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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-12-04

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

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

Friday, 4 December 2009 Issue No: 3366

CONTENTS

  • [01] Inner Cabinet discusses RES bill, transparency of administrative acts
  • [02] Papoulias details Athens' policy vis-a-vis Turkey, 'name issue' in interview with Czech paper
  • [03] Alternate DM on increasing Turkish violations in Aegean
  • [04] ICAO chief: Letter sent to Turkish gov't over airspace violations
  • [05] Highlights of Turkish FM Davutoglu's interview with Greek TV
  • [06] Birbili holds talks with Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas
  • [07] ND again rejects LA.OS proposal for early election bid
  • [08] Finmin sees positive results for Greece at ECOFIN, Eurogroup
  • [09] FinMin on Ecofin meeting, one-off benefit to low-income households
  • [10] Finmin optimistic over course of Greek economy
  • [11] FinMin on tax measures
  • [12] Economy minister addresses annual forum in New York
  • [13] Birbili on Renewable Energy Sources
  • [14] Greek-Chinese forum on environment
  • [15] Intralot buying out 35 pc of CyberArts company
  • [16] Exports down 17.9% in Jan-Sep period
  • [17] Stocks sharply down
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [20] Appeals court acquits three convicted in ELA case
  • [21] Education minister holds talks with second generation immigrants organisations
  • [22] Outstanding 20th century engravings to be displayed in Thessaloniki
  • [23] Art exhibition of works from Dominican Republic
  • [24] Int'l journalist groups condemn recent attacks against media in Greece
  • [25] Riot police clash with students in Athens
  • [26] Nikos Pateras new Super League president
  • [27] Rainy on Friday
  • [28] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [29] President: We have all the rights every EU state enjoys Politics

  • [01] Inner Cabinet discusses RES bill, transparency of administrative acts

    The Inner Cabinet, chaired by prime minister George Papandreou on Thursday discussed two bills on Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and on uploading all administrative acts and decisions on the Internet.

    Papandreou, in statements to the Inner Cabinet that were broadcast on state television, dedicated Thursday's session to the persons with a disability "who are waging a battle for a dignified life", stressing that "our policy is to eliminate all the obstacles that do not allow the equal participation of the citizens".

    The premier also referred to the killing of 15-year-old pupil Alexis Grigoropoulos (by a police officer in incidents in the Exarchia district on December 6, 2008), sending a message to the Greek youth that "we understand their problems, and also the reasons that make some of them feel they are in the margins, but we are here to give a message of hope to these children".

    "We are opposed to violence, both state and individual violence," Papandreou said, and called for the safeguarding of Athens and the institutions of democracy, while adding that a dialogue will take place to put forward the prospects of the young generation.

    On the first bill to be tabled by the government in parliament, Papandreou said that "society's cohesion cannot be achieved without transparency", adding that "the credibility of the institutions depends on the credibility of those who serve them".

    Papandreou said that the government will make significant changes in the manner of legislating, while regarding the uploading of administrative acts on the internet he stressed that "we want the citizens to known who decides what, and what the cost of every decision will be", adding that "the problem of corruption will not be solved overnight, but we are striking a heavy blow to the problem".

    Outlining the bill, interior, decentralisation and e-governance minister Yannis Ragoussis noted that the decisions of all ministers, general secretaries and special secretaries, first and second level local government agencies, public law entity administrators and agencies of the wider public sector will be uploaded, while a transparency service will also be set up in every ministry. He called on the political parties to shoulder their responsibilities "because public authority must be exercised in the light".

    He also explained that the uploading of the acts on the internet will not replace their publication in the Government Gazette or wherever else required by law, but supplement it, while decisions that are not required to be published in the Government Gazette will not be able to enter into force if they are not uploaded.

    Turning to other issues, Papandreou stressed that the country's exodus from the crisis will be accomplished through green development, and the second bill, that on the RES, provides for the production of new wealth, which will be shared out fairly.

    He said the RES are a top priority investment means, stressing that dependence on oil obstructs the autonomy of a country at the level of political decisions as well.

    Environment, energy and climate change minister Tina Birbili, outlining the RES bill, said the main goal was a drastic reduction of the time required for licensing RES, in conjunction with attainment of the national goal of meeting 20 percent of the country's energy needs by RES by 2020, with 40 percent of those covering electricity.

    [02] Papoulias details Athens' policy vis-a-vis Turkey, 'name issue' in interview with Czech paper

    PRAGUE (ANA-MPA / N. Megadoukas)

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Thursday underlined, during his official visit to the Czech Republic, Athens' standing positions vis-ŕ-vis relations with Ankara as well as the thorny "name issue" involving the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) from Prague.

