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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-03-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 18 March 2009 Issue No: 3148

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM chairs Inner Cabinet meeting on prisons, law and order
  • [02] PM at EU summit in Brussels this week
  • [03] Bakoyannis proposes EU-OSCE ministerial on security
  • [04] PASOK unleashes barrage of criticism
  • [05] Reply to government over ECB meeting
  • [06] Gov't lambasts prospect of continued mobilisations by culture ministry 'minorities'
  • [07] PAME labour group holds rally in Athens
  • [08] Tsipras to visit Tripolis
  • [09] LAOS: Ceiling on "golden boys" salaries
  • [10] Deputy FM Valynakis announces two new entry visa centres for Russian tourists
  • [11] Top Greek diplomat: Skopje violating 'interim agreement'
  • [12] FM Bakoyannis addresses Exposec conference
  • [13] Greece a safe country, U.S. State Department spokesman says
  • [14] Deputy FM Kassimis receives foreign ambassadors
  • [15] India's ambassador visits Kalamata
  • [16] Creation of new 'Action' party announced
  • [17] Gov't aims to spend 1.5% of GDP for R&D by 2015
  • [18] High-level Chinese government delegation to visit Hellenic-Chinese Chamber
  • [19] EU-sponsored business missions to South Korea
  • [20] National Bank reports 5.0 pct decline in 2008 profits
  • [21] Attica Bank says profits down 39.51% in 2008
  • [22] Latsis Group names new strategy, development head
  • [23] Pasal Development reports improved '08 results
  • [24] '50 Years of Italian Fashion' exhibition
  • [25] Stocks end flat on Tues.
  • [26] ADEX closing report
  • [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [28] Cadastral survey procedure commences in 12 new regions in the prefectures of Attiki and Viotia
  • [29] Google to host epa content on Google News
  • [30] Forest Museum in Halkidiki prefecture
  • [31] Protest outside the French Embassy in Athens
  • [32] Croatian embassy to host piano concert this month
  • [33] Two people traffickers arrested in Thessaloniki
  • [34] Bank in Crete targetted by arsonists
  • [35] Cloudy, rainy on Wednesday
  • [36] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [37] Cyprus President: There is a gap of views that can be bridged Politics

  • [01] PM chairs Inner Cabinet meeting on prisons, law and order

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the Inner Cabinet, focusing on the correctional system and protection of 'social tranquillity'.

    After the meeting, Justice Minister Nikos Dendias announced a series of measures for the correctional system designed to prevent prisoners escaping, as well as measures to help "protect society as a whole".

    The measures listed by the minister included making all prison hospitals part of the National Health System (ESY) and changing the way that prison councils were appointed, while prison governors will no longer be recruited from among persons currently serving in prison administrations.

    Dendias also announced plans for the construction of a type C high-security correctional facility for those serving lengthy sentences and a ban on the possession and use of mobile phones within correctional facilities, even by guards and prison personnel, which will become a criminal offence. Use of mobile phones by inmates will in turn carry severe disciplinary penalties.

    He then went on to outline measures designed to relieve overcrowding in Greek prisons, such as the conditional release of those whose sentences were convertible to fines that they could not pay or allowing women inmates with underage children to carry out community work instead of serving their sentence, except in cases where they are serving life sentences.

    Another measure in this direction will be to restrict the use of imprisonment on remand for certain categories of offences, since Greece currently has twice or three times the proportion of remand prisoners compared with other European countries, replacing this with release with restrictive conditions.

    Dendias announced that the Greek ombudsman would henceforth have the right to inspect the country's correctional facilities, including any findings in a special chapter of the ombudsman's annual report, while the regime for giving leave to prisoners will change, also taking into account the opinion of the public prosecutor.

    On public order issues, the justice minister said those arrested and convicted for destruction of other people's property, for inflicting lethal or bodily harm, of disrupting social peace and anyone seeking to conceal or alter their face through the use of hoods or other methods would face an additional sentences of two to 10 years, as well as any other offences they committed.

    Dendias added that "the Greek citizen does not hide, and is not afraid to show his or her face, especially when protesting", noting that attempts to hide one's identity would be seen as incriminatory in themselves. Abuse of public officials will be considered an automatically prosecutable offence.

    [02] PM at EU summit in Brussels this week

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will depart on Thursday for Brussels where he is scheduled to attend a today EU summit. The Greek premier will also participate at a European Peoples' Party (EPP) meeting and meet with the president of the European Parliament.

