|Friday, 20 July 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-10-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 9 October 2009 Issue No: 3318
 Government holds first meeting on economyGreek Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou on Thursday said the country's economic problems and dynamism were both known and noted that the Prime Minister would present the government's economic policy during his policy statement in Parliament.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting between Prime Minister G.A. Papandreou, with Bank of Greece's governor George Provopoulos, the government's vice-president Theodore Pangalos and Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louca Katseli, Papakonstantinou said the case of the Greek economy was too serious to talk about deficit numbers after meetings, while he noted that many more such meetings would be held as the Prime Minister will be closely monitoring economic developments.
The Greek minister said the government will timely publish all data regarding the country's fiscal deficit, while he stressed that Bank of Greece's governor's role is to recommend a series of economic measures but the government was responsible of taking decisions and actions.
Bank of Greece's governor, G. Provopoulos, speaking to reporters, said he had a detailed discussion with the Prime Minister and his economic staff. He said he briefed them over discussions made during an IMF meeting in Istanbul and over fiscal developments in the country, which he described as worrying. Provopoulos said that the Prime Minister was greately emphasizing on economic issues and particularly on ways to effectively deal with all economic problems.
PM Papandreou to visit Cyprus on Oct. 19
Prime Minister George Papandreou will make his first formal visit to Cyprus on Monday, Oct. 19.
 Papandreou to attend SEECP ministers' meeting in TurkeyGreek Prime Minister and foreign minister George Papandreou will be attending the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP) foreign ministers' meeting taking place in Istanbul on Friday, Greek authorities announced on Thursday.
The premier will also meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, while after the SEECP session he will hold talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 New DM issues Order of the DayNew defence minister Evangelos Venizelos, stressed that the deterrent force of the Armed Forces comprised the nucleus of Greece's national sovereignty, but also the most efficient means for safeguarding peace and ensuring respect of international law, in an Order of the Day to the Armed Forces issued on Wednesday on the occasion of his assumption of the ministry.
Venizelos said that the constant training, modern equipment and high morale of the Armed Forces comprised the basic triptych of their operation.
He further noted that the monies self-sacrificingly paid by the Greek people to fortify the country must be put to good use with the maximum possible efficiency and under conditions of absolute transparency.
The defence minister assured that his mission at the ministry was, together with alternate minister Panos Beglitis, to guarantee meritocracy, professionalism and equality at all levels.
 Infrastructure, Environment ministers take up their postsThe new minister of Infrastructure, Transports and Networks, Dimitris Reppas, on Thursday said that a more objective format for assigning the studies for public works projects is being sought, and stressed that the ministry's new leadership will utilise the staff in the best possible way.
Reppas and his deputy ministers Yiannis Magriotis and Nikos Sifounakis held meetings at the two former ministries -- the ministry of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works (YPECHODE) and the ministry of Transport and Communication -- with the various department directors and staff following their partial merger into a single ministry: Infrastructure, Transports and Networks
The environment portfolio of the former YPECHODE was upgraded into an independent ministry by Greece's new prime minister George Papandreou, and Environment minister Dina Birbili and deputy ministers Yiannis Maniatis and Thanos Moraitis arrived early on Thursday to take up their posts.
Birbili had a series of meetings with the ministry's directors and staff.
 First decisions announced at Infrastructure, transport and networks ministryThe leadership of the new Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Ministry announced its first decisions on Thursday, after being briefed by their predecessors at the former transport and communications ministry and at the former public works ministry.
The new minister Dimitris Reppas and deputy minister Nikos Sifounakis and Yiannis Magriotis began work at the former transport ministry early on Thursday morning and by the afternoon had already announced the first decisions on procedural issues.
These included the start of the process to proclaim the positions for new ministry general secretaries on Friday, while Reppas asked the existing general secretaries to remain in their post but to not sign decisions and confine themselves to providing briefings.
The minister also asked to be briefed on the ministries updated programmes, the abolition of committees with highly paid members, that no funds be released for projects announced before the elections and the drafting of a memorandum listing the ministry's priorities, in view of the government's statement of its policy platform.
At the public works departments of the former environment, town planning and public works ministry, Reppas said that each ministry had to prepare a memorandum for the premier's office listing its activities and political initiatives it intended to take.
