|Thursday, 14 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-05-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 30 May 2009 Issue No: 3207
 PM addresses election rally in MarkopouloPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed an election campaign rally, ahead of the June 7 Euroelections, on Friday evening in the eastern Attica town of Markopoulo, saying his government was committed to "respond to the challenges of this present difficult time, to handle the national issues, to serve the citizens' needs."
Commenting on the main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's slogan "either we change or we sink", the prime minister said that citizens "understand that this dilemma concerns only the PASOK leadership."
"They are trying to transfer their intra-party agonies to the entire society," Karamanlis noted.
"Let the PASOK leadership answer the following question: what would make the country sink? Responsibility or irresponsibility? Stability or instability? Seriousness or frivolity? Is it or isn't true that PASOK policies have sank in public debts and unemloyment. What I have to add is this: what is now sinking is populism, attempts to misinform and irresponsibility," Karamanlis added.
He also accused the main opposition party of attempting the "deviation of public dialogue from politics to the chaos of para-politics."
PASOK, the prime minister said, "has no positions, has no strategy. It does not dare shape proposals for the difficult problems and it continues to put above national interest petty party interests."
Referring to his government, Karamanlis said it was putting on track a dialogue aiming at consolidating transparency in public life and the public sector, it continued the reform of the country's educational system, the reform of the social security system while it prepared the gradual opening of closed markets and professions.
 Papandreou visits Nea Ionia, Kalogreza, MarousiMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou visited a small factory in Kalogreza, Athens on Friday and speaking to local people underlined that "the small and medium sized enterprises, that form one of the foundations of our economy, are sinking, turnover is dropping as a result of the shrinking family income and bounced cheques are multiplying. Shopping malls are uncontrollable, targeting directly the small-medium businesses that are left with no other choice than to shut down."
Earlier, he had visited the shopping malls in Nea Ionia and Maroussi.
The PASOK leader stated that "the pension fund of the small and medium sized businesses has collapsed as a result of the policy followed by the government" and maintained that "the government gives money to banks that never reach the small and medium sized businesses."
"The Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Small and Very Small Enterprises (TEMPME) helps the few and not the many that are in need and gives away election campaign presents," the leader of PASOK stated. He also underlined that "all these will have to end" pledging that "the real economy and the small and medium sized businesses will be supported."
 KKE leader addresses election campaign rallyCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga accused Friday evening the two mainstream parties, the ruling New Democracy (ND) and the main opposition PASOK of "aiming at trappng the people in misleading dilemmas and confrontations", while addrssing a rally of supporters in view of the June 7 Euroelections, in the Athens district of Sepolia.
Papariga also denounced what she called "a provocation against the KKE, which is being prepared for the coming days," while she termed as "fiasco" Thursday's televised debate among political party leaders.
"We have learned today that they are preparing in the coming days a provocation" in order to shave 1 percent from the KKE's percentage of the vote in the European Parliament elections.
 Papariga claims 'dirty' campaign against KKECommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Friday alleged that friends of the party had leaked the plans of political and media circles to launch a "dirty" political campaign against the KKE in order to shave 1 percent from its percentage of the vote in the European Parliament elections on June 7. She made the statement while touring the pharmaceuticals firm Lavipharm.
"Because we have good friends, and because there are honest people in politics and in journalism, honest people that are not communists but cannot stand dirty campaigns, we have information that political and media circles are attempting and considering preparing some act of provocation targeting KKE in the last few days before the elections, in hopes of cutting 1 percent in KKE percentage. Voters that want to vote for the party for the first time," she said.
While KKE could not stop them, Papariga stressed that those responsible would end up paying for its dearly and that they would actually incite the party's members and friends to work even harder so there was no damage to the party.
 Synaspismos leader speaks at Ioannina rallyCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alexis Tsipras addressed an election campaign rally of supporters, ahead of the June 7 Euroelections, in the norhtewestern city of Ioannina on Friday evening, speaking of a "tasteless confrontation" between the two mainstream parties, the ruling New Democracy (ND) and the main opposition PASOK, at a time "that the economic crisis is deepening, unemployment is galloping and social acquis are being deprived."
"The ND and PASOK have joinlty voted for the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, a treaty which hands over to the financial lobbies the governance of Europe ... Both parties are accepting without protest pressures by conservative (EU Commission President Manuel) Barroso and socialist (finance commissioner Joaquin) Almunia, who demand salary decreases," Tsipras said.
He aslo accused the two mainstream parties of "avoiding taking position on the International Monetary Fund's report, while at the same time they pretend demanding or they say they demand a change of policy on an international level."
