the Association's president, said official and detailed figures will be released in the next few days flatly dismissing any such claims.
Kritikos told reporters on Tuesday that financial institutions proceeded with 100,000 foreclosures in 2007. The Hellenic Bank Association dismissed the claim and responded that foreclosures by Greek banks totaled 2,634 in 2007.
 Eurobank most active securities firm in Nov.Eurobank Securities topped the list of the most active Greece-based securities firms in November, with a market share of 19.63 pct, followed by Investment Bank (16.33 pct), National-P&K (12.58 pct), Piraeus Securities (6.31 pct), Euroxx (5.92 pct), Alpha Finance (5.63 pct), Eurocorp (4.08 pct), Kappa Securities (2.55 pct), Proton (2.24 pct) and HSBC (2.18 pct).
In the 11-month period from January to November, Investment Bank was first with a market share of 20.64 pct, followed by Eurobank EFG (15.8 pct), National-P&K (14.79 pct), Piraeus Security (7.97 pct), Euroxx (6.46 pct), Alpha Finance (6.27 pct), Kappa Securities (4.49 pct), Eurocorp (3.76 pct), Proton (3.27 pct) and HSBC (2.54 pct).
 Eurobank Properties opts out of building purchase in SofiaEurobank Properties on Tuesday announced it has cancelled a pre-agreement for the purchase of a Bulgarian company that owns an office and shop building complex in downtown Sofia. Eurobank Properties said the annulment was made without any financial burden resulting.
 Protest action by dairy farmers, fishermenGreek dairy farmers and owners of trawlers staged separate protest action on Tuesday, handing out flyers the national highway at the Malgara toll posts in northern Greece and blockading the entrance to Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports, respectively.
The dairy farmers had set off in tractors from Sindos and stayed at the toll posts for about an hour and a half but at no time attempted to block the flow of traffic. They are demanding a minimum wholesale price for milk of about 0.45 euros a litre - noting that prices paid to farmers are constantly being reduced while prices for consumers are rising - and the installation of new, electronic systems at slaughter houses that will put an end to the illegal "conversion" of imported meat and cheese into 'Greek' products.
They also sought a freeze on their debts to banks and faster return of taxes on fuel.
The fishermen, on their part, are seeking to be exempted from a new European regulation that bans the use of trawl nets within 1.5 nautical miles of the shore and at depths of less than 50 metres, due to go into effect in 2009.
Even though the specific method of fishing is considered very damaging for the marine environment, since it drags up the ocean floor and destroys marine habitats, the fishermen argue that their fishing range is restricted beyond what is economically viable in the crowded waters of the Aegean by this regulation.
 Greek stocks end 1.20% downGreek stocks ended lower for the second consecutive session this week at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market ended 1.20 pct down at 1,837.98 points, with turnover a slightly improved 139.2 million euros, of which 7.4 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Financial Services (3.61 pct), Constructions (3.35 pct) and Healthcare (2.69 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Telecommunications (3.45 pct), Media (2.68 pct) and Chemicals (1.35 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.22 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.08 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.53 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 141 to 67 with another 36 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.45%
Personal & Household: -2.64%
Raw Materials: -2.38%
Travel & Leisure: +0.45%
Food & Beverages: -0.93%
Financial Services: -3.61
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP and Fourlis.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.60
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.26
HBC Coca Cola: 11.48
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.48
National Bank of Greece: 13.76
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.26
Bank of Piraeus: 7.46
Titan Cement Company: 12.28
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a large discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking to 43.643 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.47 pct, while volume was 7,775 contracts worth 36.365 million euros, with 30,735 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on the Mid Cap index was one contract worth 11.655 million euros.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,864 contracts worth 6.790 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,397), followed by Eurobank (680), OTE (948), Alpha Bank (626), Marfin Popular Bank (663), Intralot (1,365) and Cyprus Bank (445).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 600 million euros on Tuesday, of which 440 million were buy orders and the remaining 160 million euros 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 shrank to 163 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 4.72 pct and the German Bund 3.09 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates fell further. The 12-month Euribor rate was 3.89 pct, the six-month rate 3.82 pct, the three-month rate 3.78 pct and the one-month rate 3.47 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.279
Pound sterling 0.853
Danish kroner 7.508
Swedish kroner 10.618
Japanese yen 119.51
Swiss franc 1.543
Norwegian kroner 9.036
Canadian dollar 1.588
Australian dollar 1.975
 Researchers present conclusions dating Thera volcano eruption to 1613 BCTwo olive branches buried by the minoan period eruption of the volcano on the island of Thera (now Santorini) have enabled precise radiocarbon dating of the catastrophe to 1613 BC, with an error margin of plus or minus 10 years, in the estimation of two researchers who presented the conclusions of their research during addresses at the Danish Archaeological Institute of Athens at an event titled "The enigma of dating the minoan eruption - Data from Santorini and Egypt".