He said that the party's programme had focused on measures that will make the system for awarding public works contracts more objective, protect the public interest and ensure that projects were carried out efficiently and on schedule and within specifications for quality.
The minister also stressed that the party intended to follow its pre-election promises to the letter, especially those about filling politically responsible posts through open procedures in which the best and not "best-liked" candidates for the job were selected.
He said one of the priorities of the infrastructure ministry would be ways to reduce the high cost of road tolls without affecting the companies that had undertaken the projects through concession contracts. Another would be to find funds in the budget that had not been absored by the former environment ministry due to state deficits in order to carry out various projects.
 Health minister urges closer monitoring of novel flu in schoolsThe new health minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou on Thursday noted the need for closer supervision and monitoring of the spread of novel influenza in schools, after a meeting with the National Operational Scientific Council for monitoring the disease's progress in Greece.
The minister said that emphasis will be given to control and the criteria for taking measures in schools, adding that Greece needed to step up the alert.
Regarding the vaccination programme, she said that final decisions will bemade after a meeting of European Union health minister taking place next week, adding that preparations for the start of a vaccination programme in Greece was continuing.
On the abolition of committees operating under the framework of the ministry, Xenoyiannakopoulou said that there were clear orders from Prime Minister George Papandreou to his ministers, instructing them to ask for the resignations of committee members at ministries.
 ND meeting on upcoming conference on FridayThere will be a meeting on Friday of the organisational committee for main opposition New Democracy's Extraordinary Conference, which will convene on November 7 to elect a new leader for the party. The organisational committee will meet at noon at ND headquarters and be chaired by Dimitris Sioufas.
Meanwhile, ND Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis in statements on Thursday said he was in favour of increasing the number of electors, saying that "the more people participate in the process for electing a leader, the better it will be".
At the same time, he pointed out that any decision to change the way of electing the party leader can only be made or approved by the party conference.
Two former high-profile ministers considered to be "in the running" for the post of ND's leadership, Dora Bakoyannis and Dimitris Avramopoulos, also voiced support for the election of the new president by the party rank and file on Thursday.
Bakoyannis noted that, since 2000, she has been in favor of election of the party leader by the rank and file, but stressed that the party has a Charter and this could not be disregarded.
However, she added, she would be in agreement with any proposal for broadening the electoral body.
Former health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos also recalled an older proposal of his for election of the ND leader by the ND rank and file, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Karamanlis to discuss issues related to the upcoming Congress.
The only candidate so far for ND's leadership, Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis, on Thursday appealed to Costas Karamanlis to remain president of the party.
He stressed that he was not backing down from his bid to become ND leader on November 7 but noted that he was "in favour of a single candidacy that can keep the party united and rekindle our hopes".
Psomiadis also called for the election of the new party president by all the party's members: "
"I am very angry. It is time for the masks to fall. We must not go to a conference of simple succession but also be able to voice our criticism. It is imperative that we go to an open conference. It is not possible for the party's future to be determined by those members whose behaviour cast us into the nets of PASOK," he said.
 ND cadres endorse election of party leader by rank and fileTwo former high-profile ministers in the preding New Democracy (ND) government, and current MPs, on Thursday proposed that the new party leader should be elected by the party's rank and file.
An extraordinary ND Congress has been called for November 7 to elect a new party leader following former prime minister Costas Karamanlis' resignation from the party helm following a crushing defeat in general elections.
Former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis noted that ND had suffered a heavy defeat in last Sunday's elections, and consequently it was only logical that there was concern and perhaps even tension.
The aim, she added, was a speedy restructuring of the party so that it could fulfill its role as a strong and credible main opposition party.
Bakoyannis noted that, since 2000, she has been in favor of election of the party leader by the rank and file, but stressed that the party has a Charter, and could not be changed at whim.
However, she added, she would be in agreement with any proposal for broadening the electoral body.
Former health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos also recalled an older proposal of his for election of the ND leader by the ND rank and file, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Karamanlis to discuss issues related to the upcoming Congress.
What comes first, however, is the party's unity, Avramopoulos added.
 Samaras on the election of new ND party leaderFormer New Democracy (ND) government minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday stated that he will accept any agreement as regards the number of electors providing that proper procedure in the election of the new party leader will be safeguarded.
Samaras pointed out that the party began losing ground when it stopped listening to its rank and file and stressed that "a one-day party conference will not do justice to the party itself and its followers."