 PM to visit "Egnatia Odos" motorway, IgoumenitsaPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis, accompanied by Minister of Environment, Town Planning and Public Works George Souflias, will visit recently completed sections of the "Egnatia Odos" national motorway during a tour of the northwest of the country this weekend.
Karamanlis' tour will be launched on Saturday morning in Thessaloniki and before noon he will attend a special ceremony marking the completion of the "Egnatia Odos" Venetikos Bridge section. Later, he will visit Metsovo Bridge and Driskos Tunnel.
The prime minister will arrive in the northwestern city of Igoumenitsa early Saturday afternoon where he will visit the seaport expansion and upgrading construction site as well as the City Hall.
 Gov't spokesman on political leaders TV debateGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Friday that in the previous night's TV debate Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had the opportunity to once again present the work and targets of the government, the benefits for the citizens and his vision for the changes and reforms that must be implemented, especially at this time when the country is facing the consequences of the global economic crisis so as to be prepared when the crisis ended.
 PASOK on TV debateThe televised debate between the party leaders clearly showed that only PASOK had a fully rounded policy platform for the day after the elections, main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou said on Friday.
Commenting on Thursday's debate, he also stressed that the prime minister had failed to provide answers to certain important issues, such as the major scandal over the Vatopedi monastery land exchanges with the state.
"We also heard from the prime minister that the Greek state has a cash flow problem and this is the reason why it is not paying employees hired by the hour," he added.
 Republic of Cyprus has sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, Athens saysThe Republic of Cyprus has the self-evident sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said on Friday.
Invited to comment on a Turkish foreign ministry statement earlier in the day, Delavekouras said "the Republic of Cyprus has, in absolute accordance with International Law, the self-evident sovereign right to exploit its natural resources. This fact bears no relation and it must not be confused with the ongoing negotiations."
Ankara threatened to block hydrocarbon exploration in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone, claiming that exploration and exploitation of Cyprus' wealth "is not compatible with the process of talks between the two sides on the island."
"Our declared aim is the finding of a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem. A solution that will allow for the reunification of Cyprus so that, among other things, all Cypriots can jointly enjoy the benefits offered by the natural wealth of their country," the Greek foreign ministry spokesman added.
"The Turkish foreign ministry's reaction is not productive. It goes against the rules of the International Law of the Sea and in no way can harm sovereign rights and powers that are founded on International Law. Ankara's stance will inevitably be judged and assessed by our partners, in the framework of the European Union and by the entire international community as well," Delavekouras concluded.
US Ambassador to Cyprus Frank Urbancic said last Tuesday in Nicosia that an American energy firm will begin exploring for oil and gas in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, on the southwest coast of the island.
Cyprus' attempt to explore its exclusive economic zone for hydrocarbons caused the reaction of Turkey, which invaded the island in 1974 and continues to occupy its northern third.
 Amnesty International report presented"We are not only experiencing an economic crisis but also a crisis in human rights", the president of the Greek division of Amnesty International (AI) Katerina Kapernarakou said Thursday night, speaking at the presentation of the organisation's annual report. "Hidden behind the crisis is an explosive crisis in human rights. The economic recession has aggravated the (human rights) violations, turned attention away from them and multiplied the problems " she said.
Kapernarakou expressed worry over the impact of the immorality of the years, adding that "the repercussions of the economic crisis on human rights will be major. It is crystal clear that the governments not only did not impose fiscal and financial rules on markets but they also failed to protect the human rights, the livelihoods of their citizens".
"Inequality, as a by-product of globalisation" was not restricted only to the developing countries, she said, noting that the OECD report in OCtober 2008 indicated that even in the indurstrialised countries, the economic growth in the last decades mostly benefited the wealthy, rather than the poor. "The USA, the most wealthy country in the world, came in 27th place among the 30 OECD member countries with respect to the consolidation of poverty and the widening of the gap in the distribution of incomes," she added.
Specifically on Greece, the report said that the human rights' violations in 2008 impressed in a tragic way the major insufficiencies in the mechanisms of protection, defusion of social tensions, relief for the vulnerable groups, and the unhindered access to fundamental social benefits the just state. The currrent orientation towards suppression policies as the only weapon against tense social problems is forming a dangerous climate of polarisation and does not lead to solutions, the report said.
 Discussion on EU migration policy in AthensA discussion on immigration policy in Greece and Europe was held on Friday at the Greek foreign ministry, organised by the non-governmental "Agora Ideon" (Ideas Market) forum, with the participation of the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (IMEPO), as well as MEPs and candidates for the European Parliament belonging to Greece's ruling New Democracy party, main opposition PASOK, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). Coordinator for the discussion was the journalist Costas Tsaousis.