    Papoulias' comments come days before European Union consultations on the promotion of Turkey's EU accession course and a decision on whether to start accession talks with fYRoM.

    "We are not going to make concessions for Turkey," Papoulias said, while also cautioning that "if fYRoM does not compromise (on the name issue) a repeat of Bucharest will occur," -- a reference to the neighbouring country's failed bid to join NATO due to the nagging dispute.

    Moreover, Papoulias appeared pessimistic over the issue of Cyprus, saying that "I cannot see that we could have a conclusion and a solution to the problem."

    In an interview with the mass-circulation Czech daily "Pravo", and replying to a relevant question, he stressed that Turkey is a "difficult neighbour" with which relations are very good in terms of trade and tourism, "but we have many problems, problems in the Aegean, a disputing of our territorial waters and airspace, while violations of our national airspace come on a daily basis."

    The Greek president noted that Athens supports the neighbour's accession to the EU and clarified that it is one of the paradoxes that "we encounter many times, but it has a reasoning (behind it), because if Turkey at some point succeeds in becoming an equal member of the EU, then we might not have a series of problems that we have today."

    He also stressed that issues dealing with Turkey are not easy in relation to the EU, noting that certain European countries opening express their opposition to Turkey's full membership.

    "And, of course, Turkey has many problems that it must resolve. We are not going to accept concessions for Turkey when we demanded that Romania and Bulgaria fulfill all of the strict commitments and terms set for them by the Union," he added.

    On the Cyprus question, Papoulias said there talks between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, warning, however, that "we must bear in mind that Mr. Talat is an organ of Ankara's policy."

    He further stresses that he does not believe Cyprus will ever agree with the prospect of Turkey becoming an EU member as long as the latter fields an occupation army on the territory of an EU member-state, in this case, Cyprus.

    "I cannot see that we could have a conclusion and a solution to the problem. In any case, Turkey's military leadership is constantly stating that Cyprus is of great strategic importance for the interests of Turkey," he added.

    In a related development, Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis, who is accompanying Papoulias on his visit to the central European country, held bilateral contacts with the Czech Trade Minister and the country's Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for its international economic relations, during which ways of further increasing bilateral economic and trade cooperation were discussed.

    On the second day of his official visit to the Czech Republic, Papoulias met with the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Miroslav Vlcek, laid a wreath at the Vitkov national monument and was given a guided tour of the renowned Strahov monastery.

    [03] Alternate DM on increasing Turkish violations in Aegean

    Alternate defence minister Panos Beglitis on Thursday expressed concern over Turkey's increasing violations in the Aegean, responding in parliament on Thursday to a relevant question submitted by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party MP Ioannis Korantis, attributing them to an effort by Ankara to exploit military means in order to consolidate political goals.

    Beglitis said that over the recent period there has indeed been a "qualitative" increase in airspace violations, chiefly with overflights over inhabited Greek islands, and added that "this attitude in no instance is left without response".

    "We have created over time the framework of Greece's interventions in the political and military institutions of NATO and the European institutions, showing up this attitude of Turkey, which undermines the basic and fundamental principles of International Law, and also the basic and international principles of international relations," Beglitis explained.

    He said that, recently, he himself had pointed this out during his meeting with his US counterpart, and will do the same at the next week's NATO foreign ministers' council and at the upcoming European Council summit.

    "We all know that at the December 10 European Council Turkey will be evaluated by the EU member states, and its violations burden this assessment process," he said, adding that "this is an attitude that is not in keeping with the fundamental principle of good neighborhood, a principle that is an inviolable condition and basic prerequisite for a positive development of Turkey's EU course."

    "It is absolutely clear that Turkey has a European future only on condition that it respects the basic rules of international law," Beglitis warned.

    Korantis' question noted an exacerbation of efforts by Turkey not only with Athens FIR infringements and Greek airspace violations, but also with a series of NOTAMs, aiming at a triple or quadruple goal.

    Beglitis stressed that the government's "red line" regarding Turkey was the safeguarding of Greece's national sovereignty, the national sovereign rights, and also the authorities assigned to the country by international organisations.

    He noted, however, that it would not be in Greece's interests, for the time being, to "close the door to the EU" for Turkey, but rather the country's interests require that it backs the neighboring country's EU course, not unjudiciously and without giving out 'blank checks", but with respect for the terms, conditions, principles and the acquis that have been collectively formulated in the framework of the EU.

