|Monday, 19 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-05-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 6 May 2009 Issue No: 3186
 PM Karamanlis says gov't exhausting every possibility to support tourismPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing the 17th Regular General Assembly of the Assoaciation of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) on Tuesday night, said that the government, acknowledging the economic and social importance of tourism, "is exhausting every possibility to support it and did more than for any other sector".
"The curbing of the unfavourable consequences is a top priority for the government," the prime minister said, adding that "the ultimate goal is the preservation and boosting of our tourist product's potential. Let us think and act with the aim of transforming the international crisis into a national opportunity."
Addressing those involved in tourism, Karamanlis said that at a time of global economic crisis it is in their interest to place even greater emphasis on compressing prices.
"What is necessary for this aim is the development of the greatest effort possible, combined with the preservation of high-level services." He further said that this effort is to benefit both the tourist industry and society.
Outlining the government's actions to handle the crisis in the tourist sector, Karamanlis said that it is impossible to give full responses to the needs and the demands that are raised by each axis separately.
"Policies with a unilateral goal would cause an imbalance and unfavourable side-effects," he noted.
"Promises to all and for everything, particularly during this difficult conjuncture, would constitute either overt hypocrisy and mockery or ignorance and slipping towards dangerous paths. Policies whose aim is 'to sound pleasant' are unaware of international realities and cannot be useful for the country," the prime minister said.
"Policies that solve difficult situations with pleasant measures have not been found and cannot be found anywhere in the world," Karamanlis concluded.
Tourist Development Minister Costas Markopoulos said on his part that in this difficult year, with the global insecurity of citizens due to the international economic crisis, policy plays a serious role in maintaining the competitiveness of Greek tourism.
"In this difficult year, the government is contributing to a great extent to supporting Greek tourism and is playing a leading role in many issues compared to its competitors," he added.
The minister also stressed that the situation concerning the course of tourist movement is improving considerably in past weeks, despite the period's bad beginning.
SETE President Nikos Angelopoulos said that coordination between ministries jointly involved in tourism must be conducted either directly by the prime minister or by a body accountable directly to him, adding that "this continues to be the main demand of tourism's businessmen and professionals."
 PM briefed by interior minister on Europarliament elections procedurePrime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Tuesday with interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, following the publication in the Government Gazette on Monday the Presidential Decree designating June 7 as the date for the European Parliament elections in Greece, thus formally opening the campaign period.
Pavlopoulos told reporters afterwards that he also briefed the prime minister on statistics regarding the electoral body and on the procedures for the Euroelections.
The target, he added, was to have a campaign period and elections that befitted Greece's political culture.
Pavlopoulos further said that the present Euroelections were crucial for Europe, in the midst of the global financial crisis, noting that his ministry had initiated the relevant procedures early so that the process would be conducted in the proper manner.
 Euroelections to be based on new voting lists, eligible voters total 9,866,913The June 7 Euroelections will be held on the basis of the new voting lists that resulted from the first revision taking place in 2009, and in which 1030 of the 1034 local administration organisations took part.
Eligible voters now number 9,866,913 (compared to 9,781,648 recorded in the previous revision). The difference is due to the fact that registrations (mainly those of new voters who amount to 110,562 people ) are far more than the writeoffs made in the voting lists.
Out of them, 4,727,782 are men and 5,053,866 are women (in the previous revision).
The new voters, meaning 18-year-olds included in the lists from the first revision, are 110,562, of whom 56,491 are men and 54,071 are women.
 President Papoulias meets Finnish counterpartHELSINKI (ANA-MPA / N. Megadoukas)
Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday had a cordial meeting with his Finnish counterpart Tarja Halonen here, within the framework of his four-day state visit to Finland.
Presidents Papoulias and Halonen, old acquaintances and friends since their terms as foreign ministers, discussed the global economic crisis, bilateral, international and European issues and according to Papoulias they "shared the same positions".
The Finnish President commented that the two peoples are close, referring to the large number of Greek and Finnish tourists visiting the two countries, and underlined that the "business communities in Greece and Finland should do more for bilateral relations."
