|Monday, 19 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-08-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 28 August 2009 Issue No: 3282
 PM receives new NATO chief RasmussenPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday received the NATO alliance's new general secretary, former Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen, at his Maximos Mansion office in Athens, with talks expectedly focusing on deliberations over NATO's new strategic doctrine.
In reference to the latter, Karamanlis emphasised that Greece will actively participate in talks and the process to formulate a new doctrine for the alliance.
"We also discussed the situation in Afghanistan after the recent presidential elections there. And, of course, we discussed the very significant ISAF force (in Afghanistan), which is under NATO command," Karamanlis said.
In reference to the issue of NATO relations with Russia, the Greek PM said he and the NATO chief agreed completely over the need to upgrade this relationship into one of the alliance's priorities, while reiterating that Athens is in favour of utilising all mechanisms towards better cooperation and dialogue, "even on issues when the views of the two sides are not necessarily identical."
Moreover, Karamanlis repeated that Athens wholly backs cooperation with countries of the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Istanbul Initiative.
In response to a press question referring to prospects for greater EU-NATO cooperation, Karamanlis -- in an indirect reference to EU member-state Cyprus and standing objections by NATO member and EU hopeful Turkey -- emphasised that "when NATO pursues greater cooperation with the EU it is self-evident that this will be with all (of the EU's) members. "Common sense, implementation of agreements and respect of International Law are three elements that are sufficient to heighten cooperation between the two organisations. Of course, this entails goodwill," he added.
On his part, Rasmussen said he is aware of the political parameters on this specific issue, reminding that an EU-NATO security agreement has still not been achieved.
The former Danish premier thanked Greece for the country's contribution to NATO missions in Afghanistan, in the Balkans and in the fight against piracy on the high seas.
In reference to the Balkans, Rasmussen expressed a hope that Greece continues its active participation, citing a region that is not yet "fully stabilised" and that Athens could take a leading role within the EU and alliance framework so that all Balkans countries are absorbed into Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Among others, Rasmussen said that was one of his tasks, namely, to see all Balkan countries in Euro-Atlantic structures in the next few years.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was also present during the Karamanlis-Rasmussen meeting
Meeting with DM
Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis also met with the visiting NATO general secretary, according to a ministry announcement.
During talks, the two men exchanged a variety of views on issues concerning the alliance and especially its future prospects.
The also discussed the future of NATO new strategic doctrine, NATO-EU relations and security issues in Greece's wider region.
SHAPE MoU ratified
In a related development, Parliament deputies on Thursday ratified a MoU between Greece's defence ministry and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) regarding cooperation by the latter with the Athens Multinational Sealift Coordination Centre (AMSCC).
MPs from ruling New Democracy, main opposition PASOK and the LA.OS party voted in favour, while the Communist Party (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) voted against.
KKE reaction to Rasmussen visit
Finally, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday again reiterated its call for the country's complete departure from NATO and what it called "imperialistic organisations".
 PM Karamanlis holds talks with GSEE directoratePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis held talks with the directorate of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) at the Maximos Mansion on Thursday.
Speaking after the meeting, GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos said that "before going into the hall to meet the prime minister, one of your colleagues asked me if I was carrying a small basket. I told him that I was not carrying any basket. And, unfortunately, I was right."
Panagopoulos added that "the last statement by the prime minister was that we are moving ahead tightly in the near future. Meaning that there are no necessary measures for wage earners, pensioners and the unemployed who are not suffering from the international crisis, that from what we understand they discovered six months later, but from the economic policy being implemented."
Panagopoulos also revealed that after the rally to be held at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), he will convene the Confederation's bodies and propose a general strike.
Replying to a question by the press whether he asked the prime minister if elections will be held, Panagopoulos replied "it is not up to us to ask if elections will take place, but we are certain that the solution will ultimately be given by the people."
 PM Karamanlis holds talks with directorate of Federation of Greek IndustriesPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis held talks with the directorate of the Federation of Greek Industries at the Maximos Mansion on Thursday.
Federation President D. Daskalopoulos said that he reiterated the position to the prime minister that the economy's structural problems are tackled with structural measures, with an integrated reforms programme.
Daskalopoulos added that the answers will be provided by the prime minister and, after being asked, he said that they did not discuss the issue of elections at all. He stressed that talk of elections must stop and one must act in accordance with the country's major problems.
