|Saturday, 24 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-05-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 15 May 2009 Issue No: 3194
 Karamanlis meets with outgoing NATO SecGenPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Thursday in Athens with outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
Karamanlis pointed out that during the NATO SecGen's term the alliance was enlarged twice, while in the field of operations NATO was called to meet very demanding challenges mainly in Afghanistan and in the Balkans and more recently in Africa in the battle against sea piracy.
"The effort made to promote the Alliance's relations with Russia was also significant," he underlined, adding that "progress was made in its relations with Ukraine and Georgia as well as with the countries of the partnership for peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Initiative."
"Notable progress was also made in the organization's defence reform," the PM said, stressing that "we appreciate the special effort made by Mr. Scheffer aimed at boosting cooperation between NATO and other international organizations particularly, the United Nations and the European Union."
On his part, the NATO SecGen praised the cooperation he had with the prime minister and ministers of foreign affairs and defence, Dora Bakoyannis and Evangelos Meimarakis respectively.
"I am certain that the country under your leadership, will participate in the efforts for the preparation of this new strategic perception in view of the next NATO Summit," he said, addressing the prime minister.
The NATO SecGen also referred to energy and internet security issues describing them as challenges with which the alliance is faced, as well as to the participation of Greek Navy frigates in the efforts to combat sea piracy. Commenting on his successor Anders Fogh Rasmussen, he stated that he is very competent.
 NATO SecGen meets BakoyannisGreece's active role within the Alliance, most recently through its participation in the Afghanistan and Kosovo missions, was praised on Thursday by outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer during joint statements made with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
The NATO SecGen had earlier been received by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias and held talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Replying to questions on the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, during which the Alliance did not extend an invitation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to join its ranks in light of Greek objections, Scheffer stressed that the word 'veto' was not spoken by anyone during the meeting and that the decision was reached through consensus, a principle on which NATO was based.
"I have never heard the word veto. NATO has not heard the word veto, it knows only the word consensus. At no time has any of us, neither myself nor any of my predecessors heard the word veto. No member of the Alliance has uttered the word veto. I hope, however, that there will be a new consensus - in accordance with the announcement of the Bucharest summit," he said.
A visit to Skopje and talks with the country's leadership the previous week "had not increased his optimism" on that score, however, Scheffer reported, expressing hope that fYRoM leadership "will understand exactly what it needs to do".
In her reply on the same issue, Bakoyannis stressed that the Greek position "had been clear from the first".
"We presented our position and our allies judged that our arguments were powerful and we received great support in Bucharest," she said, adding that the NATO SecGen was correct.
"There was a unified voice at Bucharest, the voice of the Alliance, and it was clear: there must be a solution on the issue of the name, in order for fYRoM to become a member of NATO," she said.
Bakoyannis underlined that Greece would be happy to see its neighbours within NATO but only after the name issue was resolved.
Regarding Afghanistan, Scheffer supported positions of U.S. President Barack Obama for a regional approach and said that the presence of forces from all 28 member-states of the Alliance was a condition for success, while pointing out that the Alliance's goal was not a military victory but to establish security, stability and allow reconstruction, a goal shared by all international organisations.
He thanked the Greek government for its strong support during his years at the helm of the Alliance, while Bakoyannis thanked him for the "close and productive cooperation" between them and his hard work and dedication in striving for consensus and to bridge different opinions within the Alliance, which carried out its mission on the basis of agreement.
 DM Meimarakis holds talks with outgoing NATO SGDefence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis held talks on Thursday with outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, ascertaining an identify of views regarding the process for candidate countries' accession to the Alliance.
The accession of candidate countries to NATO is possible provided that they fulfill all the criteria, as they stressed in their addresses.
They also praised the level of their cooperation in NATO's framework, while Scheffer expressed satisfaction over Greece's participation in NATO's missions, which now includes the tackling of piracy. He further expressed confidence that Greece will have an active participation in the creation of NATO's new strategic framework.
On his part, Meimarakis assured Scheffer that "Greece will continue to support and play a leading role in the effort to find ways of creating a better Alliance."
 Foreign ministry spokesman on OSCE mission in GeorgiaForeign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Thursday underlined that despite the laborious mediation efforts made by the Greek OSCE chair, no consensus was reached between the parties involved that could have led to a mutually acceptable way in which the OSCE mission's presence in Georgia could be extended.
