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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-11-21

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

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

Saturday, 21 November 2009 Issue No: 3355

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou: 2010 to be the year of major change
  • [02] Greek 2010 budget a "triple bet", FinMin says
  • [03] 2010 State Budget tabled in parliament
  • [04] Social Solidarity bill tabled in parliament
  • [05] Droutsas wraps up W. Balkans tour
  • [06] Alternate FM Droutsas meets Tirana Archbishop Anastasios
  • [07] PM Papandreou to chair SI meeting
  • [08] Interior minister on redundant OA staff, vote to migrants
  • [09] Ragoussis on e-governance
  • [10] Gov't on incident with Turkish aircraft
  • [11] Interior minister on immigrant vote issue
  • [12] Education minister receives report on schools reform
  • [13] Dimas on selection of Damanaki as Greece's new EU Commissioner
  • [14] Tsipras criticizes gov't policy
  • [15] Batzeli attends the EU farm ministers' council meeting
  • [16] Parvanov presentation at EBEA
  • [17] European Commission requests information from Greece on professional qualifications of engineers, urban planning contracts
  • [18] Greece to be referred to the European Court for failing to implement accounting directive
  • [19] Greek stocks plunged 3.67 pct on Friday
  • [20] ADEX closing report
  • [21] Greek bond market closing report
  • [22] Buyout of Greek insurance company
  • [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [24] Warnings to EU members failing to comply with air quality standards
  • [25] European Commission on the non-notification of the transposition of a Euratom directive by Greece
  • [26] Justice minister visits Juveniles Shelter
  • [27] Three-day recycling event at Syntagma Square
  • [28] Arrest of man wanted by Albania on international warrant
  • [29] Investigation into baby's death from head injuries
  • [30] Two Athens day-care centres shut due to H1N1
  • [31] Fire at PASOK local office in Thessaloniki
  • [32] Arsonists target Nea Ionia municipal police building
  • [33] Fair on Saturday
  • [34] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Papandreou: 2010 to be the year of major change

    "We are trying to get the country out of the ICU and tidy up the economy," Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou stated in Parliament on Friday, regarding the state budget for 2010.

    The premier said that the next year would be one of major changes in several sectors of the economy, society and Greek institutions, with social dialogue on all these issues beginning in coming period.

    He also announced plans for a meeting of political party leaders chaired by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias to discuss matters of transparency and corruption, as soon as main opposition New Democracy had elected its new leader.

    Papandreou underlined that the government had taken over at one of the most difficult times for the country since the restoration of democracy in 1974, a time when it was at a crucial turning point. He also emphasised that the underlying problem was not the global economic crisis, which had simply served to intensify existing problems.

    Stressing that the government was not seeking to use the policies of the previous government as a scapegoat for the mistakes of the past, he said the first priority would be to protect what was most valuable in Greece, which was its people.

    Calling on all to participate and not just 'tolerate', Papandreou said that the government's aim was two-fold: to allow the country to emerge from the crisis and to strike the problems at their roots.

    One such area that lay at the root of problems, the premier repeated, was the state and the political system, which would continue to entrap the country and lead it to new crises unless there were major reforms.

    The budget tabled by the government on Friday was a first step in this radical new course for Greece, which would be combined with the tidying up of public finances in order to ensure the best use of tax-payers' money.

    These would be followed by major reforms to taxation, the political system and the operation of the state in order to promote transparency and ensure state respect for citizens, he added.

    [02] Greek 2010 budget a "triple bet", FinMin says

    The 2010 state budget was the government's triple bet to restoring confidence on economic policy in its relations with citizens, the European Union and international markets, to restoring credibility in statistical data and the state budget's itself, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said on Friday.

    Speaking to reporters while presenting the state budget's main projections, the minister said that European partners were pressing for even greater reduction of the fiscal deficit and of state spending, but noted that the government's budget but be both realistic and credible. Papakonstantinou stressed that the government would do its best to fairly distribute tax burdens and to achieve an effective use of public spending.

