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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-12-31

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 31 December 2008 Issue No: 3084


  • [01] Karamanlis confers with FM on Middle East
  • [02] EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza
  • [03] EU must take specific initiative in Gaza crisis, FM Bakoyannis says
  • [04] Papandreou holds telephone conversation with Iranian FM
  • [05] PASOK calls for Gaza ceasefire
  • [06] Papariga to head KKE delegation to Palestine
  • [07] FM briefs SYRIZA delegation over Gaza situation
  • [08] PM Karamanlis receives representatives of jurist and prosecutor associations
  • [09] PM Karamanlis confers with ND Secretary
  • [10] PASOK on domestic issues
  • [11] Greek exports up 2.2% in Jan-Sep
  • [12] Greek retail sales index up 3.7 pct in Oct.
  • [13] Greek PPI down 0.6 pct in Nov.
  • [14] Credit expansion slows to 18.2%
  • [15] FinMin Alogoskoufis receives tourism sector representatives
  • [16] National Bank announces 350-mln-euro share capital increase plan
  • [17] Commemorative 2-euro coin
  • [18] Greek stocks jump 3.21% on Tues.
  • [19] ADEX closing report
  • [20] Greek bond market closing report
  • [21] Foreign Exchange rates: Wednesday
  • [22] Athens Academy awards
  • [23] 'Prometheus Bound' performance wins award in China
  • [24] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [25] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [26] Cyprus donates financial aid to Gaza

  • [01] Karamanlis confers with FM on Middle East

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis to review the latest unfortunate developments in the Middle East and the situation in the Gaza Strip.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Bakoyannis said "we are in agreement on the Greek government's proposals and preparations we have made in order to be present, first and foremost, at the humanitarian level".

    She said a condition for Greece's being able to provide humanitarian aid was for an "immediate truce, ceasefire, and a humanitarian corridor, which is necessary for the safe passage of medical aid as well as people who will need to go to Gaza to help the Palestinians, who are in an exceptionally tragic condition at this time".

    [02] EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/N.Melissova)

    European Union foreign ministers agreed here on ďuesday night on a text calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza Strip, the dispatch of humanitarian aid and the intensification of the peace process.

    During the meeting of the 27, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis focused on the need for the implementaion of an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the opening of corridors for the dispatch of humanitarian aid.

    She also underlined the readiness of Greece to send humanitarian aid as soon as conditions of safety are guaranteed.

    [03] EU must take specific initiative in Gaza crisis, FM Bakoyannis says

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis arrived here on Tuesday to attend the special summit of European Union foreign ministers on the Gaza crisis, expressing hope that Europe will send a message with a single voice for an end to violence in the region.

    "Greece believes that the international community and the European Union in particular must take action, it must take a specific initiative with the primary target being a ceasefire, a lasting ceasefire and, at the same time, the opening of humanitarian corridors. We need to send humanitarian aid to Gaza as soon as possible and there must be a ceasefire to enable the negotiating effort to be continued. There is no solution with force. Force cannot solve any problem. Therefore, we must take, all of us together, this initiative and I hope that tonight in Paris all of us shall be able to find a common policy to serve this target," Bakoyannis said on her arrival.

    [04] Papandreou holds telephone conversation with Iranian FM

    Main opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist International President George Papandreou, in the framework of the Socialist International's initiative for a ceasefire agreement in the Middle East, held a telephone conversation on Tuesday with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, tha party announced.

    [05] PASOK calls for Gaza ceasefire

    A main opposition PASOK spokesperson on Tuesday stressed that the party has repeatedly called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

    "All acts of violence are condemned, while the deadly Israeli air strikes in Gaza, which have killed hundreds of civilians, were condemned as soon as they started. The massacre has to end," Maria Karaklioumi stressed, pointing out that the acts of indiscriminate violence and bloodshed in the Middle East destroy any hope for a peaceful and viable solution.

    "The Israeli government, unfortunately, and it is not the only one, does not realise where escalating violence can lead," she said, noting that a blockade of Gaza has to be lifted to allow humanitarian aid to reach the Palestinian people.