IMEPO President Alexandros Zavos stressed the need for a body answerable directly to the prime minister that will coordinate the activities of individual ministries and organisations related to migrants and migration policy. He also urged for European Union intervention in the case of Turkey, which was the largest single source of immigrants arriving in Greece.
ND MEP Theodoros Skylakakis predicted that the economic crisis in Europe would act to reduce the flow of immigrants from third countries. He also noted that a policy for integrating immigrants was enough when their number was small but, conversely, when the number was large there was a need for a policy for guarding and returning illegal immigrants.
The EU had to formulate a policy for returning immigrants and give Greece greater support in guarding its borders, he added.
Skylakakis conceded, however, that the construction of a mosque in Attica had delayed overlong and this created a risk of social conflict.
PASOK candidate Marilena Koppa accused the EU of lacking a migration policy and focusing only on a policy for controlling the flow of immigrants, while she also accused the Greek government of systematically flouting international and European regulations on migration. She referred to a social, political and religious exclusion of immigrants that created an "explosive mix" and pointed to the risk of further violence during Friday's protest by Muslims in Athens.
KKE candidate George Perros named the "imperialist wars of the United States, NATO and the EU," as the cause of migration and called for "unity of Greek and foreign workers against capital and the EU".
According to SYRIZA candidate Panos Trigazis, immigrants contributed to the development of the European and Greek economy and he urged an end to an alarmist approach that saw their presence as a threat to European societies, while slamming Greece's policy on asylum as "shameful".
 Immigration Union of Greece abstains from Friday's protestThe Immigration Union of Greece announced that neither the organisation itself nor the Muslim communities it represents would participate in Friday's protest in the centre of Athens because it considers that the issues raised by the organisers can only be resolved through dialogue.
"We do not want the presence of immigrants in Aghios Panteleimonas associated with causing incidents in the city centre, which is now also our city," it said in its announcement.
It also called on the Greek state to ensure that Muslims had the opportunity to have official and protected areas of worship, so that they did not fall victim to extremist actions because they were a religious group that was in every way peaceful.
"We condemn violent actions wherever these originate from, as well as actions and statements that add fuel to the flame," the announcement concludes.
In the wake of last week's violence during a demonstration by Muslim immigrants in Athens, and reprisals afterwards that included the burning of a basement being used as a makeshift mosque in central Athens, Muslims around Athens have organised another protest in the city centre on Friday afternoon at 18:00 to demand the exemplary punishment of a police officer who they say desecrated the Koran.
At approximately the same time, however, authorities fear a conflict with far-right groups that are organising their own gathering nearby, in the plaza outside the Athens Cathedral, to commemmorate the "resistance of the Emperor Constantine Paleologos to the Ottomans" in view of the anniversary of the sacking of Constantinople by the Ottoman army on May 29.
 Anti-racism demonstration held in central AthensA anti-racism demonstration was organised late Friday afternoon in central Athens, in which participated immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria and some Greek citizens.
The demonstrators, who marched from Omonia Square to the foreign ministry, were mainly demading the legalisation of immigrants. The event ended without incident.
 Navy General Staff Chief to visit TurkeyGreek Navy General Staff Chief, Vice-Admiral George Karamalikis will visit Ankara next week at the invitation of Turkey's Navy Commander, Admiral Muzaffer Metin Atac.
Vice-Admiral Karamalikis will visit Turkey within the framework of the confidence building measures decided during the four-day formal visit of the Turkish Navy Commander to Greece last October.
The Greek vice-admiral will also visit Istanbul and the Golcuk Naval Yard.
 Greek economy to maintain positive growth, IOBE reportGreek economy, despite an intense slowdown of its data in early 2009, maintains one of the best performances in the Eurozone, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Friday.
In its quarterly review on the Greek economy, IOBE said most economic activity indexes have weakened at least in the first quarter of the year, with industrial production recording a significant decline affected by weak investments in the sector.
On the other hand, the government's Public Investments Program was rapidly implemented and was expected to exceed the target set for 2009, counterbalancing reduced private investments. IOBE noted that public consumption would also contribute in boosting domestic economic activity in a year when private consumption was expected to weaken significantly, although this development would further burden the central government's deficit.
IOBE said it expected the Greek economy to grow by 0.5 pct this year, although the fiscal deficit was projected to surpass 5.0 pct of GDP, unless additional measures were taken. The report said that the government's tax measures -although moving towards the right direction- were inadequate to cut the fiscal deficit. IOBE said great effort was needed in the next five years to improve the country's fiscal situation.
 Deputy FinMin refutes rumors of new taxesDeputy Minister of National Economy and Finance Athanasios Bouras characterized as "guesswork" the rumors that new taxes will be imposed immediately after the Euro-elections.
