|Saturday, 24 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-03-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 10 March 2009 Issue No: 3141
 PM confers with Development Minister on OA denationalizationPrime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Monday with development minister Costis Hatzidakis, to discuss developments in the process of denationalization of national carrier Olympic Airways (OA).
Hatzidakis told reporters after the meeting that an agreement in principle has been reached between the government's consultants and the consultants of Marfin Investment Group (MIG) that will be brought before the Interministerial Committee on Denationalizations after EU approval was secured on the relevant procedures.
If things progressed in accordance with the program "we will have a new Olympic Airways, for which we will not be paying 350 million euros per year but, on the contrary, we will be collecting 150 million euros from the contribution to the (Athens International Airport) 'Eleftherios Venizelos' emanating from turnover tax and contributions to IKA (state-run social security foundation)," Hatzidakis said.
"We have not reached this point by chance, but as the result of effort, planning and hard work," Hatzidakis noted, adding that the government's plan "which was initially met by many with rejection and reservations, appears to be increasingly gaining acceptance".
"The message is that we must ignore the temporary political cost and, if we believe in something, we must proceed with it all the way to the end," the minister continued.
He opined that everthing would progress smoothly regarding passenger movement, but also regarding the OA employees, on the basis of the planning that has been made, and stressed that the government will be judged on its "specific and measurable work".
 Bakoyannis, French PM discuss Eurozone solidarityPARIS (ANA-MPA - O. Tsipira)
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was received here on Monday by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, for talks that focused on solidarity between the countries in the Eurozone.
"French and Greek society share much in common and it is very important that governments having many shared approaches should exchange views on ways to face a very difficult time for all Europe," she underlined after the meeting.
The minister said that her discussion with Fillon had dealt with ways of coping with the major economic crisis and the need to reinforce European solidarity by countries in the Eurozone, based on the proposal already put forward by France.
Bakoyannis also briefed Fillon on the situation in Greece and the country's planned stabilisation programme. Like herself, she added, the French premier appeared to share a belief that countries would eventually emerge stronger from the crisis.
Asked whether her optimism held true for Greece itself, the minister said it was not a question of being optimistic:
"I have faith in Greek society and Greek strengths; I believe that we can do it, that we will fight and that we may face difficulties but will finally emerge from the crisis and emerge stronger," Bakoyannis underlined.
Questioned about the upcoming NATO meeting in Strasbourg-Kiel, the minister said this would be "historic, with a special symbolism for Europe".
She emphasised that France and Germany would be co-hosting the meeting, demonstrated that when "we overcome the enmities of the past, we can set up a much better foundation for the future."
This would also be the message of a different NATO, which would begin from this historic meeting, she added.
Fillon congratulated Bakoyannis on becoming the first woman to be elected as an associate foreign member of France's prestigious Academie des Sciences Morales and Politiques (Academy of Ethics and Political Science), joining an august company of fellows that included the Archduke Otto de Habsbourg, Jean Starobinski, King Juan Carlos, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Václav Havel, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later to become Pope Benedict XVI), the Prince of Wales, Roland Mortier, Ismaïl Kadaré, Jean-Claude Junker and Prince El Hassan bin Talal.
Bakoyannis underlined that she considered her election a very great honour.
"It is an honour not only to my person but also to Greece, and this is important. It is the first time that a woman enters the Academy from abroad and this is a good start," she said, adding that she would do her best to be worthy of the honour being done to her.
She also underlined the need for institutions like the Academy and its members to work together closely, exchange views and ideas, and seek ways that the world can deal with present crisis.
"We are now faced with great changes. All these people have contributed a great deal to European thought and I believe that a closer cooperation between us but also with the academies of the whole world could possibly act as a strong basis for taking things one step further, which we need to do at this time," Bakoyannis said.
 FM Dora Bakoyannis addresses French AcademyPARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, addressing the French Academy on the occasion of the official ceremony held on her proclamation as an associated member on Monday, referred to the grand concept of the European structure and the need for international cooperation to tackle the great challenges of the century.
The official ceremony for her proclamation as an associated member of the Academy in Humanities and Political Sciences took place in the La Coupole hall of ceremonies. The Greek minister, who is the first woman to take a seat as an associated foreign member, was enthusiastically applauded on her entry to the hall by many personalities from the political and scientific sectors, as well as from the world of literature.