Both Papoulias and Halonen referred to issues concerning the Baltic and the greater Mediterranean region, with Halonen stating that "both countries have very interesting neighbours," stressing the need for a solution to the Cyprus issue.
She pointed out that it is "unacceptable for a European capital like Nicosia to be under the occupation of another country like Turkey that wishes to be part of the European family," adding that "we should make every effort to find a solution to the specific problem."
President Halonen added that Finland is in favor of a process within the framework of the UN "to see how the Cyprus issue will be solved".
She backed Turkey's accession into the European Union, adding that if Turkey works hard it can meet the necessary criteria for membership. "We know that some of the pending issues concern Cyprus but the country has a lot of work to do as regards its domestic issues, as well," Halonen said, referring to Turkey.
Halonen expressed hope that she and President Papoulias will witness the solution of the Cyprus problem, pointing out that "this will not happen in one day and the solution will not come from the EU. It is in the hands of the UN. However, the EU can clearly do something and help toward reaching a solution."
Responding to relevant questions, Halonen backed the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and the return to their countries of origin of all antiquities that are being kept in third countries. On his part, President Papoulias invited his Finnish counterpart to formally visit Greece and thanked both Finland and the Finnish Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles for their efforts. The Greek President will address a special event on Wednesday hosted by the committee.
The Greek President also visited the Helsinki Town Hall and was awarded the city's Medal of Honour before laying a wreath at the Heroes Monument. Later in the evening, he will attend a formal dinner hosted in his honor by the Finnish President.
Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, who accompanied the President, will meet in the afternoon with the foreign trade and development minister while on Wednesday he will address a Greece-Finland Business Forum held in the Finnish capital in the presence of President Papoulias.
 Papoulias, Halonen on corruption, transparencyHELSINKI (ANA-MPA / N. Megadoukas)
President Karolos Papoulias referred to the issue of transparency and corruption during his formal visit here on Tuesday.
"We should use the Finnish prescription and medicine. Namely, transparency and regular checks, with the politicians being open as regards what they do and how they live. People should live according to their earned income," President Papoulias said, responding to a question on Finland's "zero corruption."
Earlier, Finnish President Tarja Halonen had pointed out that "we are no saints, we are people too and from time to time we are faced with difficulties that force us to resort to justice." She underlined that transparent conduct is necessary for everybody, not only in the case of senior government officials, clarifying the need for "easy access to information on issues that concern taxation, license issuance and approvals."
"No matter how uncomfortable it can be, publicising earned incomes allows us to establish if people live within their financial means," she stated, adding that "birth or marriage certificates or any other documents needed by simple people or professionals should be easily accessed, either free of charge or with a reasonable fee."
Halonen stated that "the EU can play a decisive role by being very clear and tough on red tape and good governance issues," adding that "the medicine I suggest, the medicine of Finland, is good governance and transparency to such a degree that no one will consider or dare to do something that it is not right."
Responding to a question by a Finnish journalist on last December's violent demonstrations in Greece, the economic situation and the fact that Greek politicians are not very popular, President Papoulias stated that "it is comforting that the young people react against things that they do not like."
He also stated that "political parties in Greece are not very different from political parties in other European countries," and added that "despite the difficulties, political life in Greece follows a path that is more or less similar to that followed by other European countries which are more exposed to the economic crisis."
Presidential spouses discuss Finnish education system
While the two presidents of Greece and Finland were meeting, their respective spouses May Papoulia and Dr. Pentti Arajärvi were also having a meeting, which focused chiefly on Finland's very successful state school system, especially at primary level. The Finnish system has been ranked as the best in a European survey, with 95 percent of Finnish children attending state schools.
Mrs. Papoulia will visit a Finnish state school on Wednesday.
 Government on Parliament vote in Pavlidis caseThe failure of the proposal to indict former minister Aristotelis Pavlidis was not a matter of "satisfaction" but marked the end of a process foreseen by the Greek Constitution for deciding whether there was evidence to indict a member of Parliament, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Tuesday. He stressed the need for all sides to respect the rules by which Parliament and state institutions were run.