    [04] ICAO chief: Letter sent to Turkish gov't over airspace violations

    Minister of Infrastructures, Transports and Networks Dimitris Reppas met on Thursday with visiting International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) President Roberto Kobeh González, with issues expectedly focusing on issues concerning commercial flight safety, air transports' protection from illegal acts and air transportation-related pollution.

    Reppas underlined that environmental policy issues constitute a top priority for the government.

    On his part, the ICAO president said conclusions of detailed inspections recently conducted at the international airports of Athens, Thessaloniki and Iraklio, in terms of safety and security conditions, were extremely satisfactory and there is absolutely no concern as regards Greek airports.

    Responding to press questions, González confirmed that complaints have been filed for violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets, adding that he has addressed a letter to the Turkish government pointing out that it has an obligation to strictly adhere to all ICAO regulations regarding airspace safety.

    [05] Highlights of Turkish FM Davutoglu's interview with Greek TV

    Greek-Turkish relations and the long-standing Cyprus issue dominated an interview given by Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu this week and broadcast on Thursday by Greece's state-run television network.

    Davutoglu referred to political dialogue and a high-profile letter sent by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, stressing that "there should be more dialogue, structured discussions. In today's meeting (with PM George Papandreou on the margins of an OSCE ministerial meeting on Wednesday) I was very glad to see that we are concerned about the same issues. For this reason, the meeting (with the Greek prime minister) was very productive. I am very pleased.

    The visiting Turkish foreign minister added: "We had excellent meetings in Istanbul. Afterwards, the Prime Minister (Erdogan) addressed a letter to the Greek prime minister and in the meeting we had today we had the opportunity to exchange views of issues mentioned by the prime minister in his letter as well as on the vision concerning Greek-Turkish relations.

    "I am in the pleasant position to say that I have observed a common vision as regards bilateral relations and the way we view our common future.

    "These were verbal responses to the letter by PM Erdogan. Of course, there will be a formal response but we plan to have more consultations in the following weeks and months. There will be more high-level meetings in this context and the foreign ministers of the two countries will be in contact to agree on the framework."

    Regarding Turkish actions in the Aegean -- which Athens often condemns as clear provocations as the same time when Greece openly supports Turkey's EU prospects -- the head of Turkish diplomacy expressed gratitude for Athens' support of Turkish EU accession, adding that there are "conflicting arguments as regards the term 'violations'. We have specific concerns and we know that our Greek friends also have specific concerns. It is important to discuss these concerns and to create a common ground for the future. We had exploratory contacts in recent years. Today, we decided to have more effective and functional exploratory discussions as well as consultations on a 'code of contact' on how to settle issues in the Aegean and to try to use the energy spent in competing in the Aegean to create a collaboration aimed at turning the Aegean into a zone of peace, prosperity and stability for our peoples."

    Referring to ongoing intercommunal talks on Cyprus, Davutoglu stated that "the talks for a definitive solution on the island continue. Instead of working for piecemeal compromise solutions, we should turn our attention to a comprehensive solution." He said that it would have been "unfair for Turkey to be subjected to pressures through its EU accession procedure to accept a compromise that would be against the Turkish Cypriots, thus weakening their negotiating stance."

    "We believe that we have fulfilled all our obligations as regards these issues and we are ready to do even more if we work for a comprehensive solution," he said, adding that in a different case "commitments regarding Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots should be met in a balanced manner."

    [06] Birbili holds talks with Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas

    Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Tina Birbili met on Thursday witrh EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas for talks on issues concerning the UN conference in Copenhagen on the climate.

    In an announcement, the ministry also made clarifications, in the wake of reports, regarding the country's energy mixture, stressing that the relevant political options are the saving of energy, renewable energy sources, lignite and natural gas.

    The announcement also said that as of the new year the process of shaping national energy planning will begin.

    [07] ND again rejects LA.OS proposal for early election bid

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman MP Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking in Parliament on Thursday, again voiced his party's rejection of a surprise proposal by the opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) aimed at forcing early elections in March.

    LA.OS president George Karatzaferis on Monday said the main opposition and his party should collaborate towards this end by employing the upcoming spring-time election of a new president by Parliament's 300 deputies, in which 180 MPs are necessary to elect a head of state. If no president is elected by the foreseen majority then general elections are declared, as dictated by the Constitution.

    Responding to a latest proposal by LA.OS' parliamentary spokesman, Pavlopoulos clarified that "ND was and is a political party of principles and values."

    "We cannot trivialise the institutions, in a way similar to the irresponsible stance adopted by today's ruling PASOK party when it was in the opposition. This proposed move would be a violation of the Constitution, even more so when the people's mandate is still fresh," he said.