Bakoyannis was welcomed by the Academy's president for 2009 Jean-Claude Cazanova and by Francois Terre, who was the Academy's president in 2008, the year in which the Greek minister was elected an associated member of the Academy (June 30).
Terre welcomed the Greek politician and, following the relevant address, delivered to her the sword that supplements the uniform of every acedemic. During his address, Terre expressed the academy's joy "in welcoming in its ranks the first woman in its history as an associated member."
Bakoyannis referred to the important role played by Europe for its citizens over the past decades, saying that "the peoples of Europe have been experiencing a new reality over the past 50 years."
Focusing on Greece and foreign policy, Bakoyannis said, among other things, that "geography and history have endowed Greece with all the necessary preconditions for it to be a real crossroads. A crossroads of cultures, languages, religions, ideas. We have forged strong bonds, close relations of understanding and cooperation with countries in our neighbourhood, as well as with peoples all over the world. We have built bridges to the North and South, East and West."
 Gov't on Obama no-show in Athens before 'Egemen-2009'Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday refused to comment on the fact that U.S. President Barack Obama had no plans to visit Athens when he visited the area on Friday, for the start of the concerted military manoeuvres 'Egemen 2009' taking place in the Aegean and Mediterranean, hosted by Turkey.
"We defend our rights and our interests on the basis of principles, such as respect for international law and good neighbour relations," he noted, adding that Greece was a democratic country, a member of the EU and a factor for peace and stability in the region.
He stressed that Greece exercises its foreign policy with confidence, specific priorities and clear goals, while it had no reason to enter into pointless competition and comparisons with other countries.
Regarding the visit to Turkey by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the spokesman again refused to comment and noted only that ties between Greece and the U.S. were close, had a long history and that there was close cooperation in many areas.
With regard to the talks underway between the two communities on Cyprus to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, Antonaros said that the Greek government supported the process to find a solution meeting the required specifications.
These talks were taking place under the aegis of the United Nations and the Greek side looked forward to their successful conclusion, he added.
 Clinton raises Halki School, Cyprus in talks with BabacanISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said that she had asked that Turkish authorities reopen the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Orthodox seminary on the Princes' islands, the Halki School of Theology, during her meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.
"I mentioned the importance that we attach to re-opening the School of Halki," Clinton said in Ankara, after her meeting with Babacan.
According to a recording of her statements distributed by the U.S. delegation, the U.S. Secretary of State had also referred to the Cyprus issue, expressing Washington's support for the talks underway under the aegis of the United Nations "for resolving the Cyprus problem and re-uniting the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation."
In the joint communique issued after the meeting, the two sides said that they had agreed to support a comprehensive and mutually accepted solution to the Cyprus issue, under the aegis of the United Nations, and in this framework end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.
 Deputy FM Varvitsiotis holds talks with Albanian government membersTIRANA (ANA-MPA/I. Pacho)
Visiting Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis met here on Monday with Albanian government members, and specifically with Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha, Economy and Energy Minister Genc Ruli and European Affairs Minister Mailinda Bregu.
Varvitsiotis and the Albanian officials discussed, among other things, issues concerning economic development and cooperation, such as the completion of the Sayiada-Konispoli-Sarande road axis.
The Albanian foreign minister thanked Varvitsiotis for Greece's support for Albania's bid to become a European Union member-state.
Speaking to reporters, Varvitsiotis said that the purpose of his visit to Tirana is to reassure the Albanian leadership that Greece is interested in strengthening bilateral economic relations.
 Gov't spokesman on Papandreou, LAOSGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday commented on the "offer political alliance" made by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) President George Karatzaferis to the government, stressing that the government's position is known and that the ruling New Democracy (ND) party enjoys a concrete majority in parliament.
As regards the latest statements made by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, the government spokesman stated that his recent behavior has two distinct characteristics; consistent negativity even toward issues that are preconditions for the political forces to reach an understanding and manage the crisis and obsessing about elections.
Antonaros added that the leader of PASOK is not realizing that the Greek people are not interested in the ongoing election-mongering, stressing that this damaged national interests. He also pointed out that "the main opposition leader and his close associates have difficulty concealing their hunger for power".
 Objective preconditions do not exist for consensus, PASOK spokesman saysMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, responding on Monday to statements by the government spokesman who accused PASOK of showing constant denial, said that there can only be consensus on two conditions, of which the government does not fulfill any.
Papaconstantinou said that the first condition is that "he who makes proposals must have proved longlastingly that he is reliable and the second is that consensus must have an objective."
