|Tuesday, 17 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-12-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 19 December 2008 Issue No: 3076
 PM announces measures to boost tourism industryPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday announced a series of measures designed to support Greece's tourism industry, stressing the sector's crucial importance for the Greek economy.
"The course of our economy is affected crucially and to a great extent by the course of tourism. We are determined to do everything possible in order to safeguard the things we achieved through the sacrifices of all Greeks over the past years, culminating with the organisation of the Olympic Games in 2004, when Greece succeeded in gaining international recognition as a safe and hospitable destination," he stressed.
In addition to the measures announced on Thursday, the government was prepared to take other, additional measures if this proved necessary, he noted.
Listing the measures decided during the earlier cabinet meeting, Karamanlis announced that spending on advertising and promoting Greece as a tourist destination will be increased by 50 percent, seeking to maintain current numbers of visitors, while the state will also increase the number of state-subsidised 'social tourism' tickets offered via the Labour Housing Organisation (OEE) by 21 percent, after last year's increase of 41 percent.
Tourism enterprises will also be temporarily relieved from payment of a number of taxes and tariffs levied by the state for a period of one to two years.
These include the Uniform Property Tax on buildings and land, which is reduced from 0.6 percent of the property's value to 0.033 percent for the years 2009 and 2010, a one-year suspension of a fee levied by banks on the sum of loans taken out by tourist enterprises, and a tariff levied by local government for the stay of travellers, which is reduced from 2 percent to 0.5 percent. The lost revenue for local government will be compensated for by an increase in funds from vehicle road taxes.
In addition, local tax offices will be instructed to immediately return any VAT due.
Other measures seek to make funding more easily available to tourism enterprises. They are made eligible for funding under the "Programme for Reinforcing Liquidity in the Economy", while the government will immediate activate the 2007-2013 National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) that provides funding for activities involving tourist infrastructure, services and enterprises. They will also be able to get start-up capital with fully subsidized interest, up to the sum of 350,000 euros, from the Guarantee Fund for Small and Micro-Enterprises.
Priority will also be given to the payment of any subsidies due to the tourist enterprises included in the Investment Law under the Public Investment Programme.
In terms of human and other resources, the government has decided to finally deal with the long-standing problem of regulating the operation of hotels, to convert the seasonal unemployment benefit into an employment benefit, to run a training programme combining theoretical and on-the-job training, in which the enterprises participating will be obliged to then employ 30 percent of those trained.
Finally, Karamanlis said that particular attention would be given to boosting hotels and related enterprises in the centre of Athens that were damaged during the rioting and demon-strations of the past weeks.
 Measures supporting tourist sector in right direction, Hotels Chamber saysThe Hotels Chamber of Greece stressed that the measures announced by the prime minister on Thursday in support of the tourist sector are moving in the right direction.
According to a relevant announcement, the measures are expected to relieve the tourist sector which is entering a long period of economic crisis.
The announcement also underlined the need of speeding up procedures to enable the implementation of measures requiring legislative arrangement, to secure the correct distribution of promotion funds and to boost the liquidity and viability of businesses in an anti-bureaucratic spirit so that the beginning of the tourist season will find tourist businesses open and ready to meet the demands of their clientele.
 PASOK comments on premier's declaration on tourismMain opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou commented Thursday on measures announced earlier in the day by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis regarding the country's tourist industry.
"The problem of tourism is a problem of confidence to the Greek economy," the spokesman said, adding: "Even if the prime minister announces 45 measures, I am afraid that what foreigners see happening in Greece will act negatively."
 Inner cabinet meets; statement by interior ministerThe inner cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Thursday focusing on the adoption of measures in support of the tourism sector in response to the unfolding global financial crisis.
In statements made afterwards, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos referred to the injury of a teen student Wednesday night in Peristeri, Athens expressing the government's sympathy and support to the youngster and his family. He stressed that the injury sustained was superficial and that the case is investigated to be cleared up quickly and in depth before a police bulletin is issued.