    Ruling PASOK parliamentary spokesman Christos Papoutsis welcomed the clarification by the ND spokesman, and referring to Pavlopoulos' comments on "irresponsibility", he stated that the policy followed in the country had to change and this was proven by the Oct. 4 election results.

    Financial News

    [08] Finmin sees positive results for Greece at ECOFIN, Eurogroup

    Welcoming the results of the ECOFIN and Eurogroup Councils, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Thursday said he was very satisfied because there had been two important developments concerning Greece.

    According to Papaconstantinou, EU finance ministers had not only admitted that the new Greek government was taking important steps in the right direction but there had also been an explicit rejection of disaster scenarios by European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia and European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet.

    During the two council meetings, Papaconstantinou briefed his European counterparts on the draft state budget for 2010, telling reporters that his presentation had been no different from those made in public. He had also briefed the councils on what he called the "major fronts" for Greece, listing these as:

    - Restoring the credibility of statistical figures produced by Greece and at the same time creating an independent statistics service;

    - Initiating social dialogue on a planned draft bill for changing the taxation system;

    - The effort underway to design a new method for drawing up the budget;

    - The framework of dialogue on social insurance and pensions reform.

    The Greek minister noted that Greece's economy had come under an unjustified attack and that the government's reply was made in an organised way that established a climate of confidence.

    Papaconstantinou added that the Greek government would soon start working on a stability and development programme that will be submitted to the EU in January, and that he would be sending letters to all his EU counterparts to assist in this effort.

    Regarding the length of time that Greece will remain under EU surveillance under the Excessive Deficit Procedure, the minister left this open and said that the ECOFIN Council will have to make a decision in February about whether or not to place the Greek economy under closer surveillance under Art. 104 (9) of the EU Treaty.

    This stipulates that EU member-states that persist in failing to put into practice the recommendations of the Council can be asked to take measures that the Council judges are necessary in order to reduce the country's deficit within a specified time limit.

    Speaking in the Greek Parliament on Thursday regarding the results of the EU Council meetings in Brussels, Papaconstantinou had defended the government's economic policy in terms of the budget deficit, saying that EU finance ministers' had on Wednesday "condemned the policy followed by the former ruling party of New Democracy."

    He stressed, however, that the present government had succeeded in overcoming this distrust toward Greece and was seen as a responsible party to deal with by its EU counterparts.

    Papaconstantinou said the government intended to go ahead with its plans to tidy up public finances, while simultaneously supporting the weakest sections of society with measures like the social solidarity benefit targeting lower income strata. He stressed that this clearly indicated a policy that sought to establish social justice, redistribute wealth and revive the economy.

    He stated that the specific legislative initiative was an unprecedented intervention that affected 2.5 million people who will share one billion euros, an amount that will provide relief but will not translate into additional burden for the taxpayers or further inflate the deficit.

    Referring to Wednesday's ECOFIN meeting in Brussels, which found that Greece had failed to take measures recommended by the European Commission to correct its excessive deficit and decided to begin the third stage of the Excessive Deficit Procedure that called for closer surveillance of the Greek economy (at three-month intervals), Papaconstantinou said that the "explosive" dimensions of the deficit were not the result of the global economic crisis but the policies of previous ND governments.

    ND reaction

    In a response, main opposition ND deputy and former minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stated that the draft law does not live up to people's expectations, although it has ND's positive vote considering the current circumstances.

    On behalf of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), MPs Angelos Tzekis and Giorgos Mavrikos stressed that the draft law is nothing more than "a gratuity to society's vulnerable groups".

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) MP Costas Aivaliotis characterised the draft law as "charity", while Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP Dimitris Papadimoulis said stricter government measures are pending, ones that will resemble ND's election campaign programme.

    [09] FinMin on Ecofin meeting, one-off benefit to low-income households

    Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou on Thursday defended the government's economic policy, particularly in terms of the looming budget deficit, speaking in Parliament a day after attending an ECOFIN meeting in Brussels.

    "Yesterday, the past was judged and the policy followed by the former ruling party of New Democracy (ND) was condemned. However, during the past two days we have also managed to have the disbelief toward our country lifted and to be regarded as a responsible interlocutor. We are proceeding with the support of the weak and the tiding of public finances."

    Referring to a government draft law envisioning a "social solidarity benefit" targeting lower economic strata, Papaconstantinou said it was a clear sign of a policy that seeks social justice, redistribution and resetting of the economy.