He further said that he submitted 10 measures to the prime minister, that are being proposed by the Federation to handle unemployment, underlining that many businesses have closed down in 2009 and many working people have lost their jobs and 2010 will be even more difficult.
 Papandreou with social partners, unionsMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou met on Thursday with the board of ADEDY, the union representing Greece's civil servants, ahead of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF). After the meeting, ADEDY president Spyros Papaspyrou said "we, the unions, demand policies that will take us out of the condition of bankrupcy and take us back to the '60s".
Papaspyrou said the ADEDY council will confer on Friday to decide over the mobilisations that will take place during TIF in Thessaloniki.
During a later meeting, General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Yiannis Panagopoulos, speaking after his meeting with Papandreou, said that "the meeting with the leader of the main opposition party was held in a supposed election period and it is evident that this political period will be having clearer characteristics at this TIF. For this reason, we did not request the typical assistance of the main opposition party that is contesting power, but we called for, on the basis of all the factors, commitments on all issues concerning labour: Income, labour relations, social security."
He added that "the president of PASOK promised to us that everything that he has announced at times regarding anti-labour and anti-social iunsurance laws and the abolition of the law concerning public utilities are valid in full" and that "he also told us that, apart from the major first stage demand of redistribution for the benefit of the many, he will promote a new growth model focusing on the working man."
 Gov't on wildfires, Siemens, PASOKGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday announced that meetings between the prime minister and social partners, in light of the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), will continue on Friday, Monday and Tuesday.
Asked whether the prime minister will be taking initiatives amid plans for union mobilisations, Antonaros said the government takes initiatives that are feasible, within the framework of the country's economic possibilities.
In response to a question on scathing criticism by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Antonaros urged the latter, "who has a good knowledge of the English language", and to read the latest edition of the "Economist" and the statistics featured on the last page.
The spokesman said Mr. Papandreou will ascertain that the country, compared with other countries, has the smallest deviation in the predictions for the growth rate, from the real one.
"All this did not take place with a magic wand," he further said, and pointed out that those who have been pretending for months that there is no international economic crisis must not pretend not to understand.
"Unless Mr. Papandreou and his leadership group have returned to their old position that there is no international economic crisis," he said.
Antonaros also announced that a meeting was held at the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Ministry under the chairmanship of George Souflias on immediate and necessary action for essential flood-protection and anti-corrosion projects to go ahead with the fewest possible administrative procedures.
He also said that Souflias communicated with the military chief and asked for aerial photos of the affected regions to go ahead.
On the question of water quality from Marathon Lake, he said that from the very first day Souflias had requested from the EYDAP water supply service to intensify checks and clarified that analyses and data at the disposal of all show that the quality of water remains excellent.
"Our position is clear. The owners of unauthorised buildings will not be compensated," he also clarified when asked.
Questioned over a letter given by the lawyers of Mihalis Christoforakos to PASOK, the government spokesman stressed that if one reads it he will ascertain a great contrariety between the text of the letter, the introduction made by PASOK's press office and the real incidents that the main opposition PASOK party has invoked.
"This method of presenting a letter of reply, as well as the supposed presence that PASOK had invoked to write its own letter shows that there were certain thoughts behind this entire story," he said, adding that the result is that Papandreou chose with his party's seal to become the interlocutor of a defendant sought by our country.
The letter, he further said, does not say what PASOK is claiming, that there is no evidence.
 KKE leader tours fire-stricken areas of ViotiaCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, who toured wildfire-strickent areas in the prefecture of Viotia on Thursday, charged that "the period of innocence is long over. The problem of wildfires is also a problem of arson that is linked to major (business) interests regardless of who is the natural perpetrator."
Papariga added that "there is also another aspect: It has been proved that a policy that we have known for years, that serves profits above all never has money for a high-level political protection for the relief of working people. Stingyness always concerns the working people."
 SYRIZA on Korovesis issueThe Parliamentary Group and the members of the Radical Left Coalition's (SYRIZA) Secretariat consider the issue created through statements by deputy Pericles Korovesis, concerning the involvement of the Left in the Siemens scandal, as being over.
A statement read by Parliamentary Group President Alekos Alavanos said that "the Parliamentary Group and the members of the Secretariat of SYRIZA carried out a substantive and in-depth discussion at which the categorical disagreement and opposition to the content of the controversial statements by Pericles Korovesis was mutually expressed."
It added that "following the explanations provided by Pericles that, apart from unfortunate remarks, he did not have the intention of harming the moral and historic course of persons and parties of the Left, the Parliamentary Group considers the issue as being over."
