|Wednesday, 13 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-05-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 22 May 2009 Issue No: 3200
 Gov't briefs Italian MPs on illegal migration; decries lack of Turkish cooperationGreek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Thursday briefed members of a visiting Italian parliamentary delegation on Greece's initiatives vis-à-vis the increasingly worrisome problem of illegal immigration, particularly from the east.
According to Valinakis, the "Quattro Group" -- Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta -- is now cooperating jointly to deal with the problem of illegal immigration, given that phenomenon drastically affects all four Mediterranean EU countries.
The Italian delegation, whose members serve on the Schengen Pact, Europol and immigration committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, is headed by veteran Italian lawmaker and politician Margherita Boniver.
Valinakis stressed to the Italian lawmakers that Athens wants specific measures to be taken, such as a strengthening of the Frontex agency in order to better guard the Union's external frontiers; a fairer distribution of the financial burden of dealing with illegal migrants, as well as the implementation of previous re-admission protocols with third countries -- a direct reference to EU candidate-state Turkey and the foot-dragging of the neighbouring country to meet commitments emanating from a landmark November 2001 agreement signed by Athens and Ankara.
Valinakis emphasised the point, saying that Turkey is simply not implementing the protocol, while stressing that the fundamental principle for Greece is solidarity by its EU partners to deal with the burden.
Additionally, he briefed the Italian delegation's members on a new programme, code-named "Poseidon", to better guard Greek and EU territorial waters from Turkey-based migrant smuggling rings, as well as Athens' initiatives within the framework of the year-long Greek OSCE presidency.
 PM emphasises job-creation programmesPreserving jobs and containing unemployment is the top priority in government plans aimed at dealing with the ongoing economic crisis, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis emphasised during his tour on Thursday of a Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) office in the Alimos district of southern coastal Athens.
"The 3.2-billion-euro national plan drawn up and already implemented for this purpose concerns 1.35 million working people and the unemployed," he stated, pointing out that "OAED is one of the main levers for its implementation and will finance, with 1.6 billion euros, actions directed to wage-earners, the unemployed, small and medium sized firms and the self-employed."
"The first 120,000 jobs of the 200,000 to be created this year are already available. More than 10 employment and self-employment programmes are in progress," the prime minister stated.
"Today, we create the conditions that will allow us to meet the challenges that will emerge after the crisis," he said, pointing out that "we invest in vocational training and retraining with an emphasis on professions that will definitely be in demand in the near future. We currently finance modern education programmes that will ensure a better future for the young. Such an advanced technology programme with three-dimensional simulation systems is being currently taught by OAED."
"Investing in knowledge, new technology and new generation is the best response to the challenges of the international conjuncture. Some have chosen to invest in empty words and irresponsible promises. The government has chosen the road of responsibility. We invest in the truth of our work, a work that produces tangible results and lays the foundations for a better future for all," the prime minister stressed.
 Gov't spokesman"Pensioners are well aware of who increased considerably farmers' pensions given by OGA and the EKAS low pension benefit, while they are also aware of the benefits that stem from the economic policy adopted by the government. They can compare and reach their conclusions," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated on Thursday in response to a press question.
Referring to main opposition PASOK and its leader George Papandreou, he stated that they make vague and unrealistic promises that would cost 11 billion euros.
As regards the figures on employment, mentioned by PM Karamanlis, he stated that they are fully documented, while on the increase of joblessness, he stressed that "no one said that there will be no negative consequences stemming from the international economic crisis."
'We are working steadfastly, continuously for a strong Greece,' PM Karamanlis says
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed an event held at the Zappeion Mansion by the "Constantine Karamanlis" Democracy Institute on Thursday, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the signing of Greece's accession treaty to the then European Economic Community, stressing that "we are the authentic expressors of European orientation and we are working steadfastly, continuously for a powerful Greece in a united and powerful Europe."
The prime minister expressed support for the preservation of the Stability Pact and praised the importance of the option taken by late statesman Constantine Karamanlis in the '70s, as well as the benefits that the country had from its participation in the European family.
Referring to the Eurozone, he pointed out that "it constitutes the European Union's front guard, particularly at this crucial economic conjuncture, while it is no time for disinformation" and mentioned that the implementation of the Reform Treaty "constitutes a serious step in the right direction and can signal the EU's exit from the period of circumspection and provide answers for issues of great importance."