Pavlopoulos underlined that "the incident should make us realize how fragile and priceless social peace is," adding that "at these crucial times, we have a duty to protect it and think where acts of raw violence can lead."
"We should protect social peace which is a right that belongs to all of us," he said, adding that "each one have their share of responsibility, the government first and foremost."
 DM Meimarakis addresses Parliament on 2009 state budgetDefence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, speaking in Paria-ment on Thursday on the second day of the discussion on the 2009 state budget, stressed that the government's main priority, apart from transparency in managing public funds, is the upgrading and modernisation of the defence industry.
"We are convinced that the economy and the country's development can benefit from the development of the local defence industry. We believe that it is time for all the countries of Europe to jointly produce defence weaponry systems," Meimarakis said.
"The European defence organisation must go ahead with an understanding for this. We have played a leading role, we included our small and medium-size enterprises in the defence map, for the first time a companies register has been created, we proceeded with the multiple plan for staff issues, we are continuing the effort for an integrated health and security system with the aim of decreasing accidents as well, border regions have been strengthened," the minister added.
 Former PM Simitis addresses Parliament on 2009 state budgetFormer prime minister Costas Simitis, speaking in Parliament on Thursday on the second day of the discussion on the 2009 state budget, referred to "a risk of the country resorting to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a result of difficulties in obtaining loans."
"In the event that difficulties in the Greek state obtaining loans appear, the excuse will have been given for the indication to be formulated that the solution to the problem must probably be sought by resorting to the IMF. It will be a humilating development for Greece, the most disastrous conclusion of the governance of New Democracy," Simitis said.
 Papandreou receives Human Rights Committee presidentMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou received the President of the National Committee for the Rights of Man, Kostis Papaioannou, on Thursday who reminded that Papandreou had founded the Committee.
Papandreou said on welcoming Papaioannou that "human rights are more timely than ever, for the lives of our fellow countrymen including, of course, their property as well, in a law-abiding country."
Commenting on Immigrants Day on Thursday, Papandreou said that "we also have great shortcomings here as well, particularly in relation to the nationality of immigrants. We have reached 200,000, who in essence lack rights" and added that a great social problem exists since some consider immigrants as marginalised.
"I believe that it is at the focus of our major political problems, as a country, when we deprive citizens of ours of rights, when they do not feel that their rights are being protected," he said.
Replying to a remark by a Committee member that human rights Day "passed by in silence", Papandreou said that "it passed by in silence due to other furors."
"I believe that in light of international developments and tensions that will be created by economic problems, the issue of human rights will be at the focus as a need for us to insist on civility and not violence," the PASOK leader also noted.
 PASOK leader interview to L' espresso magazineROME (ANA-MPA / Th. Andreadis-Singelakis)
The Italian weekly magazine "L' espresso" carried a four-page interview with main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou in Thursday's issue under the headline "Athens, democracy in flames" following his recent statement that "we are ready to become a government".
"People are losing their confidence in a system of power that favours client relations and tolerates corruption, with the young being those who are in the worst position. We must learn to listen to their message. When their needs are overlooked the risk for them to be seduced by the sirens of violence is increasing. More social justice, more democracy is needed. 'The alternative today lies between socialism and barbarity', as political thinker Cornelius Castoriadis used to say," Papandreou stresses in the interview, adding that "neo-liberalism is a model that has failed".
On the situation in the sector of education, Papandreou maintained that students get their degrees while there is a lack of new momentum in the job market.
He stressed that his party will improve the level of democracy in the country and fight against the centers that promote private interests while "respecting the individual and defending those who live on the margins of society".
Papandreou underlined that his party is more united than it used to be and called on the people to trust the institutions again borrowing the slogan "yes, we can" used by Barack Obama.
As regards the police stance and the negative report issued by Amnesty International, Papandreou spoke of practices inherited from the past.
Papandreou backed the full integration of immigrant children born in Greece and marked as "satisfactory" the state of the center-left at international level maintaining that Obama's election victory will have a positive impact.
