|Monday, 23 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-05-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 19 May 2009 Issue No: 3197
 PM: Energy policy strengthens Greece's geostrategic positionPrime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday stressed that his government was consistently implementing a responsible policy of multiple directions and alternative solutions that strengthens Greece's geostragic position and decisively contributes to the European Union's energy security, referring to last week's signing of the agreement for the South Stream natural gas pipeline, in statements to the press after a visit Monday morning to the development ministry and talks with minister Costis Hatzidakis and deputy ministers George Vlachos and Yiannis Bougas.
The premier said that the discussion, which was also attended by the ministry's secretaries general, encompassed all matters falling under the ministry's competence, and stressed that he had called on the ministry leadership to undertake, each week, "a new action that will make the lives of our fellow citizens more comfortable, that will make the Greek businessmen and consumers feel more secure".
Regarding market matters and prices, Karamanlis noted that the price reductions and cancellation of price hikes made in recent weeks were more than the price rises, while a substantial decline had been recorded in the prices of staple goods.
He also noted the legislative initiatives for upgrading the Competition Commission and the new Market Monitoring Service (YPEA), as well as the measures taken in the oil products and dairy goods markets, stressing that protection of the consumer and combating illicit competition were a priority for his government.
The premier further noted the policies introduced to boost the liquidity of business concerns, and especially the SMEs via the TEMPME (Credit Guarantee Fund for Small and Micro Enterprises), stressing that a further 50,000 enterprises would receive loans under the second stage of the TEMPME program, raising the overall sum of loans extended with State guarantees to 9.5 million euros to a total of 77,000 enterprises. He also noted the Operational Program "Competitiveness-Entrepreneurship" under the Fourth Community Support Framework (CSF), the target for which is activation of 40 percent of its resources by end-October.
In the energy sector, Karamanlis highlighted the new institutional framework for renewable energy sources (RES), the energy yield of buildings and the energy conservation policies introduced by his government, stressing that the installed power in RES has tripled over the past five years.
All these, he said, place Greece on the path of green development.
Turning to the country's energy agreements, Karamanlis stressed that the Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline was heading speedily towards completion, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline was moving ahead without obstacles, and the Haskovo-Komotini natgas pipeline was also progressing, while a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) station was being planned in Northern Greece.
"I instructed the development ministry to carry on with the same methodicalness, the same and even greater determination -- to continue with the same extroversion, the same effectiveness -- the implementation of our energy policy. In other words, to continue to responsibly advance the country's interests".
 PASOK on PM's visit to development ministryThe prime minister's visit to the development ministry on Monday was criticised as an attempt to "write-off" the high prices and the crisis of the real economy for which his government was responsible, by main opposition PASOK's 'shadow minister' for the economy Mihalis Chrysohoidis.
"The same high prices that a simple observer has been seeing smite middle and low incomes for the past five years. The same crisis that is already leading the country into a deep, anti-developmental pit with minimal expectations for recovery in the next years," he said.
According to Chrysohoidis, figures published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked Greece as the country with the most expensive "basket of goods" for foodstuffs in all of the EU and the 4th highest among OECD countries. The European Central Bank, meanwhile, said Greece had the highest interest rates for bank consumer loans to households without a fixed duration.
 FM Bakoyannis' opening speech at OSCE forum in AthensForeign Minister and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson in Office Dora Bakoyannis, addressing the opening sesssion of the 17th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum entitled "Management of migration and its correlation and its linkages with economic, social and environmental policies to the benefit of stability and security in the OSCE region", which began Monday in Lagonissi, underlined the need to adopt medium-term and long-term policies aimed at dealing with the problems stemming from illegal migration on a global scale despite the unprecedented economic crisis.
"Instead of resorting to introversion and phobic reactions, it is imperative, more than ever before, to continue the policies aimed at dealing with the constantly growing problems of the environment or migration," the foreign minister stressed in her opening speech. She also expressed satisfaction for the substantive change in the viewpoints observed in the first part of the Forum held in Vienna and the expectation that the three-day meeting in Lagonisi will result in an agreement on a number of tangible recommendations that will prepare the ground for more initiatives in the sector of migration.
"Our intention is to encourage a more careful examination of the new tendencies and developments in the area of migration since 2005 while focusing on the aspect of security," she stressed. "Immigrants are human beings and society has a moral responsibility to create the necessary safety nets to protect and guarantee human rights and the integrity of the people," Bakoyannis said.