"We know, of course, that it is an agreement on the minimum common denominator. We know that it does not lack weaknesses. We know, however, that it has new and very strong elements," the prime minister said, adding that it promotes the values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality and the State of Law and schedules functions that place the EU in the orbit of political unification.
Karamanlis stressed the need for Europe to promote efforts to achieve European coordination for political protection and joint response to emergencies, as well as for European integration, stressing that "we want a more powerful and united Europe."
Institute President Petros Molyviatis termed the event a historic anniversary that changed the destiny of Greece with Constantine Karamanlis being the indisputable architect, who laid the foundations for three basic targets, peace, the prosperity of the Greek people and the country's democratic stability.
He added that the accession was achieved thanks to the decisive role of former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, to whom he extended his warm thanks, both for his support at the time and for his presence on Thursday "which honours the country once again".
D'Estaing said in his address that on May 28, 1979, "I experienced one of the best days of my life. With the signing of the treaty for Greece's accession to the EEC I had the feeling of fulfilling a great debt of recognition towards Greek civilisation."
The event was attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, almost the entire cabinet, deputies, ambassadors and other dignitaries.
 Papoulias meets with new political party's leadershipPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received the leading members of a newly formed party, called "Drasi" (Action) at the presidential mansion in Athens.
Former minister Stefanos Manos, who has served as an MP for both New Democracy and PASOK, one of the founders of the party, stated that they briefed the president concerning an interior ministry decision to impose limited access to the media for political parties fielding candidates in the upcoming Euro-elections but not currently represented in the national parliament.
The president was handed a file with information on the new party's appeal to the Council of State and a complaint to the EU.
 PASOK insulting voters, government repeatsGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday accused main opposition PASOK of continuing to insult Greek voters through statements referring to a choice between socialism or "barbarism", echoing earlier statements to that effect by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
"PASOK's leadership, having got the green light from its leader, continues to insult Greeks and to address in an outlandish, disparaging and offensive way those Greeks that it considers barbarians because they do not vote for PASOK," Antonaros said.
Instead of retracting this inconceivable misstep, PASOK's leader George Papandreou was instead encouraging the leadership of his party to repeat it, he added.
The spokesman described this behaviour as "completely undemocratic" and a failure to respect the rights of all citizens to choose or belong to whatever political area they saw fit.
 Party leader debate on 28th, government saysGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday announced that, following consultation between the political parties in Parliament, they had reached an initial agreement that a televised debate with the participation of five party leaders will be held on May 28.
Talks about further details concerning the format of this debate were continuing, he added.
 PASOK slams ND TV spot as negativeResponding to a television spot unveiled by ruling New Democracy on Thursday for the start of its EuroParliament election campaign, which included disparaging references to main opposition PASOK and dismissed the party's criticism as essentially fictitious propaganda, PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou said that this reflected the government's lack of effective policy.
"Only a government with an unprecedented inability to support its choices would occupy itself in its first televised spot with the main opposition," he told reporters. The spokesman said the government had over the past five years set up a communications mechanism that had now collapsed because there was no policy behind it.
Regarding the substance of the ruling party's message, Papaconstantinou said it was alarming because it denied the existence of very real problems and seem to include reports by international organisations, the Bank of Greece and the European Commission among the "propaganda" targeting the government. He pointed to a number of worrying signals from the economy, such as the closure of 2,700 businesses, the doubling of the percentage of bounced cheques and a 33 percent drop in orders for industry, as well as 12 percent drop in retail trade turnover and the loss of 160,000 jobs.
Replying to government criticism against PASOK leader George Papandreou over his statement "socialism or barbarism", the spokesman stressed that PASOK would not retract anything and that the statement reflected a comparison of different policies and their results, not the specific choices made by voters.
The barbarism was caused by poverty, unemployment and the widening gap in social inequality, he added.
 PASOK leader visits IKA in Agioi AnargyriVisiting the Foundation of Social Insurance (IKA) offices and surgeries in the Athens district of Agioi Anargyroi on Thursday, main opposition PASOK's leader George Papandreou slammed the government's policies for welfare as completely unacceptable.
"Through their policy they have under-funded the social insurance funds, they have given 'gifts', through contributions, to large businesses and banks," he said.
He also referred to widespread corruption and mismanagement in the health sector and the social insurance funds, which resulted in the basic rights of those insured being trampled on, such as in a recent freeze on pensions.
