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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-08

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 8 July 2009 Issue No: 3239

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek tax package satisfactorily met by ECOFIN, FinMin says
  • [02] PM Karamanlis briefed by agriculture minister
  • [03] Nimetz due in Athens
  • [04] Announcement by UN on Nimetz talks in Skopje
  • [05] Foreign ministry unveils developmental aid programme
  • [06] Parliament channel signs agreement with ERT
  • [07] PASOK's alternate spokesperson on economy, recent tax measures
  • [08] Alavanos meets with POSPERT representatives
  • [09] Measures against doping announced
  • [10] Papoulias meets with Hellenic Olympic Committee President
  • [11] Ministry denies involvement in IB exams
  • [12] SAE annual report delivered to Parliament
  • [13] Greek annual inflation at 0.5 pct in June
  • [14] Olympic Air to begin flight operations in Oct 1, 2009
  • [15] European Court fines Greece for failure to recover state aid to OA
  • [16] National Bank sets up factoring business unit
  • [17] Development minister publicises bill on energy saving investments for buildings
  • [18] Employment minister holds talks with Labour Confederation directorate on heavy duty professions
  • [19] Tourist arrivals down 10 pct in H1
  • [20] Hellenic Postbank says share capital increase plan oversubscribed by 133.79 pct
  • [21] Greenpeace recommendations on RES
  • [22] Greek stocks end 0.72 pct higher
  • [23] Greek bond market closing report
  • [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [25] Four arrests during serious disturbances at Grammatiko
  • [26] Parents of released journalist issue statement
  • [27] Fake invoice tax scam worth millions discovered
  • [28] Swine flu cases in Greece up to 162
  • [29] Tempi Theatre inaugurated, with Aeschylus' 'The Choephori'
  • [30] Cannabis plantation destroyed in Messinia, southern Greece
  • [31] Anti-racist rally held in Omonia Square in Athens
  • [32] Fair on Wednesday
  • [33] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [34] Cyprus and Armenia in favour of a modern Turkey joining the EU

  • [01] Greek tax package satisfactorily met by ECOFIN, FinMin says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Mary Aroni)

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou on Tuesday presented to his EU counterparts the government's recent package of tax measures aimed at boosting state finances.

    Speaking to reporters, after an ECOFIN meeting in Brussels, the Greek minister said the package was termed as satisfactory by the council and noted that another package of measures -to be presented in October- "will have mainly a structural nature".

    Papathanasiou said the government's aim was to cut the fiscal deficit to 3.7 pct of GDP this year and to 3.0 pct of GDP in 2010. "The aim is difficult but we believe we can achieve this," the Greek minister said, adding that Greece would have sent a wrong message to markets if it sought an extension to achieving its fiscal goals beyond 2010.

    He underlined, however, that "if the impact of the crisis on the Greek economy was proved to be larger than original estimates, the European Commission would realize whether the target of a 3.0 pct fiscal deficit by 2010 was feasible".

    "We believe that the Commission would show an understanding" if there was a slight deviation in next year's fiscal deficit.

    The Greek government was not afraid of any political costs to resolve the Greek economy's problems, the minitser said. "We are doing today what we did not do for decades. We are paying dearly for past mistakes," Papathanasiou said.

    Commenting on the condition of the European economy, he said the ECOFIN meeting agreed there was no risk of a protracted deflation period in Europe and stressed that the Council agreed on a series of changes on bank capital rules.

    [02] PM Karamanlis briefed by agriculture minister

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Tuesday with agricultural development minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, who assured afterwards that there will be no cutbacks whatsoever in reinforcements in the farming sector.

    He said the ministry had a large agricultural land registry, which would forecast and ensure the farming income and reinforcements through the upgrading of the sector's two main organisations already in operation, the OPEKEPE and the AGROGI.

    Hatzigakis said that they also discussed the major land improvement projects, given that the ministry was already pushing ahead an ambitious program that will enable Greek agriculture to meet the modern-day demands and conditions.

    They further discussed legislation concerning the ministry's specialised staff, protection of breeding stock, and other items.

    "We more generally discussed ways so that the ministry will become a productive, developmental and competitive unit that will meet the modern-day demands," Hatzigakis added.

    [03] Nimetz due in Athens

    SKOPJE (ANA-MPA - N. Frangopoulos)

    UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, the mediator in the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) had a round of meetings with FYROM's leadership in Skopje on Tuesday. Afterwards, he said that the talks had focused on basic aspects of his last proposal in October 2008 and possible modifications to this.