Speaking in Chania, on the island of Crete, on Friday he stressed that the economic crisis was confronted early on by the government "with programme and consistency," adding that compared to other countries "we face fewer problems."
"The problems would have been even fewer if it wasn't for the huge debt with interest rates reaching 12 billion euros in 2009, when the public investment programme is at 8.8 billion euros," he added.
"Despite of the crisis, the government has adopted measures to boost growth and improve the financial situation while guaranteeing the social state," Bouras pointed out.
 Petralia inaugurates OAEE offices in LamiaEmployment Minister Fani Palli Petralia on Friday stressed that the state and the government guaranteed pensions, while inaugurating the new regional offices of the Freelance Professions Insurance Organisation (OAEE) in Lamia.
Petralia referred to the social insurance reforms and merger of social insurance funds carried out by the government as the "greatest undertaking of the last 40 years", adding that this reform was now being completed by the issue of the special social security or AMKA numbers.
She stressed that AMKA cards bearing the new numbers had already been sent to 600,000 people and that the whole process was progressing rapidly.
 Tourism minister inaugurates exhibition in ParisPARIS (ANA-MPA/O.Tsipira)
Tourism Minister Constantine Markopoulos inaurated here on Friday at the La Defense square, "The World of Athens" exhibition.
"Our aim is to highligt modern Athens, a city with increased self-confidence after the 2004 Olympic Games," the minister told his audience composed mainly of tourist agents and businessmen active in the tourism industry.
Markopoulos referred to Athnes' new infrastructures and facilities "which allow Athens to be considered as a modern European capital," pointing also to the inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum on June 20.
"It is an extremely modern and fascinating archeological museum," the minister said.
Referring to relations between Greece and France in the tourist sector, Markopoulos noted that around 800,000 French tourists spend their holidays every year in Greece and thanked French citizens "who show particular interest in Greece's cultural heritage."
The exhibition will last until Monday, June 1.
 'World of Athens' tourist promotion campaignThe "World of Athens" facilities at London's Potters Field Park situated in front of the City Hall at Tower Bridge has attracted more than 280,000 visitors.
The Road Show aimed at further boosting the City of Athens' tourist promotion campaign, organized by the Tourism Development Ministry, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) and the City of Athens Tourist and Economic Development Company launched its journey in London on May 22, while the second stop will be Paris on May 29.
The events were inaugurated last Friday with a special presentation of the City of Athens for guest Tour Operators, convention organizers, British journalists from major media among them, The Financial Times, CNN Travel magazine, Times magazine, The Guardian, The Rolling Stone.
The innovative 15-metre in diameter 'World of Athens" dome provides visitors with the opportunity to view images of the City of Athens with an emphasis on its history, culture, gastronomy and nightlife, learning more about ancient and modern Athens through the use of high technology. At night the outer surface of the dome is transformed into a huge screen visible from a great distance.
The inside of the dome was visited by roughly 18,000 people, 823 of which participated in a competition with a 4-day trip to Athens for two as a prize.
 National Bank said profits totaled 317 mln euros in Q1National Bank Group on Friday said its first quarter net profits totaled 317 million euros, down 21 pct from the same period in 2008, while pre-provision earnings rose 9.0 pct to 662 million euros.
The bank said net profits from activities in Greece fell 19 pct to 177 million euros, while pre-provision earnings rose 6.0 pct to 397 million euros.
Finansbank -its subsidiary in Turkey- reported a 17 pct increase in profits to 103 million euros, accounting for one-third of the Group's profits, while pre-provision earnings grew 15 pct compared with the first quarter of 2008.
National Bank said activities in Southeastern Europe recorded a 14 pct increase in net profits to 37 million euros, accounting for 12 pct of total profits. The bank said its satisfactory results were achieved amid a negative economic environment, with bad debt provisions maintained at higher levels (235 million euros in the January-March period, up from 88 million euros in the same period last year).
The bank said its bad debt/loans rate was 3.7 pct in the first three months of the year, up from 3.5 pct in the same period in 2008. Loans portfolio grew 18 pct to 67.6 billion euros.
Saving deposits totaled 69 billion euros at the end of March, up 14 pct from March 2008, with Greek customers' deposits totaling 56.3 billion euros.
Commenting on the results, Takis Arapoglou, the bank's chairman and chief executive, said first quarter results confirmed the bank's effort to deal with the consequences of the financial crisis and the prudent and conservative management of the last few years. "Despite uncertainty surrounding developments we are optimistic that at the end of crisis National Bank will be stronger and in a position to take advantage of growth opportunities," he said.