 President Papoulias receives "G-700" movement delegationPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received a delegation of the "700-euro Generation - G-700" citizen movement at the Presidential Mansion on Thursday.
Papoulias stressed that he is aware of their efforts pointing out that that they are the "pioneers in a very important struggle".
"I believe that what you call the 'inter-generation justice' is part of social justice," he said, adding that they "spearhead the struggle for social justice".
President Papoulias also referred to his experience of the 1968 uprising in Germany, stating that it was an ideology-based confrontation with the German establishment, while adding that the young generation back then was not facing the problem of ensuring the means for a dignified life. "I am certain that after 1968, the German society became richer in ideas," the president stressed, adding that "your struggle will also make the Greek society richer in ideas and more determined when it comes to decision-making."
On their part, the "G-700" representatives pointed out that their generation is the big loser in Greece because they grew up in affluence, pointing out that "it was a fake prosperity."
They condemned the recent street violence, calling on the politicians to stop burdening the young with their political choices and start planning the country's future based on justice. Referring to the protesting youngsters they stressed that they can claim the future they deserve through social awakening and peaceful struggles while assuming their share of responsibility.
 Teen shot by airgun in Peristeri by unknown assailantAn unknown assailant shot a 16-year-old lyceum pupil was shot in the hand late Wednesday night. He was reported to be only lightly injured on Thursday and underwent surgery in hospital to remove the bullet lodged in his hand.
The teenager was conversing with his friends at Ethnikis Antistasseos Square in Peristeri on Wednesday night when he suddenly had a "burning sensation" in the palm of his right hand. The boy was immediately rushed to Metropolitan Hospital, where he later underwent surgery.
Police spokesman Panayiotis Stathis said the shot had been from an airgun, adding that police were investigating the incident, while the perpetrator still remained unknown.
The bullet removed from the wound was handed over to police, to be examined at police forensics laboratories.
 Deputy Education Minister on teen's shooting injury in PeristeriRegret for the injury of a secondary education student in Peristeri, Athens was expressed by Deputy Education Minister Andreas Lykourentzos on Thursday.
"Unfortunately another unpleasant incident has been added to the recent sad events that torment the sector of education," he stated, stressing that the student's health condition is being closely watched by the leadership of the ministry of education. Lykourentzos expressed his sincere support to the injured boy's family, his teachers and fellow students.
He also wished that "the incident will be assessed and evaluated calmly without being blown out of proportion," pointing out that these are "hard times that demand responsibility and cooperation to ensure the preservation of democratic normalcy, social peace and the uninterrupted continuation of education's work".
 Mobilizations against new armed attack targeting teen in AthensThe secondary education student mobilizations' coordinating body in Athens (SASA) condemned the armed assault targeting a fellow student on Wednesday evening as "murderous attack". In a statement issued it is stressed that the assault "constitutes a direct attack on the student movement and its elected bodies and will receive an organized response by the student and the people's movements."
A protest rally was held by pupils in Omonia Square, while another was called in Propilea by pupils, students and educators who called work stoppages in order to attend the mobilizations.
Meanwhile, the Board of the Teachers' Federation of Greece condemned the new murderous attack against the son of its fellow board member Costas Paplomatas and expressed support to his family. They stress that mass struggle and a popular uprising is necessary pointing out that educators must be present in the struggle.
The 16-year-old lyceum pupil shot in the arm by an unidentified assailant who fired an airgun late Wednesday night, was reported in good health after surgery on the injured hand, police said Thursday.
The teenager was conversing with his friends at Ethnikis Antistasseos Square in Peristeri on Wednesday night when he suddenly had a "burning sensation" in the palm of his right hand.
The boy was immediately rushed to Metropolitan Hospital, where he underwent surgery.
Police spokesman Panayiotis Stathis said the shot came from an airgun, adding that police were investigating the incident, while the culprit is still unknown.
 PASOK on latest shooting incident involving teenMain opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Thursday blamed the government's policies for the latest shooting involving a teenager. The boy was shot in the hand by an unknown assailant in the western Athens district of Peristeri late on Wednesday night.
