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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-01-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 2 January 2009 Issue No: 3085


  • [01] Greek leadership's New Year messages
  • [02] President receives political leaders on New Year's Day
  • [03] Humanitarian aid mission for Gaza departs from Elefsina airbase
  • [04] Papandreou reiterates appeal for ceasefire in Gaza
  • [05] Papandreou has phone contacts with Palestinian president, Spanish FM
  • [06] Anti-war groups held press briefing outside Israeli embassy
  • [07] FinMin confers with central bank chief
  • [08] Athens Chamber of Commerce cancels reception
  • [09] Conference on congress tourism in Thessaloniki
  • [10] Domik SA severs energy production business
  • [11] REDS SA sells real estate property to MacArthurGlen
  • [12] Deadline for 2009 car circulation fees sticker extended
  • [13] Greek stocks say goodbye to 2008 with 1.18 pct decline
  • [14] ADEX closing report
  • [15] Foreign Exchange rates: Friday
  • [16] Man killed by train after falling on tracks
  • [17] Arson attacks in Athens, Thessaloniki
  • [18] Cloudy on Friday
  • [19] The New Year edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greek leadership's New Year messages

    "The year, that in a few hours will be in the past, has shown that we can no longer turn a blind eye to a series of pathogeneses -- dysfunctions of a cultural model -- which has gone 'bankrupt' beyond any doubt," President Karolos Papoulias underlined in his New Year message.

    "This was a milestone year for the entire world, a difficult year marked by turbulence of unprecedented intensity that shook global economy," he stressed, adding that "the bloodshed we have been watching in shock during the last few days is reminiscent of dark times."

    "Let's listen to the cries of agony of all those who live in the margins, feeling insecure about the future, the unemployed, the low pension-earners, the poor, the victims of racism let's try to understand the young and be concerned about the environment."

    New Year's message by PM Karamanlis

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined in his New Year message that the Greek people will prove once again that they are able to face major challenges with unity and solidarity.

    The prime minister pointed out that 2009 will be a very difficult year for humanity, considering that all countries are experiencing the consequences of the worst post-war international economic crisis.

    "Uncertainty and heightened concern dominate a Europe faced with economic slowdown and rising unemployment. The consequences are being apparent in our country as well but nonetheless our economy is proved more resilient compared to other countries thanks to the reforms implemented in recent years. Deficits were reduced, unemployment was limited and economic liquidity was safeguarded through swift interventions," the prime minister stressed.

    PM Karamanlis called on all political powers to display a measure of responsibility, stressing that the government's will is not enough in such crucial times.

    He underlined that "irresponsible populism should be cast aside, extreme groups resorting to catastrophic violence be isolated, while attitudes that work against the dynamism of the economy, social cohesion and the essence of our democracy should be set aside."

    "We are determined to continue with steady steps and new momentum the implementation of reforms that are necessary to turn the international challenge into an opportunity to have the future we all aspire to create," the prime minister concluded.

    Opposition party New Year messages

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou said in a New Year's message that the Greeks "realise that salvation cannot result from compromises but from clear progressive solutions." He added that "we know that we Greeks deserve and can achieve what is better. Provided that we do not fear truths."

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in its message that "there is a path for the people not to pay for the consequences of the capitalist crisis, the all the more reactionary changes that capital promotes. There is a path for us to repel the new antipopular measures that the European Union and the (ruling) New Democracy and PASOK parties are preparing secretly and openly."

    The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) said that the new year that is coming "is inheriting the problems that have been accumulated by the international economic crisis and by the neo-liberal government policy in all sectors of society and of our life."

    The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis expressed the hope that 2009 "will bring greater peace, calm, work and prudence and will leave behind the quarrels, the arson attacks and the big words of 2008, and also that God will pacify the souls of those who take dramatic decisions at the expense of the many."

    New Year messages by interior minister, police chief

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Thursday that in the present difficult world Greek society is proving that it has great endurance because it is based on principles and values and supports democracy.

    Pavlopoulos, who sent his New Year message from the Police Operations General Department, added that "the people united and the political forces will forge ahead and confront the crisis and the challenges of the times."