PASOK's spokesman further said that the basic framework of the government's economic policy for the years to come "is the updated stability programme and it has not even submitted it in Parliament for discussion."
Also referring to the budget, Papaconstantinou said that the government "had reviled PASOK when it had claimed, and it has been proved, that it is a budget that shall not be implemented," adding "consequently, objective preconditions do not exist for consensus."
Lastly, Papaconstantinou commented on the visit that U.S. President Barack Obama will be making to Ankara, stressing that, firstly, what is important is for one not to think of the intentions of another government but what he does himself to improve and promote his own issues and, secondly, that since the assumption of governance by the New Democracy party one can see a political capital of a negotiating character being created in the neighbourinbg country, something that cannot be seen in our country."
 PASOK leader to meet Simitis on ThursdayMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou will meet former prime minister (PASOK) Costas Simitis on Thursday, according to an announcement Monday.
The meeting has been arranged following a telephone conversation Monday between the two men on Papandreou's initiative. Simitis has been expelled from the main opposition party's parliamentary group last year, on Papandreou's decision.
Meanwhile, PASOK's foreign policy and defence and economy party sectors will convene on Tuesday.
 Deputy FM Valinakis addresses event of Dodecanese societiesNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
"The unity of Hellenism will play a major role in the success of efforts being made to overcome the global economic crisis," Deputy Foreign Minister Yannis Valinakis stressed, addressing an event hosted by the Federation of Dodecanese Societies of America on Sunday night in Astoria, NY on the occasion of the 61st anniversary of the Dodecanese islands' unification with Greece.
Valinakis underlined that despite the efforts made by major powers, the people of the Dodecanese never lost their identity.
Referring to the role of the Greek 'omogeneia', he stated that the Greek expatriates constitute a major comparative advantage and have proven that they can play a decisive role at all levels.
The deputy FM stressed that the government has displayed its intentions to give a greater role to the Greek expatriates by tabling a draft law in Parliament on the right of the Greeks abroad to vote in Greek national elections from their country of residence, and underlining the negative stance adopted by the parties of the opposition.
 Parties launch national dialogue on educationEducation Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos had a two-hour meeting on Monday with political party representatives attending the Political Committee on the National Dialogue on Education. The committee was comprised of representatives of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party, main opposition PASOK and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS). The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) abstained.
In comments made afterwards, Spiliotopoulos expressed satisfaction and restrained optimism, stressing that the goal is to note the different opinions and coordinate the positions expressed by political parties. "We want to converge on a proposal that will serve Education. The time has come for radical reforms. The first meeting was held in a good atmosphere and it appears that the prejudices of the past are cast aside. Our common goal is to create the preconditions that will lead to the drawing up of a lasting strategy on Education," the minister stressed.
PASOK representative Anna Diamantopoulou commented after the meeting that her party participates, setting a framework of commitments and "does not choose to stand outside throwing rocks at those inside."
On behalf of ND, Krinio Kanellopoulou stated that the dialogue was substantive, held in a calm atmosphere. "ND will present its proposal, and the timetable of the dialogue will be determined along the way," she stated.
LAOS's Adonis Georgiadis stated that he cannot understand the decision of the parties of the Left to abstain, underlining that "in a democracy, participation in dialogue is imperative."
The dialogue on Education will be formally launched on Wednesday at noon, chaired by professor George Babiniotis.
 KKE, SYRIZA on education reformCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday commented after the meeting she had with the Public Secondary Education Teachers' Federation, OLME, that "the alleged social dialogue launched by the government on Education reform is a waste of time."
Referring to the EU decisions on the economy, Papariga stressed that "we will witness the governments fighting with each other on which one will benefit most from the crisis." On the Olympic Airlines (OA) national carrier, Papariga accused the government of proceeding with the privatization to benefit European monopolies.
Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) President Alexis Tsipras accused the government of engaging in a public dialogue to hide the failures of its policies, pointing out that this is the third time in recent years that such a dialogue is being launched.
SYRIZA also announced that the issue of Education will be discussed in meetings scheduled to take place with teacher trade unions, as well as parent and guardian associations.
 Justice minister meets commerce confederationIn a meeting with Justice Minister Nikolaos Dendias on Monday, the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) asked for the abolition of imprisonment for outstanding debts to the public sector, more limited use of imprisonment for private debts, and to allow more restricted access to the TEIRESIAS credit information system.