Since Greece took over the chair of the OSCE, "a number of proposals were tabled in an effort to bridge the different views that originated from totally different points while, at the same time, being different in principle, thus making the attainment of consensus extremely difficult," Koumoutsakos stressed.
"The Greek OSCE chair tried to depoliticize the issue and suggested solutions of a technical nature to bridge the intensely different positions of the parties involved," he said, adding that "it was not feasible to reach the much-desired consensus by the Greek OSCE Chairmanship which acted as a right-minded mediator."
"The Greek OSCE Chairmanship hopes that there is still room for a consensus," Koumoutsakos stressed, adding that "during the six-month efforts both sides praised the 'truly brave' decision of the chair to bridge the different views in this very difficult and complex issue."
 Adriatic-Ionian Initiative foreign ministers meet in AthensThe meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII) was held in Athens on Thursday within the framework of the Greek AII presidency, contributing to the closer cooperation among the Adriatic Sea countries in vital sectors such as tourism and the environment.
Deputy foreign minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis stated that "AII is an example of very good cooperation among neighbouring countries at regional level" and that "the member states have already decided to cooperate on issues concerning tourism, transportation, the environment and wildfire prevention."
"Coordinated efforts at regional level bring specific results and help reinforce stability while boosting economic cooperation," he stressed.
Italian deputy foreign minister Alfredo Mantica, whose country takes over the AII presidency after Greece, stated that efforts will focus on closer relations with the EU, meaning the incorporation of the AII programmes into the programmes of the European community.
The meeting was attended by Deputy Foreign Ministers Alfredo Mantica (Italy), Stanimir Vukicevic (Serbia), Anton Gurakuqi (Albania), Milorad Scepanovic (Montenegro), and Assistant Foreign Minister Jasmina Pasalic (Bosnia-Herzegovina).
The meeting was also attended by Director for Neighbouring Countries and Southeast Europe at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Ambassador Davor Vidis, the Director of the Department of South-Eastern Europe of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, Bernarda Gradisnik, and the European Commission representative in Athens Mario Vilar.
The "Adriatic-Ionian Initiative" (AII) is based on the idea that international crises are not resolved through violence but through mutual cooperation among the peoples in order to identify and jointly define a range of common interests in all sectors. The participating countries are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, and Slovenia.
 PASOK leader Papandreou visiting ChinaBEIJING (ANA-MPA/V. Mourtis)
Main opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou, currently visiting the Chinese capital to chair a meeting of the SI's Environment Committee being hosted by China, said that his contacts here on Thursday were important.
Papandreou said that the contacts are important because China plays and will continue to play a decisive role in issues concerning mankind, adding that these issues are the international economic crisis and climatic changes combined with green development.
He further said that China's positions on these issues are very important, both for the Socialist International and Greece and the Greek economy.
PASOK's leader also said that, in the frameweork of the SI, he has taken two initiatives concerning "the shaping of a progressive political proposal regarding the international economic crisis, climatic changes and green development."
Papandreou stressed that the aim and outcome of these initiatives is "the creation of a humane society".
He participated in a working luncheon at noon (local time) given in his honour by the International Relations Minister of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee Wang Jiarui.
Papandreou then visited places that are taking part in environmental protection programmes, such as the green building of the Chingua University and Beijing's Jinyu Group cement factory.
At night (Beijing time), Papandreou met with China's alternate prime minister Li Keqiang.
Talks he held with leading members of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China focused on issues concerning the relation between the Chinese Communist Party and the SI, a relation that Papandreou described as partnership cooperation on strategic issues.
He also discussed bilateral relations issues between the Chinese Communist Party and PASOK, as well as issues regarding bilateral relations between Greece and China.
The Chinese Communist Party is not a member of the SI, but it has a close cooperation relation and it is active in the International's committees that deal with sustainable growth, the international economic crisis and international disarmament issues.
China's officials are showing great interest in these issues and are placing special importance on renewable energy sources, while seeking their own important role both in relation to climatic changes and the environment and on their role in the global economy and the handling of the economic crisis.
What interests the Chinese most is not so much economic resources, that as it appears they possess, but knowhow.
The sessions of the SI's environment committee will begin on Friday, in the presence of the committee's coordinators former Swedish prime minister Goran Persson and former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos.
Papandreou will be meeting the President of the Chinese People's Republic Hu Jintao in the afternoon.
 Koumoutsakos: Athens not aware of U.S. initiative for name issueAthens has no information about when United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz will repeat his efforts to broker a solution to the dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos noted on Thursday, while adding that the interest of the U.S. in the issue was "not unknown".