According to Papaconstantinou, the government was responsible "for bringing us to this point" and noted that within 10 days there had been an incident that could have led to the death of a second highschool student due to a shooting.
He also criticised the police for "unjustifiable delay in investigating the incident" and for rushing to specify that the shot had been fired by an air gun, a claim that was later contradicted, and said that PASOK would demand a full investigation of the case.
 Student rally culminates in chase by policeA protest rally at Propylea and a student-teacher march to the Parliament Building turned into a headlong pursuit by riot police through the streets of Athens on Thursday afternoon.
Just before the demonstration was concluded, groups of young protesters started throwing stones and fruits at riot police guarding the march. Soon after they were followed by hooded individuals who hurled firebombs, prompting police to use tear gas in order to disperse them.
The protesters were forced into retreat by police, who pursued them through downtown Athens. Some of them found refuge at the Law School building while others attempted to get in the University of Athens Hall at Propylea.
Another protest demonstration organized by the secondary education student mobilizations' coordinating body in Omonia had ended peacefully.
 Magistrate OKs special ballistics study in teen killing caseThe examining magistrate investigating the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos - who was shot through the heart on December 6 by a police officer - on Thursday consented to a demand by lawyers representing the family's civil suit in the case to carry out a specialised inspection and ballistics investigation at the site where the victim was shot.
The magistrate had called the defence and civil suit counsel to his office on Thursday to inform them about the results of the ballistics investigation carried out by police.
One of the lawyers representing the family said that both the coroner's report and the results of the ballistic investigation required "careful study" and stressed that these could not be used to reach firm conclusions without the more detailed ballistic examination at the site, as requested by the family's technical advisors.
She also stressed that the family's position that Alexis' killing was an intentional homicide would not change given that a large number of eye-witnesses said they saw the police officer shoot directly at the victim and his friends.
 EU approves multiannual programme for Greece under External Borders FundBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The European Commission has adopted the multiannual programme under the External Borders Fund 2007-2013 for Greece for an estimated amount of 148 million euros, together with the first two annual programmes (2007 and 2008).
Vice President Jacques Barrot, in charge of the justice, freedom and security portfolio, welcomed the adoption of the Greek multiannual programme for the implementation of the External Borders Fund. "With the approval of this multiannual programme, Greece has shown its commitment to the establishment of the common integrated border management system. The planned investments will reinforce its capacity to address increasing illegal migration at its land and maritime external borders and to support more effective cooperation and coordination mechanisms between its national authorities and with other EU member states. Support for this programme demonstrates the solidarity of the EU towards Greece and its efforts in the management of increasing migration flows."
According to the Commission, Greece has chosen to implement all five of the Fund's strategic priorities namely, further gradual establishment of the common integrated border management system, development of the national components of a European Surveillance system and/or a permanent European Patrol Network at the southern maritime borders and support for the issuing of visas and tackling of illegal immigration by the consular services of the Member States in third countries. Also, establishment of IT systems required by Community rules on external borders and visas (VIS and SIS) and application of the Community rules on borders and visas, in particular the Schengen Borders Code and the European Code on Visas.
The projects financed in the 2007 and 2008 annual programmes in Greece include, strengthening the control of land and maritime external borders through the purchase of equipment and means of transport and modernizing visa processing by, inter alia, the installation of the same management system in all consulates; a feasibility study on the establishment of a National Coordination Centre which would serve as a national component of a European Surveillance System; projects related to the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), among which the purchase of software, the installation of hardware, the development of applications improving the border checks.
The External Borders Fund is one of the four financial instruments of the General Programme on "Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows" which encourages a fair share of responsibilities between member states arising from the introduction of integrated management of the external borders and from the implementation of common policies on asylum and immigration. The other three Funds are: the European Fund for the Integration of Third country nationals, the European Return Fund and the European Refugee Fund.
The External Borders Fund establishes a financial solidarity mechanism to support countries which endure, for the benefit of the Community, a lasting and heavy financial burden arising from the implementation of common standards on control and surveillance of external borders and visa policy.