    He stated that the legislative initiative constitutes unpre-cedented intervention that affects 2.5 million people who will share one billion euros, an amount that will not translate into additional burden for the taxpayers or further inflate the deficit.

    Referring to Wednesday's ECOFIN meeting in Brussels, Papaconstantinou said the expected decision to open excessive deficit procedures (EDP) against Greece is being established, while the "explosive" dimensions of the deficit are not the result of the global economic crisis but the result of policies followed by previous ND governments.

    [10] Finmin optimistic over course of Greek economy

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, addressing Thursday the conference of the Greek Business Administration Company (EEDE) on the theme "Leadership in a new world", conveyed a message of optimism over the course of the Greek economy emanating from the country's "rare productive potential".

    The minister stressed that Greece "has very big economic difficulties, huge deficits and debts which, if we do not tame, will tame us and has a production image that has exhausted its limits."

    "The country has a series of things, which make me optimistic," he said, adding that "a really rare productive potential. And we see it everywhere. We also see it with Greek businesses, that are doing an excellent job, they are exporting successfully all over the world, but also with the Greeks who are working in Greece and abroad."

    Papaconstantinou pointed out that Greece "currently has a political leadership with an absolute understanding of problems, awareness of the crucialness of the situation and the political will to make these big reforms and changes."

    The minister further said that it is ready to make a fairer tax system, "in which a very large part will not tax evade. To take decisions that will guarantee the viability of our pensioning system. To make deep reforms in a system of education that as we see has been overtaken by developments."

    "Despite the difficulties, I want to be optimistic. And I want to convey this optimism. We are a government of only 50 days, that began under very difficult conditions and which as I believe is already beginning to show work in a shortl period of time," the minister underlined.

    [11] FinMin on tax measures

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Thursday outlined the government's anticipated tax measures to slash a looming double-digit budget deficit and increasing public debt, pointing directly to a broadening of the tax base and instituting new objective tax criteria.

    He said the concept behind the objective tax criteria is not based on previous models, but will cover the total sum of living expenditures accompanied by sample checks, as well as the expansion of the statement of means procedure.

    Additionally, the minister said a determined effort will also be made to dramatically reduce public spending.

    [12] Economy minister addresses annual forum in New York

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, addressing the annual forum of the "Capital Link" company held at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan, New York, referred to the importance attached by the Greek government to the attraction of investments to enable the country to become an investments centre in the wider region.

    The forum is under the auspices of the Economy, Competitiveness and Shippng ministry and bears the title "Greece: preparing recovery." Katseli had the opportunity of attracting the interest of American investors to "the opportunities and the ground for recovery and revival" offered by the Greek economy.

    Among other things, Katseli spoke of the policies being promoted by the government with the aim of lifting counter-incentives and assuming initiatives to attract foreign investments and referred to the ministry's priorities to restructure the production basis.

    Earlier in the day, Katseli met with Archbishop of America Demetrius, while she was expected to ring the bell for the end Thursday's session of the New York Stock Exchange.

    [13] Birbili on Renewable Energy Sources

    The government was not considering increasing the Renewable Energy Sources (RES) Special Tax, environment, energy and climate change minister Tina Birbili said on Thursday, replying to questions on the sidelines of an Energy Regulatory Authority presentation of the Public Power Corporation's (PPC) hybrid electricity production station on the island of Ikaria.

    The project combines the exploitation of aeolic (wind) energy and rainfall for the production and storage of electricity, and is one of the first such stations being built in the world.

    The Ikaria station comprises two hydroelectric plants with a 4.15MW power, a 2.7MW aeolic park and a pump-station. Energy is produced by the hydroelectric plants during the hours that aeolic energy is available (namely, when it is windy), and are powered by the pumps in order to return water to the hydroelectric plants' dams, where it is stored in order to produce energy again.

    The project is expected to cover 50 percent of Ikaria's needs in electricity with RES and reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gases emissions by 30-40 percent. The project commenced in 1998, was tendered in 2006 and assigned in 2007, and is slated for full operation in end-2010.

    Birbili said that achievement of the EU's 20-20-20 target (reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, RES participation in the energy balance of 20 percent and 20 percent energy conservation by 2020) requires an increase in RES penetration, changes to the existing legislative framework to eliminate bureaucratic obstacles, investment in infrastructures (networks and innovative actions), and manpower.

    She said that the bill on RES, which was being discussed Thursday at an Inner Cabinet meeting, will be put to public dialogue next week.

    [14] Greek-Chinese forum on environment

    European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas on Thursday inaugurated the first-ever Greek-Chinese Forum on the environment, held in Athens.