He was replying to a question about whether Athens expected some U.S. initiative for resolving the name dispute between Greece and fYRoM in view of a visit by U.S Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg to Athens on Friday, followed by a visit to Skopje.
"There are no indications that some specific American initiative is expected. Apart from that, Washington's position is that the U.S. side will respect and implement the result - if there is one, which is something Greece desires. It is a position that has not changed. The discussion with Steinberg in Athens, however, will not be restricted to this issue; there will be a broader discussion on issues of regional and international interest," the spokesman said.
Commenting on recent statements by FYROM's newly elected president regarding "constructive" efforts for a solution, Koumoutsakos said that these "are being evaluated" but pointed out that they would have to be evaluated in the context of past attitudes.
"We hope for a different atmosphere in the talks and negotiations that will take place, a more constructive stance, without attempts to divert the negotiations from their object and focused on the essence of the negotiations, as this has been defined by the resolutions of the UN Security Council," he said, stressing that Greece would continue to participate in the process with a constructive attitude with a view to achieving a mutually acceptable solution.
Asked about a massive statue of Alexander the Great that will be erected in Skopje's central square, Koumoutsakos noted only the following:
"Both the size and the height but also the cost of this statue are in inverse proportion to seriousness and historical truth".
 Foreign ministry spokesman on TurkeyForeign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos stressed on Thursday that the recent position expressed by Turkey's new Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for "zero problems with the neighbours" was "undeniably positive" as an intention and declared position.
Koumoutsakos pointed out that "as an implemented policy it will be evaluated in its next stages," adding that "such a policy cannot be complete as long as there is no improvement in Turkey's relations with Greece and the Republic of Cyprus."
Commenting on Ankara's recommendation to European officials as regards the adoption of a code of conduct in the Aegean, Koumoutsakos pointed out that there is nothing specific and stressed that such issues are raised within the framework of the discussions on the confidence building measures, clarifying that currently there are no such talks in progress between the two countries.
Asked to comment on whether Greece is considering an alternative policy as regards Turkey's EU accession course based on the balance of power changes in the European Parliament following the imminent Euro-elections, the foreign ministry spokesman pointed out that the EU decisions and policies regarding the candidate EU members are being shaped within the framework of the EU Foreign Ministers' Council.
Earlier on Thursday, Turkey's ambassador to Athens, Oguz Celikkol visited Greek FM Bakoyannis and delivered a letter by her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu inviting her to Turkey. The date of the formal visit will be decided via the diplomatic route.
 Inner cabinet meets on FridayGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated that the inner cabinet will meet on Friday to focus on economic issues, adding that the deputy ministers will also be in attendance as was the case in the previous meeting.
As regards the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures according to which, taxation increased by 50 pct in the period 2004-2008, he commented that he is not aware of the specific figures, adding that the tax indexes have been reduced.
On the 28-billion-euro support plan, Antonaros stated that credits are not being approved as fast as the government wants expressing, however, the certainty that the economy is moving forward.
 PM visits ONNED, DAP-NDFK officesPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday paid a visit to the offices of DAP-NDFK, the student party affiliated to ruling New Democracy, and ND's youth party ONNED to congratulate them on their victory in the student elections.
ONNED President George Papanicolaou briefed the premier on the process and the results of the vote, noting that the party had retained its lead for the 24th consecutive year.
Karamanlis also congratulated them for showing themselves to be a power for reforms within universities and Technological Educational Institutes (TEI) and in education.
 ND Euroelections Central Committee convenes, statement by FM BakoyannisForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, speaking after the meeting of the Euroelections Central Committee on Thursday, said that the rulingf New Democracy (ND) party is beginning the election campaign "with optimism, certainty and self-confidence".
Bakoyannis added that ND will inform all the Greek women and all the Greek men and referred to the students elections, saying that the results were extremely encouraging.
"DAP (the ND-affiliated students group) is once again the leading force and this shows that young people trust the work that we are doing," she added.
 Gov't spokesman on EuroelectionsGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Thursday that the citizens' true problems is the major daily issue. He also referred to the ruling New Democracy party questions on the reasons why the party's political council did not convene but the party's central committee for the Euroelections instead.
Reffering to parliament's adjournment, he said the the overwhelming majority of citizens understand what the government said, that it is concerned the country will head to the Euroelections in the framework of a healthy political dialogue.
"The parliament has discussed all the pending issues, in detail. So, there are no pending issues as some quarters are claiming," Antonaros said.