He had been asked whether the government was satisfied with the result of the Parliament vote announced in the early hours of Tuesday morning, in which the votes in favour of indictment (146) were more than those against but the proposal failed to pass because it did not obtain an absolute majority (151).
Asked whether the result exonerated Pavlidis or simply brought the issue to a close, he repeated that the process had a specific purpose and that the Constitution clearly stated that one needed 151 votes in favour in order to indict an MP.
"Parliament has decided that there are no grounds for this. It is clear. That is that," Antonaros stressed.
He denied that the greater number of votes in favour of indictment were a "political issue" and said that this was a perversion of the rules that PASOK was using to interpret a result that had not turned out the way it wanted. "To anyone - to the great majority of the Greek people - that realises what is happening, this can only make them laugh" he added.
Main opposition PASOK press officer George Papaconstantinou had said that the outcome of the vote in parliament was a defeat for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his government, and gave rise to a major political issue.
Regarding a second investigation into Pavlidis' actions as a minister that PASOK intends to propose, he said this proved the main opposition's disregard for the institutions and its ruthless determination to maintain a perpetual climate of scandal to cover up its lack of policies.
He declined to comment on the members of ND that had cast blank ballots during Monday night's vote in Parliament, noting that all MPs were obliged to vote according to their conscience since their decision amounted to a verdict in this case.
On whether Pavlidis should now resign his seat in Parliament, the spokesman said that this was "a personal decision for every MP".
 Comments on parliament vote on Pavlidis case"The Hellenic Parliament has voted. The MPs did their duty in voting by conscience, in accordance with the Constitution and the Rules of Parliament," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said, shortly after the 300-member House voted against the indictment of former minister and current ruling New Democracy MP Aristotelis Pavlidis in the early hours of Tuesday morning, on bribery charges stemming from allegations by a ferryboat line operator.
Parliament, in a secret ballot, failed to muster an absolute majority of 151 votes required by the Constitution to pass the indictment, as 144 MPs voted in favor of Pavlidis' indictment and referral to a special court on the accountability of ministers while 146 voted against, with 5 blank ballots cast and 3 abstentions (in which the MPs merely stated their presence) among the 298 MPs taking part in the proceedings. One MP was absent from the session, and Pavlidis was not eligible to cast a vote as the proceedings concerned him.
"We naturally respect the vote of the Greek deputies, as we always respect the institutional operation of parliament," Antonaros added.
Main opposition PASOK press officer George Papaconstantinou said that the outcome of the vote in parliament was a defeat for prime minister Costas Karamanlis and his government, and gave rise to a major political issue.
He added that the majority of the MPs had voted in favor of Pavlidis' indictment, which constituted a vote of responsibility and dignity on the part of the political system, whereas ND opted for write-off and cover-up.
 Parliament to discuss second Pavlidis probe on ThursdayA main opposition PASOK party proposal for a second special parliamentary investigation committee to probe the actions of ruling New Democracy (ND) MP Aristotelis Pavlidis when he was Aegean minister, relating to the allocation of a subsidized route to the remote island of Tilos, will be discussed in Parliament on Thursday night.
PASOK wants the second Parliamentary probe to determine if there is evidence to indict Pavlidis on charges of breach of duty.
After the proposal was initially tabled on April 28, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros had stated that this is an "orchestrated effort to ridicule justice and politics in the country," adding that "the government will not take part." The spokesman repeated this statement on Tuesday, when asked about the government's stance on the second case involving the former minister.
 Alavanos proposes changing laws for prosecuting ministersCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday proposed a revision of article 86 of the Constitution and the law for prosecuting ministers on criminal charges, in a letter to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the heads of the opposition parties in Parliament.
In the letter, Alavanos points out that the current laws have led "to Parliament and political life, on the one hand, being locked in a perpetual discussion of scandals that shift the centre of political attention away from the big problems of society, while no minister, on the other hand, whether current or former, is ever indicted to face justice".
The head of the SYRIZA Parliamentary group therefore proposed a revision of the relevant article of the Constitution whenever the next Constitutional revision occurs and that the task of prosecuting and indicting ministers for criminal offences be turned over to justice, as takes place in nearly all other European countries.