The FM pointed out the special interest expressed by Greece on these issues, stressing that the country has a long tradition of immigration inflow due to its geographic position and actively participates in the ongoing dialogue wishing to contribute to the multilateral efforts underway and the development of a more complete approach, while considering ways to include all interested bodies in a substantive dialogue.
Bakoyannis stated after her speech the the Greek OSCE presidency organised this internaional conference in order to focus on issues concerning migration and illegal migration and its relation to climate change. "We estimate that up until 2050, more than 150 million people alone will migrate due to climate change. For Greece, the effort is continuing in the framework of coordinated activities and through multi-lateral actions," she added.
The need to protect the rights of immigrants despite the economic crisis, underlined OSCE Secretary General, Ambassador Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, pointing out that "in periods of crisis it is of vital importance to acknowledge the contribution of immigrants to our societies and discard our xenophobic tendencies."
On his part, co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities Goran Svilanovic, pointed out that it is important to be aware of the benefits stemming from immigration, "benefits both for the country of origin and the reception country," he underlined. "Some of the 'healthiest' countries in the world have high percentages of foreign workers that they do not constitute national work force but, nevertheless, are supplementary," he stressed.
The forum is attended by roughly 150 foreign figures, international organizations, NGO and institutional bodies.
 President Papoulias begins official visit to DenmarkCOPENHAGEN (ANA-MPA/N. Megadoukas)
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias began a three-day official visit here on Monday, accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis and a business delegation.
The President and his wife arrived in the Danish capital on Monday afternoon and were formally received at the airport by Queen of Denmark Margrethe II, Prince Consort of Denmark Henrik, the Queen's husband, Crown Prince of Denmark Frederik Andre Henrik Christian, members of the Royal Family and Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
After the formal reception, the members of the Greek delegation departed for the Fredensborg Palace where they will be staying.
Later in the evening, President Papoulias will attend a formal dinner hosted in his honor by the Royal Couple of Denmark.
On Tuesday, the President will visit Amaliehaven and tour the Middlegrunden wind park followed by a visit to "Mountain Dwellings", a suburban neighbourhood of garden homes that received the top prize in the 2008 World Architecture Festival as the best housing solution. The construction makes the parking area the base upon which the terraced housing is placed - like a concrete hillside covered by a thin layer of housing, cascading from the 11th floor to the street edge. The parking area is thus connected to the street, and the apartments have roof gardens with plenty of sunlight, amazing views and parking on the 10th floor.
In the early afternoon on Tuesday, the President will visit the Confederation of Danish Industries where a business forum will be held and addressed by the general director of the confederation and the president of the Centre of Renewable Energy Sources (CRES) in Greece. President Papoulias will also meet with representatives of agencies and businesses.
The President is also scheduled to lay a wreath at the Monument of Danish Resistance and visit the State Museum of Art where in the evening (8 pm local time) a concert will be given by the "New Greek Quartet" that accompanies the Greek delegation.
On Wednesday morning, President Papoulias will visit the Danish Parliament and meet with its president and a parliamentary delegation, while later on he will meet with the Danish prime minister, who will host a luncheon in his honor.
President Papoulias is to return to Athens on Wednesday evening.
 President Papoulias addresses official dinnerCOPENHAGEN (ANA-MPA/N. Megadoukas)
President Karolos Papoulias, speaking during the official dinner hosted in his honour by Queen of Denmark Margrethe II on Monday night, stressed that the planet is in need of a new, binding and effective international law framework for the environment.
President Papoulias, who arrived in the Danish capital earlier in the day for a three-day official visit, said that Denmark is in the front line among those who are anxious about environmental matters and for this reason it has gained universal respect.
He said that considerable ground exists for further development and cooperation between Greece and Denmark in the economic, commercial and investments sectors, while the holding of the business conference between the two countries on Tuesday confirms the desire and will of both sides to strengthen economic and business cooperation between the two countries.
The Greek president further stressed that Greece and Denmark share the same concern over international security, stability and development, natural disasters and environmental changes, adding that "with respect for international legal order being a fundamental principle, we defend the observance of rules of international law, respect for human rights and for the principles of Democracy."
President Papoulias also referred to the issue of Cyprus and stressed that the time has come to face an anachronism that does not honour the international community and Europe in particular.
He underlined that it is unacceptable that military occupation should be continuing in Cyprus even today, in a country that is a European Union member-state, and indeed by a country which is aiming at joining the European family, and that there should still be a European capital, Nicosia, divided by walls, while the continuation of partition and occupation offends the democratic character of the EU and injures its deeper values.