    Dimas, a former MP and minister in Greece, said the east Mediterranean country now trails behind other countries, as he referred to Spain and Denmark, which he singled out as world leaders in the renewable energy sources (RES) sector. He also pointed out that these two countries sell their RES technology, thus enjoying multiple gains.

    The two-day forum is co-hosted by the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) and the Beijing Association for Science and Technology (BAST).

    [15] Intralot buying out 35 pc of CyberArts company

    Intralot will buy out a 35 percent shares slice of the CyberArts company, extending with the company's platform the products offered by Intralot Interactive.

    According to a relevant announcement, the buyout of a 35 percent share of the CyberArts company, based in Silicon Valley, that possesses a platform of internet chance games, supports Intralot's strategy for the extension of the package of products provided by Intralot Interactive.

    [16] Exports down 17.9% in Jan-Sep period

    Greek exports fell by nearly 18 percent in the first nine-month period of 2009, according to figures released on Thursday by the national exporters' association.

    Based on statistical service figures, the total value of export deliveries between January and September 2009 reached 10.73 billion euros, down from 13.06 billion euros in the corresponding period of 2008, a decrease of 17.9 percent.

    [17] Stocks sharply down

    Stocks ended sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the composite index of the market dropping 2.73 pct to end at 2,366.86 points. Turnover was 282.7 million euros, of which 10.7 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved downwards, with Foods & Beverages (5.35 pct), Insurance (1.49 pct) and Telecommunications (0.57 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day; the biggest losses were for Banks (5.35 pct), Media (4.88 pct) and Health (4.52 pct).

    The FTSE 20 index fell 3.67 pct, the FTSE 40 index lost 1.68 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.31 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 140 to 61 with another 47 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.49%

    Industrials: -2.88%

    Commercial: -0.25%

    Construction: -2.20%

    Media: -4.88%

    Oil & Gas: -1.41%

    Personal & Household: -0.20%

    Raw Materials: -4.18%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.72%

    Technology: -2.95%

    Telecoms: +0.57%

    Banks: -5.35%

    Food & Beverages: +5.35%

    Health: -4.52%

    Utilities: -2.11%

    Chemicals: -3.85%

    Financial Services: -1.70%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 9.18

    ATEbank: 1.79

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.16

    HBC Coca Cola: 15.76

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.16

    National Bank of Greece: 21.00

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 9.12

    Intralot: 3.74

    OPAP: 16.72

    OTE: 10.60

    Bank of Piraeus: 10.11

    Titan: 21.87

    [18] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount 2.34 percent in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 123.678 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,416 contracts worth 96.888 million euros, with 26,565 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 24,165 contracts worth 26.790 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,730) followed by Marfin Popular Bank (2,793), Alpha Bank (2,202), Cyprus Bank (2,051), Piraeus Bank (1,862), PPC (1,688), MIG (1,346) and OTE (1,238).

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.524

    Pound sterling 0.916

    Danish kroner 7.501

    Swedish kroner 10.398

    Japanese yen 134.24

    Swiss franc 1.520

    Norwegian kroner 8.506

    Canadian dollar 1.6

    Australian dollar 1.640

    General News

    [20] Appeals court acquits three convicted in ELA case

    A Piraeus Criminal Appeals Court on Thursday overturned a conviction of three people jailed as members of the defunct urban guerrilla group Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), finding that there was insufficient evidence linking them to the terror group's activities after 1989, the date when any charges against them would not be written off under the statute of limitations.

    Specifically, all three were acquitted of charges of participating in a terrorist group from 1989 to 1995 and of bomb attacks attributed to ELA during the same period, with the court finding that the evidence failed to establish their participation in specific ELA actions.

    The court additional chose to accept a statement by self-confessed ELA member Christos Tsigaridas that he left the terror organisation in 1989 and also acquitted him unanimously for any of the organisations until and after that time, for lack of evidence to the contrary.

    The defendant Aggeletos Kanas was acquitted by majority vote of being an accomplice in explosions, attempted homicides and the murder of a police officer. For Irene Athanassaki, the decision to acquit was again unanimous.

    Tsigaridas, Kanas and Athanassaki were all in their 50s or 60s when they were originally convicted in October 2004 to the maximum 25-year sentences allowed by law. All three had been released by May 2006, however, either on parole or for health reasons. A fourth man convicted for his role in ELA, Costas Agapiou, died of cancer earlier this year and had also been released on health grounds.

    The three were acquitted in July 2005 during a trial for additional charges brought against them for alleged involvement in setting off several bombs targeting public services and organisations, which had been separated from the initial trial on the main body of ELA terror activities, for which the convicted individuals were already serving long sentences.