In the meantime, Alavanos suggested that any cases referred to Parliament by prosecutors be automatically returned for investigation by judicial officials, after going through a process that all parties will promise to keep a formality, without wasting Parliamentary resources or time in examining the case.
Stressing that Parliament cannot be converted into a courtroom, Alavanos urged the other parties in Parliament to match SYRIZA's pledge with similar pledges of their own, saying that this would help "restore the deeply injured credibility of the Parliament and the parties and will have the united support of all citizens, regardless of their political preferences".
 Papandreou: Victory the aim in Euro-electionsIn a scathing attack on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his government, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday termed the previous night's vote in Parliament (on whether to indict former minister Aristotelis Pavlidis) a "major defeat" for the ruling party. Addressing PASOK's Political Council, Papandreou said that the premier was personally responsible for the outcome.
"The prime minister and his government, through their stance, are completely hostage to the interests that they serve," he stressed. The proposal to indict was rejected after it failed to obtain the 151 votes required under the Constitution, with 146 votes in favour, 144 against and five blank votes cast in the ballot box.
Referring to the Siemens slush funds investigation, in which both members of PASOK and ND have been implicated, and in view of PASOK's proposal for a Parliamentary probe into the case that will be discussed on Wednesday, Papandreou said that Karamanlis had "missed a great opportunity to investigate the case and lay down rules for transparency".
"ND did not dare because it is not interested in transparency but only in remaining in power so that it can serve interests," he added.
PASOK's leader also stressed that corruption was only the "tip of the iceberg" and that the underlying problem was a "specific attitude of government" that had to be changed.
Referring to ND's years in power, he accused the ruling party of squandering the country's developmental and social reserves and cited the latest figures from the European Commission "that show a complete fiscal failure for which the international crisis is not chiefly to blame but the fact that the country is in a dire economic situation."
This had forced the government to impose spending cuts, Papandreou added, which were "the worst possible thing in a time of recession".
Regarding the upcoming European elections and the next general elections, PASOK's leader said the party's goal was to win the first and achieve a majority government in the second. He stressed that the battle would be a tough one, against powerful interests and a government using state mechanisms, but was optimistic that PASOK will prevail "without having made compromises".
"The Euro-elections are not just a national battle but a battle for the direction of Europe. The answer to the attacks that PASOK is getting and will continue to get is the loud and strong presence of the Movement, its rallying, unanimity and unity," he concluded.
 Alavanos begins two-day visit to IraklioRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alekos Alavanos began a two-day visit to Iraklio, on the island of Crete on Tuesday, accompanied by the party's election committee member Nandia Valavani.
Commenting on Monday's debate in Parliament, Alavanos he said that he addressed a letter to the prime minister and to the leaders of opposition parties on Tuesday, calling on them to "support SYRIZA's proposal for parties to commit themselves and speedily, without a day of delay, from the moment that a file reaches Parliament from Justice, to be returned to Justice to enable it to be handled by the Judicial Council so that Parliament can be relieved immediately from the present situation."
Alavanos said that "what is taking place today is a disgrace. We have no Parliament" and added that "we were discussing yesterday (Monday) on the (ruling New Democracy's MP Aristotelis) Pavlidis 1 case. As of tomorrow (Wednesday) we shall be discussing the Siemens case. We shall be discussing about the Pavlidis 2 case on the day after tomorrow. The Vatopedio case is waiting. The Germanos case is waiting. What will happen with the farmers' problems. What will happen with the problems of contract workers. The problems of the unemployed, the problems of the small and medium-size enterprises."
Alavanos met at noon with a delegation of the prefecture's Agricultural Societies' Federation, as well as with members of the Parents and Guardians Society from an elementary school in the city.
Speaking after his contacts, the SYRIZA leader stressed that "the farmers want prices that correspond to their cost, they want to feel security in their work in an international situation which is absolutely fluid."
 DM Meimarakis discusses bilateral issues with Bulgarian counterpartDefence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis met on Tuesday with his Bulgarian counterpart Nickolay Tsonev and discussed issues of bilateral interest, as well as the security situation in the Balkans and in the wider region of southeastern Europe.
