|Monday, 19 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-08-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 27 August 2009 Issue No: 3281
 Foreign ministry spokesman on Rasmussen visitA foreign ministry spokesman on Wednesday said the process of preparing the NATO's new strategic doctrine, the alliance's operations and missions, primarily in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as efforts to confront piracy off Somalia will be on the agenda of talks between Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and new NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who arrives in Athens on Wednesday.
 Pavlopoulos praises local gov'ts for efforts to fight wildfiresInterior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday praised the contribution of local government authorities in the battle to contain wildfires across the country over the weekend, while addressing a KEDKE meeting.
"KEDKE, the union for local and municipal governments, is offering its own contribution, following a decision of its board, of 500,000 euros to fire-stricken areas, while the ministry will offer the same amount plus the 150,000 euros," Pavlopoulos said.
 PASOK sharply criticises gov't over wildfires, eco protectionA main opposition PASOK party spokesman reacted angrily on Wednesday afternoon to an earlier statement by the government spokesman regarding the wildfires and PASOK's scathing criticism, namely, over the comment that "populism is in PASOK's DNA."
PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou said that "within the DNA of the (ruling) New Democracy party lie incompetence, corruption and insensitivity," adding that "they did not even apologise; no one had the decency to assume the responsibilities, and they have the audacity to attack PASOK."
He further said that "what we are hearing from the government spokesman is unacceptable and insults the intelligence and the sensitivity of the Greek people."
Asked to comment on the measures taken by the government in the wake of the wildfires, Papaconstantinou said "some are self-evident, but the problem is the credibility that the government lost in 2007, seeing what happened in the affected regions. We have no confidence at all in the government that it is performing the task of reforestation, protection of the environment and the controlling of trespassing."
Queried over critical press reports concerning policies of past PASOK governments on the issue of forestland and environment protection of such areas, he said "the protection of the environment and applied rules is a complicated issue. The governments of PASOK took a series of measures to protect from trespassing. We are not claiming that we did everything correctly. Surely, the current situation is entirely different ... a new policy is now required for this and the policy whose focal element is 'green development' is part of this."
Asked if a PASOK government will "demolish unauthorised (illegally built) buildings in forests," he said "we are in favour of the strict observance of the law that concerns unauthorised buildings, therefore, yes."
Earlier, PASOK sector head and MP Haris Kastanidis charged that in "two years we have experienced an unbelievable ecological disaster with huge consequences" and accused the government of having "the absolute responsibility for these two huge ecological crimes, that of 2007 and of 2009."
He stressed that despite the fact that already since December 2006, the Ombudsman had sent a document to the then Development minister, according to which a precondition for the effective protection of forests is the preparation and issuing of forest maps, adding that "there was nothing that made us wiser."
In an unrelated issue and regarding the ongoing Siemens affair and a written reply sent on Tuesday to PASOK by the German attorney for one-time Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos, Papaconstantinou said "first of all it was a reply in a very regular tone. The reply confirms the correctness of our move and makes it clear that Mr. Christoforakos or his lawyer cannot produce evidence (of illegal contributions to political parties)."
Papaconstantinou stressed that PASOK feels vindicated and asked why "ND did not take the same challenge."
 Gov't: 'Populism in PASOK's DNA'The government spokesman responded sharply on Wednesday to main opposition PASOK party's heightened criticism over the state's response and coordination to a bevy of devastating wildfires over the weekend, with a government spokesman charging that "PASOK's theatrical self-control lasted for 48 hours, or less."
Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, in fact, said "populism appears to be part of PASOK's DNA".
"...The things ticked off by PASOK's leader and his leadership coterie is extremely dangerous. We will not follow him ... Their so-called responsible stance is merely baseless danger-mongering," Antonaros said during his regular press briefing.
In turning to the aftermath of the wildfires, the spokesman said a recording of damages has already begun, with the relevant environment and town planning ministry assuming the task.