ESEE President Dimitris Armenakis also raised the issue of faster processing of court cases, greater legal protection for legitimate shops and traders from illegal hawkers and unfair local authority decisions and a number of other demands.
Dendias agreed that the demands made by ESEE were top priority issues for commerce and business and they decided to continue dialogue aimed at resolving them.
 FinMin on economic stabilisation programmeBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The European Commission's reports on the economic stabilisation programmes of European Union member-states, preparations for the next summit and the Commission's proposals on reshaping the functioning of monetary foundations in Europe are the main issues that would be examined by the EU's economy ministers here on Monday and Tuesday.
Finance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, speaking to Greek reporters here on Monday, said that the Greek government's main goal at this stage is to secure the undeviating implementation of the economic stabilisation programme and not the adoption of new measures. He added that the government is watching the economic indicators carefully and if some intervention is considered necessary in the future, it will take place.
On the question of the evaluation of the Greek stabilisation programme by the Council of Ministers here on Tuesday and on monetary self-restraint proposed to Greece, Papathanasiou reiterated that the decrease in the monetary deficit to 3 percent in 2010 (and not 2011 as was anticipated by the Greek stability programme) does not constitute a major problem for the government since, in essence, it is a difference of marginal significance.
 Employment minister at EU Employment Ministers CouncilBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, addressing the Council of European Union Employment Ministers here on Monday, stressed the need for the enactment of an Employment Treaty aimed at widening the social protection network for handling the economic crisis.
Petralia added that the international economic crisis "currently necessitates more than ever the strengthening, deepening and widening of a social protection network, particularly towards the social categories that will experience the consequences of the recession in a more intense way."
According to the minister, the handling of the crisis requires effective action, European coordination and solidarity with absolute respect for national particularities and needs of member-states.
"Since the autumn of 2008 we have inaugurated and we have proceeded with a wide dialogue with all the social partners and the agencies. Our aim is to achieve the necessary consensus to enable us to jointly handle the side effects of the crisis. To plan all the policies and to take actions that will contribute to the smooth adaptation of the market, the minimisation and neutralisation of its repercussions on businesses, working people and the more vulnerable groups of the population," she said.
 Equality secretary general on elimination of discrimination against womenNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
The international community recognises the "important task" being carried out in Greece on respect for international agreements with the purpose of "eliminating every discrimination against women," Interior Ministry Equality Secretary General Evgenia Tsoumani told the ANA-MPA.
Tsoumani, who headed a Greek delegation that participated in the 53rd session of the UN Committee on the Status of Women, taking place here between March 2-13, said that during the session, apart from her addresses and interventions in roundtable discussions, she had the opportunity of exchanging views with representatives of many countries, ascertaining that Greece has taken "considerable steps" through education, information and action.
Referring in general to progress achieved in Greece in vital sectors affecting and determining the equality of the two genders, Tsoumani said that "in our references here, we underlined the policies that we have as a country and always in the framework of the European Union."
 Inflation at 1.6 pct yr/yr in FebruaryInflation was running at 1.6 percent in February year-on-year, according to figures released on Monday by the national statistics service (ESYE), compared with 4.4 percent in February 2008 over February 2007.
Also, inflation in February 2009 fell by 0.9 percent against the preceding month of January, against a 0.8 percen decline in February 2008 over January 2008.
ESYE secretary general Manolis Kontopyrakis said that, given the present circumstances, the General Consumer Price Index for March was expected to decline by at least 0.3 percentage points, attributed to a large increase in heating fuel prices and in gas prices last year, whereas the prices of booth goods were declining in the first 10 days of March this year.
The Harmonized CPI rose by 1.8 percent in February compared with a 2.0 percent rise in January, against a 3.1 percent rise in January 2008 and a 3.3 percent rise in February 2008.
 Greek bank interest rates down in JanuaryGreek bank interest rates fell in January following a wave of cuts in the base interest rates by the European Central Banks in the December 2008 and January 2009 period, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
Average one-day deposit interest rates for households fell by nine basis points to 1.15 pct in the first month of 2009, while average 12-month time deposit interest rates fell by 47 basis ponts to 4.89 pct. The average repo interest rate fell by 87 basis points to 1.65 pct.
The average consumer loan interest rate eased slightly in January to 14.81 pct from 14.83 pct in December, while the average mortgage loan interest rate (floating or fixed for up to one year) fell by 37 basis points to 4.55 pct.
Business loans interest rates fell by 47 basis points to 6.66 pct.