 Government on EuroParliament electionsGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated on Monday that the head of the main opposition PASOK party is "trapped in his own obsessions and in issues that concern only him personally and his leading team," referring to the statements made on Sunday by the president of PASOK.
"He says 'no' to everything because he is afraid to assume any form of responsibility," Antonaros stated, while accusing PASOK leader George Papandreou of being "engaged in systematic scandal-mongering that trivialized the country's political life and, according to his own party cadres, he is only interested in taking over the power obviously seeing it as a loot."
Antonaros stated that only the ruling New Democracy (ND) party has a concrete, specific and realistic plan that is being carried out and whose goal is to ease the impact of the global economic crisis, stressing that "the plan is based on changes and reforms."
On the EuroParliament elections, Antonaros commented that "like in any other election, citizens will have the opportunity to express themselves and the Greek people will exercise their right in a responsible manner."
Referring to PASOK's proposal for a debate between the leaders of the two major political parties, Antonaros stated that this will be discussed when the time comes for the election of a new government, adding that a debate between the heads of the Euro-election tickets of ND and PASOK is under consideration.
On the participation of political parties that are not being represented in the Greek national parliament, "Drasi" and "Greens", he stated that the formula used in the last EuroParliament elections can be repeated.
 PASOK leader blasts government policy on migration during visit to Patras portMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou criticised the government on its policy on illegal migration, in statements during a visit on Monday to the Central Port Authority in the western port city of Patras.
Papandreou said he has ascertained "the full and overall failure of the governmental policy on the issue of illegal migration and on refugees", adding that the result of that policy was hardship and suffering for the local societies, and downgrading of the lives of migrants and refugees, as well as hardship on the Harbor Corps employees.
He said that "a serious government should have done six things, which have not been done", elaborating that the country today lacks: serious guarding of its borders due to a downgrading of the Harbor Corps with respect to means and staff; a clear-cut policy on how and who is categorised as a political refugee and who is sent back; a clear-cut policy on how to incorporate the legal migrants and refugees into the Greek society and economy; and a clear-cut policy on boosting the guarding of the country's ports so as to send a powerful message to all the illegal immigration rings that Greece will not be a gateway for illegal immigrants to the rest of Europe.
Further, Greece has not activated its bilateral agreements with neighboring Turkey that provide for the return of all illegal immigrants coming to Greece via Turkey which, Papandreou said, PASOK had implemented when it was in government.
Also, the establishment of immigrant/refugee camps only worsened the situation rather than solved the problem, adding that the problem can be solved by a serious government through cooperation in the European Union.
 Pavlopoulos slams 'tardy' PASOK interest in migration issuesInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday rejected criticism of the government's policy for migration issues made by main opposition PASOK's leader George Papandreou in Patras, saying that Papandreou "has once again demonstrated his political irresponsibility and complete lack of policies for migration".
The minister underlined breakthroughs in migration issues under New Democracy governments, noting that the EU Immigration Pact signed in Paris owed a great deal to Greek initiatives and underlining the moves to guard the EU's external borders - and therefore the borders of Greece - via the EU's FRONTEX organisation, on the suggestion of Greek premier Costas Karamanlis.
"Mr. Papandreou forgets the most important thing: that the pact for immigration and asylum for the first time - and this at a Greek initiative - equates the borders of the EU with the borders of member-states, and therefore with the borders of Greece," he said, pointing out that this had occurred under the governments of Costas Karamanlis and not when Papandreou was a foreign affairs minister under PASOK.
Under PASOK governments, in which Papandreou had been a top-ranking minister, Greece had been absent from international forums and had no immigration policy to speak of, the minister added. He also criticised Papandreou for only now visiting the immigrants' camp in Patras, just prior to an election, when a solution to the problem was already in the process of being carried out.
 KKE's leader opposes audit for her partyCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga angrily objected to calls for an audit of KKE's finances in statements on Monday, stressing that those calling for the inspection - namely the main opposition PASOK and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) parties - were first obliged to submit some kind of evidence to back their accusations.
Papariga underlined that KKE was a party, not a business that should be subjected to inspections by the tax office or public prosecutors, while the business concerns associated with the party were chiefly non-profit publishing enterprises.
In reply to other questions, KKE's leader attacked the two main parties over transparency issues and demanded a change to laws for prosecuting ministers and political figures in order to make the statute of limitations the same for politicians and private citizens. She also called for fewer obstacles to indicting a political figure, noting that the Parliamentary majority played a crucial role in such cases every time.
