|Tuesday, 12 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-12-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 20 December 2008 Issue No: 3077
 Bakoyannis meets UN envoy for Cyprus issueForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday held talks on the progress of negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem and their prospects in 2009 during a meeting with the UN Secretary-General's special envoy for the Cyprus issue Alexander Downer, who arrived in Athens after visiting Ankara.
The minister underlined during the meeting that Greece and Cyprus wanted "to receive more substantial, constructive and positive messages" from the other side in the process, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told reporters afterwards.
He stressed that Greece "does not have this picture" at present, adding that Bakoyannis repeated Greece's position regarding the course and result of the process, which must be based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single international identity.
In statements after the meeting, Downer said the important thing was to preserve the momentum of the process, adding that he had underlined this point during his meeting on Friday with Bakoyannis and during his talks in Ankara.
The envoy opposed the idea of setting a final deadline for the talks, however.
"I don't think it wise, at this point, for the two leaders to set a date when the negotiations will end," he told reporters.
He declared himself cautiously optimistic that such a solution might be found, while at the same time pointing out the great difficulties involved in such a long-standing and complex problem as the Cyprus issue.
 FinMin Alogoskoufis on 2009 state budgetFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, speaking in Parliament on Friday during the discussion on the 2009 state budget, said that the 2009 budget is being prepared in the middle of an unprecedented crisis, with the European Com-mission itself revising its predictions twice.
The minister further said that the repercussions are serious for the Greek economy as well, but they would have been even more serious if it had not been for the structural reforms that the government is implementing.
Alogoskoufis pointed out that the international economic crisis is affecting Greece, but less than other European countries, since the monetary adjustment in 2004 and the structural reforms that followed have shielded the Greek economy to the extent that "the Commission officially predicts a much better course for it in the next year."
He went on to say that "in conditions of uncertainty, such as the current ones, what is of importance is not so much the stability of predictions but the stability of targets and of policies."
Lastly, Alogoskoufis stressed that "the target is difficult. I wish, however, to make it clear that Greece will continue to pursue monetary discipline. This is a clear message in every direction."
 State budget debate in parliamentThe general secretary of ruling New Democracy's Parlia-mentary group, Yiannis Tragakis, on Friday accused the opposition parties of lacking well-founded and constructive proposals when addressing Parliament during the debate on the state budget.
Tragakis also pointed out that opposition MPs had not taken advantage of the opportunity to table budget amendment proposals during the parliamentary discussion, given to them for the first time.
He stressed that the Public Investments programme has increased to 8.8 billion euros, with a further investment boost in 2009 via the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects that are now underway. Tragakis also pointed to some 5.7 billion euros approved for social infrastructure projects within the partnership framework introduced by the government. In addition, investments of roughly 10 billion euros have been approved within the framework of the developmental law, he pointed out.
Main opposition PASOK MP Louka Katseli, responsible for economic affairs, lashed out at the government for making catastrophic choices, stressing that the economic crisis will deepen if its policy is not changed.
Addressing the Parliament, the head of PASOK's economy section stressed that the Greek economy reached the current dead end because of governmental moves that led large social groups to grinding poverty. She also accused the government of abandoning developmental planning and policies aimed at supporting the real economy, underlining that good governance has collapsed.
Katseli pointed out that PASOK has presented specific proposals for the adoption of a programme that will lead the country out of the crisis through the acceleration of EU-funded infrastructure and energy saving projects, like in the case of Spain and other countries. The proposals also include measures supporting employment, substantive redistribution of spending, more investments, reformed tax collection mechanisms and utilization of the 6.7 billion euros of available community funds that remain unused focusing on social state and real economy.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Costas Alisandrakis stressed that a shadow is cast over the budget debate both by the economic crisis and by the shooting of two teenage boys, one killed and one injured.
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP Yiannis Banias stated that the government uses as an excuse the high public debt and the low competitiveness of the Greek economy to continue the same policy in 2009, adding that responsible for the current state of the economy are the governments of ND and PASOK.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) MP Dimitra Arapoglou said that the budget burdens the low incomes when social life indices in the country are negative, among the worst recorded in the EU.