Tsonev gave Meimarakis the First Order Medal of Saint George for his contribution to the promotion of bilateral relations between Greece and Bulgaria in the sector of defence cooperation.
The medal in question is the highest distinction that can be given by the neighbouring country's defence minister.
 Education minister comments on education national dialogueThe members of the political committee entrusted with monitoring the progress of the national dialogue on education met on Tuesday for the second time and were briefed on its course by the president of the First and Second Stage Education Council, professor George Bambiniotis.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said that "the Council has processed a serious framework of proposals with a restriction of material and the rationalisation of the examination system for entry to universities and technical institutes (TEI)."
The minister further said that "we are not interested in winning impressions" and clarified that "we are interested in a school that will be useful for pupils and parents. Education comes above all in a world, that is changing with demands. We are determined to forge ahead, despite the sirens of party competition."
Replying to questions by the press, he stressed that "the common approach on many issues has gone beyond any expectation, all have risen to the occasion" and expressed "reserved optimism over the course of the dialogue."
 Gov't to take additional measures if necessary, FinMin saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)
The explosion of the unemployment rate in the European Union was the biggest social problem facing EU member-states, Greek Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Tuesday, adding that employment in Greece remained in better levels compared with other EU states.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, after an Ecofin meeting, the Greek minister said the government was determined to combating unemployment with specific measures, such as programs for the construction sector.
Commenting on the European Commission's unfavourable spring forecasts both for the European and the Greek economy, Papathanasiiou said that, based on new fundamentals, Greece would do the best it can to achieve its fiscal targets for 2009 and 2010.
He stressed that the Greek government would brief the Council in June over the condition of the Greek economy and over its plans to cut its fiscal deficit at 3.0 pct of GDP by 2010. "If we need to take additional measures, we will do it," he said, adding that "our obligation is to submit a specific plan by October 24. We won't wait until then if we have to do something more".
He underlined, however, that any additional measures would depend on the performance of the Greek economy, while he added that the Commission did not take into account the Greek government's measures to boost economic activity in the country.
Papathanasiou said the Council meeting also discussed changes in the taxation of tobacco products. "Our interest is to support Greek production, the Greek tobacco industry and job positions," he said, adding that the Council leaned towards a compromise proposal in favour of Greek interests, although it failed to reach a decision.
 FM Bakoyannis stresses need for political response to economic crisisForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, addressing the business world at an event organised by the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday on "the consequences of the international economic crisis and the position of Greece", stressed the need for a political response to the economic crisis to facilitate the most creative forces of society and politics that will promote the demands of the new era, adding that "this is the big wager of our political generation."
Speaking in the presence of New Democracy (ND) party honourary president Constantine Mitsotakis, Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Costas Kiltidis, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, Foreign Ministry Secretary General Theodoros Skylakakis, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Danel Speckhard and British Ambassador Dr. David Landsman, Bakoyannis analysed the main causes of the crisis, placing emphasis on "cheap borrowing" and fictitious prosperity, the slackness of controlling apparatuses and the spreading of the crisis to the globalised environment.
"The international economy is in the middle of the biggest economic crisis since 1930," she said, adding that "only yesterday it was confirmed by the most official lips that the European Union is in a deep economic recession."
Bakoyannis said that overborrowing, easy excess profits based on minimum effort must be left behind once and for all and new priorities must be targeted, terming innovation, extroversion and the changing of the old mentality as the locomotive of tomorrow's development.
She further said that the government bases its economic policy on the triptych "structural changes - development initiatives, monetary stability and tangible solidarity for those having the greatest need."
Bakoyannis placed particular emphasis on the need to change the mentality of the minimum effort in politics, the economy, science, culture and in labour. She added that this mentality operates as a burden that allows nothing to change and nothing to develop and that "it refuels vicious circles for our society in its entirety. It annuls our prospects and intensifies our pessimism."
Concluding her address, Bakoyannis stressed that "today, more than ever, we must invest at last in the forces of creation. We must give them the podium and the space to develop. We must break antiquated dividing lines and create a new strong alliance. We must create a system which will be based on the principles of responsibility, accountability, justice and meritocracy."