 General Affairs Council examines EU summit preparationBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The European Union's General Affairs Council convened here on Monday and examined the preparation of the EU summit due to take place on June 18-19.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis, who backed Greek positions at the meeting, said in a statement that matters of an institutional nature were examined concerning legal guarantees that must be provided for Ireland with the aim of achieving a positive result in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty to be held in the autumn and implementing the new treaty afterwards.
The handling of the current economic and monetary crisis and the need to boost employment was another issue aired, while special emphasis was placed on the EU's preparation in light of the international conference on climate which will be held in Copenhagen in December.
Addressing the Council, Valynakis called for the issue of illegal immigration to be included in the European Council's final conclusions text, adding that it is an issue of particular Greek interest.
Valynakis stressed the need for specific and practical measures to be taken to tackle this, such as strengthening EU's frontex's role, distributing financial burdens between member-states and implementing past and completing new readmission agreements.
Greece's proposal was supported by many Mediterranean countries, such as France, Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Malta, as well as by other member-states such as Luxembourg, Finland and Romania.
Relations between the EU and Moldova were also discussed, as well as the latest developments in Sri Lanka and Burma-Myanmar. On the question of Moldova in particular, Valynakis expressed the need for the new government to respond successfully to the considerable challenges facing the country and to promote the reforms required for the country's rapprochement with European institutions.
The Council also examined the preparation of the EU-Russia summit taking place on May 21-22. The importance of cooperation between the two sides was underlined regarding the handling of the international monetary crisis, also taking Russia's participation in the G20 conference into consideration.
Lastly, the joint meeting between the EU's foreign affairs and defence ministers focused on political developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the course of the European "Althea" operation, for whose transformation Valynakis stressed the need for all the political parameters to be taken into consideration and the EU's wider policy in the region to be served.
 European Affairs SG holds talks with Moldovan deputy FMEuropean Affairs Secretary General Dimitris Katsoudas met on Monday with Moldova's Deputy Foreign Minister for European Integration Affairs Valeriu Ostalep, who made a briefing on the situation prevailing in Moldova in the wake of the recent Parliamentary elections.
According to a foerign ministry announcement, Katsoudas encouraged Moldova to normalise its relations with Romania and the government to restore dialogue with the opposition, considering these as being essential preconditions for the normalisation of the country's domestic and foreign policy.
Relations between the EU and Moldova were also examined, while Katsoudas expressed Greece's strong interest in developments in the region and the importance it places on relations of good neighbourliness.
The importance of normalising relations with Romania was underlined for both sides, to enable cooperation to be restored between an EU member-state and a country that participates actively in the European Neighbourliness Policy.
 Culture minister addresses Constantine Karamanlis Democracy InstituteCulture Minister Antonis Samaras addressed an event held by the Constantine Karamanlis Democracy Institute at a downtown Athens hotel on Monday on the theme "Challenges and Prospects for the European Union", referring to Europe's present state and saying that "it appears tired and weakened by bureaucracy, by growth inadequacy and by its mistakes."
"Until recently, some had identified Europe with its bureaucracy. They had even identified submission to Euro-bureaucracy with the demand for the 'modernisation' of Greece," Samaras said, adding that "they were telling us, therefore, that in order to become 'more Europeans' we must become 'less Greeks'. That we must, supposedly, reject Greek identity so as to acquire a 'European conscience'."
Samaras further said that now following the crisis "we are aware that probably the reverse applies that is we must become more demanding from ourselves, as Greeks, to become Europeans."
The minister also said that the existence of the common currency proved to be a salvation for all within the eurozone and referred to strong countries, such as Britain, that are outside the eurozone, and which are being harassed far more and are being threatened far more directly than the eurozone countries.
Samaras concluded that at the crucial moment it had not been the supranational bodies of Europe that had taken action, but the national governments and stressed that Europe "will forge ahead if its peoples proceed with political integration, which is a voluntary convergence and not a levelling of populations under the imposition of a supranational bureaucracy."
 Charges pressed in Vatopedi land exchange caseAppeals Court chief prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos on Monday pressed charges against "all parties responsible" for six criminal offences and three misdemeanours linked to the land exchanges between the State and the Vatopedi Monastery of Mount Athos.
The charges are not against any specific person and cite the criminal offences committed as: breach of faith against the State, fraud committed jointly against the state, issuing false certificates at the State's expense, legalising income from illegal activities (money-laundering), as well as of morally instigating and being a direct accomplice in the above offences. The three misdemeanours are listed as breach of duty, illegally transferring ownership of a monument and violating the building code.
The chief prosecutor simultaneously acquitted 33 individual members on the State's legal council and seven members of the monastery's council of elders, judging that there is no evidence to bring charges against them.