    "I suggested to the prime minister some specific modifications to the October proposal and asked the government to examine the package as a whole, with these changes," Nimetz told reporters after meeting the country's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and President Georgi Ivanov.

    The envoy said that he would be raising the same issues in talks with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis when they met in Athens.

    In his proposal in October, Nimetz had suggested the name "Republic of Northern Macedonia" for international use.

    The UN mediator declined to name the other changes he is proposing, stressing that the matter was "complex".

    "There are different views on this. Some concern the issue of the name and some others are linked with the name. Some issues are more important than others and what remains is for the two sides to adopt a position on these," he said.

    Nimetz appeared satisfied with the results of his talks in Skopje and repeated the view that a solution to the dispute by the end of the year was feasible, while stressing that there were no set deadlines.

    Replying to questions regarding issues of "identity and language", Nimetz emphasised that the negotiations were not centred on these and that no one had disputed the existence of an independent identity or language in FYROM.

    "We are examining and discussing the name of the country. This is the primary issue. I have never heard from an official of any government, including Greece, that the existence of a separate identity and language is in doubt," he said.

    Nimetz is due in Athens on Tuesday night and will have meetings with the Greek government on Wednesday and Thursday.

    [04] Announcement by UN on Nimetz talks in Skopje

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    An announcement by the office of the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-Greneral on Tuesday afternoon, said that the Secretary General's personal envoy in talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Matthew Nimetz, was on his way to Athens after talks in Skopje.

    "Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is currently on his way to Athens from Skopje," the announcement said.

    "While in Skopje, over the past two days, Nimetz held constructive meetings on the 'name issue' with the country's Prime Minister, President, Foreign Minister, and other officials. He presented to them some changes to the proposals he had submitted to the parties last October, for them to study.

    "Nimetz said he hopes these latest changes will lead to a positive reaction and accelerated negotiations. He added that the leaders he met in Skopje had assured him that they were eager to move forward. Nimetz will now discuss the issue with the Greek side," the announcement concluded.

    [05] Foreign ministry unveils developmental aid programme

    Restricting the phenomenon of illegal immigration will be the main goal of developmental aid given by Greece in 2009, Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said on Tuesday. The minister was presenting the proclamation of the foreign ministry's International Developmental Cooperation Service for the funding of non-governmental organisations.

    "We consider it our obligation to support NGOs that are active in programmes and sectors that affect whether people stay in their countries or generate incentives for their return," Varvitsiotis said and stressed that "it is a very great wager for us to combine humanitarian action with the return of the greatest possible number of immigrants now in Athens and regional Greece."

    As a consequence, Greek developmental aid will now be directed as a priority to Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority and sub-Saharan Africa, the minister explained. The emphasis in Afghanistan will be on programmes for health, education, protection of minors and culture, while Palestinians needed the building and equipping from scratch of health and educational facilities.

    In countries like Ethiopia, Congo, Somalia and Zimbabwe, the greatest priority will go to health-related programmes designed to control the spread of infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, food aid and infrastructure projects.

    Other candidates that still qualify but with a lower priority for Greek developmental aid include Egypt, Lebanon, the south Caucasus-Black Sea region, China and the western Balkans.

    Varvitsiotis stressed that transparency was paramount and that the ministry's top concern was to ensure that the money of Greek tax-payers was spent on the needs of developmental aid and not the needs of NGOs in general.

    To encourage partnerships and collaboration, the ministry will only fund up to 50 percent of the total budget of the programmes submitted, of which administrative costs could only account for 5 percent of the total, with the total budget estimated at about 54 million euros.

    [06] Parliament channel signs agreement with ERT

    Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas and Chairman and Managing Director of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) S.A. Christos Panagopoulos on Tuesday signed a broad cooperation agreement between the Parliament's Radio/TV channel and ERT in the presence of Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Interior Minister Costas Gioulekas, responsible for media issues.

    Sioufas called the agreement a "major event", considering that it focuses on exchange and co-production of radio and television programmes, mainly of parliamentary and cultural concern, and digital broadcasting.

    Pavlopoulos pointed out that the signing of the agreement confirms and strengthens ERT's public character, adding that it will give new impetus to the parliament's radio and television channels.

    On his part, ERT's Christos Panagopoulos underlined that the agreement signed consolidates cooperation and allows for further collaboration on other levels as well.