    Karamanlis will make statements to the press on Friday after the conclusion of the summit, before returning to Athens.

    [03] Bakoyannis proposes EU-OSCE ministerial on security

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Addressing an EU-OSCE meeting held here on Tuesday, Greek foreign minister and current chair of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Dora Bakoyannis stressed the need for stronger cooperation between the European Union and the OSCE in order to further develop Europe's security architecture.

    Bakoyannis called for extended dialogue on security issues and announced Greece's willingness to organise an informal ministerial meeting to promote dialogue on this issue in Greece during the summer.

    Regarding Georgia, she noted that last month's decision to extend the mandate of 20 OSCE observers in that country demonstrated recognition of the importance of having a continued OSCE presence in the area.

    Bakoyannis stressed that continuing the work of the OSCE mission in Georgia was of crucial importance and that the Greek OSCE chair was working hard to secure agreement to the OSCE's continued presence.

    Discussion during the meeting also covered the latest developments in Kosovo, Albania and Serbia.

    [04] PASOK unleashes barrage of criticism

    With a barrage of criticism covering a whole spectrum of issues, ranging from farm policy to economic policy to law and order, main opposition PASOK on Tuesday renewed its attack on the government and the areas where it considered that government policy had failed.

    The latest incidence of rioting and vandalism targeting shops in the centre of Athens figured prominently in the party's attack, with PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou accusing the police of "systematically appearing after the fact" when incidents of mass violence were involved.

    "This cannot but make us wonder about what instructions are being given to the police, because we do not believe that Greek police officers do not want to do their job," he said, while pointing out that there "is no asylum on Skoufa Street [where shops were targeted]," in response to questions concerning the issue of abolishing university asylum.

    The spokesman then cited a former New Democracy government public order minister George Voulgarakis, who had described the Greek Police force in 2004 as the most fully trained on a European level, to note that this model police force had since descended to its current low point because of party cronyism, lack of meritocracy and cashiering experienced staff.

    He expressed doubts as to whether the latest measures announced by the government would work, saying it was more a matter of government and the way that it viewed the role of the state.

    "The citizen can expect nothing from this government on issues of safety," he added, while repeating PASOK's position that "there are no dilemmas between public safety and people's rights".

    According to PASOK MP Mihalis Chrysohoidis, who as PASOK minister for public order had presided over the dismantling of the urban terrorist group November 17, phenomena of violence were not new but the government was attempting to provide answers without addressing the problem but by focusing on communications approaches that it tried to impose through the media.

    "The regime of lawlessness must be defeated, along with the regime of disorderliness that exists in the country and the regime of dismantling the security forces, which the government itself has achieved in recent years. These must be dealt with. Because it seems that the police, on the one hand, have put down their hands and, ministers, on the other hand, have laid down their pens," he said.

    The MP had earlier presented the results of a study carried out by PASOK over the past five years (March 2004 - March 2009), according to which the amounts spent each month by a family of four on basic goods in Greece had increased by 273 euros, or 34.1 percent.

    The rise in spending on food was even greater, coming to an additional 243 euros a month and representing an increase of 37.7 percent, he added, while noting that pre-tax fuel prices in Greece were among the highest in Europe and were rising most rapidly.

    Chrysohoidis also asked that the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) be redesigned to take into account the current economic crisis.

    The spatial planning framework announced by the government was blasted as "catastrophic for the country" by PASOK, with Papaconstantinou saying that it would be reversed when the party came into government, while the head of the party's sector for farming issues Vassilis Exarhos called for immediate measures to protect farmers from cartels and bad creditors.

    [05] Reply to government over ECB meeting

    Responding to the government's criticism of a meeting between PASOK leader George Papandreou with European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet and ECB Vice-President Lucas Papademos, Papaconstantinou on Tuesday expressed surprise at the reaction.

    The spokesman stressed that the meeting offered citizens an opportunity to be enlightened on the "progressive positions concerning the exit from the economic crisis", while he called on the prime minister to brief the people on his positions at EU Summit meeting on Thursday and Friday.

    He repeated PASOK's position that restrictive measures could not be the only response to the crisis, which required a developmental plan to support income and investments.

    Referring to a news report on "European Commission doubts as regards the Greek economic figures," Papaconstantinou stated that the Greek government's 2004 financial audit was both the cause of the country's current predicament and an alibi used by the government for not meeting its pledges.