 Government spokesman on Ireland's model and VAT increaseGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, answering press questions on Monday whether Greece will follow Ireland's model to combat the global financial crisis, stressed that every country has its own characteristics and that this had been made clear at the recent EU Extraordinary Summit.
"There is no reason to compare Greece with other countries" said Antonaros, noting that "the crisis' consequences have arrived in our country, but the government promptly took the mandatory initiatives to face them".
He added that the government's plan is specific and will assist us to face the crisis and also to be prepared when the crisis come to an end.
On speculation of increases in VAT, Antonaros stated that such an issue has not been discussed.
 Hellenic Postbank unveils 526.3-mln-euro share capital increase planHellenic Postbank on Monday said an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting was called for March 30 to discuss a board plan for a share capital increase worth 526.3 million euros through cash and the issuance of new common nominal voting shares. The shareholders' meeting will also discuss an amendment of the bank's statute.
 New Syrian ambassador visits Arab Hellenic Chamber of CommerceSyria's new Ambassador Hoda Al Homsi paid a visit to the offices of the Arab Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and was welcomed by Secretary General Mohamed Elkhazmi.
The ensuing discussions focused on bilateral relations between Greece and Syria, as well as commercial and economic relations between Greece and Arab countries and the role played by the Arab Hellenic Chamber in these relations.
The secretary general provided an overall picture of the Chamber's scheduled activities this year in the sector of information and the publication of information and of economic data, as well as of commercial and investments opportunities for the Chamber's members.
The ambassador, on her part, congratulated the Chamber for its initiative regarding the learning of the Arab language and the helping of Greek businessmen in this way, both members and non-members of the Chamber, and wanting to assist this effort she offered to provide the Chamber with special books on learning the Arab language.
 Ukrainian ambassador visits tourist development ministerUkrainian Ambassador to Athens Valerii Tsybukh met on Monday with Tourist Development Minister Costas Markopoulos and requested the opening of an office of the Greek Tourist Organisation (EOT) in Kiev.
The ambassador accompanied by the President of the Greece-Ukraine Parliamentary Committee Anastasios Karamarios, a ruling New Democracy (ND) party deputy in the Dodecannese, called on the minister to facilitate the issuing of visas for visits by Ukrainian tourists and proposed the signing of a tourist cooperation memorandum between the two countries, based on the memorandum between the European Union and Ukraine.
Markopoulos informed the ambassador that a political decision already exists on opening an EOT office in Kiev, to facilitate Greece's tourist promotion. He also said that, in cooperation with the foreign ministry, there is consideration for establishing a visa market in Kiev on the guidelines of its successful implementation in Moscow, where 1,000 visas are produced daily.
Lastly, they agreed that the cooperation memorandum between the two countries will be ratified before the Ukrainian President's official visit to Athens in the autumn.
 GEK Energy reports 67.1 pct jump in 2008 net profitsGEK Energy, a subsidiary of GEK Terna Group, on Monday reported a spectacular 67.1 pct jump in its net profits to 23.9 million euros in 2008, from 14.3 million euros in 2007.
The energy company said consolidated sales grew 22.6 pct to 73.7 million euros last year, from 60.2 million in 2007, while pre-tax profits jumped 70.7 pct to 32.1 million euros and earnings before provisions grew 6.7 pct to 26.9 million euros. Pre-tax and interest earnings (EBIT) totaled 21.9 million euros, up 6.8 pct, while the company said its net cash flow position totaled 136 million euros.
Terna operates nine wind power parks, of total power of 142 MW and a small hydro-electric project with a power of 6.5 MW in cooperation with PPC Renewables SA, while it expects to launch new power units of 28.5 MW next year. The company has licenses to build wind power parks with a power of 565 MW and hyndro-electric power plans of 112 MW.
 Building activity down 17.1 pct in 2008Building activity fell by 15.4 pct in permits and by 17.1 pct in volume in the January-December 2008 period, compared with the previous year, the National Statistical Service said on Monday.
The statistics agency said building activity fell throughout the country, with the exception of the southern Aegean region where it rose by 3.5 pct in 2008. Building activity fell by 23.1 pct in Attica, by 17.3 pct in eastern Macedonia-Thrace, by 16.4 pct in Crete, by 16.1 pct in Thessaly, by 12 pct in Ionian islands and by 12.1 pct in central Greece.