    The first step will be to ensure the independence of the National Statistical Service, followed by a report by an independent authority over the country's current fiscal situation, and then suspending new hirings in the public sector next year -with the exception of the health, education and security sectors. From 2011, the government will approve one hiring for every five retirements in the public sector. Papaconstantinou said the government to unveil by early December a draft legislation over a new tax system, expected to be tabled to Parliament in March 2010. Starting from the beginning of 2010, the government will begin a gradual abolition and merger of public agencies and implementing a new method in drafting state budgets.

    The Greek minister said the 2010 budget was "transitory" signaling the beginning of efforts to help the economy exiting its current stalemate and added that budget provisions could be changed with an updated Stability and Growth program to be submitted to the European Commission in January, while he left the door open for a supplementary budget next year "if necessary".

    Papaconstantinou said the government's income policy would envisaged pay and pension increases of 1.5 pct next year and that final details would be unveiled early in 2010.

    The tax system will be designed in a way to offering the maximum possible information for each taxpayers' incomes, while he said there would no further tax increases on alcohol and tobacco.

    [03] 2010 State Budget tabled in parliament

    The Greek government on Friday tabled in Parliament the state budget for 2010, envisaging measures to cut the country's fiscal deficit to a single-digit number as a percentage of GDP and containing the public debt.

    The draft budget also aims to cut state overspending, limit public spending, promote permanent measures to boost state revenues through a drastic clamp down on tax evasion, raise spending on investments, boost job positions and support incomes through pay rises above the annual inflation rate.

    The government's economic policy will also focus on implementing its policy commitments, such as tabling a draft bill ensuring the independence of the National Statistical Service (ESYE), reforming the system of drafting and executing state budgets and promoting a draft legislation for the reform of the taxation system and boosting transparency in public finances.

    The government has set as a top priority efforts to deal with an economic crisis and returning the Greek economy to a growth trend by adopting a bold and credible fiscal management framework. The draft budget's introductory report stressed that restoring confidence in public finances was a precondition for economic growth and prosperity, releasing funds to finance growth and social programs. The government also aims that a new tax policy would offer a simple, stable tax framework guaranteeing justice in the tax system.

    The 2010 budget was submitted, for the first time, in electronic form with a flash memory stick, by finance minister George Papaconstantinou, in the presence of prime minister George Papandreou. The draft budget will be debated by the authoritative parliamentary committee on Thursday, December 3, while the debate in the parliament plenary will begin on December 19, culminating in a vote at midnight on Wednesday, December 23.

    The 2010 budget envisages net revenues of 57.56 billion euros (53.70 billion regular budget revenues and 3.86 billion from the public investments program), or 23.6 pct of the country's GDP, up from 21.5 pct in 2009.

    Spending will total 32.8 pct of GDP next year, from 33.7 pct in 2009, cutting the central government's deficit to 9.2 pct of GDP, from the current 12.2 pct. The budget envisages that spending on wages and pensions will total 46.1 pct of primary spending next year, up 2.8 pct from 2009, while spending on additional benefits will be lowered by 75 million euros, or 7.8 pct of GDP. The draft report envisages a 6.9 pct increase on spending for the Education ministry and a 4.2 pct rise for the Justice, Transparency and Human Rights ministry. Spending for the Health ministry is projected to rise by 3.1 pct, while cuts of 6.3 pct and 3.6 pct are projected for the Culture & Tourism and the Agricultural Development and Food ministries, respectively.

    The public investment program is projected to total 10.3 billion euros in 2010, up 8.4 pct from 2009, accounting for 4.2 pct of GDP, while capital inflows from the EU are projected at 6.856 billion euros, up from 4.843 billion euros in 2009.

    The central government debt is projected at 326.305 billion euros (133.6 pct of GDP) next year, up from 300.80 billion in 2009 (125.3 pct of GDP), while the general government debt is projected at 294.95 billion euros (120.8 pct of GDP), up from 272.30 billion (113.4 pct of GDP) in 2009. State bonds account for 82.6 pct of the central government debt, with syndicated loans accounting for 12.1 pct, bills 3.1 pct and Bank of Greece's loans 2.2 pct.

    The 2010 budget does not envisage revenues from privatisation.