 "Drasi" unveils Euro-election ticketThe recently formed political party "Drasi" on Thursday unveiled its list of candidates for the European Parliament elections on June 7, headed by former minister Stefanos Manos.
"We are here to offer our services and correct certain things in our country," Manos stressed at a press conference during which the party ticket was unveiled.
The party's founding declaration has the signatures of several noted personalities from the fields of politics, business, science and entertainment, including, among others, former minister Stefanos Manos, entrepreneur and Thessaloniki councillor Yannis Boutaris, former minister Vassilis Kontogiannopoulos, as well as Thanos Veremis, a professor of modern history at the University of Athens and board member of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).
 Tsipras meets with education council presidentCoalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) President Alexis Tsipras met with Primary and Secondary Education Council President Professor George Babiniotis on Thursday, for talks focusing on the national dialogue on Education.
In statements afterwards, Tsipras commented that "university professors and Professor Babiniotis personally, have our confidence," adding that "this is not the case when it comes to the government."
The SYN leader presented Babiniotis with his party's proposals on access to tertiary education for all.
 FM sends wishes to Ecumenical PatriarchForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis sent on Thursday a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew wishing him a speedy recovery from his recent illness.
Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos released the full text of Bakoyannis' letter: "Please, accept my heartfelt wishes for your speedy recovery in order to continue your important mission for the Church and the Greek nation".
Koumoutsakos also sent his wishes to the Ecumenical Patriarch.
 FM Bakoyannis meets with Turkish ambassadorForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis received Turkish ambassador to Athens Oguz Celikkol on Thursday.
"I delivered a letter by my minister (Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu) inviting Mrs Bakoyannis to Turkey," the Turkish ambassador stated while exiting the Greek FM's office.
 Eurobank raises 500 million euros from international capital marketsEurobank EFG on Thursday announced it has raised 500 million euros from international and domestic capital markets, the first Greek bank to gain access in international capital markets after the global financial crisis.
The bank said it had sold a bond issue, carrying an annual coupon of 4.25 pct. The two-year bond does not carry any state guarantee. The bond was issued by EFG Hellas Plc, a subsidiary of EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA, and will be traded in the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. The money raised will finance the bank's activities. BNP Paribas, EFG Eurobank Ergasias, ING, JP Morgan and UniCredit Group were underwriters of the issue.
Eurobank said the financial crisis has closed its doors to Greek and most European banks. The 500-million-euro issue was a significant first step towards paving the way for Greek banks to return to international capital markets.
 Presentation by Greek biotech companies in BostonWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
The opportunities presented by Greek biotechnology companies for collaboration with their US counterparts were outlined by representatives of the Greek companies at an event held at a Boston hotel on Wednesday night that was attended by senior officials of major American biotechnology companies, professors from the universities of Harvard, Tufts and Northeastern, and from MIT.
After the presentation, a number of unscheduled bilateral talks took place between the Greek and American companies.
This first presentation of Greek biotech companies and medical apparatus manufacturers was of particular significance as it was held in Boston, which is the largest biotechnology center in the US.
The business mission to the US was the initiative of the technology diffusion network "Praxi", which was represented at the presentation by Despina Giagopoulou and Vassilis Stamatopoulos, while the visit took place under the aegis of the Greek foreign ministry.
The events and meetings in Boston were organised by Greece's Consulate General in Boston and the Greek embassy's commercial attache's office in New York.
Consul General Constantine Orfanidis, addressing the event, thanked everyone who contributed to the success of the presentation, and proposed that it become an annual event so as to capitalise on the success of the first such meeting.
The Greek delegation also attended a lunch hosted by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, toured Northeastern University's research centers, the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), and the Broad Institute, which is a collaboration between MIT and Harvard dedicated to the study of genomics for the biomedical sciences.
 Greek unemployment rose to 9.1 pct in FebruaryGreece's unemployment rate jumped to 9.1 pct in February, from 8.0 pct in February 2008 and 9.0 pct in February 2007, the National Statistical Service said on Thursday.
The statistics agency said the number of unemployed people totaled 450,997 in February, up from 394,169 in the same month last year and 440,982 in February 2007. Unemployment among men was 7.0 pct and 12.3 pct for women, while young people, aged 15-24, recorded the highest unemployment rate (25.7 pct).