    Greek Police chief Vassilis Tsiatouras, addressing the staff of the Greek Police, said on his part that the Greek Police "have been given a tough time recently, but its staff was not moved by provocations and functioned with self-denial and calmness when it was necessary."

    [02] President receives political leaders on New Year's Day

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received the country's political, military, judicial, religious and intellectual leaders on Thursday for the traditional New Year's Day exchange of good wishes.

    Papoulias wished prime minister Costas Karamanlis "all good things", while, with main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou he had a brief discussion on the SI's diplomatic initiatives to ameliorate the situation in the Middle East.

    The President also discussed the Palestinian issue with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, who leaves on Monday at the head of a KKE delegation for Ramallah, and asked her to brief him upon her return on the situation in Palestine.

    With the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance's parliamentary leader Alekos Alavanos he discussed matters concerning the young generation, while Alavanos congratulated the President on his stance regarding the youths' struggles.

    Papoulias further exchanged warm wishes with Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, and with former prime ministers Tzannis Tzannetakis and Constantine Mitsotakis.

    Other officials who called on the President were several ministers, including economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis and employment and social protection minister Fani Palli-Petralia, parliament president Dimitris Sioufas, Areios Paghos (Supreme Court) president George Sanidas, and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, as well as academics and representatives of trade union organizations.

    On Wednesday night, Papoulias attended a New Year's eve event at the Armed Forces Officers' Club.

    Addressing the event, which was also attended by the country's political and military leadership, Papoulias urged everyone to pay special attention to the young generation in the new year.

    "We are leaving behind us a year that saddened and hurt us, and that gave rise to many questions. One thing remains unaswered: Who is to blame? This is what we must all answer, becase we, too, are a part of the social whole that was hurt in 2008," the President said.

    "We must create a relationship of credibility with our children, we must inspire them with a personal example of modesty," he added.

    "In 2009 we must look to your youth. We must stand by their side, because they are the strength of our country. Perhaps we, too, are to blame for many things. We must approach the situation with self-criticism," the President urged.

    Papoulias praised the role of the Armed Forces, and noted that "there are provocations in our region", stressing that "we have a cantankerous neighbor and we must be prepared to face any threat".

    National Defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis noted Greece's stabilizing role in the region and its efforts for peaceful coexistence among the peoples, which he said would continue "even though we have cantankerous neighbors".

    [03] Humanitarian aid mission for Gaza departs from Elefsina airbase

    Two Greek C-130 military airplanes took off on Thursday with a cargo of 280 tons of humanitarian aid destined for the relief of the injured people in the Gaza Strip, in one of the first foreign aid missions to Palestine in the wake of Israeli bombings.

    The C-130s, manned by a five-member crew each, departed on Thursday afternoon from the military airport at Elefsina airbase for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, carring one of the largest Greek despatches of blood and blood by-products ever organized, as well as IV drips, antibiotics and other medicinal and medical supplies. In Tel Aviv, the aid will be turned over to the World Health Organization (WHO) by a doctor of the Greek National Health Operations Center (EKEPY), for the wounded Palestinians in Gaza.

    Foreign ministry secretary general Theodoros Skylakakis, who holds the developmental assistance portfolio, EKEPY director Panos Efstathiou and Air Force General Staff (GEA) chief Yiannis Yiangos were at Elefsina military airport ahead of the airplanes' departure.

    "The Greek aid is one of the first missions that will arrive in Gaza," Skylakakis noted and thanked, on behalf of the foreign ministry, the Hellenic Red Cross, the City of Athens, the Doctors of the Heart organization and the health ministry.

    "We are sending blood. We are sending assistance, which is crucial in this very difficult situation being faced by the people of Palestine, the people of Gaza," Skylakakis said, adding that a larger despatch of humanitarian assistance was being planned for the next stage, to be sent by ship.

    The EKEPY, the health and social solidarity ministry, in collaboration with the foreign ministry and the Air Force, have collected, in the first stage, a large quantity of blood and blood by-products -- more than 150 units -- one of the biggest dispatches ever made by Greece abroad, Efstathiou said, in turn.