Referring to the resignation of Dora Bakoyannis from the ND extraordinary conference organizational committee, Samaras stated that it was the "right decision".
 Albanian PM congratulates Papandreou on assumption of his dutiesAlbanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has sent a letter of congratulations to George Papandreou on the assumption of his duties as prime minister of Greece, according to the Albanian ATA news agency.
"With your political vision and your programme, you shall provide the most effective alternative solution to the country to face challenges and to be led to growth and progress," Berisha stressed.
"The political ties between the two governments and our countries are excellent, since they have been built through a traditional friendship between the two neighbouring countries," he further said.
"Greece's support on the issue of Albania's accession to NATO as well as in the process of the country's accession to the European Union constitutes an expression of this friendship and of the solidarity between our countries and our peoples," Berisha added.
Lastly, the Albanian prime minister referred to the fact that "Greece is one of the main economic and commercial partners of Albania."
 Papandreou, gov't ministers meet with BoG Governor ProvopoulosPrime Minister George Papandreou met Thursday with Bank of Greece (BoG) Governor Giorgos Provopoulos in the presence of government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli.
"The problems of the economy are known, its momentum is also known," Papaconstantinou stated afterwards, adding that the policy statements that will be made by the prime minister will be more specific.
Referring to the deficit, Papaconstantinou stated that the relevant figures are available and will be announced, pointing out that the biannual debt figures will be made public by the General Accounting Office on Thursday and additional figures will be announced at the appropriate time.
Papaconstantinou also stated that the BoG governor makes recommendations and the government makes decisions and implements them, adding that his replacement is not an issue.
On his part, BoG Governor Provopoulos stated that he had an in-depth discussion with the prime minister and the government ministers present, pointing out that he briefed them on the discussions held within the framework of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank annual meeting in Istanbul and on the alarming fiscal developments focusing on ways to solve the existing problems.
 President Papoulias meets with BoG governorPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received Bank of Greece Governor Giorgos Provopoulos at the Presidential Mansion on Thursday.
Provopoulos briefed the president on international economic developments and the conclusions reached in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - World Bank annual meeting held in Istanbul.
"We have lived through a difficult period but no quick recovery is expected globally in the next two or three years," Provopoulos said.
In the dialogue the two men had before the cameras, Provopoulos stated that "there are certain doubts expressed that things are not as optimistic internationally as was anticipated because there are still problems but we have crossed the rough spot considering that the banking system withstood the crisis."
 Economy minister visits former development ministryEconomy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli on Thursday asked for the "mobilisation of all market forces" after her first visit to the former development ministry on Kanniggos Square.
She promised to quickly overcome the confusion of the first days and set the ministry in order, announcing that the first of two draft bills falling in the ministry's portfolio will be tabled in the next few days and was among five that the prime minister wanted passed as a top priority.
The bill concerns measures to simplify procedures for starting and operating a new business. Katseli said that her own team had already done preparatory work for this and that it would not take long before it was ready to be tabled in Parliament. Also to be pushed through rapidly is a second draft bill that is in the wings, with measures for supporting small and medium-sized businesses, street market traders and peddlers, a stimulus package for markets and increasing liquidity.
The minister said that the crisis would be handled by a re-ordering of the economy based on three priority directions: the proper function of the market and a stimulus of the market, combined with consumer protection and emphasis on supervision.
Katseli had meetings with the ministry's senior personnel and said that she had asked the ministry general secretaries to remain at their posts until their replacement by new executives that will be selected through an open proclamation and competition conducted over the Internet.
She also asked ministry heads of department to prepare a letter by Monday, in which they briefed her on the areas they handled and their proposals for these, so that she can begin a round of meetings with them next week to decide on action to solve market problems.
Katseli emphasised the need to use all developmental tools, including Community support programmes, developmental law and state procurements, in a bid to boost competitiveness. She particularly stressed the importance of shipping for the Greek economy.
 Labor ministry leadership visits IKA-ETAMLabour and Social Insurances Minister Andreas Loverdos and deputy minister Giorgos Koutroumanis visited on Thursday the central offices of IKA-ETAM in Athens, the largest social security organization in the country.
Loverdos was briefed on a number of issues and gave specific guidelines as regards management, social insurance and pensions.