    [21] Education minister holds talks with second generation immigrants organisations

    Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou met on Thursday afternoon with representatives of second generation immigrants in Greece.

    Speaking after the meeting, the minister said "today there are 200,000 children in our country that, although having their origin in other countries, were born and grew up in Greece and speak the Greek language. These are the children for whom our country is also their country."

    Diamantopoulou further said that "with their representatives, who are from the junior high school, the senior high school, university schools and youth groups we discussed important issues concerning the educational system. The changes in education now concern the generation of immigrants as well and start from the kindergarten, support classes and accession classes, the handling of the issue of the mother language and reach support for the parents who must have the possibility of communicating with teachers and with the community in the Greek language."

    [22] Outstanding 20th century engravings to be displayed in Thessaloniki

    Two hundred works by noted artists of the 20th century, some of them extremely rare, will be on display in an exhibition entitled "1909-2009: One hundred years of modern Greek engraving", which opens next week at the Macedonian Studies Society's Modern Art Gallery in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.

    The exhibition will be inaugurated on December 11, and is co-organised by the Thessaloniki municipality and the Society for Macedonian Studies.

    The works include wood engravings, etchings, lithographs, linoleums and chalcographs by 140 painters, sculptors and engravers, among them Nikos Eggonopoulos, Nikos Hatzikyriakos Ghikas, Yannis Tsarouchis, Yannis Moralis, Tassos, Panagiotis Tetsis, Alekos Fassianos, Costas Tsoklis, Yiannis Gaitis, and others.

    The exhibition focuses on the human figure and especially the nude and famous persons' portraits.

    The works on display, from Yiannis Papaconstantinou's private collection and hand-picked by the collector himself, are representative of all the artists and artistic trends in Greek engraving in the 20th century.

    The selected artwork is just a sampling of one of the most important private collections, which boasts more than 800 engravings by 220 Greek artists of the 19th and 20th century, and it is the first time that such a large range of the collection will be open to the public for viewing.

    Papaconstantinou started buying engravings in 1922, inspired by an engraving exhibition he visited, after which, the collector notes, he became fascinated by the "neglected", up to then, art of engraving and began collecting such art "with a passion".

    The oldest work to be displayed is Demetrios Galanis' 1908 wood carving "The Hunt", while one of the rarest works is the 1939 tinted wood engraving by Tassos (Alevizos) "Trellos" (The Madman).

    [23] Art exhibition of works from Dominican Republic

    An art exhibition from the Dominican Republic is being held this week at the "Technopolis" multiplex centre in the Gazi district of central Athens.

    The exhibition, entitled "Revolution of Colours", is organised by the director of "Las Flores Art Collection", Flor Rojas, under the auspices of the City of Athens, while proceeds from the sale of paintings will benefit the Hellenic Society of Disabled Children (ELEPAP). The exhibition will last until Sunday.

    [24] Int'l journalist groups condemn recent attacks against media in Greece

    The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) on Thursday issued a strongly worded condemnation of what the two groups called "an outbreak of violence against media in Greece after a series of bombings targeting the offices and home of union leaders."

    The criticism follows two attacks late last month targeting the office of Moschos Voitsidis, the president of the Macedonia-Thrace Daily Newspapers' Journalists Union and the apartment of Panagiotis Nestoridis, the vice-president of EDOEAP, journalists' and press sector employees healthcare and supplementary pension fund -- an entity managed by its members and considered the best fund in the country.

    "These actions are shocking and indicate a violent trend in attacks on media in Greece," EFJ President Arne König said. "We demand that there is a full investigation of these attacks and we call on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice."

    An IFJ press release posted on the organisation's website stated:

    "During this year, journalists and media were victims of violence, to the dismay and outrage of the journalists' Unions and society. In Athens, several attacks against buildings of newspapers and TV stations took place, producing considerable material damages. Last week, journalist Paschos Mandravelis, a well-known newspaper and TV commentator, has also been the target of violence at the Athens University.

    "The EFJ supports Greek journalists who need determination and courage to practice their profession, regardless of violence and intimidation. The EFJ calls on authorities to take all necessary steps to protect journalists and media professionals from similar attacks and to act against impunity."

    The EFJ is also considering the dispatch of a fact-finding mission to Greece to collect further information on the specific cases.

    [25] Riot police clash with students in Athens

    Riot police (MAT) clashed on Thursday with students who attempted to enter the grounds of the Athens University of Economics, which has been closed indefinitely following a decision by the institution's administration in response to the increased number of new flu incidents recorded.