 Tourist development minister on 2009 state budgetTourist Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said in Parliament on Friday, during the ongoing discussion on the 2009 state budget, that "one does not deserve and is not suited by Greece of the lesser effort, of mediocrity domination, of lawlessness, of the hood," adding that both the government and the opposition must hoist the anchor from the past and deal with what is big and important.
Referring to the international economic crisis, Spiliotopoulos said that "it is calling on us to reconsider our policies and priorities. For this reason, we are turning into practice a big plan for the protection of the Greek economy, working people, businesses and the banking system."
Focusing on the sector of tourism in particular "which is facing the biggest repercussions from the economic recession," the minister said that the government has already announced, through the prime minister, this framework of measures in support of Greek tourism, with a substantive economic content that amounts to 257 million euros.
 Gov't spokesman lambasts PapandreouGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday criticized main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou for statements made in interviews over the past days.
He said that Papandreou "thinks he has found the appropriate opportunity to slander his country itself for petty political reasons", by either resorting to "unbelievable inaccuracies" or by distorting the situation and presenting it with the "darkest colors".
Antonaros indicatively cited a statement by Papandreou that the government has increased taxation, but countered that the PASOK governments, of which Papandreou was a top cadre "imposed 80 new taxes, whereas the present government reduced the central income tax, which concerns the middle strata", while also adding that "Mr. Papandreou forgets that this (ND) government raised the tax-free ceiling by 20 percent.
The spokesman further said that Papandreou, either by keeping silent on his own responsibilities or by "forgetting" that he himself had served twice as education minister, "avoids condemning -- directly, clearly and without minicng words -- the expressors of the violence".
Citing an interview by Papandreou on Thursday in which the PASOK leader spoke of respect of the marginalized, Antonaros questioned why Papandreou does not make a clear distinction between "the youth, the pupils and students who have every right to demonstrate peacefully -- and are doing just that" and "those elements that had the unfathomable audacity of burning the national symbol -- the Greek flag".
Antonaros also charged that there were distinct differences in interviews of Papandreou the original texts of which appear in foreign media and the transcripts of those same texts uploaded on the PASOK website, and cited as an example an interview by Papandreou to "Frankfurter Allemagne" on December 15, of which six questions and answers of the original interview were missing from the reprint of the text on the PASOK website.
Obviously, the spokesman said, the text on the PASOK site contained references that were "useful" to Papandreou for the Greek public, elaborating that while the text on the website Papandreou appears to have said that "unfortunately, control has been lost", no such reference is made in the interview appearing in the German newspaper.
"This is how he (Papandreou) was caught red-handed", because "apparently it eludes him, or he doens't want to understand", that there are Greeks who also speak foreign languages well enough to read the monstrous inaccuracies and slandering of his country itself.
Papandreou ahd his leadership group do not care whatsoever about the country, or stability, or demostic calm, the spokesman said, adding that, blinded by their craving for power -- a power that they mismanaged for 20 whole years -- they care only about how to regain it at any sacrifice, even at the expense of the country".
 Papandreou holds talks with ASEP presidentMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou met on Friday with the President of the Supreme Staff Selection Council (ASEP), George Beis, telling him that the Council "is the pride of a great effort and of many, younger deputies then, for meritocracy in the country."
"We believe that the meaning of meritocracy is a basic element of a law-abiding state, even more so in the public sector, which must set an example for society in a wider sense. And, of course, on the other hand, a petty-party, clientele, favouritism conception in hirings is an element of both corruption and undermining of every sense of values," he stressed.
Papandreou also said that "a great problem currently exists with regard to the functioning of meritocracy in the country and, unfortunately, even the Independent Authority has been undermined in its activity."
 Interior ministry replies to Papandreou on ASEP functioningThe press office of Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos issued an announcement on Friday, in reply to a statement by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, regarding the functioning of the Supreme Staff Selection Council (ASEP), stressing that "instead of applying himself to selective memory exercises, Mr. Papandreou should remember that indeed ASEP was enacted during PASOK governance but it was undermined from the very beginning with the creation of dozens of escape corridors from its procedures to facilitate the shaping of PASOK's clientele and favour state, the state of untransparent contracts and of the holding hostage of contract workers."
