|Sunday, 23 September 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-10-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 17 October 2009 Issue No: 3325
 Papandreou presents government policy statementGreece's new Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday pre-sented his government's policy statement to the Parliament elected on October 4, calling on Greek society to rally together in order to overcome the crisis now affecting it on every level.
He invited all Greeks to join the government in what he called the "visionary, realistic but also self-evident road of change, already signalled by the actions of the new government on assuming office."
The prime minister said that his government had taken over an economy that was "in a state of emergency" similar to that handed over by the Mitsotakis government of 1993, with "large hidden debts and spending," an "unprecedented lack of competitiveness" and social insurance funds in a state of penury.
"Public finances are not, however, the cause of today's situation but one of the severe symptoms of a crisis in governance - a deficit that brought a degradation of everything," he stressed.
For each area of government, Papandreou emphasised initiatives seeking to address the crisis in relations between the state and citizens, which he said should create "consensus on a national agreement within society for major changes".
Right at the beginning of his address to Parliament, the prime minister made it clear that he would support Karolos Papoulias for re-election as President of the Republic, anticipating a positive vote from main opposition New Democracy based on the pre-election pledges of its leader Costas Karamanlis.
He also promised to adopt any opposition party proposal that enhanced transparency, regardless of who made it.
Regarding public administration, Papandreou pledged that all public-sector hiring would be done via the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP) alone, with annual examinations to fill permanent civil service jobs. He also promised changes in the composition of public-sector disciplinary boards so that those monitoring and those being monitored did not come from the same service.
The prime minister then went on to outline details of an economic stimulus package planned by the government, through boosting incomes, new legislation and increased public investment spending, alongside a drive to restore order to public finances.
On boosting incomes, Papandreou promised a 'solidarity benefit' for low incomes, a back-dated 30-euro increase in the OGA farmers' fund pensions starting from October 1, 2009, salary increases above inflation for wages and pensions and a freeze on rate hikes by public utilities.
The premier promised a draft bill to protect borrowers from abusive bank practices within the first 100 days of government, as well as bills to change the operation of the Tiresias inter-banking and credit monitoring system and to simplify procedures for business start-ups.
He said the government intends to increase funding for the public investment programme by 4 percent of GDP, rising to 5 percent of GDP by the end of the government's four-year term.
Papandreou stressed, however, that none of the above would have the desired impact unless the government also managed to radically overhaul public finances, which he said were "facing an unprecedented derailment".
Outlining his plan of action, the premier said that the government's first task would be objectively record the current state of public finances with the assistance of the National Statistics Service, which would be made fully independent.
The next step would be to crack down on tax evasion, stricter control of public finances and a new tax bill to be tabled within the next three months. Papandreou promised that the new tax system introduced would be fairer, progressive and pegged to the consumer price index, taxing income from wages and dividends in the same way while imposing low taxation on undistributed company profits, abolition of favourable measures benefiting major shareholders and a progressively rising taxation of property and inheritance beginning with high tax-free allowances, as well as taxation of Church property and economic activities and the taxation of property owned by offshore companies.
In terms of producing wealth, Papandreou said that this would occur in a context of "green development" and the decisions taken to stem the rate of climate change on a global level, and by developing tourism.
Specifically, the prime minister announced a major shift toward the use of renewable energy sources and exploitation of Aegean islets for energy purposes, making a commitment to table a new national plan for energy in Parliament by the end of December.
Greece would set its sights high, aiming to produce 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy sources by the year 2020, the premier added.
He also emphasised that the government would show absolutely no tolerance to those illegally occupying land within burnt forests and cited green development as the main guideline for the development of the Greek countryside, with changes in crops and a shift to high-quality, organic farming.
Papandreou promised to use the Internet and new technologies to boost transparency and introduce e-government in all places, in a bid to abolish bureaucracy, including the posting on the Internet of all ministerial decisions and acts by local and central government.
The premier went on to promise action to clean up social insurance fund finances and clamp down on evasion of contributions, as well as a major overhaul of the national health system, with extra funding and drastic action against wasteful spending and corruption.