 Credit expansion rate slowed further in AprilGreece's credit expansion rate slowed further in April, despite the fact that banks offered more loans during the month, the Bank of Greece said on Friday. In a monthly report, the central bank said net lending to businesses and households grew to 561 million euros in April, from 374 million euros in March, although total bank lending grew by 10.2 pct in April, down from 10.8 pct in March and 15.9 pct in December 2008.
Net lending to enterprises totaled 446 million euros for an annual growth rate of 11.8 pct in April, from 12.2 pct in March, while lending to households totaled 115 million euros for annuual growth rate of 8.3 pct in April, from 9.2 pct in March. Mortgage loans recorded a growth rate of 7.8 pct, from 8.7 pct in March, while consumer loans also slowed to 9.8 pct from 10.9 pct over the same periods, respectively.
Loans to the manufacturing sector, however, was uncanged at last month's growth level of 9.0 pct, but down from a 15.8 pct growth rate in December 2008. Lending growth rates rose slightly to the shipping, electricity-gas-water and transportation sectors.
 International Construction reports mixed Q1 resultsBabis Vovos International Construction on Friday said its pre-tax, interest, depreciation and amortization earnings (EBITDA) fell 38 pct to 4.9 million euros in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the same period last year, although the group improved its after tax results with losses of 5,000 euros in the January-March period, from losses of 6.2 million euros in 2008.
The Group said it was expecting the publication of final decision by the Council of State over a project to build a shopping mall in Votanikos, Athens.
 Intralot says Q1 EBITDA down 36.4 pctIntralot Group on Friday said its first quarter consolidated turnover was unchanged at last year's levels, totaling 256 million euros, while pre-tax, interest, depreciation and amortization earnings (EBITDA) fell 36.4 pct to 46.1 million euros, from 72.5 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
Pre-tax profits totaled 44.2 million euros in the January-March period, down 35.2 pct from 2008, while after tax and minorities earnings fell 38.5 pct to 22.1 million euros.
Parent turnvoer fell 2.5 pct to 27.3 million euros in the first three months of 2009, while EBITDA were 5.1 million euros and after tax profits totaled 2.9 million euros.
Commenting on the results, Constantinos Antonopoulos, Intralot's chief executive, said its first quarter results were satisfactory amid an international financial crisis and adverse foreign currency developments.
 Retail sales turnover index down 11.3 pct in MarchGreek retail sales turnover index fell 11.3 pct in March 2009, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistical Service said on Friday. The statistics service said the index did not include fuel and car lubricants.
The retail sales volume index (turnover in fixed prices) dropped 13.8 pct in March, after an increase of 0.5 pct recorded in March 2008.
 Greek PPI down 8.1 pct in AprilGreece's Producer's Price Composite Index (measuring both the domestic and foreign markets) fell by 8.1 pct in April, compared with the corresponding month last year, after an increase of 10.4 pct recorded in April 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Friday.
The statistics service said the producer's price index rose 0.4 pct in April from March, after an increase of 1.3 pct in the corresponding period in 2008.
 Athens Water reports lower Q1 resultsAthens Water on Friday reported an 85.409 million euros turnover in the first quarter of 2009, slightly up from a turnover of 84.156 million euros last year and said that pre-tax profits dropped to 1.630 million euros, from 5.184 million euros in 2008 and after tax earnings fell to 1.152 million euros, from 3.579 million euros in 2008.
Athens Water attributed its lower profits in the first quarter to higher spending for the operation at the Iliki lake facilities and extra charges for its waste processing facilities in Psyttalia.
 Greek stocks end 0.80 pct upGreek stocks ended the last trading session of the week with gains in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday. The composite index of the market rose 0.80 pct to end at 2,327.4 points, with turnover a strong 436.5 million euros, of which 28.7 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Banks (3.59 pct), Personal/Home Products (2.66 pct) and Financial Services (1.59 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (4.89 pct), Chemicals (3.38 pct) and Telecommunications (3.21 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.67 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.56 pct down and the FTSE 80 index dropped 1.56 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 135 to 103 with another 31 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.35%
Personal & Household: +2.66%
Raw Materials: -2.46%
Travel & Leisure: -0.76%
Food & Beverages: +0.20%
Financial Services: +1.59%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Bank of Cyprus, National Bank, OTE and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.37
Public Power Corp (PPC): 16.02
HBC Coca Cola: 14.56
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.10
National Bank of Greece: 19.24
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.15
Bank of Piraeus: 8.08
Titan Cement Company: 20.50
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at an expanded discount (-2.36 pct) in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising slightly to 76.507 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,097 contracts, worth 48.533 million euros with 29,489 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 40,691 contracts worth 27.974 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Cyprus Bank's contracts (23,740), followed by Eurobank (921), MIG (922), OTE (1,184), Piraeus Bank (1,021), National Bank (3,011), Alpha Bank (1,466), Marfin Popular Bank (2,036) and Hellenic Petroleum (1,712).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 1.07 billion euros on Friday, of which 495 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 575 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 625 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened to 185 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.49 pct and the German Bund 3.64 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates eased slightly. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.63 pct, the six-month rate 1.46 pct, the three-month rate 1.26 pct and the one-month rate 0.93 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.421
Pound sterling 0.879
Danish kroner 7.504
Swedish kroner 10.753
Japanese yen 136.3
Swiss franc 1.524
Norwegian kroner 8.949
Canadian dollar 1.562
Australian dollar 1.781
 International warrant for Siemens case suspectThe special examining magistrate investigating the Siemens' kickbacks scandal, Nikos Zagorianos, on Friday issued an international arrest warrant for the arrest of former Siemens executive Christos Karavelas.