The overall budget of this Fund for 2007-2013 is 1,820 million euros, namely, 1,543 million euros distributed among member states on the basis of objective criteria expressing the burden of each state for external border control and visa policy for actions under national programmes, 109 million (6%) directly managed by the Commission and dedicated to Community actions, 108 million for the Kaliningrad transit scheme implemented by Lithuania and 60 million euros for specific actions at strategic border points at the external borders on the basis of risk analyses carried out by the FRONTEX Agency.
 FM Bakoyannis talks with Archbishop on povertyForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was received on Thursday by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, with talks focusing on cooperation between the state and the Church regarding the relief of the poor.
"There are possibilities of finding European and international funds, and the foreign ministry could contribute to this end," Bakoyannis told reporters after the meeting. "This we shall do, especially now that decisions have been taken by the European Council Summit so as to have funds provided to the Church that will be channelled for the purpose of its tasks," she added.
On his part, Archbishop Ieronymos noted the "common interest and wish to have funds aimed at fighting poverty."
 Eurobarometer on economic situationBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Most Europeans (69 percent) are worried about their country's economic state, as well as the overwhelming majority of Greeks (90 percent), according to the results of the Eurobarometer poll publicised here on Thursday.
On the question of "how do you judge the economic situation in your country", 48 percent of Greek respondents said the economic situation is "very bad", 42 percent "rather bad" and 10 percent "good." Compared to last year, the number of those expecting a worsening increased by 14 percent.
As regards their country's economic course next year, 51 percent of Europeans believe that it will be worse, 29 percent expect stagnation and 15 percent believe that it will be better.
In the case of Greece, 66 percent of Greeks expect a worsening of the economic situation, 26 percent expect stagnation and 7 percent expect an improvement.
In the sector of employment, 53 percent of respondents expect a worsening in the European Union over the next 12 months, 29 percent expect stagnation and 13 percent improvement.
The Greeks expect worsening in the employment sector with 64 percent, stagnation 30 percent and improvement 6 percent.
The issues worrying the average Greek most are the economic situation (51 percent), inflation (40 pc), unemployment (35 pc), insecurity (19 pc), the health system (10 pc), education (9 pc) and the pensioning system (9 pc).
Lastly, the Greeks believe that in comparison with the rest of the EU countries, the situation in their country is "far worse" regarding the economy (44 percent), employment (45 pc), the cost of living (54 pc) and energy prices (46 pc).
 Unemployment down in 3rd qtr 2008Unemployment in the third trimester of 2008 fell to 7.2 percent, down from 7.9 percent in the same period in 2007, the Greek national statistics service said on Thursday. This is the lowest level of unemployment on record in the 3rd trimester of any year since records began in 1998.
Unemployment levels among women in that period stand at 10.8 percent, while that for men is 4.7 percent. Unemployment rates in the 15-29 age group are much higher, reaching 15.6 percent overall, or 11.5 percent for men and 21 percent for women.
For people aged 30-44 unemployment stands at 6.4 percent (3.6 percent for men and 10.2 percent for women), while for people over 45 it falls to 3.5 percent.
Rates of unemployment in correlation to educational level and qualifications were lowest for people with little or no formal education, ranging from 4.5 percent for those with no schooling at all to 5.3 percent for those who had completed primary school.
It was highest, by contrast, for those with a technical or vocational training course diploma at 9.6 percent, at 8.1 percent for those who finished the first three classes of high school and 7.6 percent for those completing all six classes of secondary education.
Unemployment among graduates stood at 5.6 percent and was higher for those with postgraduate qualifications at 5.9 percent (4.5 percent for men and 7.9 percent for women).
The percentage of "new" unemployed that enter the labour market for the first time was 37.1 percent of the total, while the long-term unemployed accounted for 52.2 percent of the total.
On a regional level, the highest levels of unemployment were in western Macedonia (12.5 percent), in Epirus (10 percent), in western Greece (9.5 percent) and in Thessaly (8.9 percent).