"The Karamanlis government supported ASEP immediately and removed it from the status of understaffing and of inadequate infrastructures to enable it to function speedily and effectively. In cooperation with ASEP, the Authority itself has been assigned with the initiative for the codification and modernisation of its legislation," the announcement said.
 KKE's Papariga on current developmentsThe focal point for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Communist Youth (KNE) is to protect the rights of the working class, farmers, youth, women and immigrants, KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga stressed in a press conference Friday on domestic developments.
Referring to the hooded rioters, she stressed that they have link with the leftist movement. Papariga accused main opposition PASOK of not having a clear position toward them while referring to Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), she stated that it supports them in an effort to win over more voters.
Papariga underlined that the protesting youths should focus on education issues pointing out that "at this moment they have no demands" and that "tertiary education institutions should remain open."
The KKE general secretary characterized SYRIZA's positions as "dangerous" clarifying that according to SYRIZA the young are being beaten and shot at just because they are young.
 Alavanos urges PM to meet with protesting youthThe head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos on Friday called on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to "provide a way out of the crisis" caused by youth demonstrations by agreeing to meet the student councils of high schools and universities.
"We urge him, in response to a matter that is social and political, to abandon the strategy of tension and take social and political initiatives," Alavanos said, adding that President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias had already had a symbolic meeting with representatives of the younger generation.
He made the statement after meeting the rectors' council at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), where he reported having a very interesting discussion and praised "the very responsible manner" in which university authorities were dealing with a number of issues.
He said the views of SYRIZA and the academics on the expectations and difficulties created as a result of the youth uprising converged in most areas.
 Ecumenical Patriarch meets Coalition party delegationISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was visited on Friday by the head of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology's (Synaspismos) foreign policy department Panos Trigazis, and the head of the international relations department Rena Dourou.
Vartholomeos briefed his interlocutors on the course of the Patriarchate's issues, expressing his appreciation for the Coalition's support and for this party's overall contribution to the case of Greek-Turkish friendship.
On the other hand, the Coalition declared its support for the initiatives being taken by the Patriarch for peace, inter-religion dialogue, the protection of the environment and the combatting of poverty.
The meeting was held on the occasion of the participation of a Coalition delegation in an international conference on the Middle East organised here by the European Left party in cooperation with the Freedom and Solidarity party in Turkey, a conference in which all the participating Leftist parties "expressed support for the Greek youth movement."
 U.S. State Department on disturbances in GreeceWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Thursday night (local time), when called on to comment on incidents that have taken place in Greece, as well as on information that similar situations are spreading to Spain and Turkey, that he is "aware of the disturbances in Greece," but added that he does not know whether they concern "something more than domestic political concerns of Greece, and the Greek authorities are handling them."
 Rallies in response to mysterious Peristeri shootingStudents, teachers and parents rallied Friday in the western Athens suburb of Peristeri, in response to the shooting of a high-school student.
The 17-year-old, son of a leading unionist, was shot late on Wed. under undefined circumstances while sitting in park talking with schoolmates. The assailant is unknown.
The boy was released from hospital earlier on Friday, following surgery to his hand to remove the bullet, which was then handed over to police for forensics examination.
The incident comes in the midst of a second week of daily protests in Athens and around the country following the Dec. 6 fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos.
Teacher unions are considering a national demonstration on Jan. 9.
 Kiltidis at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries CouncilBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis)
The need for a common European policy that will further promote the quality, brand name and safety of EU and Greek products, was underlined by Deputy Rural Development and Foods Minister Costas Kiltidis during the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council.
Kiltidis pointed out that the policy should guarantee the substantive support of the producers' income, contribute to the development of rural regions and ensure high dietary value products for consumers.
He stressed the need for simpler systems to indicate and certify quality, and greater protection of Designation of Origin (PDO) and Geographic Indication (PGI) products, while he also called for special regulations aimed at promoting the quality of agricultural products from small Aegean Islands and mountainous regions.
Kiltidis backed the EU ban on poultry that have been disinfected with chemical substances and suggested EU support for Greek fishermen affected by the imposition of fishery restrictions.