Papandreou went on to criticise the "barbaric inconvenience" to which the insured, pensioners and the aged were subjected to through the slipshod organisation of newly introduced social insurance registration numbers, in addition to rampant bureaucracy and other burdens upon them.
PASOK's leader pledged to protect the rights of all citizens to a decent pension, a viable social insurance system and to live with dignity.
 KKE SG Papariga visits ferry in port of PiraeusCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking during her visit to the "Blue Star 2" ferry in the port of Piraeus on Thursday, said that the dispute between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou has brought to the surface the issue of "socialism or barbarism".
"Let as make it clear. The prime minister's indignation is unfair because barbarism is identified with the policy of the European Union, which is also being applied for Greece," she said, while adding that PASOK has no relation whatsoever with socialism.
Referring to the votes of seamen, Papariga said "KKE calls for the immediate convening of the interparty committee, because the vote of seamen has not been safeguarded. This issue, that is very serious, has not been solved practically. The seamens' vote is essential."
In a related development, KKE's representative at the interparty committee, Antonis Skyllakos, has addressed a letter to the interior minister, stressing that KKE "is calling for the immediate intervention of the relevant ministries to see that thousands of seamen who are employed on ships of local coastal shipping routes will not be deprived of their voting right in the June 7 Euroeolections. For this reason, KKE is requesting the immediate convening of the interparty committee to enable necessary action to be taken."
 Coalition leader Alexis Tsipras touring XanthiCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) president Alexis Tsipras referred to the need for the equal treatment of members of the moslem minority in Thrace, while speaking during his tour of Xanthi on Thursday, accompanied by Eurodeputy candidate Habib Dilek.
Tsipras also said that the citizens "are experiencing real problems on a daily basis and will be giving their reply in the ballot box," adding that "they will give a reply to all those wishing to take new measures to stop doing so. And the reply will be a strong message. Stop to the new measures, stop to the policy that creates new poverty and social inequalities."
Tsipras visited the central market in Xanthi and he was to address a rally in the city of Komotini on Thursday night.
 U.S. Secretary of State Clinton confirms participation in OSCE Corfu summitWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed her intention to participate in the informal summit of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member-state foreign ministers, due to convene on the Greek Ionian islnd of Corfu on June 27-28.
Speaking during a session of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department's budget, Clinton stressed that she will be present at the summit.
Replying to a relevant question by Democrat Senator Benjamin Cardin, who referred in particular to the dispute between Russia and Georgia and the possibilities provided by the Corfu summit, the head of the American diplomacy said that the OSCE foreign ministers' summit is important and can play a considerable role.
Clinton added that her participation is also part of President Barack Obama administration's decision to back international organisations that have a role to play in the future and the OSCE in particular since both the U.S. and Russia are members, as she emphasised.
The U.S. Secretary of State stressed that the possibility will be given at the Corfu summit for European security to be discussed and for different positions to be heard, since "the representative of Estonia has a very different view from someone who represents Russia, Greece or Portugal and we must be in a position to discuss very openly some of the concerns we have. For this reason, I think that this (the OSCE summit) is precisely the appropriate forum and I am looking forward to my participation."
 Former Siemens Hellas top exec jailed pending trial, int'l arrest warrant issued for former CEOAn Athens examining magistrate late Wednesday ordered detention awaiting trial for a former senior Siemens Hellas executive, while an international arrest warrant was issued for a former company CEO in a high-profile bribery and money-laundering case.
Special examining magistrate Nikos Zagorianos ordered the incarceration pending trial of Siemens Hellas for general director Prodromos Mavridis, after a five-hour deposition by the latter on bribery and money laundering charges.
Zagorianos also issued an international arrest warrant for Siemens Hellas former CEO Michalis Christoforakos, who faces the same charges, after the latter failed to show up for testimony on Wednesday and informed the magistrate, through his lawyer, that health reasons did not allow him to travel from Munich to Athens. The lawyer also submitted to the magistrate a petition by his client seeking a few days' continuance for his testimony, stating that he had traveled to Munich for the German authorities' investigation into the Siemens bribery scandal.
The first seven defendants in the high-profile criminal case involving several major contracts signed in 1997 between Siemens and the state-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE S.A.) to install digital technology at the latter's telephone substations had received a continuance until May 20 (Wednesday) to testify before special examining judge Zagorianos.