    [07] PASOK's alternate spokesperson on economy, recent tax measures

    Main opposition PASOK party alternate spokesperson Maria Karaklioumi said on Tuesday that the economic crisis "is deepening more and more and that the recent tax measures are burdening the economic budget even more."

    Referring to statements made on Monday by Finance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, she said that "they are a warning for a new and more savage tax raid in autumn."

    Karaklioumi further said that two things must be currently done: "firstly, the citizen's trust in the state must be restored and, secondly, there must be a plan to tackle the crisis that will have specific characteristics."

    She also commented on Tuesday's disturbances at Grammatiko, concerning the creation of a landfill, saying "in the way that it is trying to create landfills, the government is attempting to conceal its failure over the freezing of European Union funds in relation to the management of refuse in Attica."

    [08] Alavanos meets with POSPERT representatives

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group leader Alekos Alavanos met Tuesday with the federation of trade unions of radio and television employees (POSPERT) representatives.

    Alavanos stated afterwards that the sector is plagued with problems, layoffs, unemployment, and an absence of collective labour agreements, adding that he, accompanied by Foris Kouvelis, will have a meeting with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on relevant issues within the next few days.

    [09] Measures against doping announced

    The Greek state intends to take drastic measures against doping in sport, Deputy Culture Minister for sports Yiannis Ioannidis announced on Tuesday. He was speaking during a meeting that he convened at the ministry to discuss the latest incidents of doping in Greece's weight-lifting team.

    The meeting was attended by Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos, the head of Greece's athletics federation SEGAS Vassilis Sevastis, the head of the Weight-Lifting Federation Pyrros Dimas, the Athens Olympic Athletic Centre (OAKA) board chairman Alexandra Manou, the head of the OAKA doping lab Costas Georgakopoulos and other sports officials.

    Among the proposed measures listed by Ioannidis were that the results of samples be announced within 10 days, otherwise the samples will be sent for testing abroad, tougher penalties for athletes using banned substances and their coaches, and prevention of doping through an information campaign targeting pupils in schools.

    The doping lab will also be removed from the supervision of OAKA and will henceforth be part of the National Sports Research Centre.

    [10] Papoulias meets with Hellenic Olympic Committee President

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) President Spyros Capralos at the Presidential Mansion on Tuesday and was briefed on Greek sports issues and the problem of doping in sports.

    "The problem is mostly traced to a specific sport," Papoulias stated and expressed his intention to join the fight against the use of banned substances by athletes.

    On his part, Capralos briefed Papoulias on the meeting he had with all responsible authorities aimed at taking measures against doping and stressed that a "collective effort is necessary," while underlining that "major interests are behind" the practice.

    [11] Ministry denies involvement in IB exams

    The Greek education ministry on Tuesday denied all responsibility or involvement in the holding of the International Baccalaureate examinations in Greece, rejecting attempts to link the ministry to reports that IB exam papers had been leaked to students in Greece.

    "No official document has been sent to the education ministry from the International Baccalaureate Organisation based in Geneva," an announcement stressed in response to reports appearing in the Greek electronic media and the press.

    "The IB was introduced in the education system via article 10, paragraph 23 of the law 2327/95. The operation of an IB department is guided by the rules set by the IBO and the curriculum is taught in English. The evaluation of students in IB departments is carried out in accordance with the rules of the IBO by the organisation itself, without involving the education ministry. The IBO is exclusively responsible for the examinations in terms of process, subjects, correcting written exam papers and issuing the results," the ministry pointed out.

    "In consequence, attempts to involve the ministry in the exam procedures of the IB obviously conceal other motives," the announcement ends.

    In a development concerning some 1,000 students that sat the IB exams in Greece, the organisation has delayed issuing the results after discovering that the test papers were leaked in advance to an unknown number of students in Greece. The exam papers were obtained by a Greek teacher from a source in Geneva and then given to candidates sitting the exam for money.

    It is unclear whether the IBO will declare the results null and void or simply delay the issue of results until it completes an investigation but candidates now fear that they won't receive their results in time to meet university application deadlines.

    [12] SAE annual report delivered to Parliament

    World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis on Tuesday delivered the Greek expatriate organization's Annual Report to Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas in the presence of parliamentary Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad President Nikos Tsiartsionis.

    This year's Annual Report was comprised of two volumes, one focusing on SAE's activities and the other on the proposals tabled by its Board and Regional Coordinating Councils.