Asked about the ever-present suspicions that the scores of wildfires that erupted within a four-day period owed mostly to arson, the spokesman said whenever evidence arises against individuals the latter are sent before the courts.
Along those lines, Antonaros noted that 10 case files were handed down on July 1, 2009 by the misdemeanors judicial council of Ilia prefecture for further investigation into the deadly fires of 2007 in the western Peloponnese.
"This issue belongs within the jurisdiction of the judicial system," he concluded.
 Call for Synaspismos congressThe president of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspimos), the leading grouping in the Parliament-represented Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), is expected to call for the holding of an extraordinary party congress in October.
Alexis Tsipras, who heads up Synaspismos but is not a Parliament deputy, will table the proposal at the party's central committee meeting on Saturday, he announced to members of another party meeting, by the political secretariat, on Wednesday.
The small leftist party's poor showing in the recent June Euro-elections, below 5 percent, and recent charges by a SYRIZA claiming that unnamed leftist politicians took money from Siemens Hellas in the late 1980s has generated friction between Synaspismos and SYRIZA cadres.
 Self-styled anarchists claim responsibility for firebombs against Greek embassy in BelgradeBELGRADE (ANA-MPA)
A self-styled anarchist group in Belgrade calling itself "Crni Ilija" (Black Sun) on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the tossing of two firebombs against the Greek embassy in the Serbian capital a day earlier.
According to a proclamation, published on a website, "the anarchists of Belgrade" decided to support "their Greek comrades in Greece and in the rest of the world" with solidarity actions in demand of the release of a Greek man remanded to custody for the urban riots in Athens last December. The latter remained on a hunger strike on Wednesday as part of his demand for a speedy trial.
Serbia's foreign ministry condemned the attack, while an investigation is continuing.
Meanwhile, in related development, the head of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party, Alexis Tsipras, visited the man identified by the group in Belgrade, Thodoris Iliopoulos, in an Athens hospital on Wednesday.
Iliopoulos is being treated in the hospital due to his more than month-long hunger strike, demanding that he be tried for the charges he faces. Iliopoulos has rejected the charges against him, filed after his arrest last December.
On his part, Tsipras called on the justice minister to immediately rule on the man's request for bail pending trial.
 Parliamentary Committee ratifies bill on compensation for victims of crimes of violenceA Parliamentary Committee ratified in principle on Wednesday a Justice Ministry bill concerning compensation for victims of intentional crimes of violence, harmonising Greek legislation with a relevant European directive.
Voting in favour of the bill were the ruling New Democracy party, the main opposition PASOK party and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) cast blank votes and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) declared itself "present".
 Cyprus FM in Athens next monthCyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou will visit Athens on Sept. 3, where he will have talks with his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis.
 Papandreou meets professionals' confederationMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday met with the board of Greece's Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE).
After the meeting, GSEVEE president Dimitris Asimakopoulos said Papandreou listened to their problems concerning the lack of liquidity in the market and consumption, as well as the problems of debt loads burdening professionals and self-employed individuals in the country.
"If we don't undertake measures we will face extreme situations and a major loss of job positions in the next six months," he said.
Later, Papandreou met with the board of the federation of chambers of commerce in the country, with officials later saying they pointed to the budget deficit and fiscal policy vis-ŗ-vis commitments to Brussels as their main concerns.
 Gov't eyes reduction in wasteful pharmaceutical spendingAn inter-ministerial committee on Wednesday approved measures aimed at a radical reduction of pharmaceuticals expenditures by state-run funds and the main IKA fund.
According to an economy and finance ministry announcement, the committee decided to implement a new system to verify and monitor medical prescriptions, as well as to restrict the costs of diagnostics and medical check ups.
 Nine candidates in Larco privatisationAn inter-ministerial privatisation commission meeting on Wednesday discussed the privatisation process for the Larco metals and mining company, presenting an evaluation report drafted by the government's financial and legal consultants in the sale.
The report advised that all nine participants in the tender fulfilled pre-selection criteria and will participate in the final stage of the tender.