    [06] Gov't lambasts prospect of continued mobilisations by culture ministry 'minorities'

    The government will not accept any blackmail by minorities that show no respect towards the country's monuments or to settlements reached by the overwhelming majority of the culture ministry employees, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Tuesday, referring to mobilisations by several dozen contract employees that mostly targeted the Acropolis archaeological site.

    "A small minority is threatening sit-ins at the Acropolis and other monuments, demanding that 3,000 former temporary employees receive permanent worker status, knowing that their demands are both illegal and infeasible," he said.

    The spokesman reminded that Culture Ministry Antonis Samaras submitted an amendment providing for the immediate payment of outstanding wages that resulted from the abolition of the special account in November 2008, adding that all temporary employees will benefit from the measure. Furthermore, work contracts will be renewed until November while the rehiring of temporary employees will be made possible from November 2009 until November 2010, he stressed.

    The cost of this resolution is estimated at 10 million euros, Antonaros stated, stressing that it is a substantial agreement amidst the current economic circumstances.

    In an unrelated development, and in response to a press question on whether the legal framework for controversial university asylum is adequate, Antonaros said relative legislation was recently passed and if implemented can be effective.

    [07] PAME labour group holds rally in Athens

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking in Omonia Square in Athens shortly before a rally organised by the KKE-affiliated labour group PAME on Tuesday, said "rain is of no importance, so much rain is falling on the backs and the heads of working people."

    "What is important is that they have filled them with lies that supposedly they must constantly make sacrifices for the sake of the debts and deficits. Not even half a sacrifice," she said.

    With "let the plutocracy pay for the crisis" as the main slogan, PAME called on those present "to reject the consensus into which the leaderships of GSEE (the General Confederation of Workers of Greece) and ADEDY (the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council) are trying to throw them" and to "shield the work and the life of the working class before the crisis."

    An ensuing march began shortly after 6 in the evening and reached Syntagma Square and then the Athens University campus where it ended. The rally was attended by a delegation of the party's Central Committee, headed by Papariga.

    [08] Tsipras to visit Tripolis

    Synaspismos leader Alexis Tsipras will visit the city of Tripolis in the central Peloponnese on Wednesday and meet local officials. At 11:00, he will give a press conference and at 13.30 he will pay a visit to the University of the Peloponnese, where he will speak to the students. In the evening he will address his party supporters at Tripolis Culture Center.

    [09] LAOS: Ceiling on "golden boys" salaries

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday tabled in parliament a question addressed to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on public organisations staff salaries.

    "In this period of global financial crisis, the salaries of managers in the wider public sector are a provocation to society, particularly the salaries of those who have been appointed by your government in the Public Utilities and organisations (DEKO) that are listed on the Stock Exchange," stated Karatzaferis in the question he tabled, and asked:

    "Do you consider it expedient to take measures to contain, and if possible eliminate, the phenomenon of 'golden boys' and 'golden girls' in the administrations of the companies and organizations of the wider public sector?

    Karatzaferis further asked whether the government intended to introduce new legislation establishing ceilings on the remuneration of the executives of the organizations and companies of the wider public sector, including those listed on the stock exchange.

    [10] Deputy FM Valynakis announces two new entry visa centres for Russian tourists

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)

    Two new centres for entry visas to Greece will be operating in Russia in April to enable Russians wishing to travel to Greece and who live far from Moscow to secure visas more easily, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis.

    Speaking at the Greek Visa Centre operating successfully in Moscow since last autumn, Valynakis announced that relevant negotiations are being concluded with the international company with which the Hellenic state is cooperating so that visa centres can operate in the cities of Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk as of next month, that will be covering the big Russian regions of the Urals and of Siberia.

    "We believe that with the increased possibilities given to us by this Centre here we shall be able to have, and we want to have, more Russian tourists in Greece," Valynakis said, expressing his satisfaction over the great effort being made by the Greek Consulate's staff, resulting in Greece being among the Schengen Treaty countries that issue entry visas quicker than all.

    Valynakis further stressed that an effort is being made to have the two centres operate before the beginning of this year's crucial tourist season.

    He also met with his counterpart Vladimir Titov and on Wednesday he will be attending the inauguration of Moscow's MITT exhibition.

    [11] Top Greek diplomat: Skopje violating 'interim agreement'

    GENEVA (ANA-MPA)

    Greece's permanent representative to the UN here on Tuesday charged that the current government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) has violated the September 1995 "interim agreement", signed by Athens and Skopje.