 New social security numbers for all by July, minister saysEmployment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Tuesday said that the issue of social security numbers to all eligible recipients in Greece will be completed by July when they become mandatory, helping to promote and reinforce the reforms to the country's social insurance system.
Launching a public information campaign about the new social security numbers, the minister said that from July 2009 all citizens would have their own, unique and mandatory social insurance number that would serve to identify them in all transactions related to employment and social insurance, laying the foundations for a modern and simplified system of benefits.
The new numbers, with the acronym AMKA in Greek, will be given to those eligible by Citizens' Service Bureaus throughout the country and 125 AMKA bureaus created in social insurance funds. So far, the company in charge of organising the issue of the numbers to some seven million people has sent out two million cards to eligible parties.
Information regarding the new numbers is also available on the phone line 11131.
 Deputy FinMin attends Black Sea 2007-2013 programme conferenceDeputy National Economy and Finance Minister Athanasios Bouras represented Greece in the opening session of the "Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme 2007-2013" Conference and project preparation workshop in Bucharest on Tuesday, where he underlined the region's important role in the global geo-strategic planning.
Addressing the conference, he stressed that "Greece has strongly and actively supported all European Commission programmes in the region seeking a closer cooperation with the Black Sea countries."
The close ties linking Greece with the region are being highlighted through its participation in networks and organizations promoting regional development, he pointed out.
 New measures soon for photovoltaics in householdsDevelopment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told Parliament's Research and Technology Committee on Tuesday said the government will soon be announcing a programme giving incentives for energy conservation using photovoltaics by households. This would be accompanied by measures to encourage the replacement of household appliances with others that were more environmentally friendly.
The minister said that two ministerial decisions will be signed in the next few days, the first dealing with the installation of photovoltaic systems on the roofs of houses for those wanting to make their homes self-sufficient in energy, while at the same time supplying the central system.
"The ministry's intention is to give priority to large investments to cover the gap in our country. We want to separate small and large investments. I don't think that investments amounting to half a MW should wait in line with investments for 50 MW and 100 MW," he said.
The second ministerial decision would open the way for the use geothermal energy by houses, in addition to agriculture.
 Ban on GMOs remains, farm minister tells GreenpeaceAgricultural Development and Foods Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis on Tuesday assured Greenpeace representatives that Greece will remain steadfastly at the forefront of bans on the cultivation and trade of genetically modified seeds.
"It is a standing policy for us, which other countries have recently started to adopt," he stated, after talks with the environmental organisation on animal conservation issues.
A ministry announcement said that Greenpeace came forward with proposals for protecting marine life and the marine environment, asking the government to establish marine refuges in Greece and the Mediterranean (national and community protected fishing regions).
They also raised the issue of GM foods, calling for more inspections to protect consumers.
 Greek economic sentiment index rebounded in AprilGreece's economic sentiment index rebounded slightly in April after a year of decline, following a rebounding trend prevailing in other European countries. The index rose to 46.4 points in April, from 43.1 in March, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Tuesday.
IOBE said April's improvement was a significant development which could signaled the completion of the index's decline, although it noted that April's figures could not be characterized as a recovery.
Business expectations in the manufacturing sector recorded a mild improvement in inventories and production forecasts, while forecasts over demand and new orders remained stable.
In the services sector, expectations over current demand worsened slightly, although forecasts over demand's outlook improved fractionally.
In the retail sector, forecasts over the short-term trend in demand improved, while in the constructions sector business expectations rose slightly.
Consumer confidence improved in April, with Greek consumers' forecasts over their financial situation and economic developments in the country being less pessimistic in April compared with the previous month. Forecasts over unemployment, however, remained at very high levels.
 Greek PMI rebounded slightly in AprilGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rebounded slightly in April to 40.9 points, from 38.2 in March, reversing a several-month decline of the index. For the first time since November production and new orders recorded slower decline rates, while job losses fall also slowed in the month.
Production by the Greek manufacturing economy continued falling at speedy rates during the last research, although at a slower rate than March, while pending business in Greek manufacturing units fell sharply in April.
