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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-12-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 16 December 2009 Issue No: 3376
 Political party leaders consider heated issue of corruptionTackling corruption was the focal point of a political party leaders' meeting at the presidential mansion on Tuesday, chaired by President Karolos Papoulias and following a proposal by Prime Minister George Papandreou, a gathering that the former termed as a "national matter".
In opening the session, Papoulias said Greece's political leadership owes it to the next generations to undertake major institutional and cultural changes.
The meeting was attended by Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President George Karatzaferis and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras.
On his part, Prime Minister George Papandreou appeared upbeat and positive as he left the first meeting of political party leaders, chaired by Papoulias, saying the results of the meeting were significant.
The prime minister noted that many of his own proposals were accepted by the leaders of the political parties, while he was prepared to look positively on some of the proposals made by the opposition party leaders.
He also emphasised that ruling PASOK, even before the elections, had raised the issue of corruption as a key issue for the country's political life, which needed a new sense of trust and reliability.
We have to strike at lawlessness and inequality, which creates corruption and strikes at the country's credibility, as well as leaving the Greek people out of pocket, he stressed.
Samaras, meanwhile, also appeared satisfied at the outcome of the meeting, confirming that he agreed with Papandreou's proposals and vice-versa.
He cited the example of the regime governing ministers' liability, calling it a good step forward.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga, meanwhile, cited the issue of political parties' funding, something she said was brought up by Papandreou. Papariga again underlined that her party will not publicise the names of its cadres and supporters.
"Monitoring public sector expenditures is one thing, the shamefulness of parties' campaign spending is another thing," she added.
LA.OS leader George Karatzaferis requested more such meetings on a regular basis.
Finally, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) head Alexis Tsipras cited reforms in ministers' liability, campaign spending and public sector procurements, among others.
 PM presents proposal to fight corruptionPrime Minister George Papandreou presented a ten-point proposal to fight corruption during the political party leaders' meeting at the presidential mansion on Tuesday, chaired by President Karolos Papoulias.
The premier's proposal includes a reform of the law for the financing of political parties, a change in the composition of the Parliament's Control Committee, which would comprise a majority of extra-parliamentary personalities, a change in the statements of means of regime and a reform of the electoral law aiming at cutting down election campaign costs.
 Samaras: PM's measures vague, delayedMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday issued his first full-blown criticism against Prime Minister George Papandreou, a day after the latter announced a measures to shore up the ailing Greek economy, speaking during his inaugural address to ND's Parliamentary group as party leader.
Samaras criticised Papandreou for acting with undo delay and vagueness, as well as for indecisiveness to deal with the Greek economy's problems, as he said.
"The prime minister's address on Monday had three serious deficiencies. It referred only to future measures when immediate and permanent measures are mandatory; secondly, he presented his wishes as a stability plan, which is not a strategy to exit the crisis, saying reduction of the debt will start in 2010, which means what, that the debt will increase until then?" he asked, rhetorically.
In stepping up his critique of the government, he said it has no plan and is in a state of chaos, "whose repercussions are paid by the Greek people."
"We will not deny our responsibilities, we did not do everything right but we will not accept their criticism on our past governments. We will respond and counterattack. Former premier Costas Karamanlis recognised our mistakes, but we were not irresponsible, we did not exercise populism and we didn't play games with the institutions. We did not make fake promises," he said.
Samaras also referred to his party's problems, reiterating that he has "erased" whatever was uttered and done during the campaign for ND's leadership, underlining that he will not allow attacks against the party's unity, "I owe it, we all owe it to the 800,000 ND friends that voted during the leadership election".
"There are no winners or losers, only winners."
In concluding his address, Samaras called on his party's MPs to give their best, "in a battle in which no one is redundant, everyone will be judged only from his work."
 Social partners address ND Parliamentary groupThe head of General Confederation of Workers Yiannis Panagopoulos on Tuesday addressed main opposition New Democracy's parliamentary group, where he noted that the "political system must give an answer to the problems".