The nine candidates are: Aktor SA, Cunico Resources NV (of the Netherlands), Fevamonitico SARL (Luxembourg), Hellenic Halyvourgia SA, Mytilineos Holdings SA, Panegean Ltd. (Cyprus -- a consortium between Glencore Int. and Swissmarine Inc.) -- Solway Industries Ltd. as well as an international investment bank and an international metals group that preferred anonymity at this stage of the process.
 SMEs see 200,000 jobs threatened this yearAround 200,000 jobs have been lost or are threatened in the country since the beginning of the year, a survey by the small enterprises' institute of the General Confederation of Small Manufacturers and Traders of Greece (GSEVEE) stated on Wednesday.
The survey, conducted by the MARC polling company, focused problems facing small enterprises because of the financial crisis and showed that job losses in the last six months totaled 85,250 in the country, while it predicted that another 90-100,000 job positions could be threatened by the end of the year.
GSEVEE also said that based on figures provided by the country's regional chambers, a difference between business closures and opening was narrowing mainly because business closures have risen lately. The survey also showed that 72 pct of enterprises reported a significant decline in demand despite the fact that 90 pct of them kept or lowered their prices and services this year, compared with 2008.
GSEVEE recommended changes in the operations of OAED, the Manpower Employment Organisation, and expressed its opposition to a government decision to hire private companies for tax inspections. A prolonged pre-election period, combined with uncertainty over the timing of the next general elections in the country, was also cited as another negative factor for business in the sector.
 Piraeus Bank reports improved Q2 resultsPiraeus Bank group on Wednesday said its first half pre-tax and provisions earnings fell 16 pct to 368 million euros, compared with the same period last year, while on a quarterly basis, earnings rose 48 pct to 76 million euros in the second quarter of the year, reflecting higher interest revenues and financial results.
The bank said provisions totaled 207 million euros, 2.5 times more compared with the same period in 2008, while net earnings to shareholders totaled 128 million euros, down 55 pct on an annual base, reflecting mainly a significant increase in provisions.
Net interest revenue fell 5.0 pct to 528 million euros in the six-month period, although they were up 7.0 pct in the second quarter (272 million euros), while net interest margin rose to 2.6 pct in the second quarter from 2.4 pct in the first quarter of 2009. Operating cost slowed to 1.0 pct despite a 5.0-pct increase in branch network, while the bank's assets totaled 54 billion euros, up 5.0 pct compared with the first six months of 2008.
Piraeus Bank said its cash flow improved after the successful securitization of two loans, totaling 1.625 billion euros (another securitization worth 3.45 billion euros was completed in August 2009 adding 1.9 billion euros to the bank's cash flow. The bank said its non-performing loan rate was 4.5 pct, while equity capital rose by 203 million euros in the second quarter of the year. The capital adequacy rate was 11.2 pct.
Saving deposits and retail bonds totaled 31.8 billion euros at the end of June, up 8.0 pct from last year, with domestic savings totaling 26.8 billion euros and savings abroad rise 2.0 pct to 5.0 billion euros.
The loan portfolio annual rate was 5.0 pct totaling 38.3 billion euros, with domestic loans rising 4.0 pct to 29.5 billion euros and loans abroad rising 4.0 pct to 6.1 billion euros.
Commenting on the results, Mihalis Sallas, the bank's chairman, said conditions in global economy remained difficult, however serious evidence of a gradual recovery and stabilization of markets emerged in the second quarter of the year.
"The bank's cash flow rose to around historic highs, non-performing loans were 4.5 pct and operating cost was 1.0 pct. These developments are creating a climate of cautious optimism and set the stage, combined with a more effective management and loan portfolio quality, to take advantage of future opportunities from a stronger position, he said.
 Heracles Group reports lower H1 results«eracles group of companies on Wednesday reported a 24.5-pct decline in first half sales to 269.5 million euros, compared with the same period in 2008, with parent sales falling 24.8 pct to 241.4 million euros.
The company attributed its results to a decline in cement and other building materials sales volume.