A further pledge was the payment of pensions within three months of retirement by the year 2010, an "aggressive policy of protection" for employees against the excesses of employers, a gradual rise in unemployment benefit to 70 percent of the minimum wage and incentives to companies to create new jobs.
In terms of justice and the courts, he promised new ways of selecting the leadership of the justice system with the participation of Parliament, greater independence for courts and a greatly speeded up delivery of justice.
Further reforms cited by the premier were a new election law that "broke up" over-large constituencies and reduced election spending, the building of security forces that respected and protected the citizens, a crackdown on police violence, and fewer police officers detached as guards to individuals, starting with a 50 percent reduction in the guard at the prime minister's office and police provided to guard ministers and other officials.
On illegal immigration, he called for an end to the police-centric approach of the previous government with changes to the system for asylum applications and reception of immigrants, while announcing initiatives by Greece to more evenly share the burden of illegal migration among all European Union member states.
Among others, he announced an end to the deportation of second-generation immigrants until the regime for acquiring Greek citizenship had been fully rationalised.
Pledging to devote an additional one billion euros in the government's next budget to education, the premier announced a radical overhaul of the education system on all levels so that "it attracts foreign students instead of driving Greek student abroad."
He listed a solution of the Cyprus problem as the top priority in foreign policy, stressing Athens' "full support" for the initiatives of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, and noted that Athens' support for the European accession efforts of Balkan countries, provided that they also respected international law and good neighbour relations.
Good neighbour relations were the key and a self-evident condition for promoting the European prospects of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Papandreou emphasised, adding that the Greek government was dedicated to solving the name dispute by finding a mutually acceptable name applicable for all parties.
For Turkey, similarly, he welcomed its efforts to join the EU but stressed that an inevitable condition for this would be that Turkey incorporate Community directives and practices, respect international law and a solution to the Cyprus issue.
"Actions directed against the territorial integrity of an EU member-state do not only violate international law and the obligation for good neighbour relations but also cancel the huge potential for close cooperation between our countries that we look to," he stressed.
The Prime Minister's policy statement will be followed by a debate which will wind up at midnight on Sunday with a roll call vote in a plenary session of the House's 300 members.
 PM to pay two-day official visit to CyprusNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos/CNA)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will be arriving in Cyprus on Monday, October 19, for a two-day official visit, during which he will be meeting with President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and will be addressing a special session of the House of Representatives.
According to the programme of the visit, Papandreou will be arriving in Cyprus on October 19, accompanied by a delegation.
On the same day, he will be meeting with President Christofias at the Presidential Palace, followed by talks with the participation of their delegations, and statements to the press.
In the evening, President Christofias will be hosting a state banquet in honour of Papandreou.
On October 20, Papandreou will meet with Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II. He will also meet with President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian, in the presence of President Christofias, and will address a special session of the House.
During his stay on the island, Papandreou will also be meeting with the leaders of parliamentary parties, the Committee of Relatives of Missing persons and the Committee of Turkish occupied Municipalities, and will be visiting historical sites.
Papandreou will be departing from Cyprus on October 20.
 Meeting on environmental diplomacyCoordination and close cooperation between the Foreign Ministry and the ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change in environmental diplomacy for Greece's dynamic return to international fora on the environment, particularly ahead of the crucial international UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (December 6-18) was announced on Friday following a meeting of senior officials of the two ministries.
The meeting, held at the foreign ministry, was attended by environment, energy and climate change minister Tina Birbili, alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas, deputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis, and other ministry officials.
Droutsas stressed the immense importance placed by prime minister and foreign minister George Papandreou and the PASOK government on the environment.
He also noted that there will close cooperation between the ministries and with the entire public administration so as to achieve more significant results for the Greek people, adding that "this is a commitment by our government, and this cooperation will continue".
Birbili, in turn, said that Friday's meeting, the first between the two ministries on this theme, "marks our determination for Greece to return with a strong presence to the fora on the environment and climate change".