The unemployment rate was 17.3 pct in South Aegean, 12.3 pct in Western Greece, 11.8 pct in Western Macedonia and 12.6 pct in Ionian islands. Unemployment was 10.4 pct in Epirus, 7.2 pct in Thessaly, 6.9 pct in the Peloponese, 9.8 pct in Crete and 8.0 pct in Attica.
The number of employed people fell 1.1 pct in February, compared with the corresponding month last year.
 Finance ministry acquires new customs patrol boatsDeputy Finance Minister Antonis Bezas on Thursday christened the ministry's two new anti-smuggling vessels "Poseidon" and "Ermis" at the Elefsina Shipyards, after a ceremony in which he officially accepted their delivery.
The minister said the decision to acquire the new customs service patrol boats aimed to improve the efficiency of the ministry's inspection services and assist the prosecution of financial crimes and the trafficking of drugs, arms, ammunition, explosives and antiquities.
The two vessels will also be used in the new "Poseidon" system that was launched this spring and monitors the movements of cargo and supply vessels, ordering on-the-spot inspections by anti-smuggling craft whenever a ship is seen to veer suspiciously off course through the AIS system.
Their crews will include customs officials that formerly served on the maritime economic police and customs officers specialising in inspections.
Bezas also announced the purchase of an additional five vessels, three of them able to cope with open waters, that will patrol the Aegean, Ionian and Cretan seas. The other two will be similar to the vessels delivered on Thursday, being suitable for patrols in and around the vicinity of harbours.
 ATEbank says earnings up 23.1 pct in Q1ATEbank Group on Thursday reported a 23.1 pct increase in its consolidated after tax and minorities' earnings to 37.3 million euros in the first quarter of 2009, from 30.3 million euros last year and said that bank profits jumped 112.6 pct to 44 million euros from 20.7 million euros over the same period, respectively.
The bank attributed its improved results to the increase of net revenues from interest and commissions, a significant rise in financial results and lower operating spending despite a significant increase in bad debt provisions.
Commenting on the results, Dimitris Miliakos, the bank's chairma, said the Group aimed at achieving a 10 pct credit growth rate this year.
Net interest revenue grew 8.9 pct to 157.8 million euros in the January-March period, while net revenues from fees and commissions rose 15.8 pct to 17.5 million euros.
Saving deposits rose 2.9 pct to 20.6 billion euros.
 KKE's Papariga tours "Katselis" plantCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga toured the Katselis & Sons S.A. bakery products plant on Thursday and met with employees.
Papariga stressed that "all the political parties that voted in favour of the Maastricht Treaty lied to the workers and the young when they were promising them that paradise and happiness will come via the European Union."
 Unisystems launches EMC signature solution centreUnisystems, a subsidiary of Info-Quest, on Thursday launched its first EMC Velocity2 Signature Solution center in the Balkans. The Data Center project cost 300,000 euros to build and offers to enterprises and organizations the opportunity to evalue, in real conditions through simulations, solutions based on storage, server and network consolidation, back-up, recovery and archiving, etc.
The Uni Systems EMC center is fully equipped with state-of-the art storage systems by EMC.
 Ergophone BV in 130,000-mln-euro share capital increase planErgophone BV, a subsidiary of Newsphone Hellas SA, on Thursday announced a share capital increase plan, worth 130,000 euros. The new money will be used to raise the company's liquidity and to expand its participation in similar companies in Europe or elsewhere.
 Stocks end 0.58% lowerGreek stocks remained under pressure for the second consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index fell 0.58 pct to end at 2,124.03 points, with turnover at 200.2 million euros, of which 3.1 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Oil (5.11 pct), Industrial Products (1.49 pct) and Travel (0.78 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Insurance (1.40 pct), Financial Services (1.27 pct) and Food/Beverage (0.68 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 0.48 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.16 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index eased 1.30 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 131 to 91 with another 36 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -5.11%
Personal & Household: -0.43%
Raw Materials: +0.32%
Travel & Leisure: -0.78%
Food & Beverages: +0.68%
Financial Services: +1.27%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Marfin Popular Bank and the Public Power Corporation (DEH).