During their preliminary investigation, Appeals court public prosecutors Efstathia Spyropoulou and Pantelis Stragalis had examined 62 individuals as potential suspects.
The case file collected so far will now be referred to Appeals court judge Irene Kalou, who was appointed by the Appeals court justices plenum to conduct the judicial investigation into the case.
 ECB's Papademos sees economic recovery by end 2009VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D.Dimitrakoudis)
European Central Bank's vice-president Lucas Papademos on Monday expressed his optimism that humanity, despite hardships, will deal with a global economic crisis and that no similar phenomena would reappear in the next 10 to 20 years.
In an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA, the Greek banker said latest economic data and signs from confidence indexes both in Europe and other countries, particularly in the United States, showed that economic growth could be achieved earlier than previous forecasts, although "earlier" did not mean the next quarter.
"We continue having as our main scenario that an economic recovery in Europe and the Eurozone in particular, will be gradually achieved next year, although recent figures indicate that this could be achieved a little earlier, probably by the end of 2009," Papademos said.
He added that one must be very cautious in reaching conclusions based on signs and figures of a few weeks, since uncertainty continued prevailing in real economies and financial markets.
"It is encouraging that in Europe and the rest of the world we have certain evidence indicating that either a recovery will come sooner, or that an economic slowdown was occuring at a slower rate than in the past. This evidence, however, must not be over-interpreted as regards the speed of the recovery," Papademos said, adding that global economy would come back to higher growth rates in 2011, possibly reaching average growth rates of the last decade.
The central banker said he was optimistic, in principle, that humanity would deal with the global crisis. He stressed that he did not see the reappearance of conditions similar to those that led to a current crisis in the future. Papademos said the experience of the last few years has affected the actions all those participating in private sector markets, while it has led authorities to strengthening supervision of financial markets.
"In the long-term, however, one cannot exclude that memories will fade and that such behavior could reappear, but I believe that we all have understood the necessary changes that must be introduced in the supervisory and financial framework and in drafting economic policies, thus the possibilities of such a development are very limited," Papademos said.
 Full recovery will take more time, BoG head saysThe Greek economy could shrink this year as a result of a global financial crisis, George Provopoulos, the Bank of Greece's governor predicted on Monday.
Addressing an event organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Greek central banker said the Eurozone economy has already begun showing the first signs of recovery, while he added that an economic stabilization in Europe was still at a very low level and that more time would be needed for economies to fully recover and enter a dynamic growth phase.
Provopoulos said the current crisis was both financial and economic and reiterated that the response to the crisis should be double. In the short-term, actions must be taken to support economic recovery and in the medium-term a credible strategy would be needed to put an end to political interventions made during the height of the crisis last August.
He also underlined the need to develop an effective framework for supervising the financial sector in the European Union. Provopoulos once again reaffirmed that Greek banks' fundamentals remained healthly.
 Development minister addresses Athens Chamber board meetingDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis addressed a board meeting of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday, underlining the "country's stable course towards European integration and corresponding actions anticipated in this framework for market functioning."
He also referred to decisions he has taken and to others scheduled by the ministry (such as women's and young people's entrepreneurship programmes) to support entrepreneurship during the current difficult period.
The Chamber's president Costas Mihalos called for the strengthening of the Competition Committee to enable the Greek market to be mapped fully and for monopoly and oligopoly situations to be eliminated, that probably constitute the main cause of inflationary pressures.
"Closed markets, with those of fuel and transport being the most characteristic example, as well as restrictions such as those set by bakery legislation regarding the sale of bake off bread prevent the functioning of competition, resulting in the options of the consumer being reduced and his daily budget being burdened," Mihalos added.
 ASEP president on the problems faced by the independent authority for public-sector appointmentsA very heavy work load, job competitions held directly by the organizations involved and an overabundance of laws are the biggest problems faced by the Supreme Staff Selection Council (ASEP) according to its president Giorgos Veis, who spoke to reporters on Monday about the agency's 2008 annual report.
He appeared satisfied with the work done by ASEP, the state agency responsible for public-sector recruitment, and the special written exam performed for the first time with the participation of roughly 100,000 people.
Referring to the independent proclamation of job positions by organizations falling under the authority of ASEP, he stressed that this resulted in hiring delays due to the objections raised by prospective employees and suggested that "all job postings should be placed under the independent authority's full control, as regards their legitimacy, in all the stages of the personnel selection procedure in the public sector."
He also stressed that publicizing legislation that concerns the operation of ASEP without earlier notification of the agency caused major operational delays.