    PASOK's spokesperson also condemned the ramming of the "Free Gaza" organisation's vessel by the Israeli navy.

    "An appeal is issued to the international community, the EU in particular, to assume their share of responsibility and make all possible efforts to defuse the crisis by reaching a ceasefire and engaging in peaceful dialogue," Karaklioumi said. "The EU will have to take action and the Greek government has to mobilise its EU partners toward this direction," she stressed.

    Karaklioumi also referred to telephone contacts PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou had within the framework of preparations for a new Mideast to be undertaken by the political grouping.

    [06] Papariga to head KKE delegation to Palestine

    A five-member delegation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), headed by party leader Aleka Papariga, will depart on Monday for Ramallah in an active display of solidarity with the Palestinian people, according to Papariga.

    The KKE leader said that "not a single day, a single minute, must pass without manifestation of the Greek people's solidarity toward the Palestinian people, who are undergoing a barbarous Israeli attack".

    Papariga put the blame for the attack equally on the government of Israel and the US, and also on the European Union, charging that "the lack of intervention capability does not display neutrality" but "is an advocate of this attack either by sharing the responsibilities or with its latest resolution, which upgraded its relations with Israel".

    The KKE secretary general stressed that there was only one solution, "that of an independent Palestinian State, next to the State of Israel, on the 1967 borders, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital".

    Papariga questioned whether "there is a place for the holiday celebrations in our country at a time when a state, the Palestinian state, is undergoing an attack that aims at genocide".

    [07] FM briefs SYRIZA delegation over Gaza situation

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday received a Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) delegation, following a request by the political formation's Parliamentary group for a briefing over the latest developments in the Middle East and Gaza.

    Afterwards, SYRIZA MP Yannis Banias said party officials called for immediate initiatives at the EU level to stop the devastation, which he termed genocidal. The leftist political grouping also warned against any Israeli military incursion into Gaza and the lifting of a blockade against the Palestinian enclave by Israeli forces.

    The SYRIZA delegation said Bakoyannis promised initiatives at the diplomatic level to dispatch medical and pharmaceutical supplies, something that will require, however, consultation with Israeli authorities and Hamas. SYRIZA also expressed a request for a Greek Parliamentary committee to tour the region.

    [08] PM Karamanlis receives representatives of jurist and prosecutor associations

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received on Tuesday the representatives of the six Jurist and Prosecutor Associations at the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) in the presence of Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis.

    The minister underlined afterwards that such a meeting had taken place for the first time, pointing out that the government wishes to highlight its respect toward justice. He stressed that the Greek people should be proud of the work performed by the judges and prosecutors and added that the role of the sector unions is important, setting an example on how unions should operate.

    Responding to a question by reporters on the low credibility ratings received by the Greek judiciary based on recent opinion polls, Hatzigakis underlined that ratings were high considering the recent events. "The people will come to have complete confidence in the justice system next year when the rulings on high publicity cases are issued," he stressed.

    Jurist and Prosecutor Association President Charalambos Athanasiou stated that the prime minister expressed interest in the existing problems and smooth operation of justice, pointing out that he is aware of the issues that concern the judiciary.

    "The lack of trust reflected in the opinion polls is coincidental," Athanasiou stressed, underlining that two years ago ratings were even lower.

    [09] PM Karamanlis confers with ND Secretary

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Tuesday with ruling New Democracy (ND) Party Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis at the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters).

    Zagoritis stated afterwards that they discussed the party's action plan until the Euro-elections.

    [10] PASOK on domestic issues

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesperson Maria Karaklioumi stated that access to tertiary education should be open to all people based on their choices and capabilities, stressing the need for a wholesale secondary education reform.

    Referring to a government statement on Monday on the opening of dialogue as regards the university and college admission system, she said that its purpose was to create impressions and accused the government of "destroying both the general and technological education."

    Karaklioumi also criticised the government for the public transport fare hikes.

    Financial News

    [11] Greek exports up 2.2% in Jan-Sep

    Greek exports grew by 2.2 percent in the January-September period compared with the corresponding period last year, totaling 12.974 billion euros, the National Statistics Service announced on Tuesday.