    Tamvakis expressed gratitude for the support offered by the parliament to SAE's work while, on his part, Sioufas praised the important work done by the expatriate organization assuring him that the Annual Report will be discussed in the Special Permanent Committee and the Parliament's plenary session in the presence of SAE representatives.

    The parliament president handed over to Tamvakis the two latest resolutions adopted by the US Congress and Senate, stating a clear position on the FYROM name issue, while he also briefed him on the initiative undertaken by 200 academics from all over the world to brief the US President on the situation and outline their position on the stance the US administration should take.

    Sioufas also called on the Greek expatriates to join the efforts made for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, referring to the recently inaugurated New Acropolis Museum.

    Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad President Tsiartsionis assured Tamvakis that "all responsible authorities will do their best to satisfy most of the demands and visions of the Diaspora Greeks."

    Financial News

    [13] Greek annual inflation at 0.5 pct in June

    Greek annual inflation was 0.5 pct in June, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday. The statistics agency, in a report, attributed the 0.5 pct increase of the consumer price index to a 3.0 pct increase in food and beverage prices, a 6.4 pct rise in alcohol and tobacco prices, a 2.9 pct increase in clothing and footwear, an 1.7 pct rise in durable goods, a 2.8 pct rise in health prices, an 1.0 pct increase in entertainment prices, a 4.7 pct rise in education, a 2.2 pct increase in hotel prices and a 2.4 pct rise in other goods and services. Also, housing prices fell 3.9 pct in June, transportation prices dropped 6.9 pct and communication prices eased 0.7 pct.

    Commenting on the figures, NSS's secretary-general Manolis Kontopyrakis said the consumer price index was expected to rise slightly in July, around 0.6 pct because of the imposition of a new consumption tax on fuel.

    The core inflation rate was 1.4 pct in June, for an average rate of 2.30 pct in the first half of 2009, compared with a 3.60 pct figure last year year. The consumer price index was down 0.1 pct in June from May, while the country's harmonized inflation rate was 0.7 pct in June.

    [14] Olympic Air to begin flight operations in Oct 1, 2009

    Marfin Investment Group (MIG) on Tuesday announced that Olympic Air would begin flight operations on October 1, 2009, after completing all contracts with the Greek state. Until then all flight operations would be carried out by Olympic Airways.

    Under the plan, Olympic Air, a member of MIG, will use a fleet of new aircraft, offering a dynamic flight schedule, modern sales system and higher quality services to passengers.

    [15] European Court fines Greece for failure to recover state aid to OA

    Brussels (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The European Court on Tuesday imposed a two million euros fine on Greece and a daily penalty of 16,000 euros over the country's failure to conform with a previous Court ruling calling for the return of state reinforcements to its ailing national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) that were ruled illegal in 2005 by the Court.

    In 2002, the European Commission ruled that certain reinforcements allocated by the Greek state to OA were incompatible with respect to the common market because they did not comply with specific conditions initially set out and therefore must be recovered. The Commission took Greece to the European Court over the issue in 2003, and the Court ruling issued in 2005 found Greece to be in violation of EU legislation.

    The Commission took Greece to the European Court again for failure to comply with the ruling, asking that a lump-sum fine be paid and daily penalties be imposed. The Court ruled on Tuesday for a 2 million euros lump-sum fine, and a daily penalty of 16,000 euros for each day of delay in carrying out the 2005 ruling, with the penalty entering into effect one month from the publication of the new ruling, so as to give Greece the ability to prove termination of the violation.

    In its recourse, the Commission cites for recovery a sum of 41 million euros in restructural reinforcements in the form of capital inflows, 2.5 million euros for rentals due to certain airports, and 61 million euros for the duty paid by passengers departing from all Greek airports.

    Greece argued at the time that certain OA debts to the State had been offset with compensation adjudged to OA by a 2006 arbitration ruling for losses suffered by OA due to its early eviction from the old airport at Hellinikon, its relocation to the new Athens International Airport (AIA) in Spata, additional operational costs of the AIA and delays in the construction of the AIA facilities.

    [16] National Bank sets up factoring business unit

    National Bank on Tuesday announced the creation of a factoring enterprise, National Factors SA, offering a full range of factoring services to its customers.

    In a statement, National Bank said turnover of the factoring business in Greece totaled 10 billion euros in 2008, significantly lower compared with Ireland (23 billion) or Portugal (16 billion euros) and that it had the potential for a significant growth in the future.

    National Bank said it would begin offering factoring services in Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania.