The defendants, six former high-ranking executives of Siemens Hellas, the German multinational's subsidiary in Greece, and a former OTE top executive, were summonsed to testify to answer bribery and money-laundering charges.
Zagorianos further set a 700,000 euros bond for Siemens Hellas former financial director Alexandros Athanassiadis, who is prohibited from leaving the country and must personally appear at a police station every two weeks. Athanassiadis declared that he was unable to post such a large sum and it was agreed that he would deposit letters of guarantee for that sum from banks or third parties.
The examining magistrate granted a continuance to Friday afternoon for another Siemens Hellas former executive, Manolis Stavrianos.
Earlier, the lawyers for two other Siemens Hellas former executives, Christos Karavelas and Elias Georgiou, stated that they would not be present at their clients' testimonies.
OTE former executive George Skarpelis' lawyer declared inability to attend the testimony proceedings, while earlier in the morning the lawyer submitted a lawsuit at the Areios Paghos (Greek supreme court) prosecutors' office against magistrate Zagorianos for breach of duty and abuse of authority.
 PASOK critical of justice over Christoforakos flightMain opposition PASOK on Thursday said that Greek justice should have taken action sooner in order to prevent one of the key suspects in the Siemens kickbacks scandal in Greece, Mihalis Christoforakos, from leaving the country. He also stressed that the case should have gone to Parliament and would do so eventually.
"Mr. Christoforakis is now outside Greece and not testifying," he pointed out in statements to reporters, saying this raised questions in the eyes of public opinion and implying that negligence was involved.
 IMF delegation briefed on state, prospects of Greek tourist economyRepresentatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held talks on Thursday with a delegation of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) as part of the annual evaluation of the Greek economy.
According to an announcement, the IMF, acknowledging the importance of tourism for the Greek economy, will include from now on an assessment of the performace of Greek tourism as well in its scheduled visits.
The IMF representatives were briefed on the current state and the prospects of the Greek tourist economy. The briefing included the development of the main macroeconomic indexes of Greek tourism, with parallel reference to the factors affecting their development.
Reference was also made to to the contribution of tourism to the GDP, employment and the balance of payments, as well as to regional development. Emphasis was also placed on the effectiveness of measures supporting tourism and on the possible need to take additional new measures.
Lastly, the IMF delegation was briefed by SETE on its positions and proposals concerning the administrative structure of Greek tourism, marketing and the communication of Greek tourism, as well as on SETE's studies that are being prepared on reflecting the importance of Greek tourism for the economy and its strategic development directives towards the year 2020.
 Envoy on German tourists coming to GreeceGerman Ambassador to Athens Dr Wolfgang Schultheiss estimated Thursday that German tourists intending to visit Greece this year are expected to surpass 2 million.
"It is to be understood that Germans, in a period of economic crisis, may in some way restrict the extent of their vacation or chose cheap destinations, but they are surely going to have vacations," the German envoy told the ANA-MPA.
Responding to a question, Dr. Schultheiss said that since the autumn of 2008, when the world financial crisis broke out, the consumer behaviour of the German citizen has not been negatively influenced "but remains almost unchanged. So, I believe that there will be a decrease in reservations from Germany as regards Greek destinations, but this will be less than 10 per cent."
In 2008, the number of German tourists visiting Greece was 2.3 million.
 MIG: Open contest for new OA logoMarfin Investment Group (MIG) on Thursday announced an open contest for the new logo of Olympic Airlines (OA), in which the public will also have a say in the final selection.
MIG, which won a tender by the Greek state for taking over the ailing national carrier, said that the public will be able to vote on the web for the logos submitted in the contest, adding that logo proposals may be submitted by designers, advertising companies, design firms and other related companies.
The proposals, which will be submitted to the Contest Committee, will be considered confidential and the names of the participants will not be released.
The Contest Committee will select the top three logo proposals, which will then be made public and placed on a special webpage, the address of which will be released at a later date in the press and media.
The designers of the three short-listed logos will receive a prize of 2,000 euros as well as projection so that the public may vote for their choice.
The participants in the web vote will automatically be entered in a draw, and 50 winners will receive two round-trip tickets each for OA flights in Greece or abroad from October 1, 2009.
The logo receiving the most votes will become OA's new logo, and the designer of the winning entry will receive a cash prize of 20,000 euros.