She said that numerous meeting will follow with the social partners and agencies in Greece in order to create the biggest possible alliance ahead of Copenhagen, "where we will be active participants" in the formulation of the decisions.
Kouvelis stressed that great effort will be required in Copenhagen to achieve the desired outcome.
"What is important is that Greece has a significant presence and that we avoid the mistakes of the past," he added.
 Council of State OKs health ministry presidential decreeThe presidential decree signed by Health and Social Solidarity Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou on Oct. 9 blocking the establishment and operation of private institutes that provide primary healthcare services unless the majority shares are owned by medical doctors, was ruled as legitimate in principal by the Council of State No 278/2009 decision on Friday.
The ruling recommends that the government consider adding a clause that suspends for a limited time only the implementation of the presidential decree regulations that concern the licensing of institutes that provide primary healthcare services and the progress of relevant pending administrative procedures considering that such a regulation is allowed.
The latest presidential decree, that restores presidential decree 84/2001, had been issued to overturn another (No 180/2009) signed by the previous health minister two days before the Oct. 4 general elections allowing the establishment of diagnostic centers by private businessmen even if the majority shareholders were not doctors.
A regulation in effect until Oct. 1, 2009, had provided that at least 51 pct of the shares had to belong to medical doctors as a necessary precondition for establishing a private medical diagnostic center.
 Defense Minister Venizelos to begin talks on submarine dealDefense Minister Evangelos Venizelos through contacts and consultations with the interested parties will seek a solution as soon as possible to the issue concerning the building of Greek Navy submarines at the Skaramangas Shipyards. The ministries of finance and of economy, competitiveness and shipping will then undertake the necessary initiatives for the future of the Greek shipbuilding industry in general.
A relevant decision was reached by the ministerial committee during its meeting on Thursday held with the participation of government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, National Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, Minister of State to the Prime Minister Haris Pamboukis and Alternate National Defense Minister Panos Beglitis.
The framework within which the ministry of national defense will seek to find a solution was formed in a series of meetings held by the ministry leadership in the previous days.
 Alternate Foreign Minister meets Russian, Romanian envoysAlternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas received on Friday the Russian ambassador to Athens Vladimir Chkhikvishvili. Leaving the ministry, the Russian envoy stressed that the meeting was fruitful and that the two officials discussed a wide range of issues, especially on political and economic cooperation and also bilateral cooperation on culture.
Later, Droutsas met with the Romanian ambassador to Athens George Ciamba and discussed matters referring to the two countries' bilateral cooperation and the European prospect of the countries of the Balkans, based on the proposal for a new road map eyeing the 2014 deadline by which the EU wants to complete its enlargement with the Balkan states.
 Commissioner Olli Rehn on FYROM name issueSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn reiterated the assessment that the European Commission's recommendation on accession negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Repoublic of Macedonia (FYROM) can constitute a strong incentive for the government of this country to hold substantive negotiations regarding the pending name issue.
Speaking in an interview with the newspaper "Devnik", Rehn further said that "in essence, our recommendation on accession negotiations must be taken as strongh encouragement," adding that "we stress that relations of good neighbourliness, including a mutually acceptable solution on the pending issue of the name under the auspices of the UN is of substantive importance."
In the same interview, Rehn categorically ruled out the possibility of the EU assuming any initiative on finding a solution to the name issue, as it did on settling the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia.
He added that what is most suitable is for the relevant initiative and effort by the UN and mediator Matthew Nimetz to be continued.
 New round of deliberations with four ND leadership candidatesThe deadline for candidacies for main opposition New Democracy's (ND) leadership expired on Thursday evening, with the four anticipated high-profile cadres formally submitting their candidacy, while three additional last-minute candidacies tabled with the ND Extraordinary Congress Organising Committee were disqualified for not meeting the requirements set out under the ND Charter.
Dora Bakoyannis (former foreign minister), Dimitris Avramopoulos (former health minister), Antonis Samaras (former culture minister) and Panayotis Psomiadis (Thessaloniki prefect) are the contenders for the ND leadership.