    Speaking at a continuing session of the UN's Human Rights Council, Amb. Frangiskos Verros emphasised that even a mere reading of statements by fYRoM leaders over the past few days proves that the landlocked one-time Yugoslav republic is violating the agreement of 1995.

    Verros stressed that Skopje is obliged, under the interim agreement, to refrain from interfering or attempting to interfere in Greece's internal affairs by claiming so-called "protection of human rights" for any Greek citizen.

    He concluded by saying that every international judicial body will be able to ascertain this violation.

    [12] FM Bakoyannis addresses Exposec conference

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, addressing the annual Exposec conference on security taking place at the Zappion Mansion on Tuesday, referred to the feeling of security which "is being dealt a blow" in Greece recently by the "blind violence of certain minimum minorities" that are operating "without anyone bothering them".

    Bakoyannis, invited to the dinner concluding the first of the two-day conference, stressed the importance of the effective handling of illegal immigration and the consolidation of relations of friendship with the neighbouring countries and referred to the Greeks' feeling of security saying that "this feeling is being dealt a strong blow lately by the blind violence of certain insignificant minorities that can block streets and ruin properties, damaging the economy and the country's international image, without anyone bothering them."

    She called on all forces to stand unequivocally against such logics and appealed for a substantive discussion to enable us "to utilise the new security technologies so that, at last, those causing the destruction to be brought to justice."

    Focusing on Greek foreign policy options, Bakoyannis said that the criterion for Greek options is respect for international law, safeguarding territorial integrity and relations of good neighbourliness.

    The foreign minister also referred to the "opening of Greek diplomacy", beyond its traditionally good relations with the United States, Russia, the countries of the European Union and the Middle East, to the emerging economies of China, India and Brazil and underlined active Greek participation in peace efforts around the world.

    Pavlopoulos

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, addressing the 8th EXPOSEC 2009 conference on security issues on Tuesday, said that the new conditions that have prevailed due to globalisation and the international economic crisis have created new developments in the sector of international security.

    The conference was organised under the auspices of the Interior ministry and the Special Digital Planning Secretariat of the Finance and Economy ministry.

    Pavlopoulos referred at length to the new forms of organised crime and of crossborder in particular, whose aim is to promote illegal immigration, child pornography and prostitution.

    "In this framework, what is crucial is the upgrading and strengthening with means and staff of such organisations as Europol, Frontex and Eurojust, to enable them to become more effective in the sector of their duties," he said.

    [13] Greece a safe country, U.S. State Department spokesman says

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)

    U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood, responding to a relevant question on Tuesday, said that "Greece is a safe country."

    [14] Deputy FM Kassimis receives foreign ambassadors

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis received on Tuesday the new ambassadors of Sweden and Syria to Greece, H. Malmqvist and Hoda Al Houmsi on initial courtesy calls. The opportunity was provided in this way to ascertain the very good level of bilateral relations and to discuss issues of mutual interest.

    The prospects, both immediate and future, of the European Union and its role on the international scene in particular, the Lisbon Treaty and the EU's enlargement towards the Western Balkans, also in light of the Swedish Presidency, were the focus of talks with the Swedish ambassador.

    Talks with the Syrian ambassador were based on the prospects of the peace process in the Middle East, in the wake of the Gaza crisis. It was jointly ascertained that the upcoming exchange of visits at political level can contribute to the promotion of bilateral relations, as well as to the utilisation of both sides' possibilities of contributing to the achievement of peace in the Middle East.

    [15] India's ambassador visits Kalamata

    India's ambassador to Greece Dilip Sinha visited on Monday the southern Greek city of Kalamata, where he met with mayor Panagiotis Nikas.

    Sepaking to reporters afterwards, the Indian Ambassador noted the "excellent relations" between the two countrie and India's great interest in Kalamata and the wider region.

    Nikas focused on Kalamata's history and advantages, announcing that it had been agreed during the meeting to organize a conference in Kalamata in the near future with the participation of representatives of the producer classes and tourism sector of Messinia perfecture and Indiam Embassy representatives.

    [16] Creation of new 'Action' party announced

    The "proclamation of principles and positions" of "Action", the new political movement with which they will be participating in the upcoming Euroelections, were presented by the initiative's leading members, former ministers Vassilis Kontoyiannopoulos and Stefanos Manos and the Thessaloniki municipal councillor Yiannis Boutaris, during a press conference given at the Benaki Museum on Tuesday.