    Efstathiou underlined that an EKEPY doctor would accompany the mission, and would turn over the medicinal supplies and other aid to the WHO in Israel where, he stressed, was important so as to ensure that the aid would reach Gaza.

    The EKEPY chief further said that the blood being sent was sufficient to almost fully meet the immediate needs in fresh blood for more than 70 people, who were the most heavily injured and had immediate need of transfusions.

    [04] Papandreou reiterates appeal for ceasefire in Gaza

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said on Wednesday that, his party had from the outset called for, and was reiterating today, the self-evident: an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and unequivocally condemned all acts of violence.

    Papandreou said that, as president of Socialist International (SI), he had undertaken an initiative for "promoting the convening of a regional conference with the participation of all the countries of the region, which I believe is the proper channel for finding a peaceful and viable solution".

    "We condemned, and condemn, the Israeli bombings in Gaza, the victims of which are thousands of lives of the unarmed population," Papandreou said, and called for an immediate end to the bombings, a truce and a ceasefire.

    "The massacre -- because that is what it is -- must stop immediately," Papandreou stressed.

    He also stressed the necessity for lifting the isolation of Gaza, so as to render possible the provision of humanitarian aid to the unarmed Palestinian population, and expressed his backing for the recent appeal by the UN Security Council.

    "As president of Socialist International and PASOK, I support the orgnaization of missions to the region for the provision of all forms of humanitarian aid," Papandreou said.

    The PASOK leader referred to his contacts with "governments, parties and personalities", noting that "we can contribute in the direction of a truce".

    "I repeat my appeal to the international community and the EU to assume its responsibilities and make every possible effort for an immediate agreement for a permanent truce and return to the path of dialogue," Papandreou concluded.

    [05] Papandreou has phone contacts with Palestinian president, Spanish FM

    Main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou had a telephone conversation on Wednesday night with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, and also with Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos for the second time in the past three days.

    Papandreou's ongoing contacts with officials who can play a role in resolving the renewed crisis in the Middle East are part of an initiative undertaken by Socialist International, which goes one step further than the proposals for an immediate ceasefire and truce in proposing the convening of a regional conference.

    The SI proposal for a regional conference has been met positively by all the officials with whom Papandreou has spoken thus far. In addition to Abbas and Moratinos, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Motaki was also positively oriented to the proposal.

    The regional conference, under the SI proposal, would focus on peace in the wider area of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, including an immediate ceasefire and truce between Israelis and Palestinians. The conference would deal with such matters as the West's relations with Iran and Syria, aimed at achieving lasting peace throughout the entire Middle East, so that it will cease comprising a cause of clashes among the countries of the region.

    [06] Anti-war groups held press briefing outside Israeli embassy

    Representatives of various anti-war groups and pro-Palestinian held a press conference Wednesday outside the Israeli embassy, part of mobilisations in response to recent developments in the Gaza Strip.

    A representative of the "Free Gaza" movement, referring to a ramming by the Israeli navy, of a vessel carrying humanitarian aid, stressed that a new attempt to bring medicine and physicians to Gaza will be made within the next few days.

    Financial News

    [07] FinMin confers with central bank chief

    National economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis met on Wednesday with Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos, with whom he discussed progress in the implementation of measures for boosting liquidity in the banking system and, by extension, the economy.

    A number of banks have submitted applications for induction under the liquidity measures, while agreements valued at two billion euros have already been signed under the government's 28 billion euros package plan for boosting the liquidity of the Greek economy.

    According to an announcement issued later, it was ascertained during the meeting that the Plan was being implemented smoothly, following its approval by the European Commission -- among the three first such plans to be endorsed by the EU -- and its passing by the Greek parliament.

    Already, a number of banks have called extraordinary general assemblies of their shareholders for next month, aimed at their participation in the section of the Plan that concerns boosting their capital base with the issue of Greek State preferential stock.

    Applications have also been submitted by credit institutions to the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, for the issue of special State bonds, in accordance with the provisions of the law. Decisions have been issued by the economy and finance ministry, following a relevant recommendation by the BoG, for the issue of special bonds with an overall nominal value of 2.01 billion euros to two credit institutions, which will be used to generate liquidity. At the same time, the central bank is examining similar applications that have been submitted by other credit institutions.