Entries must be clear and applicable in all forms (black&white, monochromatic, negative, etc.) easily applied in all forms (print, silkscreen, electronic archives, etc.), and must bear in mind that the name of the new company will by Olympic Air, and the five rings of the current logo will be maintained, while no restrictions are placed on the fonts or colors used in the new logo, although designers are asked to keep the old logo in mind so that the new logo proposed will reflect both the tradition and the development of the Greek airlines.
The deadline for the submission of the new logo proposals is Friday, May 29, 2009.
 Contract for money due to local authorities to be signed FridayAn contract between the finance and interior ministries and the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), under which local authorities will receive 1,711 million euros in funds held back by the Greek State, is to be signed on Friday.
The money will be paid in eight equal cash installments of 214 million euros, the first of which is due to be paid this summer and the rest of January 31 of every subsequent year for the next seven years.
 Gov't on household photovoltaic panelsThe government spokesman on Thursday, referring to announcements by Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis on the installation of photovoltaic systems on rooftops, stressed that a long public discussion had preceded, adding that hundreds of thousands of households are interested in the measure.
"The promotion of green energy actions is a firm government policy," Evangelos Antonaros stressed, adding that the people will be able to meet their own energy needs and also supply the Public Power Corp. S.A.'s (PPC S.A.) grid with electricity, charging 55 euros per kWh.
On PPC rates, Antonaros commented that Greece still has among the lowest electricity rates.
In a related development, PPC announced that it will participate in the World Biodiversity Day celebrations on May 22, underlining its active support to research projects with positive consequences for the environment.
 3 Greek banks agree new credit line to Maillis GroupMaillis Group on Thursday said three Greek banks, EFG Eurobank, Alpha Bank and National Bank, agreed to offer a new secured credit line to finance the group's capital needs.
In a statement, Maillis said the new credit line was agreed on the precondition that all other creditors would extend the duration of their loans, no interest or capital payment would be made during this period and that Maillis' board would commit to submitting a plan for a capital restructuring of the group.
Ioannis Kourouglos, Maillis Group's chief executive, said the company was very satisfied and fully appreciated the efforts by the three banks to support the group and noted that Maillis has already hired Ernst & Young to support efforts for a new business plan.
 Attica Bank reports 2.9-mln-euro loss in Q1Attica Bank Group on Thursday said its first quarter results showed a 2.9-million euros after-tax loss, while cautioning that it expected the return to profitability this year. Assets totaled 4.582 billion euros in the January-March period, slightly up compared with the previous quarter, while saving deposits grew 21.2 pct to 2.484 billion euros and lending (pre-provision) fell 2.8 pct to 3.418 billion euros, reflecting stricter credit conditions in the market.
Credit risk provisions totaled 8.5 million euros, up 13.2 pct, compared with the same period last year, while accumulated provisions totaled 140.31 million euros. Attica Bank said equity capital totaled 313.7 million euros at the end of March.
 Piraeus Trade Society on new programme for SMEsThe Piraeus Trade Society termed on Thursday as "oxygen" for the market the new support programme for small and medium-size enterprises that has been announced by Finance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou on Wednesday, which now includes the trade sector on an equal basis.
"At a difficult economic time, the specific programme is an incentive for development since it will subsidise investments plans for equipment, installations, building infrastructures, premises planning and promotion and with a very considerable percentage of the total amount of the investment, that will be reaching 55 percent in the Attica prefecture, while the amount of the investment can reach 200,000 euros," the society said in an announcement.
The Piraeus Trade Society also calls on Greek banks to "justify their participation actively and effectively and to provide additional benefits for all the small commercial businesses and for self-employed merchants."
 Industry Park inaugurated in KavalaThe new Industral Park (BIO.PA) in the region of Nea Karvali, in Kavala, northeastern Greece, was inaugurated by Deputy Development Minister Yannis Bougas.
Speaking in the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, Bougas underlined that the concentration of business activity in industrial areas is imperative due to the restrictions incorporated in current town planning legislation as regards the operation of industry plants in combination with the development needs of modern industries.