Unemployment levels were lowest in the regions of the South Aegean (2.9 percent), North Aegean (3.7 percent), the Ionian islands and Crete (4.2 percent).
The statistics agency also reported that 98,675 people that had been unemployed the previous year found jobs in the third quarter of 2008.
The figures were produced using a sample-based survey in 2,640 residential blocks or their equivalents among 30,743 households, designed extrapolated based on the 2001 census.
 Eurostat on farmers' income in GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The Eurostat service announced on Thursday that farmers' income per capita decreased by 7.1 percent in Greece in 2008, compared to 2007. In the "27" EU member-states, farmers' income decreased over the same period by 4.3 percent, in the (old) Europe of "15" member-states by 4.9 percent and in the 12 new member-states by 0.5 percent.
The most important increases in farmers' income per capita in the EU in 2008, compared to 2007, occurred in Bulgaria with 24.5 percent, Romania 21.4 percent and Hungary 14.6 percent, while the most important decreases were recorded in Belgium with 25.6 percent, Estonia 22.1 percent and Latvia 17.5 percent.
According to Eurostat, farmers' income per capita in Greece amounts to 79.6 percent in 2008, compared to 2000, and among the "27" to 117.2 percent. In the (old) Europe of "15" member-states it reached 103.8 percent and in the 12 new member-states 173.7 percent.
 Greek trade deficit lower, Eurostat reportsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Greece's trade deficit reached 27.3 billion euros in the first nine months of 2008, a reduction of 1.6 billion euros relative to the same months in 2007, according to figures released by the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat on Thursday.
Greek exports came to 12.9 billion euros and imports were 40.2 billion euros, so that Greece's trade deficit was reduced from 28.9 billion euros to 27.3 billion euros in the past year.
This corresponds to a 1 percent increase in Greek exports (from 12.7 billion euros in 2007) and a 3 percent decrease in imports (from 41.6 billion euros in 2007).
Greece has the fourth-largest trade deficit in the European Union, after the UK with the highest trade deficit of 91.7 billion euros, Spain and France.
 Eureko BV on share transfer completionEureko BV and Global Finance have announced the completion of the transfer of 75 percent of the shares of Medicom systems SA, to which the Athens Euroclinic and the Childrens Euroclinic belong, to the South Eastern Europe Fund L.P. that is being given advice by Global Finance. Eureko keeps the remaining 25 percent of the share capital.
According to an announcement, Global Finance and Eureko are uniting their strength and their specialised knowledge in the health services sector and intend, through longterm cooperation, to invest further in the sector and to develop and provide innovative and high quality health services.
 Greek merchant fleet totals 2,075 shipsThe Greek merchant shipping fleet totalled 2,075 ships with a total tonnage of 38,864,028 grt, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that 628 were cargo ships, 513 tankers and 934 were passenger and other kind of ships.
 Greek close 0.46 pct downGreek stocks eased downward on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, ending 0.46 pct lower at the end of the day's trading. The composite index of the market ended at 1,738.49 points, with turnover a medium-to-low 162.2 million euros, of which 5.5 million euros were block trades.
Individual sector indices mostly moved downward, with Health (8.00 pct), Travel & Leisure (5.46 pct) and Telecom-munications (1.43 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Public Utilities (-3.34 pct), Insurance (-3.33 pct) and Banks (-3.12 pct) posted the biggest losses.
The FTSE 20 index fell 0.90 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.74 pct up and the FTSE 80 index ended down 0.58 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 113 to 95 with another 54 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.11%
Personal & Household: -0.11%
Raw Materials: -0.85%
Travel & Leisure: +5.46%
Food & Beverages: -1.79%
Financial Services: -2.31%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.28
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.62
HBC Coca Cola: 10.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.48
National Bank of Greece: 11.84
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.22
Bank of Piraeus: 5.50
Titan Cement Company: 13.48
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a small premium in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover amounting to 80.154 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a small premium of 0.27 per cent, while the volume was 13,796 contracts worth 61.683 million euros, with 30,771 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 39,489 contracts worth 17.970 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (6,910), followed by GEK (4,969), National Bank (3,682), Alpha Bank (2,295), Mytilineos (2,381), Intracom (1,535) and Hellenic Post Bank (1,449).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market eased to 130 million euros on Thursday, of which 65 million were buy orders and the remaining 65 million euros were sell orders.