    "We are establishing a catalyst party that will aim at imposing the truth and common logic in our political life," Boutaris said while presenting the new party's proclamation.

    Boutaris called on "all progressive citizens, centre-leftists and centre-rightists, socialdemocrats and liberals, reformists and pragmatists" to cooperate so that "our unstoppable course towards decline" will be "reversed."

    Financial News

    [17] Gov't aims to spend 1.5% of GDP for R&D by 2015

    Greece aims to spend 1.5 pct of its Gross Domestic Product on research, technology and development by 2015, with the private sector accounting for 40 pct of investments, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced on Tuesday.

    Addressing a meeting of the National Council for Research and Technology, Hatzidakis acknowledged that Greece was still lagging in achieving this goal, although he stressed that the government was making a serious effort and urged for the contribution by all interested parties.

    Presenting the goals of his ministry in research and development, he said the focused on close cooperation between research centres and the market so that research and innovation would help in improving living quality, research infrastructure integrated and open to the rest of Europe and the world, encouraging joint ventures between public and private sector enterprises in promoting research and technology.

    Hatzidakis said the government has created five innovation "poles", in Patras, Irakleio, Thessaloniki, Larissa and Kozani, linking educational institutions, research centres, enterprises, technology parks and other organisations.

    It also funds six joint ventures on R&D development in western Greece, Crete, eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Attica, Ionian islands and northern Aegean, with a budget of 572 million euros. Hatzidakis stressed that the government planned to offer financial support of 7,000 euros to each small-and medium-sized enterprise for promoting R&D actions and initiatives.

    [18] High-level Chinese government delegation to visit Hellenic-Chinese Chamber

    Members of the Guangzhou Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference will visit on Wednesday the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber in Athens. The visit is taking place at the request of committee president Ping Xin-Guang.

    The organization is a section of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). Established in May 1952, CCPIT comprises enterprises and organizations representing the economic and trade sectors in China, being the most important and largest institution for the promotion of foreign trade in China.

    [19] EU-sponsored business missions to South Korea

    Business missions representing the sectors of constructions, environment-energy and health will visit South Korea within the framework of the EU programme "Gateway to Korea" that was formally launched on February 11, it was announced on Tuesday.

    According to the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI), up to 30 private firms may participate in each of the 15 missions scheduled to take place over the next 5 years.

    The "Gateway to Korea" constitutes an expansion of the programme implemented in Japan over the past 13 years aimed at supporting European businesses and promoting products and technologies.

    [20] National Bank reports 5.0 pct decline in 2008 profits

    National Bank of Greece Group on Tuesday reported a 5.0 pct decline in its 2008 net profits to 1.546 billion euros and said profits excluding earnings from the sale of AGET in 2007 and extra spending for tax payments by Finansbank, totaled 1.592 billion euros, up 8.0 pct from 20007, while return on equity capital rose slightly to 26.2 pct in 2008 from 26.1 pct in 2007.

    Commenting on the results, National Bank's chairman and chief executive Takis Arapoglou said: "During the coming months we will intensify efforts to further strengthen our strong capital base, maintaining sufficient liquidity and adhering to strict credit criteria that will ensure the protection of the Group's portfolio quality in the event of a further worsening of international conditions. At the same time, we will continue the funding of healthy business activity and households, taking new initiatives to supporting certain sectors of the economy and vulnerable social groups hit by an evolving crisis".

    Net profits from activities in Greece totaled 920 million euros, down 10 pct from 2007, while Finansbank's profits rose 15 pct to 470 million euros. Finansbank's contribution to the Group's profits was 27 pct in 2008.

    Net profits from activities in Southeastern Europe grew 28 pct to 202 million euros, contributing 13 pct to the group's total profitability.

    Loans grew 18 pct last year to 66.1 billion euros, from 56.3 billion a year earlier, with loans in Greece totaling 46 billion euros (up 19 pct on a year-on-year basis). Retail banking services continued growing in 2008, with retail loans totaling 29.6 billion euros, up 15 pct from 2007.

    Saving deposits grew 12 pct to 67.7 billion euros in 2008, with the loans to savings rate at 95 pct. Saving deposits in Greece grew 14 pct to 55.3 billion euros. National Bank said its cash flow reserves totaled 12 billion euros.

    [21] Attica Bank says profits down 39.51% in 2008

    Attica Bank of Tuesday said its 2008 after-tax profits fell by 39.51 pct to 12.61 million euros, compared with 2007, while its pre-tax and interest earnings eased 13.31 pct to 18.15 pct.