 Athens Chamber urges consensus for new economic policies‘he consensus and cooperation of all political forces, social partners and citizens is needed immediately to deal drastically and effectively with the chronic disadvantages of the Greek economy, ◊ostas Mihalos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Mihalos unveiled the chamber's priorities for the national economy to return to positive growth rates. He said that the chamber has already sent a memorandum to both the government and main opposition parties and stressed that "the country cannot hope on a dividend from a recovery of the global economy unless it dealt, drastically and effectively, with its chronic disadvantages, such as low competitiveness, fragmentation of markets and low efficiency of the public sector".
Mihalos said the country's future would depend on the decisions to be taken currently. And these decisions must be the product of cooperation and consensus.
He underlined that the Chamber supported the introduction of brave and decisive policies to strengthen the Greek and economy and more particularly the exporting sectors.
 Credit growth slows in JulyCredit expansion slowed further in July, with the annual growth rate of funding to enterprises and households falling to 6.6 pct, from 7.4 pct in June 2009 and 15.9 pct in December 2008, reflecting slower credit expansion both to enterprises and households.
Net new funding to domestic enterprises totaled 464 million euros in July, for an annual growth rate of 7.9 pct, down from 8.6 pct in June and 18.7 pct in December 2008. Credit expansion grew significantly towards the communications and transport sectors -excluding shipping, it was unchanged in the farm sector and slowed to all other sectors. Credit growth to the manufacturing sector fell to 0.9 pct in July, from 2.5 pct in June and 15.8 pct in December 2008, in the commerce sector annual growth slowed to 10.0 pct in July, from 10.9 pct in June and 19.5 pct in December and in the construction sectors it fell to 9.4 pct in July from 10.8 pct in June and 35.2 pct in December 2008.
Net new funding to Greek households totaled 383 million euros in July, for an annual growth rate of 5.2 pct, from 6.2 pct in June and 12.8 pct in December 2008. Mortgage loans totaled 329 million euros for an annual growth rate of 5.2 pct in July (6.0 pct in June and 11.5 pct in December 2008), while consumer loans totaled 115 million euros for an annual growth rate of 5.8 pct in July (7.1 pct in June and 16.0 pct in December 2008). Other loans to households fell by 63 million euros for an annual growth rate of -1.2 pct in July (0.9 pct in June and 9.5 pct in December 2008).
 Marfin Popular Bank net profit up 26% in Q2Marfin Popular Bank on Thursday reported a 26-pct increase in net profits to 50.3 million euros in the second quarter of 2009, compared with the first quarter of the year, reflecting a significant increase in operating revenues and lower operating costs.
Pre-provision profits jumped 46 pct to 131.1 million euros, while net earnings to shareholders totaled 90.3 million euros with provisions more than triple to 123.6 million euros.
Loans totaled 24.1 billion euros, for an annual growth rate of 24 pct while saving deposits grew 5.0 pct to 24.9 billion euros.
Marfin Popular Bank Group said assets totaled 42 billion euros, up 21 pct compared with the same period last year, while pre-provision earnings for the first quarter totaled 221 million euros, down 24 pct from 2008.
Group liquidity remained at extremely good levels with the lending to deposit rate at 96.5 pct in June. Group loans outside Greece and Cyprus totaled 2.9 billion euros, of 11 pct of total lending, of which 96 pct were in developed countries.
The non-performing loans rate rose to 5.9 pct in June 30, from 4.5 pct last year.
Efthymios Bouloutas, MPB's chief executive, commenting on the results said a significant improvement in the second quarter of the year reflected a prudent management of assets and the implementation of a cost cutting program. The bank, however, noted that given the uncertainty surrounding the economic and business environment in the aftermath of a global financial crisis, was making it difficult to forecast future profitability and noted that a business plan for the period 2009-2010 was aborted.
 Hellenic Petroleum reports improved H1 results«ellenic Petroleum Group on Thursday reported a 6.0-pct increase in its comparable net profits to 114 million euros in the first half of 2009, compared with the corresponding period last year, reflecting higher average refinining margins, a stronger US dollar and the results of a restructuring programme.
The group, in a statement, said operating results improved in the first quarter, but a negative economic environment affected its performance in the second quarter of the year.