 Foreign investors' participation in ASE down to 47.3 pct in FebruaryForeign investors further cut their participation in the Athens Stock Exchange in February, with their share down to 47.3 pct, from 48.0 pct in January, while Greek investors raised their share in the market to 51.86 pct from 50.98 pct over the same period, respectively.
Foreign investors were net sellers in February with capital outflows totaling 296.6 million euros, while Greek investors were net buyers and capital inflows totaling 287.46 million euros.
Turnover in the Greek stock market totaled 2.119 billion euros in February, down 13.9 pct from January (2.460 billion euros), and sharply down (-72 pct) compared with February 2008 (7.666 billion). Average daily turnover was 114.5 million euros, from 123 million euros in January and 444.2 million euros in February.
ASE's capitalisation totaled 58.4 billion euros at the end of February, down 12.83 pct from a month earlier and down 63.5 pct from February 2008.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index capitalisation fell 16 pct to 39 billion euros, while capitalisation of the two other indexes (FTSE/ASE 40 and FTSE/ASE 80) fell by 3.7 pct and 9.3 pct, respectively.
 Greek stocks end slightly lowerGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, extending last week's 4.0 pct decline. The composite index fell 0.34 pct to end at 1,469.41 points, with turnover at 71.6 million euros, of which 1.6 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Health (3.45 pct), Food/Beverage (2.0 pct) and Chemicals (1.79 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Commerce (3.24 pct), Utilities (2.06 pct), Raw Materials (1.64 pct) and Financial Services (1.23 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 0.15 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.98 pct and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.35 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 96 to 78 with another 70 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.67%
Personal & Household: -1.62%
Raw Materials: +1.64%
Travel & Leisure: +0.27%
Food & Beverages: -2.00%
Financial Services: +1.23%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.70
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.16
HBC Coca Cola: 8.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.84
National Bank of Greece: 8.94
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.60
Bank of Piraeus: 3.62
Titan Cement Company: 14.14
 Greek state bonds' yields down in FebruaryGreek state securities' returns fell throughout the yield curve, with the exception of the 15-year curve which rose slightly, in February, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
More analytically, the 10-year benchmark bond's return fell by 19 basis points to 5.57 pct at the end of February, from 5.76 pct a month earlier, while the 30-year bond's return eased by 14 basis points to 6.09 pct from 6.23 pct over the same periods, respectively, and the 15-year bond's return rose to 6.12 pct from 6.11 pct. The three-year benchmark bond, which started trading in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on February 12, saw its return easing to 4.26 pct at the end of the month from 4.35 pct on the first day of trading. The yield spread between the 30- and the new three-year bond shrank to 183 basis points at the end of February, from 283 bps a month earlier, while the average monthly yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened further to 254 bps from 250 bps in January.
Benchmark bond prices grew by 67 bps to 157 bps in February, while the 15-year bond price fell by 9 bps. Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 13.88 billion euros, up from 12.08 billion in January and 41.31 billion euros in February 2008. Average daily turnover was 694 million euros in February from 604 mln in January, while the seven- and 10-year benchmark bonds were the most heavily traded securities accounting for 35 pct of total turnover.
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with the March contract on the FTSE 20 trading at a discount of 0.75 pct and turnover a low 23.917 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,010 contracts worth 14.208 million euros, with 32,893 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,438 contracts worth 9.709 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling's contracts (3,129), followed by Eurobank (552), MIG (1,384), PPC (565), GEK (738), National Bank (3,018), Alpha Bank (2,538) and OPAP (485).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 280 million euros on Monday, of which 145 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 135 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 75 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 303 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.97 pct and the German Bund 2.94 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued falling. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.94 pct, the six-month rate was 1.82 pct, the three-month rate 1.70 pct and the one-month rate 1.36 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.266
Pound sterling 0.918
Danish kroner 7.510
Swedish kroner 11.658
Japanese yen 125.4
Swiss franc 1.478
Norwegian kroner 9.045
Canadian dollar 1.653
Australian dollar 2.004
 Sunday of Orthodoxy celebrated at Ecumenical PatriarchateISTANBUL(ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas)
The Sunday of Orthodoxy was celebrated at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar with a special musical event hosted here by ERT Greek public television.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I thanked the television channel's management for the initiative, which was attended by members of the ethnic Greek community.
Within the framework of the Sunday of Orthodoxy celebrations, Metropolitan Nathaniel of Kos and Nisyros was ordained bishop in the presence of many people from the southeastern Aegean island of Kos.