    The statistical service, in a report, said provisional figures showed that the value of exports grew by 15.6 pct if measured in US dollars over the same period, reflecting a 6.7-pct increase of exports to the 10 new EU members and an 8.3-pct rise of exports to neighbouring Balkan states.

    Greek exports to the EU-15 fell slightly, although exports to the EU-25 grew by 1.3 pct in the nine-month period. Exports to North America jumped 8.8 pct, reflecting a 12.7-pct rise of exports to the United States, while exports to Russia jumped a spectacular 31 pct.

    On the other hand, however, exports to the Middle East and North Africa fell by 6.5 pct, while exports remained stable to Southeast Asia and fell vis-Ó-vis Latin America.

    Imports fell by 2.9 pct in the January-September period, but rose by 7.5 pct to the EU-27.

    [12] Greek retail sales index up 3.7 pct in Oct.

    Greece's retail sales turnover index (in current prices) rose 3.7 pct in October from the same month last year, after an increase of 4.2 pct in October 2007, the National Statistics Service announced on Tuesday.

    The retail sales volume index (turnover in fixed prices) rose 0.4 pct in October 2008, after an increase of 1.4 pct in the same month in 2007.

    [13] Greek PPI down 0.6 pct in Nov.

    Greece's Production Price Index in the industrial sector fell by 0.6 pct in November 2008, compared with the same month last year, after increases of 8.1 pct and 2.6 pct in November 2007 and November 2006, respectively, the National Statistics Service announced on Tuesday.

    The Greek PPI fell 3.5 pct in November from October, after an increase of 1.7 pct in the same period in 2007.

    [14] Credit expansion slows to 18.2%

    Credit expansion in Greece slowed to 18.2 pct in November, down from 19.7 pct in October, the Bank of Greece announced on Tuesday. The central bank, in a report, said credit expansion slowed both vis-Ó-vis enterprises and households.

    Credit expansion towards enterprises totaled 940 million euros, an increase of 22.2 pct in November, down from 24.1 pct in October, but was up compared with a 20.6-pct hike in December 2007. Credit expansion slowed towards most sectors with the exception of agriculture, industry and commerce, where credit expansion growth accelerated in November.

    Credit expansion towards Greek households totaled 500 million euros in November, an increase of 14 pct, down from 15.1 pct in October and 22.4 pct in December 2007. Mortgage loans grew by 269 million euros, for an annual growth rate of 12.3 pct in November, down from 13.7 pct in October.

    Consumer loans grew by 233 million euros for an annual growth rate of 17.8 pct in November, down from 19.1 pct in the previous month, while other loans towards households fell by 2.0 million euros, for an annual increase of 10.8 pct in November, up from 5.5 pct in October.

    [15] FinMin Alogoskoufis receives tourism sector representatives

    National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis had a meeting on Tuesday with tourism sector representatives, which was also attended by Deputy Finance Minister Yannis Papathanasiou, to discuss the implementation of the economic measures in support of the sector announced by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    The processing of legislative interventions necessary for the implementation of the economic measures has progressed, the minister stressed, adding that they will be included in the first draft law to be tabled in parliament. A meeting with the participation of Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos will take place before the draft law is tabled.

    [16] National Bank announces 350-mln-euro share capital increase plan

    A National Bank's board meeting on January 7, 2009 will call for an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting to discuss on a share capital increase plan, worth 350 million euros, through the issuing of preferred stock in the framework of a government-sponsored plan to boost liquidity in the domestic markets and to deal with the impact of an international credit crisis.

    Takis Arapoglou, the bank's chairman, in a statement issued on Tuesday said National Bank has already declared it would participate in the program and added that after consultations with the Bank of Greece, National Bank's board will discuss a share capital increase plan during its next meeting.

    Under the program, the government will offer extra liquidity to banks worth 8.0 billion euros through state securities, offering state guarantees up to 15 billion euros and establishing state participation in commercial banks' share capital increase schemes up to 5.0 billion euros. Under the program, banks will have to cut their dividend payments to shareholders to 35 pct of their profits.