Pre-tax, interest and amortisation earnings (EBITDA) rose 24 pct in the January-June period to 215 million euros, on a comparable base. The refining and distribution sector reported a 35 pct increase in EBITDA to 173 million euros, while in the distribution sector EBITDA rose 11 pct despite a decline in sales in aviation and shipping fuel. The petrochemicals sector suffered from an international financial recession.
Parent net profits fell 17.8 pct in the second quarter to 106 million euros, slightly above market expectations, reflecting lower oil prices in international markets. Hellenic Petroleum's board approved payment of 0.15 euros per share pre-dividend to shareholders.
Commenting on the results, Yiannis Costopoulos, the group's chief executive, said Hellenic Petroleum managed to improve its competitiveness and profitability in adverse market conditions.
 PPC reports strong H1 profitsPublic Power Corp. (PPC) on Thursday reported net profits totaling 412.1 million euros in the first half of 2009, reversing a loss of 111.8 million euros in the same period last year. PPC said pre-tax, interest and amortisation earnings (EBITDA) jumped to 898.8 million euros in the January-June period from 222.2 million euros in 2008. PPC, state-run Greece's power utility, also said pre-tax profits totaled 557.4 million euros in the first six months of the year, after losses of 115 million euros in 2008.
PPC said demand for electricity fell in the first half of 2009, along with a significant decline in spending on fuels. Revenues rose 5.9 pct to 2.9 billion euros, reflecting a 7.3 pct rise in electricity rates, despite a 4.9 pct decline in energy sales to the industrial and agricultural sectors.
Commenting on the results, P. Athanasopoulos, PPC's chairman and chief executive, said the first half of 2009 was very profitable, reflecting the impact of positive factors, such as a drastic fall in oil prices and energy markets and higher hydroelectric production. These developments highlighted PPC's vulnerability to outside fluctuations.
 Pireaus Port reports 32.3% rise in H1 turnoverThe Piraeus Port Authority on Thursday reported a 32.31-pct increase in its six-month turnover to 61.07 million euros, up from 46.16 million euros last year, reflecting higher cargo traffic, which led to a 102.17-pct jump in revenues.
The company said its car terminal business reported a 50.63-pct drop in revenues in the January-June period because of a recession in the car industry, while other operating revenues fell 15.43 pct to 3.43 million euros.
Spending rose 13.51 pct to 61.47 million euros, reflecting higher payroll expenses. Amortization of fixed assets, integrated in the operating costs, rose 1.20 pct to 5.15 million euros, while net financial results were down 35.91 pct. Net pre-tax results totaled 3.24 million euros, after a loss of 3.62 million euros last year.
 Vivartia Group reports improved H1 resultsVivartia Group on Thursday reported improved results for the first half of the year, with consolidated sales rising 11.3 pct to 704.2 million euros, from 632.6 million euros in the same period in 2008 - reflecting partly the integration of Everest and Nonni's - while consolidated pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) rose 18.3 pct to 64.1 million euros, from 54.2 million euros last year.
Consolidated after tax and minorities results showed a loss of 1.68 million euros in the first six months of 2009, after a loss of 2.76 million euros last year, an improvement of 39.1 pct.
Commenting on the results, Spyros Theodoropoulos, Vivartia's chief executive, said the group managed to improve its results in a difficult and uncertain environment.
 Stocks end flat on Thurs.Greek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as a wave of profit taking in other European markets put the brakes to a seven-day rally of prices. The composite index eased 0.05 pct to end at 2,544.45 points, with turnover a heavy 307.7 million euros, of which 19.2 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved downwards, with the Constructions (3.02 pct), Raw Materials (2.54 pct) and Utilities (2.37 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Oil (2.24 pct), Telecoms (1.90 pct), Food/Beverage (1.35 pct) and Chemicals (1.27 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index eased 0.01 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.50 pct down and the FTSE 80 index fell 1.20 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 159 to 55 with another 47 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.24%
Personal & Household: -1.13%
Raw Materials: -2.54%
Travel & Leisure: +0.16%
Food & Beverages: +1.35%
Financial Services: -0.05%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 12.34
Public Power Corp (PPC): 16.52
HBC Coca Cola: 16.13
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.27
National Bank of Greece: 23.70
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.82
Bank of Piraeus: 11.40
 ADEX closing report‘he September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 92.035 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,482 contracts worth 64.153 million euros, with 22,486 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 24,681 contracts worth 27.882 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,456), followed by Eurobank (1,372), MIG (1,097), OTE (1,936), PPC (1,666), OPAP (1,147), Piraeus Bank (3,195), Alpha Bank (1,573), Marfin Popular Bank (2,903), Cyprus Bank (1,045) and GEK (961).