Karavelas had been summoned before the prosecutor earlier on Friday to answer charges of bribery and legalising income from illegal activities, but failed to appear. The charges concerned a contract signed between Siemens and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) in 1997 to digitalise OTE centres.
According to Karavelas' lawyer Giannis Markoulakos, his client was not in Greece and not in a position to answer the charges against him. He had submitted a written memorandum with his client's defence to the examining magistrate on Thursday.
On Friday morning, the public prosecutor in charge of the case Leonidas Nikolopoulos had issued orders to stop two other Siemens' case suspects, Georgios Skarpelis and Ilias Georgiou, from leaving the country.
Appearing before Zagorianos, former OTE Executive Vice Chairman George Skarpelis asked for additional time to prepare his defence and was given until June 15. He also faces charges of bribery and legalising income from illegal activity for the 1997 contract.
Skarpelis had earlier told the magistrate that he wished to appoint former minister Dimitris Tsovolas as his lawyer because the two lawyers previously representing him were insisting that they could not attend because the magistrate had failed to supply them with all the documents related to the case.
Tsovolas accepted the appointment and asked for additional time to study the case file relating to the OTE digitalisation contract and his client, which the magistrate agreed to hand over.
Georgiou appeared before the magistrate on Friday and was given until June 12 to prepare his defence, again for charges of bribery and legalising income from illegal activities.
Karavelas is the second suspect in the Siemens scandal in Greece to flee abroad after Mihalis Christoforakos, who has taken refuge in Germany. As a holder of German nationality and a German passport, laws in Germany prevent Christoforakos' automatic extradition to Greece to stand trial.
 Police arrest two Siemens affair suspectsPolice arrested on Friday night two Siemens' case suspects, Georgios Skarpelis, a former Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) executive, and Ilias Georgiou, a former Siemens company executive.
The arrests were made following order by special examining magistrate investigating the Siemens' kickbacks scandal, Nikos Zagorianos.
The two suspects, accused of bribery and legalising income from illegal activities, will appear before the prosecutor on Saturday morning.
 Fourth swine flu case in GreeceThe fourth case of the new H1N1 "swine flu" in Greece was confirmed by the Pasteur Institute in Athens on Friday.
According to the national Health Operations Centre, the new case involves a 23-year-old woman that arrived from New York on Thursday night having flu-like symptoms, such as a cough, aching muscles and a runny nose, while her fever was being kept in check by medication prescribed in the United States.
On arriving at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos airport, the young woman acted on briefing material available to passengers and herself contacted the Hellenic Centre for Infectious Diseases Control, where she was submitted to tests.
After doctors obtained a sample for testing, they gave the young woman treatment and advised her to remain home and meticulously observe all the necessary hygiene measures. When the test result came back positive, they immediately sent a specially equipped ambulance to take her to the 'Sotiria' hospital in Athens, where she will be admitted for treatment and an epidemiological investigation.
In the meantime, the second and third patients diagnosed with swine flu in Greece, two travellers arriving from Edinburgh, are still in hospital for treatment but are considered to be doing well and will soon be discharged.
 New Onassis Award for the environment announcedThe President of the Onassis Foundation Andonis Papadimitriou and Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust announced in the German city's Town Hall on Thursday the establishment of a new International Onassis award.
The new award bears the name "Aristotle Onassis Award for the Protection of the Environment" and will be handed out every two years by the City of Hamburg, accompanied by a cash prize amounting to 250,000 euros.
The award, according to an announcemnet issued by the Onassis Foundation, will be given to persons or agencies that have contributed, through an important scientific work, to solving problems relating to the protection of the envirinment and growth, including the conservation of energy.