The ASEP president expressed concern about the temporary work contracts that are still being offered by public-sector agencies, which in essence are disguised permanent work contracts not controlled by ASEP.
 ACCI hosts business forum on Romania on May 27The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) in cooperation with the Hellenic-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will host a business forum on Romania on May 27 on the occasion of the formal visit to Greece by Romanian President Traian Basescu.
The President of Romania will focus on his country's economy and outline the potential of bilateral cooperation.
The event will be attended by Romanian Minister of Economy Adriean Videanu and representatives of Greek companies active in Romania.
 PASOK delegation meets with Greek Informatics, Communications Scientists Society boardMain opposition PASOK party political representative for economic affairs, Louka Katseli and the party's Economy Sector secretary Tina Lazari met on Monday with the board members of the Greek Informatics and Communications Scientists Society and were briefed on matters concerning their sector.
According to a relevant announcement, the members of PASOK's delegation outlined the party's main positions on informatics and communications technologies, underlining their role in upgrading the speed and quality of the services provided by public administration with the aim of improving citizens' daily lives.
They also pointed out that "despite the high rates of Internet infiltration and the development of broadbandedness in the country, which is the result of market maturity and not government policies, the rate of convergence with the European average is decreasing."
 HOL reports improved Q1 resultsHellas online on Monday reported a 39 pct increase in its consolidated revenue in the first quarter of 2009 to 32.6 million euros, from 23.4 million euros in the corresponding period last year. The company said revenues, excluding activities of former Unibrain, totaled 32 million euros, up 48.3 pct.
Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) rose 25 pct to 1.3 million euros in the January-March period, while amortizations more than doubled to 10.1 million euros in the first three months of 2009, from 4.8 million euros last year, with pre-tax losses at -12 million euros.
Hellas online accounted for 45 pct of new subscribers in the Greek market, raising its market to 22.8 pct at the end of the first quarter, up from 19.8 pct at the end of 2008.
The company said its market share grew further in the second quarter to more than 24 pct of the market. Hellas online last week said it was in talks with Vodafone seeking a strategic partnership deal.
 Info-Quest reports improved Q1 resultsInfo-Quest AEBE on Monday reported an after-tax and minorities loss of 180,000 euros in the first quarter of 2009, from a loss of 350,000 euros last year, while pre-tax earnings totaled 300,000 euros from 50,000 euros, over the same period respectively.
Sales totaled 94.8 million euros in the January-March period, from 108.9 million euros in the corresponding period in 2008, for a decline of 13 pct, reflecting lower parent sales. EBITDA was 2.5 million euros. Info-Quest said its debt burden totaled 42.3 million euros in the first three months of the year, from 73.4 million in 2008.
 Greek stocks end 1.17 pct higherGreek stocks ended substantially higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market rising 1.17 pct to end at 2,171.26 points. Turnover was a low 155.5 million euros, of which 5.9 million euros were block trades.
All sectors moved higher, with the exception of the Telecommunications sectors which fell 1.60 pct. Commerce (9.25 pct), Media (5.56 pct) and Technology (4.71 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.20 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.96 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.12 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 105 to 85 with another 55 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +4.27%
Personal & Household: +0.35%
Raw Materials: +1.27%
Travel & Leisure: +0.09%
Food & Beverages: +1.92%
Financial Services: +1.32%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Public Power Corp (PPC), Marfin Popular Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.05
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.30
HBC Coca Cola: 13.68
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.20
National Bank of Greece: 17.32
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.43
Bank of Piraeus: 8.04
Titan Cement Company: 19.05
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.10 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 45.343 million euors. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,810 contracts worth 37.004 million euros, with 30,553 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,810 contracts, worth 8.339 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,791), followed by Alpha Bank (869), Intracom (1,103), Marfin Popular Bank (2,427), Eurobank (552) and Piraeus Bank (562).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was 1.095 billion euros on Monday, of which 710 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 386 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 640 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 178 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.13 pct and the German Bund 3.35 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.60 pct, the six-month rate was 1.44 pct, the three-month rate 1.24 pct and the one-month rate 0.81 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.360
Pound sterling 0.889
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 10.689
Japanese yen 130.31
Swiss franc 1.523
Norwegian kroner 8.848
Canadian dollar 1.590
Australian dollar 1.791
 First case of swine flu in Greece now being verifiedGreek authorities were currently in the process of verifying the first recorded case of swine flu in Greece, Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos announced in Geneva on Monday. According to the minister, the H1N1 virus had been detected in a Greek national recently returned from the United States and the Pasteur Institute in Athens was now carrying out a second round of tests to confirm the first results.