    Greece, the announcement said, is among the first EU member countries in which a Liquidity Plan for enhancing the real economy is being activated. With the increase in liquidity, or cash flow, which may reach up to 28 billion euros, the financing is facilitated, at a lower cost of money, of Greek enterprises and households. Particular emphasis is placed on increasing financing to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), to home loans and to enterprises of vital significance for the country's development.

    The Plan supports development and employment in a particularly adverse international economic conjuncture, the announcement concluded.

    [08] Athens Chamber of Commerce cancels reception

    The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) decided on Wednesday to cancel its annual reception.

    In an announcement, the Chamber stated that the prevailing economic conjuncture and the events in recent days do not allow any celebrations, but only events that will contribute to presentation of the problems and to demanding the rights of the enterprises, which have been severely damaged in multiple ways.

    [09] Conference on congress tourism in Thessaloniki

    The potential of congress tourism in northern Greece in the midst of the current global financial crisis will be discussed within the framework of the 5th Meeting on Congress and Professional Tourism hosted by the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers (HAPCO) in Thessaloniki on March 6-7, 2009.

    The conclusions of two studies on the problems, opportunities, infrastructure and human resources relating to congress tourism in northern Greece will be outlined at the conference, to be held under the auspices of the tourism development ministry and the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels.

    [10] Domik SA severs energy production business

    Domiki Kritis, Domik SA, on Wednesday announced a board decision to sever its electricity production energy sector business which will be absorbed by its subsidiary company "Aeoliko Voskerou SA".

    A company statement said the split decision was taken for internal reorganisation reasons and will not affect the Group's financial results since "Aeoliko Voskerou SA" was fully integrated in its financial results with Domik owing 99.99 pct of its share capital.

    [11] REDS SA sells real estate property to MacArthurGlen

    REDS SA on Wednesday announced the signing of a contract between its 100 pct subsidiary "Yialou Trade & Touristic SA" and MacArthurGlen Hellas Ltd, a subsidiary of MacArthurGlen Europe Hellenic Investment SARL, for the sale of a real estate property of 42 stremmata (one stremma=1,000 sq.m) to build a discount outlet complex with 120 shops covering an area of 25,000 sq.m. MacArthurGlen Europen Hellenic Investments SARL is focusing on developing designers outlet complexes in Europe.

    [12] Deadline for 2009 car circulation fees sticker extended

    The deadline for payment of car and motorcycle circulation fees for the year 2009 which originally expires on Dec. 31, 2008, has been extended until January 9, 2009, the national economy and finance ministry announced on Wednesday.

    During the extension period, the car and motorcycle circulation stickers will be available only at Tax Bureau offices.

    [13] Greek stocks say goodbye to 2008 with 1.18 pct decline

    Grek stocks ended lower in the last trading session of 2008, unable to maintain early gains as sellers took the upper hand of the market in the last hour of trading. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange fell 1.18 pct to end at 1,786.51 points, with turnover a low 87.2 million euros, of which 9.9 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Media (4.57 pct), Travel (4.10 pct) and Utilities (2.36 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses while Healthcare (7.22 pct), Insurance (2.45 pct) and Commerce (2.33 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 1.58 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.01 pct up and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.43 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 109 to 93 with another 62 issues unchanged.

    [14] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the last trading session of 2008. Turnover in the Athens Derivatives Exchange was a low 26.011 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.10 pct with volume of 4,196 contracts worth 20.060 million euros and 20,157 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,885 contracts worth 5.854 million euros with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (1,886), followed by Eurobank (353), Marfin Investment Group (385), OTE (580), National Bank (1,500), Alpha Bank (1,111), Marfin Popular Bank (1,297) and Hellenic Postbank (566).