    The bank said group assets totaled 4.520 billion euros, up 15.79 pct from 2007, while lending (pre provisions) totaled 3.517 billion euros in 2008, up 16.65 pct from the previous year.

    Mortgage loans grew by 20.8 pct to 582.1 million euros, while consumer loans grew 11.2 pct to 327.1 million euros. Its leasing loans portfolio jumped 52.9 pct to 228.6 million euros after completion of a merger with Attica Leasing SA.

    Attica Bank said its non-performing loans rate was 5.53 pct at the end of 2008, slightly down from 5.57 pct a year earlier.

    Saving deposits totaled 2.951 billion euros, while net interest rose 10.79 pct to 103.47 million euros. Net commission revenues were 35.27 million euros slightly down from 2007.

    [22] Latsis Group names new strategy, development head

    The Latsis Group on Tuesday announced that Apostolos Tamvakakis will take over as head of Strategy and Business Development of the Geneva-based Group. Tamvakakis was chairman and chief executive in Lamda Developmennt for the past five years. He will retain his post as as non-executive vice-president in the company.

    [23] Pasal Development reports improved '08 results

    Pasal Development on Tuesday said its consolidated after tax and minorities profits rose to 19.9 million euros in 2008, from 8.9 million euros in 2007. Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) also rose to 26.6 million euros from 15.8 million euros in 2007 while consolidated pre-tax profits jumped to 23.6 million euros from 13.5 million. The company attributed its improved results to the completion of a new shipping mall in Athens and a new logistics centre in Elefsina.

    Pasal Development said net borrowing was 134.6 million euros at the end of 2008, while the value of its real estate property totaled 220.2 million euros, up from 125.3 million euros in 2007. The company said it would skip dividend payment for the year.

    [24] '50 Years of Italian Fashion' exhibition

    The Greek-Italian Chamber of Commerce, on the occasion of awards being given to its members for their contribution to the development of Greek commercial transactions, will be organising the "Annual General Assembly" at the Italian Cultural Institute in Athens on Friday, March 20 at 19:30.

    On the same day and at 20:30, the inauguration of the exhibition "50 Years of Italian Fashion" will be taking place.

    The exhibition will be presenting the greatest haute couture and Pret-a-Porter firms and creations of Italian designers who have traced the history of fashion since the '50s to the year 2000.

    [25] Stocks end flat on Tues.

    Greek stocks ended with minor changes in the Athens Stock Exchagne on Tuesday. The composite index of the market ended at 1,584.10 points, unchanged from Monday, while turnover remained a disappointing 107.1 million euros, of which 15.3 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Health (2.75 pct), Media (2.11 pct) and Constructions (0.84 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Financial Services (1.98 pct), Telecoms (0.72 pct) and Raw Materials (0.59 pct) scored gains. The FTSE 20 index eased 0.14 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.26 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.51 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 100 to 89 with another 61 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.81%

    Industrials: +0.01%

    Commercial: -0.32%

    Construction: -0.84%

    Media: -2.11%

    Oil & Gas: -0.23%

    Personal & Household: -0.17%

    Raw Materials: +0.59%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.03%

    Technology: -0.42%

    Telecoms: +0.72%

    Banks: -0.81%

    Food & Beverages: +0.54%

    Health: -2.75%

    Utilities: +0.36%

    Chemicals: +0.14%

    Financial Services: +1.98%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 4.03

    ATEbank: 1.03

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.34

    HBC Coca Cola: 10.18

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.47

    National Bank of Greece: 10.60

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.85

    Intralot: 3.88

    OPAP: 19.60

    OTE: 11.16

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.16

    Titan Cement Company: 14.30

    [26] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover improving to 86.268 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a small discount of 0.15 pct, with volume at 14,988 contracts worth 57.562 million euros, and 30,907 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 68,169 contracts worth 28.706 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (15,631), followed by Mytilineos (12,769), OTE (8,178), MIG (6,219), National Bank (6,040), Intracom (3,583) and Marfin Popular Bank (3,217)

    [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.304

    Pound sterling 0.933

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 11.114

    Japanese yen 129.12

    Swiss franc 1.545

    Norwegian kroner 8.902

    Canadian dollar 1.662

    Australian dollar 1.978

    General News

    [28] Cadastral survey procedure commences in 12 new regions in the prefectures of Attiki and Viotia

    The Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Ministry announced the launch of a cadastral survey procedure in 12 new regions in the prefectures of Attiki and Viotia including areas that are neighbouring to or part of the burned sections of Mt Parnitha, near Athens.