 U.S. Congressional delegation to Athens meeting on energyU.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings will lead a bipartisan Congressional delegation to an international energy security and climate change meeting that is taking place in Athens from Friday until Sunday.
With an eye toward the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December, Cardin will deliver a keynote address on the importance of international cooperation on energy policy and place a particular focus on the security and human rights dimensions of the energy debate.
More than 200 parliamentarians from 49 Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) countries will participate in the fall meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Sessions will focus on energy security, environmental policy and Mediterranean trade issues. Cardin is vice-president of the OSCE-PA.
Hastings, a past president of the Assembly that now serves as its Special Representative on Mediterranean Affairs, will present a report on the Mediterranean forum hosted in Washington last July. The Athens meeting will address economic cooperation in the Mediterranean region and evaluate the challenges within the OSCE Mediterranean Dimension. Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation Algeria, Egypt, Israel and Jordan are scheduled to participate.
 Greece taken to European court for disregarding EU rulesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Thursday announced that it was referring Greece to the European Court of Justice for several failures to conform with Community directives and regulations.
Namely, it has found that Greece has failed to comform with European legislation for the free establishment of operators in the road transport and fuel marketing sectors, with newcomers to the market suffering from discriminatory treatment due to restrictive Greek laws for the registration of vehicles used to provide transport services to third parties and private tankers.
It also objects to the practice of obliging such operators to charge minimum fees, finding that this might discourage the entry of foreign companies in the road transport market and prevent the further development of already established enterprises.
In addition to the above, the Commission has also taken action against Greece before the court for failing to set up effective and independent oversight bodies in the context of the Single European Sky.
A third case before the European Court concerns Greece's failure to fully incorporate EU directives concerning the operators of courier, parcel and mail services into its national legislation. The Commission holds that current Greek laws impose additional burdens and obligations on such operators that are not compatible with EU rules on postal services.
Specifically, it objects to laws that do not authorise courier services to transport consignments in excess of 20 kilograms and obliges them to engage the services of independent transporters.
"This severely limits the range of services couriers may provide while, at the same time, driving up costs for consumers," says the Commission.
The report goes on to say that "continued application of the contested national rules means that the creation of an internal market for postal services is being jeopardised, depriving customers of new and competitively priced services."
 European Commission warns Greece to comply with EU directivesThe European Commission sent reasoned opinions to 21 member states on Thursday regarding their failure to implement properly the "first railway package" legislation.
The European Commission notified Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia and Slovakia that reforms should continue aimed at opening up the railway markets to competition.
In the reasoned opinions, the Commission highlights shortcomings such as: lack of independence of the infrastructure manager in relation to railway operators; insufficient implementation of the provisions of the Directive on track access charging, such as the absence of a performance regime to improve the performance of the railway network, the lack of incentives for the infrastructure manager to reduce costs and charges and of tariff systems based on the direct costs of rail services; and failure to set up an independent regulatory body with the necessary powers to remedy competition problems in the railway sector.
Greece, Italy and Belgium were also mentioned by the European Commission for failing to implement into their national legislation an Internal Market directive on simplifying reporting requirements for mergers and divisions. The deadline for incorporating the 2007 directive into national law expired in December 2008.
Greece was also the target of two reasoned opinions concerning the way the country deals with applications to refund unduly paid taxes, including VAT. The first notes Greece's failure to approve a legal or administrative method for ensuring refunds of unduly paid taxes to persons that have mistakenly included VAT payments in their invoices (a case concerning translators appointed by the Greek foreign ministry).
The second concerns the right to collect VAT via the annual subscription to the automobile assistance service ELPA, finding that Greece did not take the required legal and administrative steps to enable a refund of VAT paid for the provision of road assistance services in violation of directives on VAT.
The European Commission requested formally on Thursday that Greece recognize the EU veterinary surgery diplomas.
The European Commission also sent Greece a formal request regarding its refusal to process applications for recognition of veterinary diplomas gained elsewhere in the EU, as required under the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC).
Greece was formally requested by the European Commission to incorporate the directive into the national legislation within two months otherwise the matter will be referred to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission stressed that instead of granting access to the profession, the Greek authorities require the complainants, who hold EU qualifications of veterinary surgeons and wish to establish in Greece, to undergo bureaucratic and slow procedures before being able to exercise their right to practice in the country.