The 3-year benchmark bond (March 20, 2011) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 45 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 2,3 per cent, with the Greek bond yielding 5.29 pct and the German Bund 2.99 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 3.29 pct, the six-month rate 3.20 pct, the three-month rate 3.12 pct and the one-month rate 2.64 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.473
Pound sterling 0.958
Danish kroner 7.509
Swedish kroner 11.135
Japanese yen 130.25
Swiss franc 1.549
Norwegian kroner 9.943
Canadian dollar 1.757
Australian dollar 2.090
 Conference on migrants by UNESCO Chair-AUTH in ThessalonikiThe reality faced by migrants in Greece and the prospects opened for them were discussed in a one-day conference held in Thessaloniki on Thursday, hosted by the UNESCO Chair at Aristotle University (AUTH).
Delegates referred to the shortcomings of the legislative framework on issues concerning immigrants, pointing out that the implementation of relevant legislation is not uniform.
Participants stressed that a total of 1,130 people have been hosted at the Refugee Reception Centre in Thessaloniki since its establishment in 2000, while a total of 40 children have been born there, pointing out that the need for a Shelter for Refugee Children is pressing. Currently the Refugee Reception Centre hosts 58 people from Afghanistan and Somalia.
 Squall rams ferry into Samothrace dockA sudden squall caused the car-passenger ferry "Cora Express 3" to ram into the dock at the port of Samothrace while it was letting off cars and passengers from Alexandroupolis.
The impact caused a small breach above the ship's waterline and it also lost the anchor, while three fishing craft anchored nearby were damaged. No passenger was injured.
The ferry was sent by the merchant marine ministry to fill in for the subsidised services of a SAOS line ferry that were not being carried out as a result of labour action by sailors working from the shipping firm.
It was extracted from the dock with the aid of fishing vessels and will return to Alexandroupolis, where it will dock with the aid of tug-boat.
The passengers will remain on the ship and return to Alexandroupolis.
 New pilot centre for immigrants in PiraeusDeputy Interior Minister Athanassios Nakos on Thursday inaugurated a new "pilot" reception and service centre for immigrants in Piraeus, which would handle the entire procedure needed for issuing a residence permit from start to finish.
The minister said the new centre would serve as a "one-stop shop" for immigrants living in Greece and, if successful, would serve as a model for similar centres in other regions of the country.
It will carry out the entire process of renewing residence permits, ending the inconvenience, running around and endless red tape to which immigrants are subjected to when renewing their residence permits and greatly simplifying the process.
 Two arrests for murder of middle-aged man in PiraeusTwo men, a 46-year-old Greek and a 31-year-old foreign national, were arrested on charges of intentional homicide related to the killing of a middle-aged man found dead in Akti Miaouli, Piraeus at the early morning hours on Thursday.
Their arrest, a few hours later, was based on information received by the local police.
According to a police statement, the unidentified victim was killed during a verbal exchange when the 46-year-old, assisted by the second suspect, slashed his throat with a broken beer bottle.
 Man arrested at airport for trafficking immigrantsAn Iraqi immigrant trafficker was arrested at Thessaloniki's 'Macedonia' airport on Thursday when he was caught trying to get a group of some 15 illegal immigrants from Athens to Germany.
The illegal immigrants had been supplied with false travel document by the Iraqi and his unknown accomplices.
The illegal immigrants are all from Afghanistan and Iraq, while police also found a small quantity of hashish in the man's room.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy and showery weather and southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 8C and 20C. Cloudy in Athens, with southwesterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 16C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 14C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe rumors of a government reshuffle, pupils' ongoing mobilizations, the European Parliament's rejection of a proposal for a 65-hour working week, and hiring in the health sector were the main front pages in Athens' dailies on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The proposal for a 65-hour work-week was rejected by the Europarliament".