Gross profits margin was 20.2 pct for the group and 18.5 pct for the parent company in the first six months, down from 21.1 pct and 23.1 pct last year, respectively. Net consolidated after-tax profits totaled 11.3 million euros, down from 29 million euros in 2008, while parent net profits fell from 31 million euros in 2008 to 22.9 million euros in 2009.
 ATEbank reports improved H1 resultsATEbank on Wednesday reported a 1.8-pct increase in its consolidated after-tax and minorities earnings to 71.3 million euros in the first half of 2009, slightly up from 70.1 million euros last year, while the bank reported a 56.9-percent rise in profits to 84.7 million euros from 54 million euros in 2008.
Operating profits grew in the second quarter of the year despite a negative effect of Hellenic Sugar Industry's results, with net interest revenues up 8.4 pct in the January-June period to 338.8 million euros. The loan portfolio to households grew 19.1 pct (more than triple the average market growth rate of 6.2 pct) to 8.2 billion euros, with mortgage loans growing 15.7 pct to 6.5 billion euros, while consumer credit growth was 33.1 pct. ATEbank said loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises totaled 2.5 billion euros at the end of June, up 61.6 pct from last year.
Despite adverse financial conditions, the non-performing loans rate was 7.0 pct in the first half, slightly down from a 7.3 pct reading in the first half of 2008, while provisions rose to 85.9 million euros in the second quarter, from 56.8 million euros in the first quarter of 2009. The bank said saving deposits totaled 21.1 billion euros, up 5.2 pct from last year.
Commenting on the results, Dimitris Miliakos, the bank's chairman, said he was confident that the bank would exceed its goal of a 10 pct growth rate in loans this year.
 Aegean Airlines eyes remote isle routesAegean Airlines on Wednesday officially announced the carrier's participation in a tender to operate 17 regular flights to remote island airports in the country.
The remote flight schedule includes the islands of Astypalea, Ikaria, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kythira, Sitia (Crete), Skiathos and Skyros as well as the routes Aktio-Sitia, Alexandroupoli-Sitia, Corfu-Aktio-Cephallonia-Zakynthos, Limnos-Mytilene-Hios-Samos-Rhodes and flights from Thessaloniki to Kalamata, Corfu, Samos, Skyros and Hios.
Aegean Airlines said it will service these routes with its Avro RJ 100 and ATR 72-500 aircraft.
 Mutual funds assets up 6.45%Greece's mutual funds assets grew 6.45 percent so far this year to 11 billion euros, official figures said on Wednesday. EFG Mutual Funds Management, a member of Eurobank Group, with a market share of 24.36 pct, was the largest player in the mutual funds market, followed by National Asset Management (17.79 pct), Alpha Asset Management (16.80 pct).
 Stocks end 1.59% higherGreek stocks jumped 1.59 pct higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with the composite index of the market ending at 2,545.67 points in heavy trading. Turnover was 300.8 million euros, of which 14.2 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Utilities (4.24 pct), Banks (3.83 pct), Food/Beverage (1.74 pct) and Healthcare (1.68 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (4.14 pct), Travel (3.33 pct), Financial Services (2.86 pct) and Telecommunications (1.87 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.03 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell 0.09 pct and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.89 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 121 to 95 with another 50 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.75%
Personal & Household: +0.48%
Raw Materials: -0.94%
Travel & Leisure: -3.33%
Food & Beverages: +1.74%
Financial Services: -2.86%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 12.00
Public Power Corp (PPC): 16.99
HBC Coca Cola: 15.88
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.21
National Bank of Greece: 23.60
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.97
Bank of Piraeus: 11.51
 ADEX closing report‘he September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a small premium (0.15 pct) in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising slightly to 66.885 million euros.
Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,398 contracts worth 43.089 million euros, with 21,710 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,561 contracts worth 23.796 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (4,890) followed by OTE (1,305), PPC (1,226), OPAP (2,103), Piraeus Bank (2,653), National Bank (2,089), Alpha Bank (3,664) and Cyprus Bank (1,133).