On the sidelines of the council meeting, he met with Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, responsible for agriculture and rural development and Commissioner Stavros Dimas, responsible for the environment, as well as high-ranking European Commission officials with whom he discussed the protection and development of Greek forests.
 Balance of Payments figures released by BoGThe current accounts deficit grew 757 million euros year-on-year in October 2008 over October 2007 to 3,670 million euros, according to figures released on Friday by the Bank of Greece (BoG), the country's central bank, which attributed the increase mainly to the expansion of the income account deficit and, secondarily, to (a) a rise in the trade deficit excluding ships; (b) a shift of the current transfers balance from a relatively small surplus in October 2007 to a deficit; and (c) a decline in the surplus of the services balance.
As a result of a considerable 374 million euros decrease in net payments for purchases of ships, the overall trade deficit dropped by 22 million euros, despite increases in the net oil import bill and the trade deficit excluding oil and ships (of 158 million euros and 194 million euros, respectively). Regarding in particular the trade balance excluding oil and ships, export receipts showed a considerable increase (of 175 million or 15.0%), but the deficit grew, as the import bill rose more in absolute terms (by 369 million or 10.7%).
In the January-October 2008 period, the current account deficit rose by 4,357 million euros over the corresponding period of 2007 and reached 28.4 billion, marking an 18 percent increase over the 23.9 billion euros figure in the same period of 2007. This development reflects increases in, mainly, the trade deficit and, secondarily, the income account deficit, which were only partly offset by a rise in the surpluses of the services balance and the current transfers balance.
The 4,314 million euros rise in the trade deficit is attributable to increases of 3,560 million euros and 999 million euros in the net oil import bill and the trade deficit excluding oil and ships, respectively, while net payments for purchases of ships dropped by 244 million euros.
In the January-October 2008 period, direct investment showed a net inflow of 898 million euros. Specifically, net inflows of non-residents' funds for direct investment in Greece came to 2,796 million euros, while net outflows of residents' funds for direct investment abroad reached 1,898 million euros.
Below are the figures released by the Bank of Greece for October 2008. Balance of payments data for November 2008 will be released on 23 January 2009.
Current account balance
In October 2008, the current account deficit grew by 757 million euros year-on-year, to reach 3,670 million euros, as a result of, mainly, the expansion of the income account deficit and, secondarily, (a) a rise in the trade deficit excluding ships; (b) a shift of the current transfers balance from a relatively small surplus in October 2007 to a deficit; and (c) a decline in the surplus of the services balance.
As a result of a considerable 374 million euros decrease in net payments for purchases of ships, the overall trade deficit dropped by 22 million euros, despite increases in the net oil import bill and the trade deficit excluding oil and ships (of 158 million euros and 194 million euros, respectively). Regarding in particular the trade balance excluding oil and ships, export receipts showed a considerable increase (of 175 million euros or 15.0%), but the deficit grew, as the import bill rose more in absolute terms (by 369 million euros or 10.7%).
The surplus of the services balance narrowed by 163 million euros, as a small 31 million euros rise in net travel receipts was more than offset by a 91 million euros decline in net transport receipts, while net payments for other services grew by 103 million euros.
The 392 million euros rise in the income account deficit is mostly attributable to a hike in net interest, dividend and profit payments.
The surplus of the current transfers balance showed a deficit of 161 million euros, in comparison with a surplus of 63 million euros in October 2007, chiefly because of a rise in general government payments to the EU. (Current transfers from the EU mainly include receipts from the Guarantee Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) in the context of the Common Agricultural Policy, as well as receipts from the European Social Fund, while current transfers to the EU include Greece's contributions (payments) to the Community Budget.)
In the January-October 2008 period, the current account deficit rose by 4,357 million euros over the corresponding period of 2007 and reached 28.4 billion euros. This development reflects increases in, mainly, the trade deficit and, secondarily, the income account deficit, which were only partly offset by a rise in the surpluses of the services balance and the current transfers balance.
The 4,314 million euros rise in the trade deficit is attributable to increases of 3,560 million euros and 999 euros million in the net oil import bill and the trade deficit excluding oil and ships, respectively, while net payments for purchases of ships dropped by 244 million euros. Regarding in particular the trade balance excluding oil and ships, export receipts grew considerably (by 1,687 million euros or 16.8%), while the corresponding import bill rose by 2,686 million euros or 8.3%.