    The draft budget also envisages the creation of a financially viable social insurance system covering the needs of citizens and guaranteeing fraternity between generations. Under the government's plan, all existing social insurance funds will merge into larger, autonomous, viable pension funds with adequate funding so as to provide a basic pension of 550 euros, combating bureaucracy and boosting transparency in management.

    [04] Social Solidarity bill tabled in parliament

    The government's draft law on the "social solidarity economic reinforcement, social responsibility contribution of the large enterprises and the large real estate properties", which also contains other provisions of the economy, labor and social security, and health social solidarity ministries was tabled in parliament on Friday, following a public dialogue.

    The introduction to the bill said that the draft law comprises implementation of the government's policy statements for reinforcing low-income families and vulnerable social groups.

    An estimated 2,527,000 people are beneficiaries of the social solidarity benefit, which is budgeted at approximately one billion euros, with the benefit ranging from 300 to 1,300 euros per beneficiary.

    The beneficiaries include low-income salary earners, farmers and vulnerable social groups such as pensioners, people with a disability, people suffering from renal failure, people who have undergone transplants, uninsured and OAED-registered unemployed, etc.

    A total of 870 million euros are slated to be forthcoming from an extraordinary contribution imposed on 300 large enterprises, while the additional tax imposed on 60,285 large property owners is expected to bring in another 180 million euros.

    The public deliberation on the bill took place from November 3 to 8, and a total of 886 comments and views were submitted, according to the introductory note.

    [05] Droutsas wraps up W. Balkans tour

    TIRANA (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, during his visit to Tirana on Friday with which he wrapped up his tour of the western Balkans, discussed with the Albanian leadership all issues concerning the two countries, heightening with the presentation of the Greek initiative "Agenda 2014."

    "My presence here underlines the importance that we attribute to bilateral relations and to the European course of Albania," he said after his talks with his Albanian counterpart Ilir Meta.

    Referring to reformist efforts for the country's approach to the European Union, he expressed satisfaction, stressing that despite the obstacles "all the political forces have committed themselves to its European course, the implementation of the principles and values of the European family."

    Replying to the Greek initiative on the European incorporation of the Western Bakans with 2014 being the political and symbolical milestone, the Albanian foreign minister said that "we are very pleased for the dynamic impetus that the government of G. A. Papandreou wants to give."

    Meta thanked Droutsas for the continuous political support for Albania, even for the success of its accession to NATO and they agreed to close cooperation in the future.

    After the foreign minister, Droutsas met with Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Parliament president Josefina Topali and President of the Republic Bamir Topi, while later in the evening he was expected to meet Greek community representatives and Archbishop of Albania Anastasios.

    On Saturday morning, before the Greek delegation leaves for Athens, Droutsas will meet Tirana Mayor Eddy Rama.

    Earlier in the day, Droutsas said in Sarajevo that "the main message that we conveyed to Bosnia-Herzegovina is the European incorporation of the region by 2014" and underlined the great symbolism that this city has and from which the First World War had started a hundred years ago.

    Droutsas added, after meeting Bosnia-Herzegovina Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj, that in Bosnia-Herzegovina's course towards Europe, Greece shall be the great partner and friend.

    "Bosnia has no alternative prospect from the European Union and NATO and for this reason we consider the Greek initiative 'Agenda 2014' very important. We are ready to work and to contribute to the success of the Greek initiative," the Bosnian foreign minister said.

    Both sides termed bilateral cooperation excellent and promised to contribute to the further deepening of relations.

    [06] Alternate FM Droutsas meets Tirana Archbishop Anastasios

    TIRANA (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)

    Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios praised the Greek "Agenda 2014" initiative and the political target of the European integration of the Balkans that was presented by Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas during his visit to Tirana.

    Anastasios underlined that the Western Balkans are at a crucial turning point and for this reason their European perspective is very important.

    [07] PM Papandreou to chair SI meeting

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, leader of Greece's PASOK party and president of Socialist International (SI), is to chair a meeting of the SI's council due to take place on November 22-24 in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.

    The meeting will focus on the theme "At a crucial turning point for a viable future: The Socialdemocrats' proposals".

    [08] Interior minister on redundant OA staff, vote to migrants

    Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Friday said the government would find jobs in the broader public sector for some 3,000 former Olympic Airways employees that had been made redundant when the company was privatised.