The index records business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Nireus signs agreement with TradimarNireus SA, a Greek-listed fish farming company, on Tuesday announced the signing of an agreement with Tradimar for the distribution and storage of its products in Italy.
Tradimar is the European network of transport and logistics of STEF-TFE Group, specializing on frozen products logistics, with established presence in France, Spain, UK and Italy.
Nireus said the agreement will help in reducing its transport costs and strengthen its presence in the Italian market.
 AB Vasilopoulos reports higher sales, lower profits in Q1AB Vasilopoulos SA, a Greek-listed supermarket chain, on Tuesday said its consolidated after tax profits totaled 2.1 million euros in the first quarter of 2009, down from 7.6 million euros in the corresponding period last year, while parent after tax profits fell to 3.0 million euros from 7.3 million euros, over the same period, respectively.
Consolidated sales, however, rose 10.9 pct to 347.1 million euros, while parent sales rose 8.7 pct to 333.3 million euros. Operating earnings fell to 6.0 million euros in the January-March period, from 10.6 million euros last year, while EBITDA fell 17.3 pct to 12.9 million euros.
 Greek stocks soared 3.06 pct on TuesdayGreek stocks continued their rally for one more session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market above the 2,100 level. The index jumped 3.06 pct to end at 2,160.47 points, with turnover rising to 392.8 million euros, of which 16.6 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Technology (9.08 pct), Banks (8.17 pct) and Insurance (4.36 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (1.87 pct), Telecoms (1.44 pct) and Food/Beverage (1.08 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 3.98 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 3.57 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index jumped 6.60 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 149 to 94 with another 34 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.63%
Personal & Household: +2.72%
Raw Materials: +0.86%
Travel & Leisure: +1.20%
Food & Beverages: -1.08%
Financial Services: +2.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and Marfin Popular Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.10
HBC Coca Cola: 12.20
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.33
National Bank of Greece: 17.90
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.22
Bank of Piraeus: 7.90
Titan Cement Company: 19.96
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 103.733 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.63 pct, in volume of 14,337 contracts worth 77.770 million euros and 27,058 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 31,614 contracts worth 25.963 million euros with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,294), followed by Eurobank (1,158), OTE (2,430), Piraeus Bank (2,093), GEK (3,498), Alpha Bank (3,615), Intracom (1,050), Marfin Popular Bank (2,958) and ATEbank (1,107).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell below 200 basis points for the first time in several months, in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday. The yield spread fell to 199 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.23 pct and the German Bund 3.24 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 772 million euros, of which 532 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 240 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.71 pct, the six-month rate was 1.54 pct, the three-month 1.34 pct and the one-month rate 0.91 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.351
Pound sterling 0.892
Danish kroner 7.507
Swedish kroner 10.671
Japanese yen 133.65
Swiss franc 1.523
Norwegian kroner 8.756
Canadian dollar 1.579
Australian dollar 1.814
 Exhibition, auction of works of noted Greek paintersDistinguished and rare works by noted Greek painters of the 19th and 20th centuries will be exhibited in Thessaloniki on May 17 and 18.
The exhibition, hosted by Hellenic Auctions, will open on Sunday, May 17 and close in the afternoon of the following day with an auction of the exhibited works, including for the first time paintings by world renowned artist Konstantinos Volanakis (1837-1907). Among the exhibits will be works by Parthenis, Maleas, Papaloukas, Steris, Bouzianis, Tsarouchis, Tsoklis and Fasianos.
Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Municipal Nursery "Aghios Stylianos", which will also offer for auction the work titled "Angel of love" by Thessaloniki-born painter Yannis Nikou.
 "Student Week" opens at Aristotle UniversityThe 11th annual "Student Week" events opened Tuesday at Thessaloniki's Aristotle University (AUTH) with the participation of thousands of students, artists and spectators.
A total of 110 events, including sports competitions, ecological events, theater performances, photo exhibitions, lectures, music events, public awareness events and blood donations, organized by roughly 1,500 students, will last until mid June.
A photo exhibition by students of the Fine Works Schools in Greece and other Balkan countries, to be held at the Museum of Byzantine Civilization, Goethe Institute and Geni Tzami on May 11-31, will travel to Istanbul in December after an invitation by the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts.