At the same meeting, Civil Servants Union president Spyros Papaspyrou noted the crisis not only exists in Greece.
Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants president Dimitris Assimakopoulos said that unpleasant surprises will occur over the next period, and expressed a hope that the Greek economy will not enter into a condition of long-term stagnation. He stressed that the condition of private economy is worse that that of the general economy and referring to tax evasion, he admitted that it exists in SMEs.
 Gov't spokesman on measures announced by PMGovernment spokesman Giorgos Petalotis underlined on Tuesday that "the indecisiveness, lack of courage and inertness", that characterised the policies of the previous government and are responsible for the current difficult situation, will end.
Referring to the measures outlined on Monday by Prime Minister George Papandreou in a speech, Petalotis stated that the key-points on which the new national pact will be founded.
Petalotis pointed out that now is the time for political parties, social partners and citizens to assume their share of responsibility and "transform the crisis into an opportunity for a different Greece." He also called on the main opposition party of New Democracy (ND) to realise its role in the crisis.
Commenting on when the "cautious" stance adopted by the markets and the European Commission is expected to change, he referred to the country's "huge credibility deficit" and underlined the positive response of the EU partners to the prime minister's speech.
On European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia's statements on Tuesday who called for "tangible" policies on behalf of Greece, Petalotis stressed that the prime minister has already given his response in the press conference in Brussels and in his speech yesterday.
"We are not saying that all problems will be solved in three months but all major problems are being tackled and through broad consensus we will be able to work for their solution in the best possible way," the government spokesman stressed.
 Greek PM's statements moving in the right direction, Almunia saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
European Commissioner for monetary affairs Joaquin Almunia on Tuesday welcomed the statements made by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Athens the previous night as a step in the right direction. At the same time, he stressed that the European Commission was waiting to examine the Greek stability programme in January, as well as the specific measures to boost fiscal adjustment and ensure the short-term stability of public finances in 2010.
"We note the Greek government's pledge, which was repeated yesterday by the Prime Minister George Papandreou, to reduce the fiscal deficit and public debt through permanent cutbacks in spending and an increase in revenues. Mr. Papandreou has boosted the intentions of the Greek government for structural reforms in social insurance, in drafting the budget in the taxation system and in collecting statistical data," he said.
 Gov't: Athens determined to close borders to stem illegal migration via TurkeyCitizen Protection Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis on Tuesday emphasised here that "75 percent of illegal migrants heading towards European Union countries pass through Greece", speaking at a joint press conference Frontex executive director Illka Laitenen.
Chryssohoidis underlined that the Frontex chief's presence in Greece indicates the Union's heightened sensitivity to the illegal migration problem and EU members' increased and joint efforts to deal with the huge problem, which Greece cannot face alone.
On his part, the Greek minister, who holds the law enforcement portfolio, stressed that Greece is determined to close the borders with Turkey in order to radically tackle the problem, while he presented the country's national action plan to Laitenen.
 Environment minister meets U.S. under secretary for energyEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Tuesday had a meeting with United States Under Secretary for Energy Dr. Kristina Johnson, on the sidelines of the Copenhagen climate change conference. During the meeting, they agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in energy conservation and renewable energy sources.
Specifically, they agreed to promote cooperation between the Greek Centre for Renewable Energy Sources (CRES) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the U.S. with emphasis on matters relating to smart grids, smart metering and methods for conserving energy and using renewable energy sources in the domestic and service sectors.
The two officials agreed to arrange a meeting between delegations from the two countries to discuss these issues in the near future. They also exchanged views on climate change and the negotiations underway in Copenhagen on achieving a global treaty to cut down carbon emissions.
 Deputy minister Dinos Rovlias resigns on patronage claimThe government on Tuesday announced the resignation of Deputy Interior Minister Dinos Rovlias after documents were leaked to a popular TV journalism programme claiming that his political office had agreed to "arrange" favourable transfers for his supporters in the army and police.