    According to the interior minister, it didn't make sense to have this workforce being paid to sit idle or go into early retirement when they wanted to work and the wider state sector was having to take on temporary staff to cover its needs.

    He said that he would give local governments additional time to fill vacant positions with former OA employees, many of whom had valuable expertise and were the right age to make a contribution - as an example, he cited 15 lawyers who would probably be found work in the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP).

    The minister clarified that a freeze on hiring permanent staff in the public sector during 2010 would also include public utilities and local authorities, repeating that only one new person would be taken on for every five that left the civil service in order to limit wasteful spending.

    Ragoussis also referred to the issue of giving a vote to immigrants and allowing Greeks living abroad to vote from their country of residence, saying it would be wrong to confuse the two issues.

    Regarding the vote for expatriates, Ragoussis stressed that the present government would make sure that any bill brought to Parliament had the support of the opposition, given that it required a two thirds majority to become law.

    The vote to immigrants would go ahead as planned in the prefecture elections of 2010, as the government had promised, since there was no legal obstacle, he added.

    [09] Ragoussis on e-governance

    "The sector of e-governance, a crucial sector for the country's development, needs major overhaul," Interior, Decentralization and e-Governance Minister Yiannis Ragoussis stated Friday during a meeting with journalists to brief them on the results of the 5th Ministerial eGovernment Meeting and Conference in Malmo, Sweden.

    Referring to the state of e-governance in Greece, Ragoussis spoke of lack of cooperation between various actions, bodies, programmes etc that most likely are not aware of each other's existence.

    He referred to the joint declaration adopted at the Malmo meeting that sets targets for national governments, member-state cooperation and EU policy in e-governance for the period until 2015.

    A special emphasis was given to the services designed to meet the needs of internet uses, cooperation between businesses, the society of citizens and private individuals for improved services and the need for transparency in administrative procedures.

    The declaration approved also underlined the e-governance contribution to the sectors of economy, environmental protection and energy saving.

    [10] Gov't on incident with Turkish aircraft

    Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis underlined Friday that the government is taking everything under consideration to ensure the protection of public and national interests and intervenes via the diplomatic route when deemed necessary.

    Petalotis made the comment responding to a question on Thursday's incident involving four NATO Turkish fighter jets that entered an area where a Greek military exercise was in progress.

    [11] Interior minister on immigrant vote issue

    A draft law on the immigrant voting rights will be brought to parliament for discussion by the government only if a 2/3 majority is guaranteed, corresponding to 200 positive votes, as dictated by the Constitution, Interior, Decentralization and e-Governance Minister Yiannis Ragoussis stated on Friday responding to a current question by main opposition New Democracy (ND) MP Eleftherios Avgenakis.

    Speaking in parliament, the minister defended the government position to give to economic immigrants legally residing in Greece the right to vote in local administration elections.

    He stated, however, that according to the Constitution such an initiative can only be undertaken by the parliament.

    [12] Education minister receives report on schools reform

    Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Friday received a 25-page report outlining the conclusions of the national dialogue on reforming education chaired by linguistics professor and dictionary author George Babiniotis.

    The changes proposed by the Council on Primary and Secondary Education are a two-year mandatory kindergarten, new books that used modern technology, fewer subjects, changes in the examination system, all-day schools right up to upper secondary level and school certificates for foreign languages and computers.

    On the system for university entrance, the group proposed the foundation of an independent body responsible for setting exams that would be taken by highschool leavers, more than one time if necessary, while university entrance would depend on a candidate's performance in these exams and the marks on a candidate's national school certificate, which would be based on a pupil's marks in both written and oral tests in the last three years of upper highschool.

    The minister praised the report as an important framework for the ministry's work, especially the suggestions for kindergarten and primary schools, while adding that any changes to the university entrance examinations would not "catch pupils unawares".

    [13] Dimas on selection of Damanaki as Greece's new EU Commissioner

    Greece's European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, responsible for environment, stated from Brussels on Friday that the selection of Maria Damanaki as the country's new European Commissioner is a choice with indisputably "very positive" points.

    Dimas stated that Damanaki is a politician with a long history and a great parliamentary experience.

    He wished Damanaki success in her new tasks and offered his assistance if requested by her.