Organising Committee chairman Dimitris Sioufas will hold a new round of deliberations with the four main candidates on Friday in an ongoing effort to find common ground regarding the demand that has arisen for election of the new leader by the party's registered members, given that under Article 14 of the ND Charter, the party president is elected by the party Congress delegates (or electors).
 Agreement on ND leader election process expected to be announced on Friday eveningThe chairman of the main oppsotion New Democracy (ND) party's Extraordinary Congress Organising Committee Dimitris Sioufas held a series of meetings and contacts on Friday with the four candidates for the party's leadership.
Sioufas' first meeting was with former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who told reporters afterwards that she was satisfied with the course of the developments ahead of the Extraordinary Congress, which is scheduled for November 7.
His second meeting was with former Health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who sad afterwrds that cooperation and understanding were fundamental components of ND.
"We have agreed on everything," he said, adding that "we are heading on course" and opining that ND will emerge stronger from the Congress.
Sioufas' next meeting was with former Culture Minister Antonis Samaras, who said later that Sioufas' initiative for election of the party leader by the party's rank and file was progressing smoothly, adding that he had agreed on all aspects discussed.
The Organising Committee chairman was later due to speak with the fourth and final candidate, Thessaloniki prefect Panayotis Psomiadis, by phone later in the day, as Psomiadis is currently on a visit to Cyprus.
ND spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in reply to press questions that Sioufas' initiative for finding "common ground" on the issue of the election of the new ND president by the party grass roots was progressing positively, adding that agreement among the candidates and Organising Committee on the text of the final proposal was anticipated later in the day, while outgoing ND leader and former prime minister Costas Karamanlis will be briefed on Saturday.
 BoG chief addresses conference on SE Europe prospects and challenges after the crisisGreece is among the eurozone countries most threatened with fiscal derailment, Bank of Greece (BoG) governor warned on Friday, in his opening address to a conference jointly organised by the BoG and Oxford University on the theme "Challenges and Prospects for the SE Europe countries after the exit from the credit crisis".
Provopoulos urged the EU governments to start facing the increasing long-term fiscal challenges with a commitment for major reductions in their deficits as soon as recovery from the global financial crisis begins, but predicted, however, that economic recovery in the eurozone was still at an initial stage, and thus warned that any withdrawal of economic stimulus measures introduced by almost all the states would be "premature".
"With recovery in the eurozone at an initial stage and with economic activity substantially below the pre-crisis levels, it is still too early to begin withdrawing the stimulus measnures," he said.
Provopoulos stressed that the timing of when the withdrawal of the measures will begin was of crucial importance.
Referring to the nterventions made by the European Central Bank (ECB) to confront the crisis, Provopoulos said that the ECB will promptly withdraw the extraordinary,non-conventional measures it has applied at the proper time, otherwise they could thraten price stability in the long term.
 Economy minister to inaugurate International Maritime SalonGreek yachting will be presenting the market's new models at the new Metropolitan Expo exhibition centre at Athens international airport between October 17-25, with over 1,000 vessels and about 10,000 maritime products and services.
The 31st International Maritime Salon will be inaugurated on Saturday evening by Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli.
The exhibition will be open to the public and will function on a daily basis from Saturday 17 until Sunday October 25, from 10:00 to 21:30 over weekends and 16:00-21:30 on weekdays at the Metropolitan Expo exhibition centre.
 EBEA seeks injunction against striking Piraeus port workersAthens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) president Costas Michalos on Friday submitted to a Piraeus court a petition for a court injunction against the Federation of Port Employees of Greece (OMYLE) and Union of Dockworkers at the Piraeus Port, seeking that the ongoing dockworkers' strike in the port of Piraeus, which entered into its third week on Friday, be declared illegal and further extension of the strike or a future new such strike be prohibited.
The strikers are protesting the 35-year concession of the port's container terminal (SEMPO) to the Chinese transport operator COSCO, which they fear will result in mass layoffs at the port and that a prospective inflow of inexpensive Chinese goods will strike a blow to the country's small, family-owned shops.