The 2.6-billion-euro Industry Park project, that can host roughly 80 companies, is the result of collaboration between the local government and the Kavala Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
 Greek stocks end 2.55 pct lowerGreek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as investors took profits following a trend prevailing in other European markets. The composite index ended 2.55 pct lower at 2,251 points, with turnover easing to 229.4 million euros, of which 2.1 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved down, with the Banks (4.45 pct), Financial Services (3.90 pct), Health (3.85 pct) and Food/Beverage (3.48 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Travel (2.69 pct), Chemicals (2.12 pct) and Insurance (1.36 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 2.95 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.64 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index dropped 1.87 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 117 to 111 with another 45 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.21%
Personal & Household: -1.95%
Raw Materials: -2.64%
Travel & Leisure: +2.69%
Food & Beverages: -3.48%
Financial Services: -3.90%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Marfin Popular Bank, National Bank, Bank of Cyprus and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.31
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.05
HBC Coca Cola: 14.14
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.92
National Bank of Greece: 17.74
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.80
Bank of Piraeus: 8.30
Titan Cement Company: 19.80
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.07 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 83.085 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,439 contracts worth 66.494 million euros, with 29,244 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 19,345 contracts worth 16.591 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,598), followed by Eurobank (892), OTE (1,420), PPC (1,071), Piraeus Bank (1,661), Alpha Bank (1,029), Marfin Popular Bank (2,853), Cyprus Bank (1,535) and ATEbank (1,164).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.025 billion euros on Thursday, of which 430 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 595 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 475 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 169 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.11 pct and the German Bund 3.42 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.61 pct, the six-month rate 1.45 pct, the three-month rate 1.25 pct and the one-month rate 0.88 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.388
Pound sterling 0.886
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 10.531
Japanese yen 131.89
Swiss franc 1.529
Norwegian kroner 8.908
Canadian dollar 1.588
Australian dollar 1.800
 Justice minister to attend Kalamata conferenceJustice Minister Nikos Dendias will visit the city of Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese on Friday, in order to attend a conference organised by the National Centre for Public Administration and Local Government, in collaboration with the Administrative Judges Union, on "The contribution of the administrative courts to improving public administration".
 Vienna's Papyrus Museum dedicates major exhibition to HomerVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
A major exhibition titled: "The Phenomenon Homer in Papyri, Manuscripts and Prints" on display at the Austrian National Library (ONB), Papyrus Museum in Vienna is dedicated to the ancient Greek poet Homer, the "greatest poet of all times".
The exhibition, which will run until Jan. 15, 2010, was inaugurated on Thursday by Austrian Minister of Science and Research Johannes Hahn at the Hofburg Old Imperial Palace where the museum is housed.
It shows on which media the famous texts of Homer - "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" - survived over the centuries, using exhibits from the Papyrus Collection, the Collection of Manuscripts and Ancient Prints, the Collection of Leaflets, Posters and Ex-Libris of the ONB and the Collection of Classical Antiquities of the Museum of Art History.
The two epics were written down in the form of narrative verses for the first time around 700 B.C. Since then more than 20,000 verses in ancient Greek - the first monumental work of European literature - have been ascribed to Homer. They have been conserved on different media, from the Papyri to modern books. The earliest copies on Papyri date back to the 3rd century B.C. and come from Egypt.
 Events marking 145th anniversary of Ionian islands joining GreeceEvents were held at Argostoli on the island of Kefallonia on Thursday, organised by the prefecture to mark the 145th anniversary since the Ionian islands were united with Greece, with Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Bekiris attending.
 Con'f on Cappadocia in ThessalonikiA one-day conference entitled "Memories of Cappadocia - Folklore, Culture, Tradition", will take place in Thessaloniki Sunday, focusing on the centuries-old traditions and culture of ethnic Greeks in the Cappadocia region of Asia Minor, modern-day southeast Turkey.
The conference will examine the struggle of ethnic Greeks in the region to preserve their language, local traditions and the history of the village of Sinasos (today's Mustafapasa) known in the 19th century as "the beacon of Cappadocia".
 Hania wants Old Quarter on UNESCO listA newly established committee to promote the port city of Hania's bid for inclusion of the municipality's Old Quarter in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list will be held on June 1. The committee will be chaired by Hania Mayor Kyriakos Virvidakis.
 Thessaloniki Town Planning Department files to be sorted outThe roughly 300,000 files making up the archives of the Town Planning Department in Thessaloniki dating between 1925 and 2005, currently kept in three basements in the center of the city, will soon be sorted out by year, region and type of building license.
Following a decision by the Prefecture of Thessaloniki, within the next two years the files will be moved to a new building rented by the prefecture in the district of Thermi.