The surplus of the services balance expanded by 1,024 million euros, mostly reflecting higher net transport receipts (up by 1,111 million euros). It should be noted that gross transport receipts (mainly from merchant shipping) increased considerably (by 2,784 million euros or 20.2%). Net travel receipts rose by only 210 million euros year-on-year, as gross receipts (i.e. travel spending by non-residents in Greece) showed a limited increase (of 356 million euros or 3.3%), while gross payments (i.e. travel spending by residents abroad) grew by 146 million euros (or 7.4%). Net payments for other services rose by 298 million euros.
The income account deficit expanded by 1,607 million euros, mainly as a result of higher net interest, dividend and profit payments. This development is largely associated with a rise in non-residents' public debt holdings.
Finally, the substantial increase of 541 million euros in the surplus of the current transfers balance is attributable to a strong rise (of 483 million euros) in EU transfers to general government, as well as a considerable decline (of 193 million euros) in general government payments to the EU, which more than offset a 135 million euros rise in net payments by the other sectors.
Capital transfers balance
In October 2008, the capital transfers balance remained virtually unchanged, as it showed a small deficit of 18 million euros, compared with a small surplus of 12 million euros in October 2007. (Capital transfers from the EU mainly include receipts from the Structural Funds - except for the European Social Fund - and the Cohesion Fund under the Community Support Framework.)
In the January-October 2008 period, the capital transfers balance showed a surplus of 3,024 million euros (up by 501 million euros year-on-year). Finally, the overall transfers balance (current transfers plus capital transfers) recorded a surplus of 5,560 million euros, up by 1,042 million euros in comparison with the corresponding period of 2007.
Combined current account and capital transfers balance (according to the old method of presentation)
The combined current account and capital transfers balance (according to the old method of presentation) showed a deficit of 3,688 million euros in October 2008, 788 million euros up year-on-year. In the January-October 2008 period, this deficit came to 25.3 billion euros, compared with 21.5 billion euros in the corresponding period of 2007.
Financial account balance
In October 2008, residents' direct investment abroad recorded a net inflow (disinvestment) of 22 million euros. The most important transaction in this category concerns an inflow (disinvestment) of 104 million euros due to the sale of ANTENNA's stake in a television channel in Bulgaria. Non-residents' direct investment in Greece showed a net outflow of 249 million euros. The two largest transactions in this category concerned (a) an outflow (disinvestment) of 150 million euros due to the sale to ALAPIS of BOXWOOD's 49% stake in the company GEROLYMATOS S.A.; and (b) an outflow (disinvestment) of 30 million euros - first instalment out of six - due to the sale to Wind Hellas of WIND PPC Holding's stake in TELLAS S.A. Under portfolio investment, a net outflow of 939 million euros was recorded, attributable to a 1,127 million euros decrease in non-residents' purchases of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills, non-residents' sales of shares of Greek firms (worth 1,176 million euros) and a 341 million euros rise in residents' investment in foreign financial derivatives. These developments were partly offset by residents' sales of foreign shares (worth 1,205 million euros) and a 420 million euros decline in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. "Other" investment recorded a considerable net inflow of 4,606 million euros, mainly reflecting inflows of non-residents' funds (7,155 million euros) for investment in deposits and repos in Greece. This development more than offset a 2,458 million euros increase in domestic credit institutions' and institutional investors' deposit and repo holdings abroad.
In the January-October 2008 period, direct investment showed a net inflow of 898 million euros. Specifically, net inflows of non-residents' funds for direct investment in Greece came to 2,796 million euros, while net outflows of residents' funds for direct investment abroad reached 1,898 million euros. During the same period, a net inflow of 17.0 billion euros was recorded under portfolio investment. Specifically, the inflows due to non-residents' purchases of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills (of 20.2 billion euros) and residents' sales of foreign shares (worth 2.2 billion euros) more than offset outflows due to both residents' purchases of foreign bonds and Treasury bills (worth 2.0 billion euros) and non-residents' sales of shares of Greek firms (worth 2.8 billion euros). Finally, under "other" investment, a net inflow of 7.2 billion euros is mainly attributable to the fact that the inflows of non-residents' funds for investment in deposits and repos in Greece (worth 30.7 billion euros) more than offset the increase in resident credit institutions' and institutional investors' corresponding investment abroad (worth 22.1 billion euros).