"I was just informed a few minutes ago by the Hellenic Centre for Infectious Diseases Control that the Pasteur Institute is at this time examining and expected to confirm through repeat tests the first incidence of the new influenza virus H1N1 to be detected in our country. It concerns a Greek national that has returned to Greece from the United States," he said.
Avramopoulos made the announcement while attending the WHO's 62nd World Health Assembly in Geneva.
If the second tests confirmed the findings, Greece's Health Operations Centre and the Hellenic Centre for Infectious Diseases Control would issue a detailed announcement in accordance with international rules, he added.
The minister said that he had been given the information at the same time as member-states of the United Nations were preparing to examine this issue of global importance.
"I want to assure everyone that all precautions have been taken, in accordance with international and European regulations, and that this suspected case is under complete control and protection, without there being any fear for public health," Avramopoulos stressed, expressing hope that the initial findings would not finally be confirmed.
 Greek-Australian writer Tsiolkas wins 2009 Commonwealth Best Book awardMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/S. Hatzimanolis)
Prominent Greek-Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas is the winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book for 2009, it was announced during a special ceremony at the 2009 Auckland Writers' and Readers' Festival in New Zealand over the weekend.
The annual (British) Commonwealth Best Book prizes are presented to regional winners for Africa; Canada and the Caribbean; Europe and S. Asia; and SE Asia and S. Pacific, while there is also an "overall winner", which this year is Tsiolkas for his record-selling book "The Slap".
"The Slap", is a tale about middle-class suburban Australia and its notions of child-rearing and acceptable behaviour told from the points of view of eight people who were present at a suburban barbecue where a man slaps a child who is not his own. The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires.
"The Slap" had earlier won the Southeast Asia and Pacific regional prize.
Tsiolkas, who lives in Melbourne, has written three novels and several plays, and is also a candidate for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia's top literary award.
His first book, "Loaded" (1995), about the life of a young homosexual man, was adapted into a film, "Head On", in 1998 and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. It was followed by the books "Jesus Man" in 1999 and "Dead Europe" in 2005, which won the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award.
The prestigious Commonwealth award is accompanied by a cash prize of 20,000 dollars and an audience with Queen Elisabeth.
Tsiolkas comes from a Greek labor-class immigrant family, and The Slap reflects, to a degree, his personal experiences.
 Event in memory of Pontian Hellenism genocideThe Panhellenic Federation of Pontian (Black Sea) Societies organised an event at the monument located in Agia Sofia Square in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Monday on the 90th anniversary of the genocide of Pontian Hellenism.
A memorial service was held and then those present lit the candle of remembrance for the 353,000 victims of the genocide.
The Federation's cashier, Victoria Savvidou, said that the Federation is seeking international recognition of May 19 as a day of remembrance for the genocide of Pontian Hellenism perpetrated by Turkey, as well as the salvation and preservation of Greek monuments that have remained on Turkish territory.
 Italian poetess in Athens receives Tropea Onde Mediterranee int'l awardItalian poetess Cosmina Furchi Gliatas, who has been living and working in Athens for many years, received the international poetry award Tropea Onde Mediterranee for her poem written in Greek and titled "Afto pou epithimo" (That which I desire).
Cosmina Furchi Gliatas, who has published seven illustrated books for children, all in Greek, dedicated the award to the victims of the earthquake in L'Aquila and particularly to the Greek student Vassilis Koufolias who died after he was buried alive under the rubble of the apartment he was living in.
 Music concert on MS awarenessFamous Greek composer Mimis Plessas will give a concert in Thessaloniki's Music Hall on May 28, in collaboration with the Greek Multiple Sclerosis Society, on the occasion of the first World Multiple Sclerosis Day to be celebrated on May 27 organized by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF).
The event is held within the framework of an MS awareness campaign held simultaneously in at least 40 countries that are members of the federation.
Mimis Plessas, aside from being a great musician is also a chemistry graduate. In the 50s he did his doctoral dissertation at Cornell University in New York on the protein myelin, the reduction of which is directly associated with MS.
 Spate of police-related arsons in AtticaA barrage of arson attacks against cars, motorcycles and businesses took place in several parts of the greater Athens area in the first hours of Monday, between 1:05 and 1:20 a.m., with all the attacks related to the police: either vehicles belonging to police officers or businesses that supply the police force.
The first attack took place in Paleo Faliro, where a policeman's motorcycle was set on fire, followed by a weapons shop in Sepolia, three cars in Nea Filadelfia, Aghia Paraskevi and Kolonos, and a SKODA car dealership in Patissia.