 Foreign nationals arrested for drug traffickingTwo 26-year-old Albanians were arrested Thursday on drug possession and trafficking charges in Holargos, Athens after police raided their apartment, which they were using as heroin processing lab.
The suspects had the equipment to package the heroin they imported from Albania and on the average they sold 5 kilos of the drug per week to other traffickers, police said.
Drug enforcement officers seized 10 kilos of heroin in 20 individual packages, 27 kilos of substances used to cut the drug, drug processing paraphernalia and precision scales.
 Man arrested on child porn chargesA 50-year-old man was arrested on Friday in Naoussa, northwestern Greece, charged with possessing child pornography material.
Police announced that during a raid in the suspect's house, police officers found the material loaded in the hard drive of his laptop. Thessaloniki police are investigating whether the suspect is member of an child pornography ring.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at glanceThe political leaders' TV debate Thursday night ahead of the June 7 European Parliament elections dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition PASOK voters' libido increased by 62 percent, poll indicates - Where will the bogus polls' hilarity stop?
APOGEVMATINI: "Karamanlis is the master, he is irreplaceable".
AVGHI: "What the government is hiding, what PASOK is avoiding - Secrets and lies before the election".
AVRIANI: "The party leaders sent the citizens to the beach - The debate lacked substance and pulse, putting the viewers to sleep and increasing the tendency for abstention from the vote".
CHORA: "Karamanlis' supremacy in the TV debate - He won the impressions over the other political leaders".
ELEFTHEROS "Karamanlis 'pushes' former prime minister (PASOK) Costas Simitis for President of Republic".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Play for 5 roles - End of debates' era with parallel monologues".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Goodnight, but not again next year - The debate was a boring 2-hour show with one stage set and 5 monologues that did not enlighten us on anything".
ESTIA: "Nothing new from the political leaders in Thursday's TV debate".
ETHNOS: "Promise for change of page - Karamanlis in a glass tower - Debate without surprises".
KATHIMERINI: "Conventional monologues in the debate - The political leaders acknowledged the country's impasses but avoided proposing specific solutions".
LOGOS: "Parallel monologues - We 'refreshed' what we already knew".
NIKI: "Choose - The citizens listened to five parallel monologues from the political leaders".
RIZOSPASTIS: "A vote for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is the answer to state-employers' terrorism".
TA NEA: "One apology and four monologues - Karamanlis on the defensive over the scandals and taxes".
TO VIMA: "Optimism prevails in the market after the rise in stock market indexes - Hope in USA and EU for recovery in the first quarter of 2009"
VRADYNI: "Rehearsal for national elections - Debate for Euroelections with only a small bit of Europe".
 UN Security Council renews UNFICYP mandateUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The UN Security Council on Friday approved a resolution, renewing the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further six months.
Resolution 1783, which was passed with 14 votes infavour and one against, ''welcomes the analysis of developments on the ground over the last six months in the Secretary-General's report, in accordance with his mandate'' and ''welcomes also the progress made so far in the fully fledged negotiations, and the prospect of further progress in the near future towards a comprehensive and durable settlement that this has created.''
The Security Council ''urges full exploitation of this opportunity, including by intensifying the momentum of negotiations, improving the current atmosphere of trust and goodwill, and engaging in the process in a constructive and open manner'' and ''urges also the implementation of confidence-building measures, and looks forward to agreement on and implementation of further such steps, including the opening of other crossing points.''
According to the resolution, it ''reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, in particular resolution 1251 (1999) of 29 June 1999 and subsequent resolutions'' and furthermore ''expresses its full support for UNFICYP and decides to extend its mandate for a further period ending 15 December 2009.''
It ''calls on both sides to continue to engage, as a matter of urgency and while respecting UNFICYP's mandate, in consultations with UNFICYP on the demarcation of the buffer zone, and on the United Nations 1989 aide-memoire, with a view to reaching early agreement on outstanding issues'' and also ''calls on the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces to restore in Strovilia the military status quo which existed there prior to 30 June 2000.''
The Security Council ''requests the Secretary General to submit a report on implementation of this resolution, including on contingency planning in relation to the settlement, by 1 December 2009 and to keep the Security Council updated on events as necessary.'' In conclusion, it ''decides to remain seized of the matter.''
In the opening remarks of the resolution, the Security Council welcomes the report of the Secretary General of 15 May 2009 (S/2009/248) on the UN operation in Cyprus and notes that the Government of Cyprus has agreed that in view of the prevailing conditions on the island it is necessary to keep UNFICYP beyond 15 June 2009.