 Five injured in ambulance crashFive people were injured on Tuesday when an ambulance carrying a teenager injured in a fall ran a Stop sign and was rammed by a passing car in the west Athens district of Peristeri. The boy, who was being rushed to Thriasio Hospital in Elefsina after falling from a height of two metres at his highschool in Ilion, suffered additional injuries when the ambulance capsized because of the impact.
Also injured were the woman driving the ambulance, a member of the ambulance crew, the highschool headmaster and a teacher accompanying the injured student. All five were taken to hospital in other ambulances, while the Kolonos traffic police are investigating the accident.
 Dead nursery school cook victim of crimeThe 60-year-old nursery school cook found dead on the island of Ios was the victim of a criminal act, police announced on Tuesday. The woman had been found dead on Monday, lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen of the island's day-care centre by one of the nursery teachers.
An autopsy revealed that her head had been crushed by an unknown object while the motives for the crime are being investigated by police, who have launched an investigation to locate and arrest the culprit.
 Fire-bomb attacks target banks, cars in Iraklio, CreteTwo branches of the National Bank of Greece and Eurobank in Iraklio, on the Aegean island of Crete, were the targets arsonist attacks in the early morning hours of Tuesday.
Home-made incendiary devices planted by unidentified individuals caused extensive damage to both banks, while shortly afterwards, two cars belonging to a burglar alarm installation company were torched and completely damaged despite the swift intervention of firefighters.
 Two narcotics arrests by Athens policeA 29-year-old Albanian national has been arrested by the Athens narcotics squad on drug trafficking charges after police found 88.315 kilos of cannabis and 2.135 kilos of heroin in his possession. The arrest was made on Monday night.
Other items confiscated as evidence included a flare gun, a set of electronic scales and a private car used to transport the drugs.
Police also reported the arrest of a 25-year-old Albanian found in possession of 12.105 kilos of cannabis, a set of precision scales, 2,310 euros and other objects.
Both men were led before a public prosecutor on Tuesday.
 Cloudy, rainy on WednesdayCloudy and rainy weather, and northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 23C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with light winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 21C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe Parliament plenary vote against indictment of former minister and ruling New Democracy deputy Aristotelis Pavlidis and the European Commission's revised forecasts on the Greek economy dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "And now Siemens! After the end of the political 'show' on whether to indict Pavlidis or not".
APOGEVMATINI: "1:00 a.m.: After a 7-hour session, parliament decided not to indict Pavlidis".
AVGHI: "Scandalous government - ND's deputies acquitted Pavlidis and sent a cover-up message, insulting the people's intelligence".
AVRIANI: "PASOK tripped up once again - Two of its deputies voted against Pavlidis' indictment".
CHORA: "No indictment, with five blank votes - Parliament finished with accusations against Pavlidis".
ELEFTHEROS: "Ballot outcome gives extension to government's life".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Marginal acquittal for Pavlidis: 146 votes in favor of indictment, 144 against, 5 blank votes and 3 abstentions (in which the MPs merely stated their presence)" among the 298 MPs in the 300-member House that took part in the vote, as MP Papayannakis was absent from the proceedings and Pavlidis did not have the right to vote.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The majority said 'Yes', the result was 'No' - What the parliament plenary decided on the Pavlidis indictment".
ESTIA: "The 'deserts' of the ballot - Heavy shadow over ND"
ETHNOS: "Laundry for Pavlidis and government - With 5 blank votes and 3 abstentions, the door was closed on double elections".
KATHIMERINI: "European Commission's forecast on Greek economy is ominous - Drop in GDP for the EU '27'."
LOGOS: "Commission forecasts on Greek economy are ominous".
NIKI: "The economy collapsing - Blow from Commission with strict supervision".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) candidates for the European Parliament elections were announced on Monday".
TA NEA: "Pavlidis was let off the hook but...".
TO VIMA: "European Commissioner for economic and financial affairs Joaquin Almunia recommends to Greek government: Reduce salaries in public and private sector".
VRADYNI: "Pavlidis will not be referred to a Special Court (on the accountability of ministers) - The issue of his resignation remains open".
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