Government spokesman George Petalotis clarified that the minister denied the documents presented in the programme originated from his office but had decided to offer his resignation, which was accepted by the prime minister, in order to avoid casting any aspersions that the present government was involved in clientelism.
Petalotis also noted that Prime Minister George Papandreou had noted the need for a code of conduct to be drawn up for all such issues, which would be binding for all members of the government from this point on, and had assigned the task of drawing this up to government Vice President Theodoros Pangalos.
 Rovlias on reasons that led him to resignIn a statement regarding his decision to resign, Deputy Interior Minister Dinos Rovlias on Tuesday outlined the reasons for his decision and said his resignation had been accepted by Prime Minister George Papandreou.
"Today I submitted my resignation to the prime minister after media reports claiming that my political office was involved in applications for transfers of police and armed forces officers.
The prime minister accepted it.
I accepted political responsibility and submitted by resignation independent of the substance of the charges, in order to avoid causing even the slightest problem for the government, especially during this critical time for the country. I consider that in this way I serve the principles and values of my party," he said.
 Greek FinMin satisfied over talks with German counterpartBERLIN (ANA-MPA/P.Stangos)
Greek Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou on Tuesday expressed his satisfaction over talks with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schauble, which focused on an analysis of measures announced by the Greek government on Monday aimed at cutting the country's fiscal deficit and ensuring an economic recovery.
Speaking to Greek reporters, Papakonstantinou reiterated that the country's biggest problem currently was a loss of credibility and stressed that a tour of European capitals was aimed at offering a personal briefing over the Greek government's plans and to convince his counterparts and representatives of institutional investors - worried on the Greek economy's prospects - over the government's determination to swiftly implementing specific measures.
The Greek minister said he was aware of a very negative climate currently prevailing in Germany and European media and stressed that "our partners in the EU and institutional investors are waiting to see actions and a gradual implementation of measures will restore confidence in the economy, affecting the media's presentations," he said.
Commenting on his meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, Papakonstantinou said the German side was worried over the possibility of pressures on the Eurozone and that he offered details of the government's plan in order to avoid any "side-effects" on the Eurozone's cohesion. The Greek minister said talks with his German counterpart did not include any "support plan" for Greece. The two men discussed the Greek state's debts to German enterprises, HDW's shipyards and German medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies, with the Greek minister offering reassurances over repayment of debts.
 Finmin meets French Economy Minister in ParisPARIS (ANA-MPA/Olympia Tsipira)
The Greek government will submit to the European Commission in January an updated stability and growth program which would include in detail the package of measures announced by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday, Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou said here on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with his French counterpart, Christine Lagarde, the Greek minister said Greece did not need any rescue plan. "We do not have any such discussion with our counterparts. Greece will do what it is necessary to cut its fiscal deficit. Markets are monitoring us very carefully. They expect to see actions. It is obvious that it is difficult to convince, but at the same time they see a government determined to take action," Papakonstantinou told reporters.
He briefed his French counterpart over initiatives taken by the government over a reduction of the fiscal deficit and controlling the public debt through lower spending and higher revenues, in the medium-term.
Arriving at the French economy ministry for the meeting, Papaconstantinou said he had come to present the initiatives announced in Athens the previous day by Prime Minister George Papandreou.
"[These are] initiatives for dealing with problems arising from the public debt, initiatives that are also part of the preparation of the budget and the stability and development programme. I came here so that we can exchange views in the framework of the close cooperation with the French economy minister," he said.
Asked to comment on the negative response of international markets on Tuesday to Papandreou's announcements, Papaconstantinou noted only that markets fluctuated while the Greek government was making a long-term effort to redue the deficit, chiefly through a reduction in spending.
"Difficult decisions were taken with reforms in public administration and in taxation for which we will propose new legislation in February".