The strike has resulted in an immense holdup of thousands of containers at the SEMPO.
The injunction petition, which will be discussed by the Piraeus Court of First Instance on Monday morning, demands that the strike be declared illegal, that extension or any continuation in whatever form or manner of the strike at any time be prohibited, that a fine of 4,000 euros be imposed on the two trade unions for every individual violation of the ruling that is issued, and six-month sentences for the unions' legal representatives, including future legal representatives, and that the defendants be required to pay the court expenses.
Michalos said afterwards that the last thing he desired was to take legal action against the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) employees, and that was why he had refrained from legal redress up to now, "despite the immense losses that have been caused by the illegal strike", opting instead to explain the problems to them over and over again, in the hope that at some point, some of the workers would understand and that a shimmer of hope would result for overcoming the crisis, in everyone's common interest.
"However, they leave me no other choice in order to avert the destruction of a plethora of enterprises/members of EBEA and the ensuing loss of thousands of jobs," Michalos said.
 KKE's Papariga visits striking Piraeus dock workersCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Friday paid a visit to Piraeus port to meet with the board of the port and dock workers' union OMYLE.
In a speech to striking dock workers, she underlined KKE's radical opposition to the privatisation of the port's container terminal and stressed that the fight to oppose the privatisation should not have been waged by the dock workers alone but in a united from with the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union ADEDY, among others.
She urged strikers to not submit to pressures, underlining that their labour rights were threatened by the port privatisation.
"We must not allow any port to be privatised," Papariga stressed.
Piraeus dock workers are currently striking in protest at an agreement granting a long-term lease to operate the profitable container terminal to the Chinese company COSCO.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras meets Wind, Vodafone staff unionsCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Friday promised his party will support employees of the mobile phone providers Wind and Vodafone, who are facing wage cuts, lay-offs and a reduction in jobs, during a meeting with their union organisation.
Tsipras noted that mobile phone companies had for years enjoyed scandalously immense profits at the expense of the Greek state sector, since in the early years they had been allowed to operate without any competition from state-owned Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE). These profits were now continuing, he added, through those company's activity on the stock market.
He also noted the "breakdown" of labour relations and a return to what he called the 'Dark Ages' for labour, marked by fear of dismissal, flexible work relations, hiring on a project contract basis and 'stage' programmes.
Tsipras assured the two unions that SYRIZA would fight alongside them to protect their constitutional rights to unionise and to uphold labour legislation.
 Invitation for tenders for subsidized flights to Greek islandsInfrastructure, Transports and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas announced Friday an invitation for tenders for the 24 subsidized air routes to Greece's remote islands following a pledge he made last week.
The tender will be based on the EU Regulation 1008/2008 and concerns the domestic air routes from Athens to Astypalea, Kalymnos, Ikaria, Leros, Milos, Skyros, Kythera, Naxos, Paros, Karpathos, Sitia, and Skiathos and from Thessaloniki to Samos, Chios, Corfu, Skyros, and Kalamata. The air routes of Limnos-Mytilini-Chios-Samos-Rhodes, Rhodes-Karpathos-Kasos-Sitia, Rhodes-Kastelorizo, Rhodes-Kos-Leros-Astypalea, Corfu-Aktio-Kefalonia-Zakynthos, Alexandroupolis-Sitia and Aktio-Sitia are also included.
The bidding competition will be held on the 61st day after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and the winner or the winners will be announced on March 1, 2010, according to a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) statement. The duration of the project that will be undertaken by the lowest bidder will be two years and not four as was the case until now.
The air routes to remote islands are currently being serviced by Olympic Air, the successor of Olympic Airlines following the latter's privatization. Olympic Airlines will cease to exist as a company at the end of the year and therefore, a new round of consultations will be held for the period between Jan.1, 2010 and March when the winner of the competition will take over.
 SEPE conducts workplace inspectionsA Labour Inspection Body (SEPE) team accompanied by a labour and social insurances ministry official visited the Thriasio Pedio industrial zone in the greater Athens region on Friday, within the framework of the intensified inspections conducted in the area where industrial plants with high workplace accident risk are in operation.