    [17] Commemorative 2-euro coin

    A new commemorative 2-euro coin, minted on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Economic Monetary Union (EMU) agreement, will be available as of Jan. 2, 2009, the Greek finance ministry announced on Tuesday.

    A primitive human form and the euro symbol will be depicted on the country-specific national side of the coin, with a design reminiscent of ancient coinage. The common reverse side for all Euro-zone countries will be the same as the current Greek 2-euro coins in circulation.

    [18] Greek stocks jump 3.21% on Tues.

    Greek stocks surged 3.21 pct at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market above the 1,800 level. The index ended at 1,807.85 points, with turnover an improved 120.6 million euros, of which 2.4 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the Commerce (8.63 pct), Banks (8.08 pct) and Media (7.52 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Healthcare (13.77 pct), Insurance (13.63 pct) and Utilities (1.75 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 4.52 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.12 pct up and the FTSE 80 index rose 2.91 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 152 to 61 with another 43 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -13.63%

    Industrial Product and Services: -0.03%

    Commerce: +8.63%

    Construction: +3.71%

    Media: +7.52%

    Oil and Natural Gas: +3.18%

    Personal/Home Products: +0.96%

    Raw Materials: +0.88%

    Travel: +3.34%

    Technology: -1.39%

    Telecommunications: +0.17%

    Banks: +8.08%

    Food/Beverage: +0.13%

    Healthcare: -13.77%

    Utilities: -1.75%

    Chemicals: +2.32%

    Financial Services: +0.80%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Alapis, National Bank, Vivartia and OTE.

    Blue chip stocks ended as follows:

    ALPHA BANK: 6.78

    ATEBANK: 1.38

    VIOHALCO: 4.00

    HELLAKTOR: 4.26

    PPC: 11.88

    COCA COLA: 10.20


    NATIONAL BANK: 13.50

    ┼UROBANK: 5.80

    CYPRUS BANK: 2.80

    ╔NTRALOT: 3.08


    ╠ŇďILINEOS: 3.96

    MOTOR OIL: 7.56

    ¤PAP: 21.62

    ¤ď┼: 11.92

    PIRAEUS BANK: 6.40

    ď╔ď┴═: 13.66



    [19] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices turned to premium in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 31.59 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a premium of 0.42 pct with volume of 4,892 contracts worth 22.734 million euros, with 21,001 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,020 contracts worth 8.536 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,149), followed by Eurobank (1,351), Marfin Investment Group (390), OTE (494), PPC (523), Piraeus Bank (921), Alpha Bank (962), Marfin Popular Bank (2,147) and Mytilineos (393).

    [20] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 60 million euros on Tuesday, of which 45 million were buy orders and the remaining 15 million euros were sell orders. The 33-year bond (September 20, 2040) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 15 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 231 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.24 pct and the German Bund 2.93 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 3.08 pct, the six-month rate was 3.0 pct, the three-month rate 2.92 pct and the one-month rate 2.63 pct.

    [21] Foreign Exchange rates: Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.421

    Pound sterling 0.981

    Danish kroner 7.510

    Swedish kroner 11.037

    Japanese yen 128.42

    Swiss franc 1.508

    Norwegian kroner 9.918

    Canadian dollar 1.747

    Australian dollar 2.059

    General News

    [22] Athens Academy awards

    The Athens Academy gave an award this year to Oliver Zammit, father of the young Australian tourist Doujon Zammit, who was murdered on the island of Mykonos during the summer, for his altruism and noble humanitarianism.

    Also honoured was father Antonios of the non-governmental organisation "Arc of the World", in Kolonos, for his excellent volunteer work for poor and abandoned children.

    As regards the poetry award, the Academy gave it to Titos Patrikios for his work in general. Menis Koumantareas was given the award for prose, again for all his work.

    The Athens Academy awards for 2008 were given on Tuesday during the special Academy session held in the presence of Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis and former president of the Republic Kostis Stefanopoulos.

    [23] 'Prometheus Bound' performance wins award in China

    The 1st award for the Best Performance, as well as two acting awards were won by the staging by Theodoros Terzopoulos of Aeschylus' "Prometheus Bound" with the students of Beijing's Central Drama Academy in the first Festival of China's Drama Theatres.