All fires, which were caused by home-made incendiary devices comprising small propane canisters or flammable liquids, were extinguished by the Fire Brigade.
Attica security police were investigating the incidents.
 Two ISAP stations closed for renovation, Thission openThe Athens Piraeus Electric Railway's (ISAP) Thission station in central Athens was open and running normally on Monday, after shutting down for several days for renovation work on the line. The Kato Patissia and Agios Eleftherios stations along the same route remained closed, however, as work continued. ISAP's management said that trains were going through the specific stations but not stopping to let passengers get on or off.
 Greece and Cyprus update sports agreementNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos/CNA)
Greece and Cyprus have signed a new agreement for cooperation in sports, which covers education, common research, a common line in European bodies, cooperation of national programmes, the specialised training of high performance athletes, and the participation of Cypriot and Greek athletes in games organised in either country.
The protocol to the interstate agreement was signed during a special ceremony in Nicosia on Monday by Chairman of the Cyprus Sports Organisation Nicos Kartakoullis and visiting Greek Deputy Minister of Culture, in charge of sports issues, Yiannis Ioannidis.
Speaking after the ceremony, Kartakoullis said the new agreement, which upgrades the previous one, has given emphasis on training sports officers, noting that the interstate agreement has greatly contributed to the development of sports in Cyprus, especially after the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island.
He added that for the first time the agreement contains a reference to the implementation of EU provisions concerning sports, and thanked Greece for its support and the signing of the agreement.
On his part, Ioannidis noted that Cyprus is a significant partner and valuable friend, adding that cooperation between the two countries extends to all sectors, including sports.
He added that through the agreement, as well as the protocol, which is updated annually, the two countries aspire to continuously improve and upgrade bilateral cooperation in the sector of sports, noting that the benefits contribute to the further development of sports activities and the highlighting of the higher values of sports, which both countries cultivate and promote.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy weather with local showers, and northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 13C and 30C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northeasterly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 28C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 28C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe European Parliament candidate lists for the ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK parties and weekend addresses by prime minister Costas Karamanlis and PASOK leader George Papandreou were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Who are the candidates, and in what order - Karamanlis, Papandreou announced their Europarliament tickets".
APOGEVMATINI: "8 changes in construction - The environment, town planning and public works ministry bill to be tabled in parliament in the summer".
AVRIANI: "Incredible - Large consumers were stealing from the Public Power Corporation (DEN) with system that slowed down meter readings".
CHORA: "What Reinhard Siekaczek ('manager' of Siemens' slush funds (off-the-book) accounts) told the Greek examining magistrates - Second round of revelations by 'Chora' on the Siemens scandal".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Karamanlis put the ministers whose names have been implicated in scandals in the background, at the same time taking away from them party activities and a say in the campaign".
ELEFTHEROS: "Opinion polls and secret polls conducted by Rigillis (ND headquarters) point to electoral 'Waterloo' for ND throughout Attica".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Europarliament electoral tickets with the eyes turned to home".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Balances and agony - Euro-tickets: Karamanlis seeking unity, Papandreou seeking a substantial lead".
ESTIA: "Political hue in the Europarliament tickets - What ND and PASOK are aiming at".
ETHNOS: "Message of change and unity - PASOK's Europarliament ticket a political one, but also with a social orientation".
TA NEA: "PASOK: Overture to society - ND: Return to the 'party'.".
VRADYNI: "Unity sought - Uphill road to Euroelections for ND and PASOK, with the opinion polls as their 'guide'."
 Primate of Polish Church conveys support message to the PresidentNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Primate of the Polish Orthodox Church Savvas conveyed on Monday to the President of the Republic Demetris
Christofias the support of the Church of Poland and its members to the struggle for justice in Cyprus.
A press release, issued by the Church of Cyprus Information and Communication Office, said that the President of the Republic briefed the Primate of the Polish Orthodox Church about efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem and about the ongoing UN-led direct negotiations between him and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which began in September last year.
The president also briefed him about the destruction of the cultural heritage in Cyprus' Turkish occupied territories, which he described as barbaric, and noted that cultural heritage belongs not only to Greek Cypriots, but also to Muslims living in Cyprus and to all the world.
Our goal, said President Christofias, is to maintain our identity and part of that identity is our faith.
The Primate of the Polish Church briefed the president about his contacts in Cyprus and his impressions of the country, the monasteries and the people of Cyprus, as well as about his discussions with the leadership of the Church of Cyprus about ecclesiastical matters and issues of common interest.
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