 OLP president on agreement with port workersThe President of the Piraeus Port Authority SA (OLP) George Anomeritis presented on Tuesday the agreement reached between the OLP and port workers, saying that the cost of a voluntary retirement scheme would reach the amount of 80 million Euros.
He also announced policies for the development of Greece's ports.
 Frigoglass buys purchases US firm for 11.5 mln US dollarsFrigoglass SA on Tuesday announced the signing of a binding agreement to purchase Universal Nolin Co. LLC, a US-based company, for 11.5 million US dollars (7.9 million euros).
Frigoglass said the acquisition will positively contribute to its profitability during the second year of full integration. Universal Nolin Company LLC is based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and is a manufacturer of professional freezing products.
Its 2009 sales are projected at 20 million US dollars (13.8 million euros).
 Credit conditions worsen in Jan-NovCredit conditions improved slightly in November, with the value of bounced checks falling 15.87 pct to 189.2 million euros, compared with the corresponding month in 2008, while volume fell 11.3 pct to 19,177 bounced checks.
Credit conditions, however, worsened in the 11-month period from January to November, with the value of bounced checks totaling 2.8 billion euros and volume totaling 286,586, up 42.35 pct and 23.47 pct compared with the same period in 2008, respectively.
The value of unpaid bills totaled 21.2 million euros in November (12,199 in volume), down 8.03 pct and 6.16 pct compared with November 2008 last year, while for the 11-month period the value totaled 228 million euros and volume was 138,505.
 Q3 retail sector jobs cutThe employment composite index in the retail sector fell 2.1 pct in the third quarter of 2009, compared with the corresponding period last year, after an increase of 1.9 pct recorded in the third quarter of 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the employment rate in the food store category was unchanged in the July-September period, after an increase of 2.6 pct in the same period in 2008. The employment rate in other store category dropped 5.2 pct this year, after an increase of 1.1 pct last year.
 Stocks end 2.12% downStocks came under selling pressure on Tuesday pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange below the 2,200 level again. The index fell 2.12 pct to end at 2,169.98 points, with turnover a moderate 238.5 million euros, of which 70.1 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved down, with the Insurance (3.61 pct), Banks (3.48 pct), Telecoms (1.94 pct), Technology (1.80 pct) and Financial Services (1.74 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Industrial Products (1.77 pct) and Chemicals (0.81 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 2.61 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.43 pct and the FTSE 80 index dropped 1.04 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 134 to 63 with another 41 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.39%
Personal & Household: -1.24%
Raw Materials: -1.63%
Travel & Leisure: -0.68%
Food & Beverages: -1.17%
Financial Services: -1.74%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Emporiki Bank, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.00
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.15
HBC Coca Cola: 16.40
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.25
National Bank of Greece: 17.20
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.60
Bank of Piraeus: 8.07
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.19 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover remaining an improved 114.175 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,811 contracts, worth 87.879 million euros, with 21,733 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 37,067 contracts worth 26.296 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (8,074), followed by MIG (2,641), OTE (2,794), Piraeus Bank (2,365), National Bank (2,851), Intracom (2,524), Marfin Popular Bank (2,977), Ellaktor (1,168), Mytilineos (1,524), Hellenic Postbank (1,475) and ATEbank (1,676).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.465
Pound sterling 0.903
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 10.547
Japanese yen 131.26
Swiss franc 1.524
Norwegian kroner 8.541
Canadian dollar 1.558
Australian dollar 1.617
 Police arrest three suspects for armed robbery in StylidaPolice on Tuesday announced that the arrest of three people as suspects for a bank robbery at an Emporiki Bank branch in Stylida carried out by four individuals a week ago, in which 200,000 euros were taken. A fourth suspect, an Albanian national, is still being sought.
According to authorities, 114,300 euros of the stolen money has been recovered, after it was found hidden in various locations.
The three under arrest are a 40-year-old business owner from the village Raches in Fthiotida prefecture, a 30-year-old security firm employee from Stylida and a 25-year-old soldier serving at at a military unit in Lamia.