    [14] Tsipras criticizes gov't policy

    Opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras stated in Thessaloniki on Friday that the "government is moving without a compass".

    He stressed that "the strong reaction to the 'freezing' of salaries and pensions that forced the government to reconsider its policy will be regarded as minute after being compared to the opposition with which it will be met if it goes ahead with the demolition of the social insurance system."

    Referring to the state budget presented in parliament by the government he said that it is a "budget of dead ends".

    Tsipras also met with representatives of educators paid by the hour and listened to their problems.

    Financial News

    [15] Batzeli attends the EU farm ministers' council meeting

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)

    Rural Development and Food Minister Katerina Batzeli attended the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers meeting held here on Friday that focused on fisheries policy issues.

    Batzeli stated that the Greek delegation underlined that the fisheries policy should be a subject of negotiation and debate with the participation of the European Parliament, to be settled within the framework of the new revised agricultural policy.

    Batzeli stated that the management of farm land can give new prospects to the future of farm policy and the redistribution of agricultural policy provided that a central state planning will exist.

    [16] Parvanov presentation at EBEA

    Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov will be making a presentation on his country's economy to the Greek business community at an event organised in Athens by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) next Wednesday, during Parvanov's visit to Greece. This will also be attended by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    The presentation will take place at the EBEA building at 14:30 and Parvanov will outline the prospects for further developing bilateral economic cooperation. He will be accompanied by a delegation of Bulgarian business people involved in a variety of sectors, while those interested in attending have been invited to apply by November 24 at the EBEA International Relations department (210 338 2242, -256, -466. Fax: 210 362 4643).

    [17] European Commission requests information from Greece on professional qualifications of engineers, urban planning contracts

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spithourakis)

    The European Commission on Friday said that it has decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send a reasoned opinion to Greece requesting information on the measures they have taken to comply with a judgment of the European Court of Justice of 23.10.2008 (C-274/05) regarding the recognition of professional qualifications of engineers. The Commission will also send a letter of formal notice to Greece under Article 228 regarding a judgment of the Court of 2.7.2009 (C-465/08) on the implementation of a Directive on professional qualifications.

    The European Commission has also decided to formally request that Greece review contracts for cadastral mapping and urban planning services awarded by the municipalities of Vasilika, Kassandra, Egnatia and Arethousa. This formal request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion", the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. The Commission has also decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send Greece a letter of formal notice requesting full information on compliance with the 2009 judgment of the European Court of Justice concerning the supply of medical devices.

    [18] Greece to be referred to the European Court for failing to implement accounting directive

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Commission has decided on Friday to refer Belgium, Ireland, Greece and Luxembourg to the European Court of Justice as they have failed to fully implement into their national laws the latest Directive in the field of accounting within the prescribed deadline.

    Directive (2006/46/EEC), among other issues, increases the maximum thresholds that may be applied by EU members in determining which companies may be exempted from certain disclosure requirements. It also extends the disclosure requirements for companies on material transactions with related parties such as key management members and spouses of board members, and on arrangements that do not appear in the balance sheet such as transactions or agreements which companies may have with entities. Once implemented, non-listed European companies will also have to provide more information to the investors and other citizens about risks they are facing.

    The Directive takes into account the interests of small and medium-sized companies by allowing their exemption from certain reporting requirements, thus eventually reducing their administrative burdens. The transposition deadline for the Directive was Sept. 5, 2008.

    The Commission has also decided to send reasoned opinions to Greece, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom for failure to implement Directive 2007/44/EC, which lays down the procedures and criteria for the prudential assessment of acquisitions and increase of holdings in the financial sector.

    The Directive tightened the procedures that EU member supervisory authorities have to follow and determined the criteria they must apply, when assessing proposed mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or increase of capital participations in the banking, insurance and securities sectors. The deadline for transposing the Directive expired on March 21, 2009.

    [19] Greek stocks plunged 3.67 pct on Friday

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, with the composite index of the market ending slightly above the 2,400 level. The index ended at 2,405.61 points, losing 3.67 pct. Turnover was an improved 306.7 million euros, of which 15.1 million euros were block trades.