    The performance, played in the framework of the "Greek Cultural Year in Beijing" was the result of the workshop delivered by the internationally acclaimed Greek director to 35 undergraduates of the Theatre. The performance appeared for the first time with a great success at the North Theatre of Beijing's Central Academy of Drama on May 27, 2008, and was watched by over 6,000 spectators.

    The 1st Festival of China's Drama Academies took place in Shanghai between October 7-14, 2008, and the event will be repeated every two years. Competing in the Festival were 24 theatrical performances, two opera performances and four musicals. The performances were selected from among 118 candidate productions.

    Weather Forecast

    [24] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather with sleet and northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -8C and 11C. Cloudy in Athens with light snowfall, with northeasterly 4-

    6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 1C to 8C. Fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -1C to 7C.

    [25] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The violence in the Gaza Strip, the speculations of an imminent government reshuffle and salary increases in the public and private sector dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "26 facing felony charges - Losses of 150 million euros to the state from the thousands of stremma in the Axoni area", referring to the case of the alleged squatting of forest expanse in the Axoni area in Glyfada and a ruling by the Appeals Council referring 26 people on felony charges.

    APOGEVMATINI: "2009 salaries - The raises in the public and private sector".

    AVGHI:"Crime and tolerance - 345 dead, thousands of injured from Israeli's attacks on Gaza".

    AVRIANI: "Everything and everyone changing in the government - Structural reshuffle and radical changes on economy, education and health".

    CHORA: "Horror without an end - The international community keeps silent on the massacre in Gaza".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Turkish University in Thrace - What does Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis say?"

    ELEFTHEROS: "Elections determine the reshuffle - Karamanlis will sign New Democracy's 'death certificate'."

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Why, why,why ? The crime seeks anwers".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Israel's provocative admission: Strikes until Hamas is annihilated".

    ESTIA: "The 'magic recipe' for the Prime Minister: Invigorate the psychological climate".

    ETHNOS: "Experiments with University entry examinations - Invitation for dialogue".

    KATHIMERINI: "Merciless war against Hamas - Over 350 dead from Israel's air raids on Gaza".

    LOGOS: "Gaza a hell - Fear of land attacks".

    NIKI: "Endless brutality - Massacre in Gaza with the international community's tolerance".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Condemnation of the murderers, and increasing solidarity with the Palestinian people -Thousands of people demonstrated against the imperialists of Israel, the US and the EU".

    TA NEA: "Chaos and fines on real estate taxes - Mistakes in 200,000 tax statements".

    TO VIMA: "32 billion euros loan sought to cover the deficit and debts".

    VRADYNI: "New high school, new examinations system - Education minister calls for public dialogue".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [26] Cyprus donates financial aid to Gaza


    The Council of Ministers has decided to donate financial aid amounting to 150,000 euro for the Gaza Strip, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou announced here Tuesday after a Cabinet meeting, reiterating his call for an end to Israeli attacks which cause hundreds of victims and make the prospect of peace even more distant.

    "The Foreign Ministry continues to monitor developments after a boat, carrying humanitarian and medical aid, with volunteers from 'Volunteer Doctors' Cyprus' organization, was hit by the Israeli navy," he said.

    Three Cypriots, including a member of Parliament, on board the vessel Dignity were scheduled to return home Tuesday night by air, via Beirut.

    "We regret that a ship with humanitarian aide was not permitted to reach its destination to help, to the extent possible, deal with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza," he added.

    The spokesman said that the damage caused to the boat was such that it did not allow the vessel to sail back to Cyprus, from where it started its journey on Monday afternoon.

    The humanitarian crisis in the area, he pointed out, is not a recent development but is evident since 2007 when Gaza was under blockade.

    "Today this crisis is more intense because of Israeli attacks in the area," he said.

    The government, he added, joins its voice with others who demand an end to the Israeli attacks in Gaza, which distances the prospect of peace in the area and hampers efforts in the peace process.

    "We express our support to the Palestinian Authority and to efforts to end the Inter-Palestinian crisis in order to press on with the peace process, to bring about peace in this region as we are all watching with grave concern recent developments," Stephanou said.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS

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