The study, conducted by Dr. Walter Friedrich of the Danish university of Aarhus and Dr. Walter Kutschera of the Austrian university of Vienna, who said that the data left by the branch of an olive tree with 72 annular growth rings was used for dating by the radiocarbon method, while a second olive branch -- that was found just nine meters away from the first -- unearthed in July 2007 has not yet been analyzed.
They said both olive tree branches were found near a Bronze Age man-made wall, giving the impression that they were part of an olive grove situated near a settlement, near the edge of the present-day caldera. The two trees were found standing, when unearthed, and apparently had been covered by the Theran pumice immediately after the volcano's eruption.
According to the two scientists, other radiocarbon testing from archaeological locations on Satnorini and the surrounding islands, as well as at Tel el-Dab'a in the Nile delta in Egypt, corroborate the dating based on the olive tree.
On the other hand, as the two researchers pointed out, archaeological evidence linked with the Historical Dating of Ancient Egypt indicate that the Thera eruption must have occurred after the start of the New Kingdom in Egypt in 1530 BC.
The two researchers said that their find (olive tree) represents a serious contradition between the study results of the scientific (radiocarbon dating) and humanities sciences (history-archaeology) methods, with both sides having strong arguments to support their conclusions.
The radiocarbon dating places the cataclysmic volcano eruption, which ended the Minoan civilization, a century earlier than previous scientific (humanities science) finds.
 Papoulias receives drug treatment centre's boardPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, accompanied by his wife, on Tuesday received the members and families of the Therapy Centre for Depended Individuals (KETHEA).
Speaking to KETHEA members, Papoulias stressed that "we are here today because we want to express our faith that the battle against drug addiction and for social rehabilitation can be won".
"It is essential, however, to understand that drug addiction is another symptom of psychological and social impasse, and that drug addiction is not only someone else's problem," he said, adding that society and the state must closely examine the social, ethical and domestic impasses that lead young people to drug use.
Earlier, Papoulias met in private with KETHEA's leadership, while afterwards a reception was held at the Maximos Mansion, where former drug users presented the president with handmade crafts and artworks.
 Mediterranean Studies Foundation celebrating 25th anniversaryThe Mediterranean Studies Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary under the auspices of President Karolos Papoulias. The Foundation has contributed to scientific research with the preparation of 80 research programmes, the publication of 50 books and the holding of dozens of scientific conferences, banquets and seminars. Its work will be presented by its president, Stergios Bambanasis.
The event, that President Papoulias will be honouring with his presence, will be taking place at the National Bank's Theodoros Karatzas Mansion at 6 p.m. on December 3.
The Foundation's new publication titled "Seeking the Greek Growth Model", prepared by Tasos Yiannitsis, will be presented during the event.
 Foreign nationals arrested in migrant-smuggling, ransom ringTwo foreign nationals, alleged members of an organised migrant smuggling ring, were arrested while four other suspects are wanted by police in Athens.
The suspects are accused of keeping six foreign nationals imprisoned in sordid conditions in a rural settlement north of Athens until each paid between 4,000 and 6,000 euros for release.
Police recovered an iron rod reportedly used to beat the Third World migrants held hostage, along with a note in Arabic with the names of illegal migrants and sums they owed. Other evidence recovered included a photocopy of an asylum request and a fake Iraqi-issued international driver's license.
 Author Margarita Karapanou diesGreek author Margarita Karapanou died in an Athens hospital on Tuesday night from respiratory problems at the age of 62.
Margarita Karapanou, daughter of well known author Margarita Lymperakis, was born in Athens and brought up in Paris and Athens. Her fisrt novel "Cassandra end the Wolves" was a best seller in Greece and abroad, while her second novel "The Somnabulist" was awarded in France.
Her funeral will take place at the Athens first cemetary on Friday.
 Cloudy on WednesdayCloudy weather with the possibility of local showers and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 4-9 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 24C. Partly cloudy in Athens with possibility of local showers, with southerly 6-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 22C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 7C to 15C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceRevealing testimonies before parliament's fact finding commisssion on the Vatopedi monastery scandal, and the climate in ruling party New Democracy dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Hospital doctors' new collective labour agreement in line with EU working hours per week".