 'Anti' publisher Papoutsakis dies at 76Christos Papoutsakis, publisher of the now-defunct political magazine Anti, died on Monday at the age of 76 after a tough battle with cancer.
Papoutsakis was considered the 'heart and soul' of Anti, the country's oldest political and cultural journal.
Christos Papoutsakis was born in 1934 in Chania, Crete, and received a degree from the National Metsovion Polytechnic University's School of Architecture, after which he worked as an architect before publishing the firest issue of Anti, together with other men of letters, in May 1972, which featured an interview with renowned composer and anti-junta activist Mikis Theodorakis. The junta reacted immediately with the closure of the magazine, while Papoutsakis was arrested.
Anti went back into publication after the fall of the dictatorship, and continued publication for 15 consecutive years, twice a month, until about one year ago, due to Papoutsakis' illness and a court dispute with collector Vlassis Fryssiras.
Papoutsakis' funeral will be held on Friday, while he will be buried in his home town of Chania, in accordance with the deceased's desire.
 MHNC displays unpublished Neruda poems at International Women's Day exhibition at Syntagma MetroThe Attiko Metro hosted an event on Monday in the main hall of the Metro station at Syntagma Square, running from 8:00 a.m. top 10:00 p.m.
Taking part in the event for the third consecutive year, the Museum of the Hellenic Nobel Collection (MHNC) displayed previously unknown and unpublished poems by Pablo Neruda, the 1971 Nobel Literature Prize laureate, dedicated to his wife and to love, from the Museum's collection, and other unpublished artifacts from its exclusive collections.
 Illegal immigrants found swimming off OinoussesA group of 31 foreign nationals lacking travel documents -- including two women -- were spotted by port authorities swimming off the rocky outcropping Vatou off the island of Oinousses on Monday.
The group was picked up by a coast guard patrol boat approximately 0.7 nautical miles southeast of Vatou, and they told the crew that they had set out from the Turkish coast in an engine-powered boat and that they scuttled when they saw the patrol boat in the vicinity.
They were taken to hospital for precautionary reasons, while an investigation was launched by the Chios Port Authority.
According to a Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy ministry announcement, a total of 371 illegal immigrants were detained and 11 people traffickers arrested in 24 incidents in February, while 12 boats were confiscated.
During that same month, seven people were arrested in an equal number of narcotics incidents, while 784.3 grams of heroin, 4.8 grans of opium, 72.5 grams of cannabis and 34 tranquilizer pills were seized.
 Albanian police seize 60 kilos of marijuana at border postTIRANA (ANA-MPA)
Two bus drivers were arrested on Monday morning by Albanian police at the Kakavia border post on charges of possessing 60 kilos of marijuana. According to Gjirokastr police, the narcotics were found during a routine check on a bus servicing the Tirana-Athens route, and were reportedly destined for Greek market.
 Unidentified purse-snatchers stab 15-year-old girlTwo unidentified men on a motorbike on Monday stabbed and robbed a 15-year-old girl in the Athens district of Agios Dimitrios.
The attack occurred at 14:40 and initially targeted another highschool girl that was with the victim, who managed to escape. The two men then turned on the 15-year-old, stabbing her in the hand and stomach and grabbing an unknown quantity of money.
The girl was taken to Asklipio hospital in Voula, where she was given first aid and was declared out of danger.
 Youths attack bank branchesGroups of youths on Monday afternoon attacked and vandalised two bank branches in Athens, using stones, sticks and other objects.
In incidents occurring at around 14:00, they broke the windows of the National Bank of Greece branch on the corner of Patission and Sarantaporou Streets in Athens and a Proton Bank branch on the corners of Lagoumitzi and Harilaou Trikoupi streets in Neos Kosmos.
 Bomb explosion at bank in FilotheiA strong explosion occured at dawn Monday outside a CitiBank branch in Athens' northeastern suburb of Filothei.
The home-made explosive device, which exploded at 3:00 a.m., had been planted at the rear of the bank, and caused extensive damage to the bank and to cars parked near by.
The police counter-terrorism squad was investigating the incident.
 Foreign nationals arrested on clone cards chargesTwo Bulgarian nationals have been arrested by police in Kavala, northeastern Greece, on charges of computer fraud and attempted forgery, it was announced on Monday.
Acting after a tip-off, police launched surveillance at a bank ATM in the city center.
On Saturday night, police officers arrested one of the two suspects in the act as he attempted to withdraw 300 euros from the ATM using a clone card, while the second suspect was arrested nearby.