    The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange ended the 2008 with a record loss of 65.50 pct.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: 1,688.42 +2.45%

    Industrial Products and Services: 2,802.44 +0.95%

    Commerce: 3,278.27 +2.33%

    Constructions: 2,448.16 +1.12%

    Őedia: 3,405.13 -4.57%

    Oil/Natural Gas: 2,154.71 -0.13%

    Personal/Home Product: 2,217.88 -0.42%

    Raw Materials: 2,338.27 -0.27%

    ‘ravel: 3,583.93 -4.10%

    ‘echnology: 945.02 +0.53%

    ‘elecommunications: 3,275.56 -0.17%

    Banks: 1,899.40 -1.92%

    Food/Beverage: 3,535.64 +1.88%

    Healthcare: 4,315.59 +7.22%

    Utilities: 3,297.62 -2.36%

    Chemicals: 7,068.61 +2.10%

    Financial Services: 4,661.46 -0.98%

    Marak Electronics (19.35 pct), Kordellou Bros (15.69 pct), Betanet (14.29 pct), Sprider (10.85 pct) and Alapis (10.20 pct) were top gainers, while Alma-Atermon (16.67 pct), VIS (9.87 pct), Xylemporia (9.38 pct), Klonatex (9.09 pct) and Minerva (8.99 pct) were top losers.

    The market's capitalization ended the year at 68.895 billion euros.

    Blue chip stocks ended as follows:

    ALPHA BANK: 6.70

    ATEBANK: 1.40

    VIOHALCO: 4.12

    HELLAKTOR: 4.28

    PPC: 11.54

    COCA COLA: 10.40


    NATIONAL BANK: 13.20

    ŇUROBANK: 5.70

    CYPRUS BANK: 2.67

    …NTRALOT: 3.00


    Ő’‘ILINEOS: 3.96

    MOTOR OIL: 7.64

    ŌPAP: 20.68

    Ō‘Ň: 11.90

    PIRAEUS BANK: 6.40

    ‘…‘ŃÕ: 13.90



    [15] Foreign Exchange rates: Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.402

    Pound sterling 0.960

    Danish kroner 7.510

    Swedish kroner 10.957

    Japanese yen 127.15

    Swiss franc 1.496

    Norwegian kroner 9.928

    Canadian dollar 1.713

    Australian dollar 2.043

    General News

    [16] Man killed by train after falling on tracks

    A man was killed by an Athens Piraeus Electric Railways (ISAP) train at the Kato Patissia Station in Athens when he fell onto the tracks on Wednesday morning.

    The train service was interrupted immediately and the victim's body was recovered and taken to a nearby hospital.

    The causes of the tragic accident are being investigated.

    [17] Arson attacks in Athens, Thessaloniki

    A series of arson attacks took place in Athens and Thessaloniki throughout the night, targetting mainly banks and car dealerships, police said on Thursday.

    The attacks in Athens started at five minutes before midnight Wednesday and ended at 1:45 a.m., targetting six banks in Aghios Dimitrios, Peristeri, Freatida, Aghioi Anargyroi and Ilissia, three car dealerships in Ilioupolis and Polygono, while three parked cars were torched in Nea Smyrni.

    The attacks in Thessaloniki targetted five banks, six shops, two parked cars and 30 trash bins, and took place between 11:55 p.m. and 0:30 a.m.

    Weather Forecast

    [18] Cloudy on Friday

    Cloudy weather and rain and southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -4C and 16C. Cloudy in Athens, with southwesterly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 4C to 13C. Cloud and rain in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -1C to 7C.

    [19] The New Year edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The new challenges of the New Year, and the fears but also expectations for reversal of the adverse climate in politics, the economy and international relations were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Thursday, New Year's Day.

    AVGHI: "2009: Happy for the bankers, adverse for the working people".

    KATHIMERINI: "The challenges of 2009 - Papoulias (President of the Republic): Need for new political conscientiousness - Karamanlis (prime minister): Clash with irresponsibility".

    LOGOS: "As of today...What is changing in public and private sector salaries".

    NIKI: "2009: Year of reversals - Rapid political developments coming".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "There is a path for the people, their alliance and the struggle against capital - New Year message from KKE (Communist Party of Greece) central committee".

    TO VIMA: "Kapa Research opinion poll for To Vima: The big fears for 2009 - Economic collapse and social unrest".

    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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