    The clashes erupted when students wishing to enter the university grounds to attend events marking Sunday's anniversary of the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos and students already inside the building, started hurling stones against the police force dispatched outside the institution.

    Police used teargas to disperse the protesting students and peace was quickly restored.

    The death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-year-old student, who was fatally shot on Dec. 6, 2008 by a police officer in Athens' Exarchia district, sparked unprecedented widespread rioting in Greece that lasted for days with hundreds of rioters damaging public and private property. Solidarity demonstra-tions took place in a number of European cities as well.

    [26] Nikos Pateras new Super League president

    Nikos Pateras was elected president of the Super League on Thursday. One of the main shareholders and president of the Panathinaikos Athens soccer club, Pateras received nine votes and Ergotelis Crete president Apostolos Papoutsakis six, while two votes were blank. Pateras is the fifth Super League president.

    Weather Forecast

    [27] Rainy on Friday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 19C. Cloudy in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 17C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 13C.

    [28] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    EU support and excessive deficit procedure for the Greek economy, the social security issue and government's reforms, the dialogue on education, civil servants' tenure and relations with Turkey, dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou begins open dialogue with pupils".

    APOGEVMATINI: "EU pressure for freezing of salaries in public sector".

    AVGHI: "Eurogroup president Jean Claude Juncker to Greek people: Have patience."

    AVRIANI: "Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) president George Karatzaferis bomb on new general elections in March".

    CHORA: "LAOS voters move to main opposition New Democracy".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Illegal migrants are the scourge of the market".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The changes in hirings in public sector and municipalities".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Kiss of life to contract holders".

    ESTIA: "The huge threat for the economy - Brussels overlooking the productive sector".

    ETHNOS: "Courage ....harsh measures are on the way".

    IMERISSIA: "Surveillance (excessive deficit procedure) with.....understanding - EU supports (Greece) and awaits new measures".

    KATHIMERINI: "Brussels gave short deadline for the introduction of substantial measures".

    LOGOS: "Strict surveillance of Greek economy".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "EU and IMF in-depth examination of Greece's fiscal deficit figures".

    NIKI: "Back-stabbings in the government - Greece in state of surveillance".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The hard times for people are without end".

    TA NEA: "Eleven changes in hirings via the ASEP (public sector hiring examinations board)".

    TO VIMA: "EU sets three year deadline for reduction of deficit".

    VRADYNI: "Civil servants' umbrella federation ADEDY's shocking report to government: Civil servants must wait 2 years to receive their superannuation".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [29] President: We have all the rights every EU state enjoys

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias stressed Thursday that Cyprus enjoys all the rights, which every EU member state has within the Union.

    The president was speaking ahead of next week's assessment of Turkey's EU accession progress by the December European Council.

    In statements on his return to the Presidential Palace after the conclusion of his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, President Christofias said he held a friendly discussion with Talat on the issue of governance, asylum, aliens, citizenship and immigration. During the next meeting, he said, they will discuss economy.

    Invited to comment on statements by the Turkish foreign minister regarding Ankara's respond should the EU impose sanctions for its non- compliance with its EU obligations, President Christofias said that this response reflects Turkey's policy, which has not yet changed.

    Asked whether Cyprus still has the right to freeze EU-Turkey negotiation chapters, he said "we have all the rights which every member state has", pointing out that the government coordinates efforts with the Greek government, ahead of the EU Council which will assess Turkey's progress.

    Regarding his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader, he said they exchanged views on the issue of governance, asylum, aliens, immigration and citizenship, noting: "we have not yet anything to announce. But it was a friendly discussion".

    President Christofias expressed the view that an open discussion "improves the climate, but this does not mean that there is a concrete outcome which we can announce".

    "It was an open discussion. This happens at negotiations, especially when the interlocutors know each other for years and have had a close relation in the past".

    President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct talks since September 2008 with a view to find a mutually acceptable solution that will reunite the country, divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.

    After Cyprus' accession to the EU, Turkey refused to extend its Customs Union to Cyprus, a commitment known as the Ankara Protocol, to open its ports and airports to vessel and aircraft bearing the Cypriot flag and to normalise its relations with the Republic of Cyprus.

    In 2006, the EU decided to freeze eight of the 35 EU-Turkey negotiating chapters due to Ankara's refusal to comply with its EU obligations. The rest of the chapters continue to go ahead, but the eight shall not be concluded until Turkey fulfills its obligations.

    The EU will assess Turkey's progress at the December EU Council.

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