    [17] Development minister publicises bill on energy saving investments for buildings

    A bill publicised on Tuesday by Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, and expected to be tabled in Parliament during the summer, enacts the Funding of Energy Projects by third parties and anticipates investments for saving energy in buildings without the participation of owners or with limited expenditures on their part.

    With the new institutional framework, an energy services company will assume the cost of carrying out work that will lead to the saving of energy and will be paid gradually from the benefit resulting for the owners of buildings through the decrease in electricity, natural gas or heating oil bills.

    The minister said that in this way energy will be saved and innovative business activity will be backed, without consumers being burdened with even one euro.

    A "Green fund" will also be created with the bill that will subsidise or secure the funding of business plans for the improvement of energy performance and will be funded by European Union programmes and by part of the energy inspections turnover.

    [18] Employment minister holds talks with Labour Confederation directorate on heavy duty professions

    Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, speaking after holding talks with the directorate of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) on Tuesday, said that the new list of heavy duty and unhygienic professions will be announced during the summer, meaning those that will be removed and the new ones that will be possibly included.

    Petralia said that she briefed GSEE on the ministry's actions and programmes on handling the international economic crisis and called on unions to present positions and proposals.

    More specifically, she requested proposals on supporting employment, for social security incentives for hiring new unemployed people and supporting working people whose income is decreasing or who are in danger of being dismissed from work.

    Replying to a question, Petralia stressed that there is no question of enacting four-day employment and that the government does not discuss any institutional change in labour relations.

    However, she acknowledged that the relevant law of 1998 provides some possibilities for flexibility and that there are some businesses that have already made use of this law, meaning that they have gone ahead with four-day work based on the existing institutional framework.

    [19] Tourist arrivals down 10 pct in H1

    Tourist arrivals in Greece were down around 10 pct in the first half of the year, compared with the corresponding period in 2008, or more than 560,000 tourists, the Federation of Hellenic Tourist Enterprises (SETE) said on Tuesday.

    In an announcement, SETE said this development would lead to the loss of more than 19,000 jobs in the tourism industry this year, while it stressed that the rate of decline in revenues would be even bigger.

    SETE said a lack of specific plan, or targets by the state were making the industry's outlook gloomier and noted that Greece -being a mature touristic economy- should not celebrate for avoiding any disastrous developments but to work harder to revolving the sector's structural problems.

    [20] Hellenic Postbank says share capital increase plan oversubscribed by 133.79 pct

    Hellenic Postbank on Tuesday announced that a share capital increase scheme was oversubscribed by 133.79 pct, with shareholders and new investors seeking to buy a total of 190,294,197 new shares.

    Following completion of the plan, Hellenic Postbank's equity capital will rise by 526,262,033 euros, through the issuance of 142,232,982 new common, nominal voting shares of a nominal value of 3.70 euros each, to a total of 1,277,484,066 euros.

    [21] Greenpeace recommendations on RES

    Greece needs to install approximately 2,000 MW in Renewable Energy Sources (RES) annually up to the year 2020 in order to make up the lost ground and attain the targets contained in the new EU legislation on RES penetration of 18 percent of overall energy consumption, according to a text of recommendations for the National Action Plan on RES unveiled by the environmental organisation Greenpeace on Tuesday.

    The Greenpeace recommendations were unveiled in light of the model National Action Plan on RES which all EU member states are obliged to draft by June 30, 2010. In its own National Action Plan, Greece is required to give clear and adequate responses/solutions to three issues in order to achieve the targets, which are binding: Adoption of ambitious targets in the specific sectors (electricity production, heating/cooling), introduction of efficient supportive mechanisms and lifting of all obstacles affected RES (bureaucracy, networks), and the creation of flexible mechanisms and collaborations with other states.

    [22] Greek stocks end 0.72 pct higher

    Greek stocks recovered moderately in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the composite index of the market rising 0.72 pct to end at 2,202.83 points. Turnover was a low 89.1 million euros, of which 6.2 million were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the Food/Beverage (2.45 pct), Banks (1.65 pct) and Technology (1.40 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Health (1.79 pct), Oil (1.05 pct) and Chemicals (0.77 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 0.94 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.70 pct and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.90 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 122 to 78 with another 53 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.34%