At end-October 2008, Greece's reserve assets reached 2.4 billion euros. (It should be recalled that, since Greece joined the euro area in January 2001, reserve assets, as defined by the European Central Bank, include only monetary gold, the "reserve position" with the IMF, "Special Drawing Rights", and Bank of Greece claims in foreign currency on residents of non-euro area countries. Conversely, reserve assets do not include claims in euro on residents of non-euro area countries, claims in foreign currency and in euro on residents of euro area countries, and the Bank of Greece participation in the capital and the reserve assets of the ECB.)
 Greek foreign ministry event for Greek fursThe foreign ministry's annual event for Greece's economic partners was held in Moscow and lasted for 48 hours focusing on Greek fur exports.
"The longstanding bonds of friendship and the excellent political relations of Greece and Russia are finding their natural continuation in economic cooperation in more and more sectors as well," said the ministry's alternate International Economic Relations secretary general, Nikos Tachiaos, in a statement to the "Russia Today" satellite network, who represented the poli-tical leadership in events concerning Greek furs and who is visiting Moscow for the third time over the past months.
Greece's new ambassador in the Russian capital, Mihalis Spinellis, underlined during a press conference the stragetic importance of partnership relations with Russia, explaining that this year's event on Greece's economic partners was "symbolically oriented to a sector in which Russia traditionally constitutes an important trade partner of ours, since fur products are our country's top, in value, export product in Russia."
It has been estimated that the recorded official turnover of Greek fur exports alone amounted over the past year to 128 million euros, a percentage that accounts for about 35 percent of Greek exports to Russia.
For the first time in the annals of Greek events in Moscow, over 700 people attended a fashion show of selected Greek firms that was organised in the Russian capital's "Vinzavod" cultural events centre. A reception followed that included Greek dishes and Greek music by the Russian "Metafora" group, which was invited from Saint Petersburg specially for the event.
 Bourse closes 0.39 pct downGreek stocks fell yet lower on the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, closing 0.39 pct down at the end of the week's trading. The composite index of the market ended at 1,731.63 points, with turnover a high 216.1 million euros, of which 36.3 million euros were block trades.
Individual sector indices mostly moved downward, with Technology (2.42 pct), Oil & Gas (2.00 pct) and Raw Materials (1.36 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day; the biggest losses were in Public Utilities (-4.65 pct), Media (-2.71 pct) and Insurance (-2.13 pct).
The FTSE 20 index fell 0.60 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.51 pct up and the FTSE 80 index ended down 0.64 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 110 to 82, with another 59 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.00%
Personal & Household: -1.40%
Raw Materials: +1.36%
Travel & Leisure: +1.33%
Food & Beverages: -1.71%
Financial Services: -0.51%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Polpular Bank, OPAP and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.26
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.92
HBC Coca Cola: 10.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.66
National Bank of Greece: 11.72
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.08
Bank of Piraeus: 5.46
Titan Cement Company: 13.10
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover amounting to 83.532 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.12 per cent, while the volume was 12,087 contracts worth 52.490 million euros, with 31,080 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 46,004 contracts worth 29.594 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (10,368) followed by Marfin Popular Bank (6,278), Atebank (4,709), National Bank (3,351), Intrakom (2,770), GEK (2,612), Alpha Bank (2,205), Hellenic Post Bank (1,836) and Marfin Investment Group (1,769).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 149 million euros on Friday, of which 30 million were buy orders and the remaining 119 million euros were sell orders.
The 20-year benchmark bond (October 22, 2019) 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 2,23 per cent, with the Greek bond yielding 5.25 pct and the German Bund 2.99 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 3.25 pct, the six-month rate 3.16 pct, the three-month rate 3.08 pct and the one-month rate 2.80 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.405
Pound sterling 0.936
Danish kroner 7.509
Swedish kroner 10.945
Japanese yen 125.74
Swiss franc 1.557
Norwegian kroner 9.912
Canadian dollar 1.723
Australian dollar 2.063
 Archbishop Ieronymos visits Avlonas Juvenile Detention FacilityArchbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece visited the Special Juvenile Detention Facility in Avlonas on Friday and offered Christmas presents to inmates.