Following an inspection at the Aspropyrgos-based Chrotex SA paint factory, that employs roughly 140 people, the SEPE team made a number of recommendations to the company management after confirming labour law and safety violations.
 ATE Insurance says premium production up 9.6 pct in Jan-SeptATE Insurance on Friday reported a 9.6 pct increase in its premium production in the nine-month period from January to September this year to 156 million euros, compared with 143.3 million euros in the corresponding period in 2008.
The company said premium production in general insurance business grew 14.8 pct, while production in the life insurance business was down 1.0 pct.
ATE Insurance said its investment portfolio continued improving and was expected to positively affect the company's net position in the nine-month period. The insurance company also expects positive results for the same period.
 Biomass-powered energy production plant in GrevenaA 65-million-euro private investment taking place in consultation with the municipal authorities in Grevena, northwestern Greece, promises electricity and hot water to consumers using as fuel sawdust, straw, the core of olives, manure, useless fish catch, cultivation remains and energy plants. The initiative will benefit the local population cutting heating cost by 27 pct.
The biomass-powered energy production plant will be constructed at the outskirts of the city. In the summer months it will produce electric power that will be sold to the Public Power Corp. SA (PPC) and thermal energy during the winter that will reach public buildings and private residences via a private network. The teleheating (district heating) will be in operation in roughly 2 years time.
The benefits for the region will be considerable, including low cost heating for the local population and savings of up to 500,000 euros a year for municipal authorities, while the positive effects for the environment as a result of the limited use of petrol for heating purposes will be notable.
Initially, the company plans to import biomass from Balkan countries while new prospects will be created for the increase of local production and the cultivation of energy plants.
 Stocks end 2.22 pct downGreek stocks fell sharply in the last trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, following -although at a much higher speed- a downward trend which prevailed in foreign markets. The composite index dropped 2.22 pct to end at 2,830.01 points, with turnover remaining a high 425.7 million euros, of which 63.1 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved down, with the Banks (3.38 pct), Raw Materials (2.89 pct) and Health (2.88 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Financial Services (1.24 pct) and Telecommunications (0.24 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 2.63 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.01 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.08 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 157 to 54 with another 47 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.58%
Personal & Household: -0.41%
Raw Materials: -2.89%
Travel & Leisure: -2.20%
Food & Beverages: -1.53%
Financial Services: +1.24%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Eurobank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 13.10
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.80
HBC Coca Cola: 18.55
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.51
National Bank of Greece: 26.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 11.78
Bank of Piraeus: 12.85
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.37 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising further to 137.126 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,853 contracts worth 105.204 million euros, with 24,759 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 28,445 contracts worth 31.922 million euros, with investment interest focusing on MIG's contracts (6,011), followed by Eurobank (1,446), OTE (1,456), Piraeus Bank (1,968), National Bank (4,396), Alpha Bank (1,935), Marfin Popular Bank (2,612) and ATEbank (1,519).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.5 billion euros on Friday, with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widening to 137 basis points. The Greek bond yielded 4.67 pct and the German Bund 3.29 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.24 pct, the six-month rate 1.02 pct, the three-month rate 0.74 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.498
Pound sterling 0.919
Danish kroner 7.503
Swedish kroner 10.473
Japanese yen 136.68
Swiss franc 1.530
Norwegian kroner 8.416
Canadian dollar 1.558
Australian dollar 1.634
 Delphi archaeological site partly closed over safety concernsThe upper section of Apollo's temple in the Delphi archaeological site, in addition to the ancient theatre and stadium, were closed for safety reasons on Friday due to damage caused by heavy rains.
The remainder of the site is still open to visitors but the usual entry fee has been waived.
In an announcement, the culture and tourism ministry said that the damage to the archaeological site is being examined by a team from the ministry, assisted by experts.
 Ladis' play 'The Young Athenian Man' presented in AthensWriter and poet Fondas Ladis will present his new play "The Young Athenian Man" during a special event taking place in the foyer of the National Archaeological Museum at 8:30 p.m. on October 19.