    Industrials: -0.72%

    Commercial: +0.85%

    Construction: -0.30%

    Media: +0.47%

    Oil & Gas: -1.05%

    Personal & Household: -0.66%

    Raw Materials: -0.61%

    Travel & Leisure: unchanged

    Technology: +1.40%

    Telecoms: -0.73%

    Banks: +1.65%

    Food & Beverages: +2.45%

    Health: -1.79%

    Utilities: -0.03%

    Chemicals: -0.77%

    Financial Services: +0.53%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Bank of Cyprus.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 7.59

    ATEbank: 1.50

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.70

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.99

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.12

    National Bank of Greece: 17.36

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.53

    Intralot: 4.36

    OPAP: 18.69

    OTE: 10.86

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.20

    Titan Cement Company: 19.46

    [23] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low 590 million euros on Tuesday, of which 235 million were buy orders and the remaining 355 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 315 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 159 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.92 pct and the German Bund 3.33 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates fell further. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.45 pct, the six-month rate 1.26 pct, the three-month rate 1.04 pct and the one-month rate 0.67 pct.

    [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.413

    Pound sterling 0.870

    Danish kroner 7.506

    Swedish kroner 11.052

    Japanese yen 134.68

    Swiss franc 1.530

    Norwegian kroner 9.129

    Canadian dollar 1.635

    Australian dollar 1.762

    General News

    [25] Four arrests during serious disturbances at Grammatiko

    Four people were arrested during serious disturbances that broke out on Tuesday morning in the region of Grammatiko in the east Attica prefecture, between local inhabitants, objecting to the creation of a landfill at the location of Mavro Vouno, and police.

    According to a police announcement, vehicles and machinery heading for the location where the landfill will be created passed through with the help of the police, but disturbances occurred during which inhabitants created barricades along the route and "attacked the police forces and carried out arsonist actions in the wider region."

    The announcement further said that four policemen were injured during the disturbances and four people were arrested, one of whom drove his car onto a policeman and injured him.

    Another three people were also arrested, following coordinated action by firemen and police, for cases of arson in the wider region of Grammatiko.

    [26] Parents of released journalist issue statement

    The parents of Greek journalist Iason Athanasiadis, who was released Sunday by the Iranian authorities after being arrested during disturbances that had followed the recent presidential elections in the country, issued a statement on Tuesday expressing their gratitude to all those who contributed to the journalist's release.

    The statement reads as follows:

    "Our son, Iason Athanasiadis, arrived from Teheran at Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in Athens early this afternoon (Tuesday). We are delighted to say that he seems in excellent health and spirits.

    "Our first task on this occasion must be to express our deepest gratitude to the spiritual father of Orthodoxy, His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, whose appeal to the Iranian authorities played a decisive role in Iason's safe return.

    "Another immeasurable contribution to our son's release was made by the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has expended tireless efforts on Iason's behalf from the time of his arrest to the final hour of his repatriation. The willingness of its personnel to keep us informed at all times of the latest developments has been a great comfort to us. We should like to thank specifically the Minister herself, Ms Dora Bakoyannis, for the exceptional interest she has shown in Iason's case; the Minister's Chief of Staff, Mr Dimitrios Zafeiriadis, for his cool and resourceful handling of every situation; and, in particular, the Greek Ambassador in Teheran, Mr Nikolaos Garilidis, whose judgment, discretion and insight have been apparent and indispensable at every step of the way.

    "On a more personal note we would like to mention three devoted and loyal friends, George Pilichos, Bruce Clark and Alexandros Massavetas, who have supported us throughout with astute advice and constant sympathy. Words are insufficient to express the gratitude we feel towards them.

    "Many other friends and acquaintances, who cannot be named here, have helped to make our lives more bearable at this difficult time. We are grateful to them all.

    Polymnia Athanasiadi

    Garth Fowden

    Athens, 7 April 2009".

    [27] Fake invoice tax scam worth millions discovered

    The Special Audits Service on Tuesday revealed a tax scam worth millions of euros run by a 43-year-old businessman in Kavala, who collaborated with construction contractors and excavation companies in the issue of fake invoices.

    The businessman owned a company trading in marble and wooden constructions and is alleged to have issued 1,544 fake invoices, all of them for sums in excess of 10,000 euros. These depicted fictional sales and also non-existent purchases.

    According to an announcement issued by the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Special Audits Service, the perpetrators are liable for fines exceeding eight million euros.

    Authorities are still investigating the alleged recipients of the fake invoices to determine the extent of their involvement, while their companies have already been included in a Special Audits Service list of offenders for fake invoice scams.

    This list is sent to all finance ministry inspection services, who are advised to take it into account when exercising their duties.