APOGEVMATINI: "Main opposition PASOK is mainly responsible for the Vatopedi scandal - Testimony before the fact finding commission states that Costas Simitis (PM in former PASOK government) knew everything about Vatopedi since September 2003".
AVGHI: "Government issues construction licences - The 'hinterland' around Athens and Thessaloniki will turn into concrete".
AVRIANI: "PASOK handed over Vistonida Lake to Vatopedi monastery in 1985: The newspaper reveals a document sent by former deputy FM Yannis Kapsis to former Agriculture Minister Yannis Pottakis".
CHORA: "ND on fire - Contradictory statements bring confusion and heavy atmosphere".
ELEFTHEROS: "Turmoil in ND over Karamanlis' succession".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Working hours to exceed 70 hours per week - The proposal that will overturn the labour relations will be tabled in Europarliament on 17 December".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Record 53 billion euros loan will put the country in a vise"
ESTIA: "Danger of non-governance - What the electoral law foresees".
ΕΤΗΝΟS: "Shocking testimony on Vatopedi case - Abbot Ephraim and Papistas Group partnership".
KATHIMERINI: "The international financial crisis an opportunity for 'green' development".
LOGOS: "Revealing testimonies......at the fact finding commission".
NIKI: "Nervous breakdown in ND - Scandals and economy toppling the government".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Uniform Health System under a central plan, exclusively public, and for free".
TA NEA: "Shocking testimonies at fact finding commission: We took orders from (ND former ministers) Evangelos Bassiakos and Petros Doukas".
TO VIMA: "European Socialists draft pre-electoral manifesto in Madrid for 2009 Europarliament elections".
VRADYNI: "Seven relief measures for farmers - Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis visited on Monday the Agriculture Ministry".
 President Christofias replies to Talat's objections in writingNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, highlighting the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and his own right to sign agreements with other countries, answered in writing on Tuesday to the objections of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat regarding the signing of a political declaration between Cyprus and Russia.
Speaking on his return to the Presidential Palace after a meeting with Talat, President Christofias said that in the discussion that followed the presentation of the written statement, Talat ''explained that he does not question the right of the President of the Republic of Cyprus to sign agreements with various countries but objects to what we call the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus to a federal bicommunal bizonal state.''
President Christofias said that Talat was not speaking about a ''virgin birth'' of a new state but did not accept the position on the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus from a single to a federal state.
He said he replied to Talat's objections ''clearly on the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and the sovereign rights of Cyprus and the sea area that belongs to it and its absolute right to exploit the submarine wealth.''
On Tuesday's agenda was the civil service and the civil service committee, on which the two sides share some views and disagree on others, President Christofias said.
The next meting, scheduled for December 8, has been postponed for December 16 at the request of the UN, due to the fact that December 8 is UN Day.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since early September, aiming at reuniting the island.
 House President says UN report contains positive and negative elementsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
House of Representatives President Marios Garoyian on Thuesday pointed out positive, negative and neutral elements in the report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), noting that among the negative elements is the non reference to the implacable stance of the Turkish Cypriot side in the direct negotiations for a Cyprus settlement.
Garoyian said he disagreed with the assessment, as recorded in the report, that there has been progress in the negotiations and that both sides are constructive, ''because in reality only the stance of our side is constructive, while the stance of the Turkish side is implacable, and the UN must admit this.''
He added that he understood the reasons for which the UN wanted to keep equal distance, noting however that one side should not be punished for behaving responsibly.
Garoyian said he also disagreed with the fact that the phrase ''political equality'' was not followed by the explanation ''on the basis and as the UN interpret it in their resolutions.''
He pointed out that although the leaders of the two communities agreed that the solution of the Cyprus problem should be based on a single sovereignty, international identity and citizenship, the report says that the leaders merely discussed the basis.
Garoyian said he was certain ''efforts will be made so that the UN report constitutes a resolution that will truly reflect the realities in Cyprus, depict the stance and behaviour of the two leaders at the negotiating table, and at the same time state the self evident.''
''Our diplomatic services and the government have begun this effort so that the final resolution includes what should be included and of course improve those neutral or negative references,'' he added.
Furthermore, Garoyian announced that Cyprus would be hosting the meeting of the parliament presidents of the small states of Europe in 2009.
During the meeting in Lichtenstein in November 2008, Garoyian informed his counterparts on the Cyprus problem and the talks underway, and received the support of the small states of Europe which participated in the meeting.
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