 Greek bond market closing report‘urnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.964 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 831 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.133 billion euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.562 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year benchmark Greek and German bonds was 119 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.43 pct and the German Bund 3.24 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.31 pct, the six-month rate 1.0.9 pct, the three-month rate 0.83 pct and the one-month rate 0.49 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.438
Pound sterling 0.885
Danish kroner 7.502
Swedish kroner 10.225
Japanese yen 135.39
Swiss franc 1.531
Norwegian kroner 8.693
Canadian dollar 1.569
Australian dollar 1.73
 Suspect killed during armed robberyAn armed robber was gunned down on Wednesday during an attempted heist of an Emporiki Bank in Arta, northwest Greece, during a shootout with police. Two police officers were slightly injured in the legs, while another suspect was arrested. Two other suspects fled and are wanted by police.
 Another fatal accident reported at LarcoAn explosion at the Larco metal and mining plant in central Greece left one worker dead on Wednesday and another three injured, including one man in critical condition from serious burns.
The incident comes on the heels of another fatal accident this month at the plant, near the city of Lamia, when a 36-year-old worker was killed.
Police later arrested seven Larco executives and foremen at the plant following an order by a Lamia misdemeanor courts' prosecutor. All seven were taken to a nearby police precinct in the town of Larymna.
 Wildfire in N. Greece immediately extinguishedA wildfire that erupted on Tuesday evening near the Lefki site outside the port city of Kavala, northeast Greece, was set under control. The blaze only burned brushland.
 Metro to resume airport routeThe Athens metro route (Line 3 or "Blue Line") that reaches the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport of Athens will resume service by the end of the month, after being interrupted for six months to enable construction of three new metro stations on the same line -- Nomismatokopio, Holargos and Aghia Paraskevi.
Only the Nomismatokopio (state mint) station is expected to operate at this stage, while the other two stations will be inaugurated at a later date.
 Meeting on TIF security measuresAuthorities in Thessaloniki on Wednesday convened at the Macedonia-Thrace ministry to focus on security measures for the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
Police officials called on protesters and protest organisers to contribute to TIF's smooth operation by respecting the institution and safeguarding their mobilisations.
 NCO killed after tank overturnsA 31-year-old army NCO was fatally injured on Tuesday evening in northeastern Evros prefecture after an armored vehicle he was riding in veered off its course and overturned.
The accident occurred in the Protokklissi area of Evros, a border prefecture.
According to reports, the victim, a sergeant major in command of the "Leopard 1 A5" tank, died when the vehicle overturned as it was returning from a military exercise. The remaining three members of the crew were reported in good health.
 Firebombings in ThessalonikiUnknown individuals set-off a series of home-made explosive devices comprised of camping gas canisters early morning Wednesday in Thessaloniki.
According to the fire brigade, the first device was placed under an Alumil company car, which was parked in the Ano Poli district. The second device was placed under a Neapolis municipality patrol car while the third device was placed under a parked car in the Ano Poli district. Only material damages were reported.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 16C and 34C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 21C to 32C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 30C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's measures to support the fire stricken and recovery of NE Attica's natural environment along with the annual announcement of local university entry scores dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Rise in all colleges entry scores".
APOGEVMATINI: "31,650 job opportunities in public sector".
AVGHI: "Forest protection depends on our patriotism".
AVRIANI: "Minister George Souflias on construction of new roads and fire belts".
ELEFTHEROS: "Industrialists and professionals to PM Costas Karamanlis: Enough! Take measures for society and enterprises".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "You were burned too, Dear ministers".
ESTIA: "Political alibi for forests".
ETHNOS: "Main college entry scores skyrocket".
KATHIMERINI: "Why Attica will never again be the same".
NIKI: "How the ashes will become expensive land".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party on wildfires: Policy and demand for people, protection of forests and land".
TA NEA: "Ashes in eyes with measures from ... 2007".
VIMA: "Back stabbing in the ashes".
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