    The specific offender attracted attention because he declared an extremely low annual income, below the tax-free allowance, in spite of the fact that large numbers of invoices issued by his company were on the market.

    An investigation showed that the construction companies also played a hand in the scam, asking the 43-year-old to issue fake invoices that they could then write off as expenses and thus pay fewer taxes.

    [28] Swine flu cases in Greece up to 162

    Six new cases of A/H1N1 novel influenza or swine flu have raised the total of confirmed cases in Greece to 162, of which 70 have fully recovered and the rest are still being treated. All the new cases again concerned individuals that had recently entered the country from abroad or had come into contact with a confirmed case.

    Authorities are also investigating the people that came into contact with a patient admitted to a hospital in Rio, who was later found to be positive for the swine flu virus.

    [29] Tempi Theatre inaugurated, with Aeschylus' 'The Choephori'

    The Tempi Theatre in the region of Omolios, central Greece, opened to the public with Aeschylus' "The Choephori" (meaning "The Libation Bearers"), the second part of the"Oresteia" trilogy, performed by the Thessaly Theatre Group.

    Aeschylus (ca. 525 B.C.) is regarded "the father of Ancient Greek tragedy". He has written between 50 and 90 plays, but only six of them still exist: "The Persians", "Seven Against Thebes", "The Suppliants" and "Oresteia", a trilogy consisting of "Agamemnon", "Choephori" and "Eumenides".

    The 600-seat theatre, which was inaugurated on Sunday afternoon, is situated on the outskirts of Tempi, nestled between Mt. Olympus and Mt. Kissavos, with a breathtaking view of the Aegean and the Pinios River delta.

    The theatre is planned to acquire a second tier in the future, which will double its seating capacity.

    It has been built in an old quarry, while the former building premises in the quarry have been converted into a spaceous three-story building housing the actors' dressing rooms, as well as an exhibition center and a conference center.

    The stage itself has been designed so as to be able to host a variety of other cultural events, including concerts and exhibitions.

    [30] Cannabis plantation destroyed in Messinia, southern Greece

    Kalamata police uprooted and destroyed a total of 39 cannabis plants, between 2 and 3.5 meters tall, discovered near the village of Alonia, in the municipality of Messinia, in Peloponesse southern Greece.

    The operation took place on Monday and an investigation is underway to determine the identity of its owner.

    [31] Anti-racist rally held in Omonia Square in Athens

    People from the anti-establishment sector staged a rally in Omonia Square in Athens on Tuesday evening to express solidarity for immigrants and their opposition to "suppression and racism".

    The demonstrators protested "cleanup operations" by police in Athens targeting immigrants and plans to evacuate the premises of the former Appeals Court in Socratous street where homeless people have taken refuge.

    They then headed for Agios Panteleimonas Square, shouting slogans against the "inhabitants committee" that has been set up to oppose the staying of immigrants in the region and clashing with committee members on arrival in the square. The clashes did not spread after riot police moved in and used tear gas.

    Weather Forecast

    [32] Fair on Wednesday

    Fair weather, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 16C and 37C. Fair in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 22C to 37C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 22C to 35C.

    [33] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Early election speculations and the Siemens bribery and kickbacks affair were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Unbelievable dialogues among the criminals in the hands of the authorities", referring to electronic copies of telephone conversations among the members of the ring that had abducted shipowner Pericles Panagopoulos in January, compiled from months of surveillance leading to their recent arrest.

    APOGEVMATINI: "Professor was selling the Baccalaureate exam topices to pupils in Athens - Greek educator arrested in Geneva by Interpol".

    AVGHI: "Unemployment and poverty for 1 in 4 Europeans".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary alliance) at the side of the Indymedia (nes (news blog) anarchists - The last concealing veil has been removed".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The revelations of the phone taps: Revealing discussions among the members of the organised crime ring".

    ESTIA: "Possible solution on election of President".

    ETHNOS: "The codes of the crime gang - 96 CDs with their lethal discussions brought to light".

    KATHIMIERNHI: "The 'headquarters' of the kidnapping ring is in the prisons - 96 CDs containing orders, by telephone from Trikala prison (where the gang leader is incarcerated), to the gang members".

    LOGOS: "The DNA revealed the 'crime syndicate' - Gang with mafia standards".

    NIKI: "Political 'crash' in New Democracy (ruling party) - Cries of despair from ministers, MPs".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Dynamic popular response with demand of modern-day rights".