The project is estimated to cost 270,000 euros and will contribute to a more efficient operation of the Town Planning Department. The next step will be the digitizing of all maps and decrees of downtown Thessaloniki with an estimated cost of over 300,000 euros.
 Group claims KED, Kolonaki explosionsA previously unknown group calling itself "Popular Will" has claimed the March 19 powerful explosion at the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation (KED) building on central Alexandras Avenue in Athens and Wednesday's (May 20) attack on the buildng housing the offices of the Profit Investment company in the Kolonaki district in a proclamation sent to the Athens weekly "To Pontiki" appearing on Thursday, in which the group notes that Profit Investment is a venture belonging to George Trepeklis "whose name had been implicated in the C4I affair".
Trepeklis is allegedly the go-between in Athens in the joint venture between Siemens and Athens 2004 Olympics security system C4I maker SAIC.
The group had already claimed responsibility on Wednesday night for the Kolonaki attack earlier in the evening in a telephone call to a local radio station.
 Arsonists target supermarket, extensive damage causedArsonists set fire to a supermarket belonging to the "Veropoulos" chain in the Rizoupolis district of Athens at dawn on Thursday, causing extenstive material damage.
According to police, unidentified persons broke the supermarket's entrance with a sledge-hammer, and scattered flammable liquid which they set on fire.The blaze quickly spread throughout the supermarket, and was finally extinguished four hours later by a strong team of 21 firemen with 7 fire engines. Attica security police were investigating the arson.
 Police disband gang involved in sexual exploitation of womenThe Organised Crime Squad has dismantled a gang involved in the sexual exploitation of women, whose turnover was estimated as being over 3.5 million a year which were "laundered" through a shipping company for recreation ships in Greece and through investments in Albania.
The gang was active in Greece for at least three years and obtained huge profits through the exploitation of over 100 women from eastern European countries.
Police have already arrested three people in various regions in the Attica prefecture, who are considered leading members of the gang, while the gang's leaders are two brothers of Albanian citizenship who are in Albania and for whom an arrest warrant has been issued.
 U.S. Consulate to be closed on May 27As is normal on the last Wednesday of every month, the Consular Section of the United States Embassy in Athens, will be closed to the public on Wednesday, May 27, for internal administrative reasons. According to a U.S. Embassy press release on Thursday, this closure includes the non-immigrant visa unit, immigrant visa unit, federal benefits unit, American citizen services unit, and passport unit. For true emergencies during 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. working hours on this day, one may call 210-721-2951 and after 5:00 p.m. 210-720-2490, or 210-720-2491.
 Earth tremor in Ionian SeaAn earthquake measuring 4.1 points on the Richter scale occurred at 6:28 p.m. on Thursday in the Ionian Sea. According to the Geophysics Laboratory of the Aristotelio University in Thessaloniki, the tremor's epicentre was located 295 kilometres southwest of Thessaloniki, near the island of Lefkada.
 Fair on FridayFair weather, and northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 32C. Fair in Athens, with northeasterly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 29C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 28C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDevelopments in the Siemens case and the upcoming European Parliament elections dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Former general director of SIEMENS HELLAS Prodromos Mavridis jailed pending trial".
APOGEVMATINI: "FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou announced a 1.3 billion euros project to subsidise 20,000 small and medium sized enterprises and professionals".
AVGHI: "Abstention from elections will benefit mainstream parties".
AVRIANI: "Former Siemens CEO Michalis Christoforakos, for whom an international arrest warrant was issued, will give himself up to the examining magistrate".
CHORA: "Document: Siemens former slush funds manager Reinhard Siekaczek states: Nobody can harm me, I have 'friends'."
ELEFTHEROS: "The 'bribes-man' has disappeared"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "German 'operetta' - The defendants charged in the Siemens case are humiliating the law".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Suddenly the no1 suspect in the Siemens bribes case disappeared - His lawyer claimed that he is ill and is in Munich for health reasons".
ESTIA: "The 30th anniversary of the signing of Greece's accession to the European Union to be celebrated on Thursday at the Zappeion Hall (downtown Athens)".
ETHNOS: "The man with the suitcase is missing - Heavy responsibilities over the disappearance of Michalis Christoforakos".
KATHIMERINI: "The no1 suspect on Siemens bribes case is in Munich - He avoided testimony before the prosecutor".