 Greek inflation at 0.7 pct in SeptemberGreek annual inflation rate was 0.7 pct in September, the National Statistical Service said on Thursday. The statistics service, in its monthly report, said the inflation rate -measured by the consumer price index- rose 1.9 pct in September from August 2009.
The report attributed the 0.7 pct rise in the consumer price index to a 6.3 pct increase in alcohol/tobacco prices, a 4.1 pct rise in other goods and services, a 3.0 pct increase in clothing and footwear, a 2.9 pct rise in health prices and a 2.8 pct increase in education prices. Housing prices fell 4.9 pct and transport prices fell 3.7 pct in September.
Commenting on the figures, the secretary-general of the statistics service Manolis Kontopyrakis said he expected the October inflation figure to rise because of an increase in fuel prices.
Greece's harmonised inflation rate was 0.7 pct in September, while the country's core inflation rate rose 1.4 pct in September compared with the corresponding month last year.
 Greek mutual funds' assets up 9.45 pct in Jan-Sept?The Greek mutual funds market recorded a net capital inflow of 567 million euros and positive returns in the third quarter of 2009, with portfolio under management totaling 15.7 billion euros, official figures showed on Thursday.
A monthly report by the Association of Institutional Investors said assets under management grew by 9.45 pct in the nine-month period from January to September to 11.39 billion euros, reflecting a constant capital inflow in the categories of money management funds, combined funds, domestic equity funds and equity funds of funds. The report also said that from a total of 64 domestic equity funds, seven offered returns ranging from 50.96 pct to 78.70 pct, another 25 funds' returns ranged from 40.85 pct and 49.50 pct, 15 offered returns ranging from 33.05 pct to 39.37 pct and the remaining 17 funds' returns ranged from 10.27 pct to 29.50 pct. Combined funds and all other fund categories also reported good returns for the January-September period.
Greek closed-end funds' assets grew 2.13 pct in the third quarter to 254 million euros. The sector ended the September 30 period with a average discount of -36.92 pct and an average return of 21.71 pct for the year.
 Greek stocks jumped 1.72 pct on ThursdayGreek stocks ended sharply higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the composite index of the market rising 1.72 pct to end at 2,738.74 points. Turnover was an improved 299.7 million euros, of which 10.9 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Insurance (3.70 pct), Banks (2.71 pct), Telecommunications (2.22 pct) and Raw Materials (2.01 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (0.90 pct), Utilities (0.68 pct) and Personal/Home Products (0.50 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.14 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 0.71 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.22 pct higher. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 146 to 66 with another 53 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.13%
Personal & Household: -0.50%
Raw Materials: +2.01%
Travel & Leisure: +1.47%
Food & Beverages: +0.78%
Financial Services: +1.21%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Eurobank, Marfin Popular Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 13.10
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.36
HBC Coca Cola: 17.69
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.35
National Bank of Greece: 24.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 11.40
Bank of Piraeus: 12.73
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.71 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising slightly to 73.445 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 7.427 contracts worth 53.881 million euros, with 23,836 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 26,777 contracts worth 19.564 million euros with investment interest focusing on MIG's contracts (4,529), followed by Eurobank (534), OTE (1,921), Piraeus Bank (753), National Bank (2,277), Alpha Bank (970), Intracom (736), Marfin Popular Bank (4,209), Mytilineos (1,078), Hellenic Postbank (3,217) and ATEbank (3,037).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 3.088 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.695 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.392 billion were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 2.560 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 131 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.41 pct and the German Bund 3.10 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.22 pct, the six-month rate 1.01 pct, the three-month rate 0.74 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.488
Pound sterling 0.927
Danish kroner 7.504
Swedish kroner 10.395
Japanese yen 131.50
Swiss franc 1.528
Norwegian kroner 8.420
Canadian dollar 1.574
Australian dollar 1.647
 Geroulanos expresses support to "Athens 2011"Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos expressed support to the hosting of the Special Olympics World Summer Games "Athens 2011" in a meeting he had Thursday with Special Olympics International Chairman and CEO Timothy P. Shriver and Special Olympics Hellas President Joanna Despotopoulou.
Geroulanos stressed in the meeting, symbolically held under the shadow of the Acropolis, that Greece being the cradle of Civilization will send out to the world the message of respect for people with disabilities and participation in the joy found in sports.