In this, the society "Mnimes" (Memories) will attempt to recreate the atmosphere of "The Young Athenian Man" and present the work to the public through a mix of dance, words and images. The National Archaeological Museum was chosen as the venue because it is where much of the story of 'The Young Athenian Man' unfolds.
In this, young French archeologist Jacqueline Dubeau falls in love with the statue of a young man, which is of unique value and beauty. The statue was discovered during the excavations for the subway in Athens, not long before the 2004 Olympic Games. At some point, Apollodoros, the statue, comes to life. So, can love achieve the unachievable? And how can anyone bridge the gap between two worlds when they are separated by 2,500 years? The play unfolds in Athens, Paris and London, in places such as the Archeological Museum of Athens, the British Museum and the Louvre.
Ladis' play has so far been published in Greek, under the aegis of the Athens Municipality Cultural Organisation, and will soon be brought out in French by the publishing house Editions Les Cygnes. An English-language translation is also currently being prepared.
In addition to the event in Athens, a similar presentation of the work will be held in Paris.
The presentation was sponsored by the National Bank of Greece with the support of the National Centre of Theatre and Dance, while entry is by invitation only due to the limited space in the venue. Interested parties can contact the production company CRICOS Productions (Tel. 210 7213108) for invitations.
Fondas Ladis was born in 1943 in Sparta. He has worked as a journalist for newspapers and periodicals in Greece and abroad. During the 1967-1974 Junta of the Colonels he lived and worked in Rome (1967- 1973). He has written novels, children's literature, travel books, political and historical essays and poetry. His poems have been set to music by the internationally acclaimed composer Mikis Theodorakis ("Zorba the Greek", "Z") as well as by many other Greek composers. He is a member of the Greek Journalists Union and the Greek Composer and Lyricists Union and a founding member and president of the non-profit archive and historical research society Mnimes (Memories).
 Proastiakos services disrupted due to worksThe Proastiakos train service between Pireaus and Kiato will be interrupted periodically due to infrastructure works that will be performed on three of its network bridges between Oct. 19 and Nov. 24, TRAINOSE SA announced. As a result, a considerable number of services will depart and terminate at Ano Liosia Station instead of Piraeus Station.
Commuters from and to Ano Liosia Station wishing to continue to Athens-Piraeus (and intervening stations) and to the Airport respectively can use:
Ano Liosia-Airport Line, transfer at Nerantziotissa Station (Electric Line connection) or Plakentia Station (Metro connection)
ETHEL bus lines A12 and B12 that make stops at Ano Liosia Station (Attiki Odos Bridge Stop), bus terminal at Marni St.
All Proastiakos monthly pass holders will use all Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) means of transportation free of any additional charge.
 Days old infant in serious condition after being brutally beaten by fatherA newly-born baby girl was admitted in Thessaloniki's Ippokratio Hospital in critical condition on Friday with serious head injuries after being brutally beaten by her mentally unstable 25-year-old father.
The tragic incident happened in the city of Katerini near Thessaloniki where the just 11-days-old infant was first hospitalized before being transferred.
The young father, who has already been charged with attempted homicide, allegedly punched the baby in the head, threw it on the floor and then kicked it again in the head, police said.
 Rainy on SaturdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 27C. Cloudy and rainy in Athens, with northerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 22C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 16C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' newspaper at a glanceThe ongoing strike by Piraeus port dockworkers demanding annulment of the 35-year concession of the port's container terminal to the Chinese company COSCO, and Main opposition New Democracy (ND) MP Antonis Samaras' candidacy for the party leadership, dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspaper.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The four candidates for ND's leadership agreed that the new leader should be elected by the party's grass roots".
AVGHI: "Athens calls Brussels - The Prime Minister, in his policy statement on Friday, will adopt (European Commissioner for the Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin) Almunia's agenda".
AVRIANI: "The Germans, who are poised to abandon their investments in Greece, will shut down the shipyards and SIEMENS".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "While the government ....pays for its unfeasible pre-electoral announcements, the dockworkers are devastating the economy".