LOGOS: "International arrest warrant for Christoforakos - Former powerful Siemens managing director did not turn up at the examining magistrate's office".
NIKI: "Government freezes the benefits to pensioners".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Guillotine for poor farmers".
TA NEA: "Mister 'graft' has disappeared - Arrest warrant for Christoforakos"
TO VIMA: "Benefit with 'Europe's scent' just a few day before the European Parliament elections".
VRADYNI: "Government subsidies of up to 65 percent to small and medium sized enterprises".
 President Christofias disappointed with Talat's stance on Limnitis issueNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has expressed disappointment regarding the stance of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on the opening of a crossing point in Limnitis, and referred to ''greed'' on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side, which continues to submit new terms.
Speaking on his return to the Presidential Palace after a meeting Thursday with Talat in the context of direct negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said he was ''disappointed'' because ''every time he submits new terms, which of course cannot be accepted.''
President Christofias did not want to elaborate on the new terms set by the Turkish Cypriot side, noting that ''they cannot be accepted and it appears that Talat is dynamiting the whole effort.''
''I think the Turkish army does not want to open Limnitis. This is my overall conclusion. I am saddened by this. I expected a different behaviour on behalf of Mr. Talat. However, it seems, despite the fact he does not acknowledge it, that many things may not depend on him,'' the president pointed out.
Asked if the situation could be reversed, President Christofias said this was the reason he would not refer to the terms. ''I want another last effort to be made,'' he noted.
To questions regarding the transportation of fuel by the Turkish Cypriot side, a term the Greek Cypriot side has already dismissed, President Christofias said ''the first thing that made me tell him that we have a deadlock and he is dynamiting everything was his insistence on the fuel.''
Asked if a common meeting of the leaders of the two communities with the local authorities of the area would not be taking place after this development, President Christofias said he did not believe such a meeting could be held under the current circumstances.
''I do not think so, if Mr. Talat continues to hold the same views and submit the same terms. We had started from nothing and every time a new term is submitted. We have decided, for the sake of the residents, the termination of their enclavement and isolation, to make moves, which under different circumstances we would not have made, but it appears that there is greed and thus there is no reason, if Mr. Talat's insistence persists, to hold a common meeting,'' he said.
Asked if there had been progress on issues concerning the economy, President Christofias said only the issue of Limnitis had been discussed during Thursday's meeting and that they would be getting into the economy next week.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The leaders of the two communities, namely President Christofias and Talat, began direct UN-led negotiations in September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.
The government of Cyprus has pledged it is ready to open the crossing point of Limnitis to facilitate free movement but the Turkish Cypriot side has asked for the supply of electricity in the area of Kokkina as well as fuel in order to give its consent to the opening of the crossing point.
 UN report on UNFICYP has positive and negative points, says NicosiaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The government, in an initial reaction to a UN report on the renewal of the mandate of UNFICYP, believes that it has both positive and negative elements, pointing out however that further comment on its contents will be made after it studies the report.
Acting government spokesman, Undersecretary to the President Titos Christofides, said on Thursday that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's report on the UN operations in Cyprus includes both positive and negative elements.
Ban's report was circulated Wednesday night as an official UN document, in view of the deliberations in the UN Security Council for renewal of the mandate of UNFICYP, established in 1964.
''The report includes positive and negative elements which are being studied by the competent services,'' Christofides said in a written statement.
He adds that ''in view of the deliberations taking place at the UN for the adoption of a resolution on the renewal of UNFICYP's mandate, the Republic of Cyprus is taking all necessary action to enhance the positive prospects of the negotiations, to safeguard the Cypriot ownership of the talks and to secure the basis of the talks on which the President of the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot leader have agreed.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat entered UN-led direct negotiations for a Cyprus settlement in September 2008 and so far have had 29 meetings.
 House plenary condemns Pontiac Greek genocideNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The House plenary condemned here Thursday the Pontiac Greek genocide and observed a minute's silence to honor the memory of the victims.
''It is a commitment that binds all of us to struggle and not to allow again such crimes to take place, which tarnish humanity'', House President Marios Garoyian said in his address to the House.
Garoyian said that May 19th has been declared since 1994 a date in memory of the Pontiac Greek genocide.
During the genocide, between 1916 to 1923, more than 350.000 Pontian Greeks were killed by the Turks, according to official statistics.
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