It also echoes the Secretary General's firm belief that ''the responsibility for finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves, stressing that there now exists a rare opportunity to make decisive progress, and reaffirming the primary role of the United Nations in assisting the parties to bring the Cyprus conflict and division of the island to a comprehensive and durable settlement.''
The Security Council commends ''the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders for the political leadership they have shown, and warmly welcoming the progress made so far in the fully fledged negotiations, and the leaders' joint statements,'' strongly urges ''the leaders to increase the momentum in the negotiations to ensure the full exploitation of this opportunity to reach a comprehensive settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions.''
Furthermore, it emphasises ''the importance attached by the international community of all parties engaging fully, flexibly and constructively in the negotiations, and looking forward to decisive progress in those negotiations in the near future,'' and welcomes the intention of the Secretary General to keep the Council informed of further development and progress.
It also welcomes ''the implementation of some of the confidence building measures announced by the leaders, and calling for a renewed effort to implement the remaining measures and for agreement on and implementation of further steps to build trust between the communities.''
The Security Council reaffirms ''the importance of continued crossings of the Green Line by Cypriots, encouraging the opening by mutual agreement of other crossing points, noting the commitment in the leaders' joint statements to pursue the opening of the Limnitis/Yesilirmak crossing point, encouraging implementation of the commitment to a second phase of the restoration of the Ledra Street crossing, and urging in this context the leaders to make every effort to implement those measures.''
It also notes that it is ''convinced of the many important benefits for all Cypriots that would flow from a comprehensive and durable Cyprus settlement, and encouraging both sides clearly to explain these benefits, as well as the need for increased flexibility and compromise in order to secure them, to both communities well in advance of any eventual referenda,'' and highlights ''the supportive role the international community will continue to play in helping the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to exploit fully the current opportunity.''
The Security Council takes note of the assessment of the Secretary General that the security situation on the island and along the Green Line remains stable, welcomes the progress made in proceeding with demining activities, as well as the progress and continuation of the important activities of the Committee on Missing Persons, and agrees that active participation of civil society groups is essential to the political process and can contribute to making any future settlement sustainable.
It also welcomes the continued efforts of Alexander Downer as the Secretary General's Special Advisor with a mandate to assist the parties in the conduct of fully-fledged negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement, and echoes the Secretary General's gratitude to the Government of Cyprus and the Government of Greece for their voluntary contributions to the funding of UNFICYP, and his request for further voluntary contributions from other countries and organisations.
 Stephanou: Exploitation of Cyprus' wealth is our sovereign rightNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The exploration and the exploitation of Cyprus' wealth is the state's sovereign right, government spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has stressed.
Invited Friday to comment on Turkish threats to block hydrocarbon exploration in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone, Stephanou pointed out that ''the entire international community should look into the issue, because there are international laws, agreements, there is an order, which everybody should respect, with no exemption".
The Republic of Cyprus, he went on to add, will do whatever it believes is to the benefit of its vital interests.
"The Republic of Cyprus exercises its sovereign rights. If some do not want to act in line with international law and behave in a way which is provocative to Cyprus and the international community as well, it is up to everybody to judge for himself," he said.
Asked whether the Republic of Cyprus has protested to the EU about the Turkish threats, he said: "how we shall act is an issue which we will not discuss at present. I reiterate that the Republic, in the framework of international legality, asserts and protects its rights and acts accordingly".
"The international community as well as the EU - since Turkey aspires to join the Union - must look into this issue," he noted.
Replying to a question, the spokesman said that the exploration of hydrocarbon reserves is irrelevant with the ongoing negotiations which began between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus with a view to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem.
''The exploration is Cyprus' sovereign right", he noted, adding that when the Cyprus problem is solved and Cyprus is reunified all will benefit from any possible reserves may be found.
He recalled that Cypriot President Demetris Christofias had sent a letter of protest to the UN Secretary General and the European Commission President regarding Turkish harassment against ships which were conducting exploration surveys in Cyprus‘ exclusive economic zone.
''We defend the rights of the Republic of Cyprus. It's others who act against the law", he concluded.
 Cyprus FM to visit SyriaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou will visit the Syrian Arab Republic on June 1st.
During his visit, Kyprianou will hold meetings with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the President of the Parliament Mahmoud al-Abrash, and the Foreign Minister Walid al-Moullem.
The bilateral relations between Cyprus and Syria, EU-Syria relations and co-operation between the two countries will be discussed at the meetings. There will also be an exchange of views on regional issues, such as the Palestinian Question and the situation in Lebanon.
Kyprianou will also brief Syria's leadership on the latest developments regarding the Cyprus problem.
Kyprianou will return to Cyprus on Monday night.
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