ELEFTHEROS: "Samaras' biggest clash with Dora (Bakoyannis, former Foreign Minister and candidate for ND's leadership)".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "SOS 'Derailment' - Government describes the terrible condition it found the in the economy".
ESTIA: "The 20th change of electoral law".
ETHNOS: "Gradual equalisation of retirement ages in public sector - Social security: Government seeks a considerable adaptation period".
KATHIMERINI: "Government seeks to reduce the deficit by 10 billion euros in 2010".
LOGOS: "Final countdown in ND - Candidacies for leadership concluded".
RIZOSPASTIS: "PASOK ruthless in crushing the working classes' rights - The government unveiled its true face early", referring to the use of tear gas and chemicals to disperse striking shipyard employees outside the Labor and Social Insurance minister after scuffles broke out outside the ministry following a meeting by strikers with the minister.
TA NEA: "Extraordinary tax on corporate profits".
TO VIMA: "Ultimatum and surveillance - New taxes and Social Security are the government's problems and dilemmas".
VRADYNI: "This is PASOK's real face - Ten days after its election the truth is revealed".
 Spokesman: Turkey must fulfill its obligations to have an unhindered EU courseNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou stressed Friday that if Turkey does not change its stance on the Cyprus question and cooperate for a Cyprus settlement to the benefit of the people of Cyprus then it will not continue its EU accession course unhindered.
Invited to comment on a statement made by EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn that 2009 is not the deadline for the implementation of
Turkey's EU obligations, the spokesman said that the European Commission's report on Turkey notes that the EU has its decisions and has set out the obligations which Turkey must fulfill.
Stephanou said that what is important is that these decisions are implemented. He added that the National Council of Cyprus, top advisory body to the President regarding the Cyprus issue, has been clear on this issue "that we will act until December as we have acted so far, to facilitate the implementation of the strategic goal which is the settlement of the Cyprus question by forcing Turkey to change its attitude on the Cyprus issue and work towards a solution that will serve the well-perceived interests of our people.''
"If Turkey does not act in this way we have said that it will not continue its accession course unhindered," he added, noting that this is clear and reproved those who are trying to create confusion on this matter.
Stephanou also noted that in his statements Rehn also referred in a way to the issue of direct trade between the EU and the Turkish Cypriots, adding that it is the European Council that decides on this issue and both the Council and the EU do not link the implementation of Turkey's commitments with the implementation of the direct trade regulation.
Turkey which aspires to join the EU, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus an EU member state since May 2004.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 Austrian FM calls for mobility on the part of TurkeyVIENNA (ANA-MPA/D.Dimitrakoudis)
Austria's Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger referred to the need for the last remaining dividing wall in Europe to come down and for Ankara to open its ports and airports to Cyprus.
Speaking Thursday after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou who was in the Austrian capital as part of his contacts regarding
Turkey's EU accession course and its forthcoming evaluation in December, Spindelegger emphasized the need for mobility on behalf of the Turkish side for the implementation of the Ankara protocol, adding that the opening of Turkish ports and airports is of high significance.
The Austrian foreign minister said that the successful continuation of the accession negotiations depends on the will for reforms and on Ankara's will to compromise, and it (Ankara) must speed up the pace of the reforms.
"It (Turkey) cannot remain unmovable and at the same time expect negotiations to continue", he added. Spindelegger repeated his country's position as regards Turkey's accession negotiations, noting "we want an open Turkey with a European orientation and for this reason we support negotiations that will lead to an open result but not automatically to accession".
In regard to the peace process in Cyprus and efforts to reunite the island, Spindelegger said only direct talks that are based on mutual respect and a will to compromise between the two communities, can achieve, in the long term, a peaceful co-existence in a divided island.
The head of the Austrian diplomacy described as close and friendly the political, culture and economic relations between Vienna and Nicosia, adding that these have attained a new dynamic since Cyprus joined the Eurozone.
He also said that Austria and Cyprus represent common positions in many European and international issues on which maintain common stance.
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