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.88
HBC Coca Cola: 13.95
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.86
National Bank of Greece: 15.97
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.23
Bank of Piraeus: 7.87
Titan Cement Company: 18.25
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.65 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 79.842 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 12,414 contracts worth 65.675 million euros, with 29,488 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,957 contracts worth 14.167 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,842), followed by Eurobank (1,496), OTE (1,136), Piraeus Bank (2,491), Alpha Bank (2,323), Marfin Popular Bank (1,937), Cyprus Bank (1,422) and ATEbank (2,323).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 192 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with turnover rising to 1.296 billion euros of which 523 million were buy orders and the remaining 773 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 851 million euros, with the Greek bond yielding 5.22 pct and the German Bund 3.31 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.62 pct, the six-month rate 1.46 pct, the three-month rate 1.26 pct and the one-month rate 0.83 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.367
Pound sterling 0.905
Danish kroner 7.507
Swedish kroner 10.857
Japanese yen 130.45
Swiss franc 1.517
Norwegian kroner 8.902
Canadian dollar 1.609
Australian dollar 1.826
 ANA-MPA among recipients of 2009 Botsis Awards for journalismANA-MPA president and general director George Tambakopoulos received a Botsis Award for the national news agency's introduction and operation of the first news website in Greece, at a ceremony in Athens on Thursday in which the Botsis Foundation's annual awards for journalism were presented by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Opening the ceremony, Foundation president Panos Karayiannis outlined the Foundation's activities and its future plans.
In a brief greeting, parliament president Dimitris Sioufas said that everyone had the duty to protect the quality and freedom of the press for a democratic country, while deputy interior minister for media issues Costas Giulekas announced that Greece will soon acquire a Greek Press Museum.
Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros spoke of the role played by the mass media and the problems it faced, while main opposition PASOK press officer George Papaconstantinou referred to the crisis in the media.
The gathering was also addressed by Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) president Panos Sombolos and Union of Periodical and Electronic Press Journalists (ESPIT) president Yiannis Plachouris.
The President of the Republic presented the awards to journalists: Costas Laskarelias, George Vlachos and Demos Verikios for bringing to light the Vatopedi Monastery land transactions affair; Olga Laopodi-Ioannou for her reporting in the periodical press; George Sarigiannis for his contribution to upgrading of reporting on the arts in the daily press; ANA-MPA president and general director George Tambakopoulos for the national news agency's introduction and operation of the first news website in Greece; and Maria Houkli for her exemplary first television interview with former education minister Marietta Yannakou after her health ordeal which resulted in the loss of a leg and for her objectivity in reporting on television news programs.
Papoulias further presented a special award to Paul Kotrotsios, publisher of the daily "Hellenic News of America", for its projection and promotion of Hellenic culture in the United States; the Foundation's National Resistance award, which is sponsored by the ESPIT, to Lazaros Arseniou; and a special award post-humously to George Kiliaris, a journalist for state ERT television, who had been seriously injured in the neck in October 2008 while covering the events in Afghanistan and succumbed to his wounds one month later in an Athens hospital.
Also, parliament vice-president Anastasios Nerantzis presented the "Yannis Fatsis" award for parliamentary reporting, sponsored by parliament, to Nikos Roussis; parliament president Dimitris Sioufas presented the "Christos Passalaris" award for political columns, sponsored by parliament, to George Lakopoulos and Nikos Xydakis; Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) president Costas Michalos presented the financial reporting prize, sponsored by the EBEA, to George Nikolopoulos; Hellenic Red Cross (EES) chairman Andreas Martinis presented the humanitarian reporting award, sponsored by the EES, to Michalis Kefaloyannis; General Secretariat for Equality representative Evgenia Zika presented the secretariat-sponsored award for gender equality reporting to Lina Drouga; the local government reporting award was presented to Marianna Galanopoulou by Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis' representative Gerassimos Yiobazolias; the ESPIT-sponsored "Apostolos Magganaris" award was presented by the union's president Plachouris to Stephanos Dandalos; and the "Costas Tsatsaronis" award for the foreign press was presented to Kerin Hope by Giulekas.
Honorable distinctions were further presented to the Susie Lapa Foundation, Iason Moschovitis, Minas Papazoglou, Maria Antoniadou, Zissis Angelopoulos, the Istanbul-based newspaper Icho (Echo), and to the Naftemboriki.gr online financial newspaper.
 Health Minister Avramopoulos to receive George Papanikolaou AwardNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos was to be honoured on Thursday night (NY time) with the first George Papanikolaou Award by the Greek Medical Society of New York at the Cornell University hospital.
The awarding ceremony will be taking place in the framework of the annual symposium held in memory of the prominent Greek scientist George Papanikolaou. The symposium is being organised by the Greek Medical Society of New York, the Medical School of the Cornell University and the Panevoikos Society of New York.
According to officials of the Medical Society, Avramopoulos is expected to announce the formal conclusion of the awarding of the Greek Medical Society of New York of an observer post at the Greek Central Health Council.