    "The cadastral survey procedure in regions bordering with Mt Parnitha is yet another measure adopted by the ministry for the protection of the National Park focusing on regions destroyed by the devastating forest fires in the summer of 2007," Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias stated.

    Roughly 115,000 title deeds will be registered while roughly 500,000 stremma of land will be declared with the National Land Registry.

    Forest maps will also be drawn up and submitted to the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Foods together with the forest maps drawn up for the 107 new regions across the country that are in the process of being surveyed.

    [29] Google to host epa content on Google News

    Google and epa (the European Pressphoto Agency) on Tuesday announced a new agreement under which the search engine will hose epa content on Google News.

    Under the agreement, Google News users will be able to quickly and easily find original text stores and photos from the online services of several of epa's eleven shareholding agencies.

    "This new approach not only enhances the experience for users, it also gives proper recognition to journalists and publishers who work hard to break the news," said Josh Cohen, Business Products Manager of Google News. "We are delighted to work with epa and through it with eight of Europe's leading national news agencies."

    In the coming months, Google will now be able to link to the source of the news agency content, linking directly to the original article, on a page hosted by Google.

    Users will also have the option to click to see all other copies of these articles wherever they have been published, giving them additional opportunities to click through to those publishers websites and see extra content, background and analysis from publishers.

    [30] Forest Museum in Halkidiki prefecture

    A 316,000-euro project featuring two conference halls and a "Forest Museum" was inaugurated Wednesday at the Mt. Cholomontas site in Halkidiki prefecture of northern Greece by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and local government officials.

    Two dormitories currently operating in within the forest can accommodate roughly 150 students from the Department of Forestry and Natural Environment during their vocational training during the summer months, while the site also features two new conference halls allowing for scientific meetings.

    The museum spreads over a space of 250 square meters and displays species of the local fauna and flora, as well as rare animal and plants and information on the history of forestry. A total of 350 flora species, 34 of them endangered, are currently on display and will soon be enriched with roughly 800 more, while fauna displays include 112 wild animals and birds, 12 of them endangered.

    [31] Protest outside the French Embassy in Athens

    A protest was staged on Tuesday outside the French Embassy in Athens by members of the "Stop the War Alliance". The protest was organised in the framework of the anti-war rally that will take place on Saturday in downtown Athens' Syntagma square marking the 6 years of the war on Iraq and 10 years after the bombings over Serbia.

    The rally will be part of mobilisations throughout Europe protesting the NATO Summit in early April in Strasbourg. The rally organizers said that the French embassy was chosen because they have information that French president Nikola Sarkozy intends to prohibit the demonstration in Strasbourg.

    [32] Croatian embassy to host piano concert this month

    The Croatian embassy in Greece and the Athenaeum International Cultural Center will host a concert by the piano duo of Beata Pincetic and Christos Sakellaridis on March 26 at the Theocharakis Foundation Amphitheater in central Athens.

    [33] Two people traffickers arrested in Thessaloniki

    Two Iraqi people traffickers were arrested on Monday by Thessaloniki, northern Greece, police in an organised operation. The two 24 and 29 yearsold suspects were charged with picking up from the Greek-Turkish borders 14 illegal migrants in order to transport them to Athens.

    According to police the migrants illegally crossed into the Greek border through the Evros River where they were picked up by the two Iraqis who hid them in a truck.

    The money that the traffickers were going to be paid is yet unknown, while Thessaloniki police are examining the possibility that the two Iraqis are members of an international trafficking ring.

    [34] Bank in Crete targetted by arsonists

    A National Bank of Greece branch in Chania, Crete, was the target of arsonists early Tuesday morning.

    Unknown individuals broke the bank's entrance and threw flammable liquid on the floor and afterward set it on fire. Major damage was reported to the office, including the branch's computers and furniture.

    Firemen found next to the cashiers desk a bottle of flammable liquid and a red stain, which made police suspect that one of the arsonists was injured by the broken glass. The bank was equipped with surveillance cameras, which probably have recorded the incident.

    Weather Forecast

    [35] Cloudy, rainy on Wednesday

    Cloudy and showery weather and northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -1C and 17C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northwesterly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 15C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 3C to 11C.