On his part, the Special Olympics International Chairman and CEO expressed certainty that the "Athens 2011" Games will be absolutely successful with the help of the Greek government.
The Special Olympics World Summer Games "Athens 2011" will be held on June 25-July 4, 2011 with the participation of 7,500 athletes and 2,500 coaches from 185 countries.
 Ecumenical Patriarch wraps up visit to CreteEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew completed his visit to the southern Aegean island of Crete on Thursday.
In statements he made at Chania Airport before his departure for Phanar in Istanbul he wished success to the new government in Greece.
Bartholomew also thanked the people of Crete for the warm reception and added that he will visit the island again.
Earlier, the Ecumenical Patriarch had visited the monasteries of Holy Trinity and Gouvernetou.
 Hooded gang vandalises banks, shops in downtown AthensA group of hooded individuals vandalised banks and shops in downtown Athens shortly after noon on Thursday.
Police said that a group of approximately 15 individuals emerged suddenly from Harilaou Trikoupi street (in the Exarchia district), throwing stones and other projectiles at four bank branches, two bookstores and a jeep on central Solonos and Academias streets, before fleeing back towards Exarchia square.
 Bomb hoax at PASOK party officesAn unidentified caller informed the police shortly after 5:30 on Thursday afternoon that a bomb with two denonators had been planted "in the old offices of the PASOK party at Ippokratous street in central Athens (the old offices are located in Harilaou Trikoupi street) and would be exploding in half an hour."
The police searched both the old offices in Harilaou Trikoupi street and the new ones in Ippokratous street but found nothing.
 Bomb threat in central AthensTraffic in central Athens was disrupted on Thursday as a result of aan anonymous phone call to ALPHA television channel claiming that a bomb had been set on a moped in Kanari Street.
Roads all around the area have been cordoned off while the police bomb squad investigate.
 Fair on FridayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 31C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 16C to 29C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 14C to 27C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe new Cabinet's first meeting and Prime Minister George Papandreou instructions to his ministers, and main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis' decision for a one-day extraordinary Congress on November 7 to elect a new party leader, dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "ND Congress on November 7 - New party president to be elected".
APOGEVMATINI: "One-day Congress to avoid rifts".
AVGHI: "The PM gave instructions to the new ministers for transparency and invited the Ombudsman to outline the citizens' problems".
AVRIANI: "George sets limits to the party and makes an overture to society".
CHORA: "The 'agreement' (for early elections) of ND's crushing defeat in the limelight - 'Express' congress on November 7".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "ND extraordinary congress will elect Costas Karamanlis' successor".
ELEFTHEROS: "George to ministers: "Do not hide. Act as anti-statists in the State in order to succeed".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Account to the citizens - Papandreou's directions to new ministers".
ESTIA: "Positive first impressions - Papandreou's speech to ministers".
ETHNOS: "Blow against the partisan State - George decided the abolition of hundreds of committees".
KATHIMERINI: "Priority on citizen-state relations".
LOGOS: "Papandreou showed the way .....Principles and directions on the government's mission".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The working classes must not become complacent".
TA NEA: "Lesson One: Battle against corruption".
TO VIMA: "Papandreou's first orders - Institutional changes in the State".
VRADYNI: "ND grass roots must 'speak' on the new leader's election".
 Meeting in context of Cyprus talks postponedNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Thursday's meeting between President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the framework of the second round of negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem, has been postponed.
According to an official press release, President Christofias is suffering from a wry neck and thus his appointments for the day have been postponed.
The president's doctor has prescribed medication and has recommended rest.
 Iacovou, Nami continue discussion on governance, in Cyprus talksNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami, advisor to the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, reviewed on Thursday issues regarding external relations, a sub-section of the chapter of governance, which is under discussion in the context of UN-led negotiations.
Iacovou and Nami met following the postponement of Thursday's meeting between President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat due to Christofias' ill health.
According to diplomatic sources, close to the negotiating team, Iacovou and Nami began the discussion on the issues on which there is almost convergence. "We are close, aiming to reach full convergence on these issues," the sources have told CNA.
According to the same sources, the discussion on these issues concluded with little progress. On issues where there is serious convergence, progress was not significant, they noted.
Next scheduled meeting between the leaders of the two communities in the framework of the second round of negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem, is next Wednesday, 14 of October.
President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island under a federal roof.
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