 'Archaeology of the City of Athens' project now in digital formThe chaotic layout and intense rhythms of Athens overshadow the historic past of the modern-day urban picture of the city. It is precisely this historic continuity of the Athenian urban landscape that the National Research Foundation (EIE) is attempting to bring to life in its digital project "Archaeology of the City of Athens", carried out in the framework of the "Information Society" Operational Program.
The project constitutes the digitalisation of the texts of a series of 12 lectures held in 1994 that were contained in the sold-out publication of the same time issued by the EIE in 1996.
The digital version, however, is enriched and supplemented with additional chapters, while the historical continuity and evolution of the Athenian landscape from the pre-historic years to the present is further enhanced with literary sources and historical accounts in both their original form and in Modern Greek translation.
Further, the texts, which have also been translated into English, are accompanied by a plethora of pictorial material resulting from massive research (original photographs, depictions, drawings, maps, topographical diagrams, building floor plans), while a significant addition is the rich Contemporary Monuments Database, and also a historical documentary dedicated to the Preservable Neo-Classical buildings of Athens with texts by Yiannis Tsarouchis and images by Spyros Vassiliou, scripted, produced and directed by Nikos Grammatikopoulos.
The digital edition can be viewed on the EIE's website at http://www.eie.gr/archaeologia/.
 Unique museum of citrus fruits on the island of ChiosOrange, is it a fruit or a jewel? The answer today is self-evident but it was not that obvious in the 1900s when oranges were exported from the eastern Aegean island of Chios to Russia individually wrapped in paper with the island's label printed in Naples, Italy in gold ink.
One of the rare wrapping papers, dating back to the 1920s, is on display at the Citrus Fruits Museum in the city of Chios, among the three museums of this kind in the world (the other two are in Spain and California), established in 2008 to promote local products and the history of the citrus fruit trade on the island of Chios since 1500.
Also on display are orange juice bottles from the 1950s, plate marks, 1900s scales and payroll books belonging to a farm operating in the 1940 when a day's wage was 30 drachmas and a single orange cost 1 drachma.
Original gravures dating back to the 15th century are on display in a special section of the museum.
 "Italia in piazza 2009" events in AthensItaly for the 3rd consecutive year will present, from June 1 and for one week, at the Technopolis in downtown Athens a series of events entitled "Italia in piazza 2009", aiming at the promotion of the Italian way of living.
Concerts, screenings of Italian film productions in the framework of the 1st Italian Film Festival in Athens, science seminars, commercial and cultural events and a presentation of Italian gastronomy and wines from several parts of Italy organised by the Export Commercial Institute of Italy and the Greek-Italian Chamber of Commerce in Athens, together with art exhibitions, will give the opportunity to those who love Italy to enjoy it in a variety of ways.
The entrance to the events is free, while donation collection points will be set up to collect money for the relief of the region of Abruzzo that was devastated in the April 6 earthquake in L'Aquila. Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis will present the money to the L'┴quila mayor after the conclusion of the events.
 Art Athina on May 21-24The annual Art Athina exhibition will take place at the Taekwondo indoor stadium in the Faliro Delta on May 21-24, with galleries from Greece and major international capitals taking part. Work by 300 artists and 60 galleries will be on show, in addition to events taking place on the sidelines like lectures, exhibitions and the 2nd Performance Art Festival.
Among the highlights are a photography exhibition and another linking modern art with traditional shadow theater, organised by the Benaki Museum. Associated events on performance art will also be held in Bios, on Piraeus street.
 Horse Marathon for Lake Koronia on SundaySome 150 riders and their mounts, from all areas of Greece, will take part in the 6th annual Panhellenic Horse Marathon that is taking place on Sunday at Lake Koronia. The marathon hopes to sensitise public opinion to the ecological destruction at the lake, which organisers stressed was one of the major environmental problems in Greece.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy weather with local showers, and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 11C and 32C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with variable 2-3 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 16C to 32C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 14C to 30C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe Siemens case and continuing opposition reactions to the adjournment of Parliament ahead of European parliament elections along with FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou's forecast on the economy mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Youth showed the way - Ruling New Democracy-affiliated grouping wins college elections".
APOGEVMATINI: "State tables lawsuits against Siemens, demands compensation".
AVGHI: "Government's confession: ND and main opposition PASOK bribed by Siemens ".
AVRIANI: "State sues Siemens for return of money".