At the tampered ATM the suspects had placed an electronic device in the cards slot that detected the-16-digit number of the entering card. In a plastic interior framework was placed a circuit made of a cell-phone battery, micro-camera and a microchip which recorded the each card's PIN number when the bank customer typed in the number.
Police found on the 33-years old and the 36-years old Bulgarians, twenty clone cards, four mobile phones, 700 euros and several burglary tools, which were confiscated, and both men were taken before a local prosecutor.
 Serbia Sports Minister meets HOC presidentPresident of the Greek Olympic Committee (HOC) Spyros Kapralos met on Monday with visiting Sports and Youth Minister of Serbia Snezana Samardzic- Markovic.
At the meeting, the the Serbian Minister asked to be briefed on the exploitation of 2004 Olympic Games facilities and informed Kapralos on Belgrade's efforts to organise the 25th University Games that will be held next summer (July 1-12).
 Soccer fans face prosecutor over clashEight people were arrested Sunday night outside the PAOK FC stadium in Toumpa, Thessaloniki accused of participating in clashes between soccer fans and police before and after the match with Piraeus' Olympiakos FC, and were due to be led before a prosecutor on Monday.
The detainess are accused of throwing rocks and other objects at police, who resorted to moderate use of chemicals. Eight police officers were injured during the clashes and roughly 20 people were briefly detained. A total of seven police cars, a bus and another vehicle sustained limited damage.
 Cloudy, rainy on TuesdayCloudy and rainy weather and southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 1C and 18C. Cloudy in Athens, with southwesterly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 6C to 17C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 13C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceMarfin Investment Group's acquisition of Olympic Airways and Ecofin's call on the government to take permanent measures, the government-main opposition PASOK's clash on the economic crisis and the date of general elections dominated the headlines on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Hiring of unemployed youth in public sector in part time jobs".
APOGEVMATINI: "Blast of violence inside and outside soccer stadiums - Clashes in Thessaloniki and Heraklion, Crete".
AVRIANI: "MIG vice-presidentAndreas Vgenopoulos turning OA into an air transport giant - He plans new major investments in banking sector, telecommunications, energy and hotels".
CHORA: "Thriller with social security funds - Agony over their ability to pay pensions and retirement bonuses".
ELEFTHEROS: "President Obama rushes to Ankara and procatively ignores Greece".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government squared the circles (OA's emblem) .....Regardless of the economic crisis the government 'locked in' OA's sale to MIG".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Take permanent measures immediately - European Commission, under Germany's pressure, will table its proposals on Monday".
ESTIA: "The possibility of tax increases is being discussed - Fatal mistake for the economy".
ETHNOS: "Storm alert in tourism - Major travel agencies sending pessimistic messages".
TA NEA: "Former PASOK ministerTheodoros Pangalos interview: (Former Prime Minister Costas) Simitis must lead PASOK's euroelections ballot".
VRADYNI: "MIG's major plans for OA- New era in Greece's air transport sector".
 Spokesman: We carefully examine the Turkey - US joint statementNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The government of Cyprus is carefully examining the joint statement issued Saturday in Ankara after a meeting between the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Babacan, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said here Monday.
The spokesman was invited to comment on the joint statement between Turkey and the US, which among other issues says that the two countries "reiterated their determination to continue supporting strongly a comprehensive and mutually-acceptable settlement of the Cyprus question under the auspices of the UN and in this context ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots".
Regarding the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, the spokesman said that the situation in the Turkish Cypriot community "which some describe as isolation is the result of the occupation and violation of international law in Cyprus by Turkey".
"We look forward to the termination of this situation through the overall solution of the Cyprus problem, which will restore the principles of international law in Cyprus, give an end to the occupation and reunify the island", he noted.
Asked whether the government is satisfied with the Cyprus policy of the new US government, the spokesman said that the government of Cyprus is interested in developing relations with various countries on the basis of international law, and especially with powerful countries like the US, which can contribute to the just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem but also to the development of other fields of cooperation between the two countries.
"This is our position. I think it would be premature to state anything more", he said.
Asked if the government would not endorse a US intervention in the Cyprus talks, Stephanou replied: "what we say is that the two communities, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, have the upper hand as regards this negotiation".
"We ask the international community to support, and it supports, this process. We also ask the international community to make Turkey understand that it is in its own interests to cooperate for a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem", he concluded.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September last year, with a view to solve the question of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.
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