 Greek bond market closing report‘urnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 3.318 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.766 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.552 billion were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 2.842 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 120 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.43 pct and the German Bund 3.23 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.31 pct, the six-month rate 1.09 pct, the three-month rate 0.83 pct and the one-month rate 0.49 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.438
Pound sterling 0.887
Danish kroner 7.503
Swedish kroner 10.242
Japanese yen 134.68
Swiss franc 1.535
Norwegian kroner 8.713
Canadian dollar 1.572
Australian dollar 1.723
 Firefighting plane crashes on CephalloniaA fire-fighting aircraft crashed on the Ionian island of Cephallonia on Thursday, killing the pilot of the aircraft. The 55-year-old pilot's body was later collected by the crew of a rescue helicopter.
The single-engine Polish-made PZL (M-18 Dromader) returning from a fire-fighting mission in the Katelio region of Cephallonia. The accident was recorded at 12:54 p.m. (local time).
The veteran pilot was identified as Stergios Kotoulas.
President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou later issued their condolences over the pilot's loss.
"Allow me to express my deepest sorrow and grief and to send my condolences for the loss of the pilot, who died in the line of duty," the PM said.
Finally, Parliament on Thursday paid homage to air force officer Kotoulas, with Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas expressing his profound grief on behalf of the legislature.
"He fell at a time of duty, carrying out his mission with self-denial. His contribution to society in its entirety and to our country will be an eternal title of honour," Sioufas said.
 Wildfire on remote part of ParosA wildfire erupted on Thursday in the area of Aspro Horio on the Cyclades island of Paros. Four fire engines, one firefighting aircraft and one water-dropping helicopter were dispatched to the scene, as the blaze was reported in an arid area of mostly brush and weeds.
 Acropolis Museum visitor figuresVisitors to the new Acropolis Museum have reached half a million, only two months after its inauguration, with 60 percent of visitors hailing from foreign countries.
The culture ministry publicised the figures on Thursday according to which, and over the same period, the museum's website was accessed by 409,000 different Internet users from 180 countries.
 Iliopoulos to be releasedThodoros Iliopoulos, the only defendant kept in detention so far, from those arrested during urban rioting occurring in downtown Athens last December will be freed, by virtue of a court ruling.
The ruling replaces his temporary detention with the restrictive terms of appearing at a police station every 15 days and a ban on his leaving the country.
The man began a hunger strike 49 days ago and is being treated at an Athens hospital due to the worsening state of his health.
 Migrant smuggling arrestsTwo local men were arrested on Thursday in Derveni, northern Greece, on migrant smuggling charges. According to police, the suspects transported 28 Third World illegal migrants from the Kipi boader post to Athens via Thessaloniki.
The illegal migrants, according to their statements, paid US$ 6,000 to 8,000 to be illegally smuggled into Greece from Turkey and then on to Athens.
 Olympiakos to play Arsenal, Alkmaar and Standard Liege in Champions LeagueGreek soccer champion Olympiakos Piraeus will be playing in Group H of the European Champions League in the 2009-2010 season, following the draw taking place in Monaco on Thursday. Arsenal from England and the champions of the Netherlands and Belgium, Alkmaar and Standard Liege respectively, will also be participating in the same group.
 Fair on FridayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 15C and 35C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 33C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 20C to 32C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceClashes between government and main opposition PASOK over the wildfires, recurring press speculation over a cabinet reshuffle and a fatal labour accident ( the second in August) at the Larco metals plant, dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "20,000 hirings in municipalities starting from October".
APOGEVMATINI: "Karamanlis preparing something".
AVGHI: "Dying in Larco"
AVRIANI: "Karamanlis takes initiative to reverse adverse situation for government".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Wildfires reversed Karamanlis' plans for autumn".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Government burns in ashes".
ESTIA: "Adverse climate in economy - Government and opposition stance".
ETHNOS: "Prime Minister in search of a passport for Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF)".
KATHIMERINI: "Ministers recommend cabinet reshuffle and early elections".
LOGOS: "Government and PASOK's 'theatre of the absurd' over the ashes".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Brutal crime in Larco leaves one worker dead and four injured".
TA NEA: "Pressure for reshuffle - Wildfires speed up developments".
VIMA: "Dead end - Karamanlis before impasse".
VRADYNI: "Political planning was only on paper".
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