APOGEVMATINI: "ESY (National Health Service) afternoon medical offices without charge - 5,500 hirings of nursing staff without ASEP (civil service hiring examinations board) procedures, as of January 1".
AVGHI; "SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary alliance) the core of the social opposition - VPRC opinion poll".
AVRIANI: "The industrialists want a government of their own - PASOK hastens to adopt their provocative positions - 'Sociological' delirium by the SEB (Federation of Greek Industries) president, who went so far as to exploit the concerns of the Youth".
CHORA: "The ricochete of the uprising - Message from the Acropolis to all of Europe".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "With an attack against a MAT (riot police) vehicle and the hanging of two banners on the Acropolis, the anarchists once again proved that they are... desecrators and killers".
ELEFTHEROS: "Dora (foreign minister Bakoyannis: Greece is not for burning - Sweeping attack against the hooded troublemakers".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Five psychologists for 50,000 policemen! The 2003 law requiring psychological tests was never implemented".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The children of rage - They're continuing with an education-wide rally".
ESTIA: "Statism to blame for the youth's problems today".
ETHNOS: "5 vetos on the reshuffle - The prime minister undecided and hostage to the balances".
KATHIMERINI: "The market agonizing just before the holidays - Loss of turnover of up to 90 percent".
LOGOS: "Daskalopoulos (SEB president) 'manifesto' on...co-governance by ND and PASOK, or immediate elections".
NIKI: "The industrialists also uprising against Karamanlis - The country needs a strong a credible government, says Daskalopoulos".
RIZOSPASTIS: "European Parliament: EU imposes up to 78 hours of work per week".
TA NEA: "Tension on the streets, paralysis at Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) - Worry of difficult Christmas".
TO VIMA: "Why the young people are taking to the streets".
VRADYNI: "The Health System being reinforced - Thousands of hirings/breather of nursing staff, and end to intransparency".
 Cyprus President: I expected better results from the talksNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias said here Thursday that he expected better results from the ongoing talks, he is engaged in with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, noting that so far he is not too happy.
''I am glad that together with (Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali) Talat we put an end to the deadlock but I am not so happy because of the way we handle the negotiations and because of the results. I expected better results,'' he told a reception hosted by French Ambassador to Cyprus Nicolas Galey, to mark the end of the EU French presidency.
UN led talks between Christofias and Talat began on September 3 and so far 12 meetings have taken place focusing governance, power sharing and foreign relations.
''My vision is to reunite the people. I want to serve together with Mr Talat the Cypriots, without separating Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,'' he stressed, recalling that his sole aim for which he ran for the presidency of the Republic earlier this year was to bring about a solution to the Cyprus problem based on principles, the UN relevant resolutions and the High Level agreements, of 1977 and 1979 which provide for bizonal bicommunal federation.
Addressing the foreign ambassadors, attending the reception, the president said he did not want to accuse Talat or Turkey and added:
''You, as good diplomats, understand very well who is who and how he is handling the whole problem.''
''From my side I say once again I am full of good will for the solution of the problem. Of course, I am not ready for a solution which is not going to serve the real interest of the whole people of Cyprus,'' he stressed.
Christofias praised French President's Nicolas Sarkozy actions, as President of the European Council, in the wake of the global financial crisis as well as during the conflict between Georgia and Russia. ''He handled the whole matter as a master of politics,'' he added.
Regarding the financial crisis, Christofias said that the EU ''must handle the issue collectively.''
Addressing Christofias, the French Ambassador expressed sorrow for the death of former President Tassos Papadopoulos.
Galey praised Christofias' actions which led to the commencement of the talks for a political settlement. ''Your actions paved the way for the start of the talks on September 3,'' he said.
Christofias, who was elected to the presidency in February this year, continues his regular meetings with Talat with a view to finding a mutually agreed solution which will reunite Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
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