ELEFTHEROS: "Yes, politicians and state functionaries took bribes from Siemens' slush funds".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Sudden complication in Siemens scandal - State makes major blunder with unknown side effects".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Shocking document left in drawer for 34 days - State confesses that politicians bribed by Siemens".
ESTIA: "Positive prospects for economy if government takes action".
ETHNOS: "Summer brings 'surcharges' in fuel - Profiteering, temperature rising together".
KATHIMERINI: "IMF: Greek economy hostage to deficits".
LOGOS: "IMF will thoroughly examine Greek economy".
NIKI: "ND loses centre for good and will pay for polarisation".
RIZOSPASTIS: "ND, PASOK, EU and industrialists are contaminating water and air".
TA NEA: "Banks freeze thousands of home loans applications after Parliament's adjournment".
TO VIMA: "FinMin's admission: Government prepares two more years of austerity".
VRADYNI: "Four changes in nationwide university entrance exams to begin on Friday".
 Christofias expects Turkish Cypriot reply on LimnitisNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat exchanged views Thursday on the opening of a crossing point, at Limnitis, on the north east, to facilitate movement to and from the island's northern Turkish occupied areas.
The issue was discussed here Thursday during a meeting between Christofias and Talat in the framework of UN-led direct negotiations for a Cyprus settlement.
Returning to the Presidential Palace, President Christofias said he expects an answer from the Turkish Cypriot leader concerning the opening of Limnitis crossing point, at their next meeting on Thursday, 21 May.
''I am expecting an answer next week from Mr. Talat to see if the Turkish Cypriot side insists on the issue of refueling'', he said.
Replying to questions, the president said he has not made any concessions during the ongoing talks, as he fended off criticism from political parties.
Asked if we are nearer to the opening of the Limnitis crossing point, President Christofias advised that ''the less we say, the better''.
He said he will meet Greek Cypriot community leaders of Astromeritis and Kato Pyrgos, in the area of Limnitis, when he returns from London, where he is going for medical reasons.
During Thursday's meeting the two leaders continued discussions on economic matters.
President Christofias said their advisers and the working groups on economic matters have done already a classification of the positions of the two sides and will intensify their efforts to find convergences, so that the leaders can review them.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with an aim to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem and reunite the island.
 Leaders to decide on joint paper on the economyPresident Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat are expected during their next meeting on Thursday, 21 May, to decide on joint papers on economic matters, it was announced here Thursday.
UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun told reporters, after the 28th meeting in the framework of the UN-led direct negotiations, currently underway with a view to reach a negotiated settlement, that the leaders met for a tete-a-tete for about an hour.
During the time of their meeting, he added, the representatives continued their discussions on economic matters and the leaders then joined them. "They agreed to meet again on Thursday morning, 21st May. For that meeting, they have asked the representatives to present the outcome of their discussions on economic matters so far, so that the leaders can review them and make decisions on the joint papers on economic matters", Zerihoun said.
To do that, the representatives have agreed to meet next Monday and Tuesday, and if needed on Wednesday to review the remaining chapters on economic matters and will present the leaders with the papers for the discussion on Thursday.
Zerihoun also said the Special Adviser Alexander Downer will arrive Friday and will be attending next Thursday's meeting.
 FM expresses disappointment for T/c side's stance on Limnitis issueNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou has expressed his disappointment regarding the Turkish Cypriot side's stance on the issue of the opening of Limnitis crossing point.
Speaking after a meeting he held here Thursday with the Cyprus Greens' Party Secretary General Ioanna Panayiotou, Kyprianou noted that the ongoing direct talks between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader deal with the major issue of the solution of the Cyprus problem, and if the problem is solved there will be no need for crossing points.
However, Kyprianou said, it is disappointing that the Turkish Cypriot side despite its commitment to open Limnitis crossing point on March 2008, since then it raises new excuses and new demands not to open the crossing point.
"It is not something (the opening of the crossing point) that offers a strategic advantage to the one or the other side, it is a humanitarian" issue, Kyprianou pointed out, adding that this is the reason why demonstrations are taking place in both sides.
"I do not see any reason why the other side tries to gain advantages in response to a facility that we will offer to the habitants of the region", he said.
For the past 45 years, Greek Cypriot residents in the area of Limnitis have to travel to Paphos, on the western coast, and Limassol, on the south, in order to reach the capital Nicosia.
Opening a crossing point at Limnitis would make this journey far shorter. In the recent past, several crossing points to and from the island's northern Turkish occupied areas have opened to facilitate the movement of people.
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