    All sectors moved lower, with the Oil/Gas (5.51 pct), Media (5.35 pct), Banks (5.03 pct), Technology (3.94 pct) and Health (3.77 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index plunged 4.04 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.82 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell 2.23 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 184 to 39 with another 36 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -3.94%

    Industrials: -2.46%

    Commercial: -2.29%

    Construction: -3.42%

    Media: -5.35%

    Oil & Gas: -5.51%

    Personal & Household: -2.11%

    Raw Materials: -1.57%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.18%

    Technology: -3.94%

    Telecoms: -2.83%

    Banks: -5.03%

    Food & Beverages: -1.29%

    Health: -3.77%

    Utilities: -1.63%

    Chemicals: -2.38%

    Financial Services: -2.13%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 9.83

    ATEbank: 1.68

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.65

    HBC Coca Cola: 16.80

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.71

    National Bank of Greece: 22.08

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 9.20

    Intralot: 3.87

    OPAP: 16.20

    OTE: 10.30

    Bank of Piraeus: 10.30

    Titan: 20.72

    [20] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.22 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange, with turnover rising to 106.200 million euros on Friday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,962 contracts, worth 82.714 million euros, with 30,408 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,691 contracts worth 23.486 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (6,314), followed by Eurobank (1,393), MIG (1,298), OTE (2,307), Piraeus Bank (877), National Bank (3,457), GEK (1,098), Marfin Popular Bank (2,003) and Cyprus Bank (973).

    [21] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds remained at 172 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market, with turnover totaling 2.0 billion euros. The Greek bond yielded 4.97 pct and the German Bund 3.25 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.23 pct, the six-month rate 1.04 pct, the three-month rate 0.72 pct and the one-month rate 0.42 pct.

    [22] Buyout of Greek insurance company

    The Private Insurance Supervision Committee has approved the buyout of the Greek Universal Life Life Insurance Company by International Life A.E.A.Z. The corresponding buyout contract had been signed since June 2009.

    It is the first time in recent years that a buyout of a life insurance company by another insurance company takes place in the country.

    According to a relevant announcement, it is an extremely important strategic move by International Life that is aimed at strengthening and widening its sales network.

    [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.493

    Pound sterling 0.906

    Danish kroner 7.501

    Swedish kroner 10.437

    Japanese yen 132.92

    Swiss franc 1.524

    Norwegian kroner 8.492

    Canadian dollar 1.600

    Australian dollar 1.642

    General News

    [24] Warnings to EU members failing to comply with air quality standards

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Commission warned eight EU members on Friday (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, France, Hungary, the Slovak Republic, and Romania) for excess emissions of tiny airborne particles known as PM 10, considering that certain limits were to be met by 2005 under European legislation.

    Airborne particles (PM 10) are mainly in pollutant emissions from industry, traffic and domestic heating. They can cause asthma, cardiovascular problems, lung cancer and premature death.

    Numerous EU members applied to extend the time for meeting the PM 10 standard until June 2011, and some extensions were granted to countries clearly striving to improve compliance.

    The letters sent target the countries judged to be falling behind. France is also receiving a separate letter over its failure to control emissions of sulphur dioxide.

    Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas commented on the issue stressing that "Particulate matter in air pollution has serious impacts on human health, and strict standards are required. These standards have to be enforced to protect citizens around the EU, and I therefore call on these eight EU members to remedy these shortcomings and improve protection for citizens as soon as possible. Human health is a top priority. It cannot afford to wait."

    [25] European Commission on the non-notification of the transposition of a Euratom directive by Greece

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Commission decided Friday to send a reasoned opinion to Greece for failure to notify the Commission of the timely transposition into national law of the Directive on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and nuclear spent fuel.

    The deadline for the transposition of the Directive on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and nuclear spent fuel into national law was Dec. 25, 2008.

    The Directive continues a system of control and prior authorisation for transboundary shipments of radioactive waste, to protect the health of workers and of the public and to avoid illicit traffic of such materials.

    Moreover, the Directive extends the scope to "spent fuel", that is nuclear fuel that has been already used in a nuclear installation.