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

    New police measures against vandalisms and government measures to curtail state expenses and combat the economic crisis dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "4,000 doctors and 5,500 medical staff hirings in National Health System (ESY)".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou makes major mistake- Government spokesman accuses Papandreou of defaming the country abroad".

    AVGHI: "Government calls in Scotland Yard and ......arrests the University asylum - Government announces regulation on the university asylum, abatement in demonstrations and rallies".

    AVRIANI: "Police officers' idleness puzzles police authorities on the effectiveness of the new measures".

    CHORA: "Bankruptcies in market - Dramatic increase in bounced checks in February"

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "The hooded groups of troublemakers are in a 'rigged' match against the state - The source where the 'orders' come from is unknown".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Ruling new Democracy MP's furious with Police's mess-up".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "British spirit in counter-terrorism squad - Former Scotland Yard chief Sir Ian Blair in Athens".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Stores shutting down - Bounced checks reach record number".

    ESTIA: "A speedier exit from the crisis is possible, under conditions".

    ETHNOS: "They are changing the Police's 'face'."

    KATHIMERINI: "Resent over the insecurity - Public opinion in agony - Police special squads in downtown Athens".

    LOGOS: "The government is planning....Cutbacks in state expenses".

    NIKI: "Despair in market - The bounced checks increased by 230 percent in one year".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "All together we will demonstrate on Tuesday demanding that the plutocracy pays for the crisis".

    TA NEA: "Brussels demands new audit: You are shamming us with false data".

    TO VIMA: "Mopeds Plan - Rapid reaction squads in the centre of Athens".

    VRADYNI: "Bounced market - Enterprises' bounced checks 'hit red' in the first two months of 2009".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [37] Cyprus President: There is a gap of views that can be bridged

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on Tuesday said there is a gap in the views of the two sides in Cyprus on the various aspects discussed during direct talks on the Cyprus question, noting however that there is the potential to bridge the gap and that the work must be intensified.

    In statements to the media after his 23rd meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the framework of direct negotiations which began in September last year, with a view to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem, Christofias said they continued their discussion on European issues.

    He said their meeting was a good one in general, "without generating feelings of euphoria", adding that working groups will continue their work on the various aspects of the European issues on Wednesday and Thursday, with the aides of the two leaders, George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami with a view to try and have more convergences by Tuesday when he will meet again with Talat.

    Invited to say if the experts' conclusions show that there is common ground or a divergence in the views of experts as well, Christofias said "there is divergence of views in all issues, but there is also the possibility to bridge them in all issues."

    "We still have both convergences and divergences on the table, that is why we are saying that we have to intensify out work," he added.

    Asked whether they will ask for the help of EU technocrats in case there are differences in the views of experts, he said the EU is interested and will become aware of all these.

    He stressed however that it is up to the two sides to solve any problems.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    Discussion on EU matters "substantive", UN says

    Discussion on European Union matters in the framework of the direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus was good and substantive, according to the UN.

    In statements after the 23rd meeting of President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the context of direct negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun also said that it was possible that the leaders would move to economic matters after their discussion on EU next week.

    In his remarks after the meeting, Zerihoun told reporters the two leaders met for one and a half hours and following the tete-a-tete talks, "for two hours they had discussions on EU matters on the basis of the work done by the experts last week and this week. The leaders have agreed to meet again next Tuesday morning to continue these discussions".

    He also announced that before that there will be two back to back meetings, one Wednesday at 3pm and then on Thursday at 4pm of the representatives and the experts who will "prepare the ground for the meeting of the leaders on Tuesday".

    Asked how the meeting on EU matters went, Zerihoun replied "it's been a good discussion. As you know the EU matters was one of the issues on which there has been quite a lot of convergence and on which there was a joint paper that came out through the working groups. So the discussion was thorough and substantive and it is an engaged process".

    To a question how long does he envisage the meetings on the EU to continue, Zerihoun said "I don't know, frankly, but certainly they have agreed to meet again next week on this issue".

    He said the leaders could decide to suspend the discussions and allow the experts and representatives to continue narrow the gaps as they have done with governance and move on to economic matters the following week. "It is possible that that may be the case", he added.

    Asked if they will come back to the property issue, Zerihoun said "yes, eventually they will come back to us again but it is now left at the level of the experts and the representatives. Indeed, this is the process. It is a rolling start", he remarked, noting that not everything should be taken up by the leaders, so they deal with issues and then refer them back to the working groups and the representatives with guidance and bring the issue back to them for final discussion.

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


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