"Prisons are places of trials and bitterness, because being deprived of freedom is always painful," the Archbishop said speaking to the young offenders and stressed that they should not be despondent and "fight to win back what was lost".
Among the immediate plans of the Archbishop is the operation of a special institution for the rehabilitation of minors.
 Greek-Chinese book on ancient Greek and Chinese civilizationsThe common elements found in the mythology and history of the ancient civilizations of Greece and China are being highlighted in a Greek-Chinese bilingual publication expected in bookstores before Christmas.
The author of the book titled "Cultural traveling between Greece and China" is digital art specialist Ioannis Stathoyannis. The publication is a joint endeavor between publishing houses "Helm" and "Guang Dong" following an agreement at the Tianjin International Book Fair.
 Ecological Organisations meeting in LamiaMembers of the ecological organisations Greece will meet on Friday in the Lamia, central Greece, in the framework of a conference of the Natiowide Network of Ecological Organisations' (PANDOIKO) executive secratriat.
According to an official announcement, the meeting will seek to formulate a united action and expression for tackling the common ecological problems of the country.
A delegation will also meet with Lamia mayor and president of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece's (KEDKE) enviroment commission Giorgos Kotronias, to further discuss the potential of broadening the cooperation between ecological organisations and the local government.
 One dead, one injured in national highway accidentThe female driver of a car that collided with a petrol tanker earlier on Friday along the Antirrio-Ioannina national highway is dead.
The two vehicles burst into flames minutes after the collision along the central highway, linking northern Greece with the mainland.
Fire forces rushed to the scene. Police temporarily closed the road to traffic.
The driver of the fuel truck suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital.
Police are investigating the circumstances of the accident.
 French Institute in Athens vandalizedUnknown individuals broke on Friday the glass facade of the French Institute in Athens and destoyed an adjacent bank ATM.
 Cloudy on SaturdayCloudy and showery weather and northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 17C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with southwesterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 15C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 10C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe injury of a pupil in the hand by an unknown assailant in Peristeri and the new clashes in downtown Athens on Thursday evening dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Athens in flames once again - The result of a tremendous propaganda - 124 police officers hospitalised, 184 rioters arrested".
APOGEVMATINI: "Suspicious shooting with a pupil as the target - The 16 year-old teen was saved by a miracle".
AVGHI: "Another bullet against a 16-year-old teen - Assasination attempt against pupil in Peristeri".
AVRIANI: "The citizens and the Communist Party must restore the order and the protection of democracy if the police are incompetent".
CHORA: "2nd bullet adds fuel to the fire - A madman or a provocateur fired against a pupil in Peristeri".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Athens' citizens suffocated on Thursday from the widespread use of tear gas".
ELEFTHEROS: "They destroy, burn and loot with .... ministers' licence - The hooded groups' dictatorship paralysed Athens on Thursday".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Mystery bullet adds fuel to the social tension's fire - Hand-made bullet injured the 16 year old teen in Peristeri - Government afraid of the instability scenarios and the actions of sinister mechanisms".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Bullet serves as fuse for the outburst - 16-year-old pupil injured".
ESTIA: "On the verge of a political impasse - The need for bipartisan cooperation is imperative".
ETHNOS: "A miracle saved us from a new tragedy - The blind shot came from a police officer's gun".
KATHIMERINI: "Violence becomes a tragic routine - Hooded groups carry out 'professional' strike in the centre of Athens - Mysterious injury of a 16-year-old teenager".
LOGOS: "Shock from the shooting against a pupil - Repetition of the same sad scene".
NIKI: "Unprecedented incidents with stray bullets - They've turned the pupils into targets".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Immediate militant response to the assassination attacks against pupils - Vigilance and intensification of the struggle against the anti-social policy".
TA NEA: "Conflagration no 2, and 'scent' of general elections - Ministers state: The goverment is on the razor's edge".