    [26] Justice minister visits Juveniles Shelter

    Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Haris Kastanidis and Deputy Justice Minister Apostolos Katsifaras, accompanied by Piraeus Bar Association President Stelios Manousakis, on Friday paid a visit to the Juveniles Protection Society and the Piraeus Juveniles Shelter. The visit was carried out to mark Universal Children's Day.

    The ministers spoke with the chairman and board of the Juveniles' Protection Society, who briefed them on the problems they face on a daily basis. Afterwards, Kastanidis said that the 20th anniversary since Greece had signed the Convention for the Rights of the Child were a reminder of everything the Greek State had undertaken to do and had failed to do.

    "Our visit here today is chiefly a way of underlining that we undertake this responsibility: that we will do what must be done for children that are neglected, abused or have symptoms of delinquency. They are children with rights but they have not so far seen these rights practised," he said, announcing plans for the justice ministry to set up a protection network for children at risk.

    [27] Three-day recycling event at Syntagma Square

    The City of Athens announced that it will "construct" a "Recycling Town" for three days in Syntagma Square to inform city residents and visitors on ways of recycling, in collaboration with private SKAI radio/television station and Eurobank, beginning on Friday.

    From Friday through Sunday, November 22, leading recycling companies will manage kiosks at Syntagma Square and give citizens the opportunity to be informed about the usefulness, the benefits and the ways of recycling. In addition, environment volunteers of the City of Athens will distribute info brochures and be on call to provide information to all.

    The "Recycling Town" will be home to eight Collective Alternative Management systems that recycle: Packaging materials; Oils; Packaging and Waste; Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste; Lighting Equipment and Lamps; Portable batteries; Used Tires; and Used Lubricating Oil.

    The kiosks will operate the following days and hours:

    Friday, November 20 - 10am-8pm

    Saturday, November 21 - 10am-6pm

    Sunday, November 22 - 10am-3pm

    Events

    During the three-day operation of the "Recycling Town", an outdoor photography exhibition held in cooperation with the Greek Lomographic Embassy and gallery M55 will be staged at Syntagma Square.

    Six photographers "lomo-write" about the environment: Ilias Kosidas, Athena Kazolea, Marilia Kostantinopoulou, Yiorgos Kouvaras, Yiannis Fountoulakis and Stefania Mizara. The lomo-photographs will give a different perspective on the way waste is handled in the city's trash containers, the landfills and the recycling centres, under the motto "Reduce, Re-use, Recycle".

    In addition, children can have fun and learn about recycling through clever events that will attract their interest:

    On Friday, the group "Ftou xeleftheria" will present the programme "You wanna play Environment?" from 10am to 2pm. The programme is aimed to raise children's awareness on recycling and the preciousness of water. Next will be the "Recycling Amusement Park" presented by the Entertainment Educational Action group from 2pm to 8pm.

    On Saturday, Trash Art creates... treasures from the trash from 10am to 3pm. Children, together with teachers and artists, can create artwork from recycled materials and arrange the city they desire and dream of living in through creative constructions.

    On the same day, light bulbs will be exchanged for energy saving from 3pm to 6pm under the initiative of the company Fotokyklosi.

    On Sunday, from 11am to 1pm, the play "Which way to Litter... Greenville" will be performed at the "Eleftheri Ekfrasi" theatre of Mary Igglesi. Topics of the play include recycling, the protection of the forest and the balance of nature.

    Shortly afterwards, at 1:30pm the City of Athens Philharmonic will perform at the "Recycling Town" and close the three-day event with music.

    Please note that on Saturday, November 21, book donations will be accepted. The non-governmental organisation "The Caravan of Solidarity" will operate book collection points at Syntagma Square, Glyfada and Kifisia. Some books will be used to stock new libraries.

    The book collection points will be located at:

    1. Syntagma Square from 10am to 6pm in the "Recycling Town".

    2. Glyfada Municipality (15, Alsous St) in the City Council hall from 8am to 2pm.

    3. Kifissia Municipality (Dionisou & Mirsinis Sts) from 8am to 2pm.

    [28] Arrest of man wanted by Albania on international warrant

    Thessaloniki police have arrested a 29-year-old foreign national wanted by Albania on an international arrest warrant, it was announced on Friday.