    TA NEA: "The revealing dialogues of the mafia".

    TO VIMA: "The 16-member crime ring broken up by EYP (National Information Service) undercover team".

    VRADYNI: "Blood code - In the inner sanctum of the underworld through the telephone discussions among the members of the Vlastos (inmate in Trikala prison believed to be the ring leader) gang".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [34] Cyprus and Armenia in favour of a modern Turkey joining the EU

    YEREVAN (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus and Armenia are clearly in favour of the accession of a modern Turkey to the EU, the Presidents of the two countries said here on Monday, after talks at the Presidential Palace.

    Responding to a question, at a joint press conference with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias said there are common positions on this issue with Sargsyan.

    Referring to the ongoing direct negotiations on the Cyprus question, Christofias said there are very important issues on which there is disagreement, adding that there is convergence on other issues.

    He said there is disagreement on the participation of the island's two communities in government, the right to property, the presence of the united federal Republic of Cyprus to the EU, financial issues and the presence of 160 thousand Turkish settlers on the island.

    Referring to the issue of security and guarantees, he said that "we look forward to seeing Turkey, as a modern state, understanding that it cannot hold the Republic of Cyprus a hostage.''

    Christofias said that bilateral relations in certain areas can be enhanced, noting that meetings between entrepreneurs must take place both in Nicosia and Yerevan and bilateral agreements must be signed the soonest possible.

    Armenia has a stable friend in the EU, a supporter on which it can rely, President Christofias said, adding that Armenia is in dialogue with the EU and implements plenty of programmes. Cyprus, he pointed out, is ready to help overcome any problems in this dialogue.

    Sargsyan underlined that if Turkey becomes an EU member, it will be a country with European values "and we want such a country next to us."

    President Christofias said that "we are in favour of the accession of a modernised Turkey with a European behaviour," noting that Turkey must not join the EU simply because it is a big country and a major market, but it must accept and implement the accession conditions and values of the EU.

    He noted that if Turkey wants to join the EU, it cannot continue to occupy part of an EU member state, not to recognize an EU member state and continue to hold its ports and airports closed to Cypriot vessels and airplanes.

    Christofias welcomed the initiative of his Armenian counterpart to smooth Armenia's relations with Turkey and noted that Turkey is a difficult interlocutor. He said there is no other alternative than the peaceful settlement of disputes, but this does not mean that either Cyprus or Armenia will abrogate their principles.

    The president said that Cyprus continues to condemn the Armenian genocide, adding that "I consider Turkish Cypriots as our brothers and children of the same country, but our neighboring country has no right to impose its will."

    The Armenian President said that Armenia and Cyprus support each other's positions on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Cyprus question and the settlement of problems through negotiations in the framework of international legitimacy.

    He also noted that Cyprus is a friendly country which opened its gates to the victims of the Armenian genocide and welcomed them with open arms.

    Sargsyan said that bilateral financial relations are not on the right level, adding that "we can do plenty of things" towards further developing these ties, adding that establishing an interstate committee is very important.

    He noted that cooperation with Cyprus gives a new impetus to cooperation between Armenia and European structures, adding that Armenia's participation in the Eastern Partnership opens new horizons for cooperation between Cyprus and Armenia.

    President Christofias invited the President of Armenia to pay an official visit to Cyprus.

    President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations with a view to reach a settlement of the problem of Cyprus divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    President Christofias says Turkey should recognise Armenian genocide

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has reiterated that the recognition of the Armenian genocide by Turkey would have a liberating effect on Turkey itself and would show that the country is on a course of modernisation.

    He added that the Republic of Cyprus will continue to support the people of Armenia and the country's government in efforts for the recognition of the genocide.

    President Christofias was speaking in Yerevan at the memorial for the victims of the genocide, where he laid a wreath. He also placed two white carnations at the inextinguishable flame and observed a minute of silence, and then planted a tree at the museum of the monument in memory of the victims.

    Speaking after the ceremony, President Christofias said it was unacceptable that Turkey, which is aspiring to become an EU member and wishes to create a modern state, continues to refuse to recognise the genocide.

    He noted that Cyprus is continuing its own struggle to reunite the island, which has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, and wishes to cultivate good neighbourly relations with Turkey, which should modernise its home and foreign policy in order to join the EU.

    President Christofias also signed the book of condolences at the memorial, in which he wrote that the condemnation of the Armenian genocide was a duty of the modern world in its whole.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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