TO VIMA: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is playing 'russian roulette' - The pupil's shooting opened a new circle of violence - The government becomes the hostage of a series of random events'".
VRADYNI: "14 measures to enhance the tourism - Karamanlis'new initiatives against the financial crisis".
 Greek Cypriot side in a hurry for a solution, Spokesman saysNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Greek Cypriot side is not to be blamed for the fact that progress made so far in the direct talks to reach a solution is not satisfactory, Governement Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou stressed Friday.
Stephanou was commenting on statements by Turkey's Foreign Minister that the UN-led direct talks, between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, have to be speeded up.
"In the past few days the Turkish Cypriot side reiterates the position that the talks must be accelerated, while Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are trying to blame the Greek Cypriot side for the delay," Stephanou added.
Stephanou pointed out that the Greek Cypriot side is in a hurry to reach a solution as soon as possible.
"Not any solution" he stressed, noting that President Christofias "was, is and will be clear on this issue".
As he explained, "the solution has specifications and a basis", adding that "this basis is the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979, UN resolutions on Cyprus and the principles of international and European law".
"The basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation is the basis which has been agreed on between the two communities and on this basis we submit specific positions and proposals at negotiating table", he added.
Noting that "the course and progress achieved in the negotiating process depends on the positions submitted at talks", he underlined that "our positions are completely reasonable and in line with the afore-mentioned basis of the Cyprus solution".
"We are not to be blamed for the fact that the progress achieved so far is not satisfactory and for not moving forward at a faster rate. We are of the opinion that the problem lies with the other side", he added.
In response to a question, he said Cyprus, as a full EU member state, wishes to continue participating in EU equally and without problems after a solution is reached, noting that "we should take into account the European law".
Commenting on a property case brought to the courts by a Greek Cypriot refugee against a British couple, now living in his property in Turkish occupied Cyprus, (Apostolides v Orams), Stephanou referred to Thursday's statement by Cyprus Attorney General Petros Clerides who has described as a very positive development the opinion of the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Communities that courts in European Union member states have an obligation to recognize and enforce judgments relating to property disputes, issued by Cypriot courts.
Clerides also said that the opinion of the Advocate General is not the final ruling of the Court.
In her opinion on the Apostolides v Orams case, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, Julianne Kokkot, said a judgment issued by a court of the Republic of Cyprus must be recognised and enforced in the other EU member states, even where it relates to land in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus.
"We will wait for the decisions as well", concluded the spokesman.
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.
 House President urges international community to end Turkish unyielding stanceNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian said here Friday that now is the time for the UN and the international community, with determination, to show that Turkey must end its unyielding stance, if there is to be a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.
Commenting on statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan that Ankara wants to see deadlines in place with regard to the Cyprus issue, Garoyian said that Turkey has been saying for a long time that it wants to bring back the Annan plan, a UN proposed solution plan which the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots have rejected but the majority of the Turkish Cypriots have approved.
Speaking at the House, Garoyian said that if a deadline is to be set, this must be in respect of efforts by the international community "to end Turkey's games". He said Turkey has been arrogant and utterly intransigent.
"Now is the time for the UN and the international community to decisively show Turkey that it must end this kind of policies and attitude, if there is to be a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus issue", he stressed.
He said Turkey is trying to deviate from the actual dimensions of the Cyprus issue which are the violation of international law and UN resolutions, in defiance of EU principles and values. Ankara's policy, he added, leads neither to reunification nor to a common future for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Garoyian called on the international community to judge for themselves the positions President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have tabled during the negotiations and see who is to blame for the deadlock and the lack of progress.
The EU and the UN should send a "clear, strict message to Turkey that it can no longer play with either time or the substance of the Cyprus issue". It is clear, he added, that "Turkey does not want a solution to the Cyprus issue based on international law principles. It wants a solution which will serve its strategic aims and pursuits", he added.
"They should turn their attention and pressure on Turkey, if they want to achieve a solution to the Cyprus issue", the House President said.
Garoyian noted that President Christofias, "with consistency and prudence, is promoting principles and attempts to create the preconditions for a viable and functional solution. It is the other side which consistently raises obstacles and proves on a daily basis its unyielding stance and flagrantly violates international law and UN resolutions", he concluded.
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