    The man, for whom an international arrest warrant has been issued by a court in Tirana, was arrested by police on Thursday afternoon.

    Police said that a loaded gun was found in the detainee's possession, while a search of his house turned up a second gun, as well as forged identity documents.

    [29] Investigation into baby's death from head injuries

    Police on Friday launched an investigation to discover what caused the death of a 3.5 month old infant that was brought to Thessaloniki's Ippokration Hospital with head injuries, possibly caused by a fall.

    Doctors said they attempted resuscitation but the baby had been dead on arrival. It was brought into the hospital by its mother and one other relative. The mother had a history of drug abuse and is now being held by order of a public prosecutor.

    [30] Two Athens day-care centres shut due to H1N1

    Two Athens municipality day care centres will close for six days from November 21, after two cases of H1N1 were confirmed by laboratory tests.

    [31] Fire at PASOK local office in Thessaloniki

    A fire broke out at dawn Friday in the offices of the ruling PASOK municipal organisation in Agios Pavlos-Evaggelistria in Thessaloniki from causes as yet unknown.

    A team of six firemen with two fire engines rushed to the scene and quickly extinguished the fire, which caused only minor material damage.

    [32] Arsonists target Nea Ionia municipal police building

    The Municipal Police headquarters in the Athens suburb of Nea Ionia was targeted by arsonists in the early morning hours on Friday, causing damage but no injuries.

    Unidentified persons threw a home-made incendiary device comprising six small propane canisters at the building, and the explosion shattered window panes in the building and the adjacent municipal aliens' bureau offices, while the ensuing fire damaged two cars parked outside.

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Fair on Saturday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 24C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 23C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 18C.

    [34] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Clarifications on the 'freeze' on public sector salaries, Tax Bureau audits on doctors in the posh Kolonaki district of Athens, and the appointment of Belgian prime minister Herman Van Rompuy as the EU's first President and the UK's European Commissioner for trade Catherine Ashton as its first Foreign Affairs Chief during a special summit of the 27-nation bloc in Brussels on Thursday, were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Friday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The 'closed' (exclusive) professions opening up, by decision of Council of State".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Europe gets new breath of life - Historic day for the United Europe, which acquires a single representation and voice with a Belgian-British duo at the helm".

    AVGHI: "Freeze on the government".

    AVRIANI: "The mutiny by Papoutsis (PASOK former minister) and the 'green' (PASOK-affiliated) trade unionists forced the government to rescind the freeze on the salaries of civil servants".

    CHORA: "Green reactions over the salary freeze - Strong disagreement by Papoutsis in parliament over the harsh incomes policy".

    ETHNOS: "Poor...doctors in Kolonaki - Unbelievable cases of tax evasion brought to light".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Turkish jetfighters 'crashed' Greek military manoeuver - 'Rehearsal' for partition of the Aegean".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "First defeat (for government) with...self-goal (opposition from inside the ruling party itself) - Irregular retreat on the salary freeze".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Big-time doctors with poverty virus - Kolonaki: Audit on 151 showed that 96 declared the minimum income".

    ESTIA: "We're diverting from Europe, eight years after joining the EMU (economic and monetary union)".

    IMERISSIA: "Debt and spread cause fear - Alert in the government's economic staff".

    KATHIMERINI: "They withdrew the demi-measures under pressure - The government a hostage of its campaign pledges and internal party reactions".

    LOGOS: "Those who have are provoking public opinion...Tax evasion by Kolonaki doctors".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The state debt causes 'vertigo' of 300 billion euros".

    NIKI: "Wake up because we're losing our way - People of PASOK, the country needs, at last, to be governed".

    PARASKEVI+13 (weekly): "The succession race (in main opposition New Democracy for the new party leader) heats up - The secret planning of the candidates in the last, critical week (before the Nov. 29 election)".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "KKE (Communist Party of Greece) draft law for full-time, steady work for everyone".

    TA NEA: "Tax-crime in...Kolonaki - All self-employed professionals to be put through the (Tax Bureau) sieve".

    TO VIMA: "Objective criteria (on income) being planned for doctors, lawyers, professionals".

    VRADYNI: "Mass shots against the measures - Vehement attack on government, even by its own cadres, over the measures".

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