The central Greece police headquarters announced that the three have confessed to their part in the robbery and led the police to various locations where they had hidden the money taken. The alleged mastermind of the robbery was the 40-year-old, who had entered the bank to change some notes shortly before the robbery was carried out and had seen that the safe was open.
The actual armed robbery was carried out by the 25-year-old and the Albanian still at large, while the 30-year-old's involvement was confined to telephoning the police and making a fake report about a road accident in order to ensure that there were no police patrol cars near the bank at the time of the robbery.
After completing the robbery, the suspects headed east out of Stylida on a motorbike that they abandoned after about 20 kilometres. They then removed and threw away the hoods they had used in the robbery, changed their clothes and went back to their normal daily routine.
The discarded hoods and motorbike were later found by police, who also succeeded in tracing the 30-year-old that had reported the fake accident through his phone calls to the local police station. He led them to his part of the hidden loot, 19,000 euros buried near the village of Paleokerasia east of Stylida.
Shortly afterward, police discovered another 43,300 euros hidden by the young soldier in a locker within the unit where he was serving and another 52,000 euros hidden in the home of the 40-year-old businessman.
The search continues for the fourth man but police have very few clues regarding his whereabouts. They are also investigating the possible involvement of the ring in other robberies in the region.
 Gov't eyes new squad to combat fuel smuggling, shady hospital contractsCitizen's Protection Minister Mihalis Chryssochoidis on Tuesday announced the establishment of a special unit assigned to combat illegal trading of fuel and hospital procurements.
Chryssochoidis said the initiative has the approval of Prime Minister George Papandreou, adding that illegal fuel trading in Greece translates into annual losses of five billion euros. He also noted that huge amounts are being spent in state hospital procurements without legitimate reason.
The special squad will be comprised of tax auditors, IT experts and certified accountants.
 Academy of Athens remembers Angeliki LaiouThe Athens Academy held an event on Tuesday evening in memory of Angeliki Laiou, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine History at Harvard University, who passed away last December at the age of 67.
Speakers at the event included Gilbert Dagon, Professor at the College de France, Johannes Koder, Professor at the University of Vienna and Alice-Mary Talbot, Director of Byzantine Studies at the Research Centre of Dumbarton Oaks.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's attempts and proposed measures to shore up the economy and slash ballooning deficits dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Four years of austerity with harsh tax measures".
APOGEVMATINI: "Crucial hours for economy - Political leaders to convene on Tuesday".
AVGHI: "(PM George) Papandreou will ask for a blank check at political leaders' meeting".
AVRIANI: "George announces mild measures instead of harsh measures demanded by Brussels and markets".
CHORA: "Unemployment in Europe skyrockets".
ELEFTHEROS: "Chaos prevailes in Cabinet meeting on measures for economy - Papandreou disagrees with FinMin George Papaconstantinou on severity of measures".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Cutbacks in 430,000 employees' salaries".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Reversals with 80 measures - Papandreou's plan against waste, tax evasion".
ESTIA: "How we'll regain our credibility abroad - Long-lasting plans not enough".
ETHNOS: "Everything will change in next three months - George's pledge for reforms via express-procedures".
IMERISSIA: "Papandreou's pledge for harsh measures".
KATHIMERINI: "Announcement of uncertain yields - Prime Minister previews cutbacks in benefit funds".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Broad plan on (economic) restoration with ambitious goals".
NIKI: "Full speed - Tidal wave of measures until February".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government the 'gravedigger' of working classes' rights for capital's sake".
TA NEA: "George's frontal attack against deficit, corruption".
TO VIMA: "Storm of measures".
VRADYNI: "(Prime minister's) Essay instead of measures".
 Government welcomes adoption of UNSC Resolution 1898 (2009)NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The government of the Republic of Cyprus has welcomed the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1898 (2009) for the renewal of the mandate of UNFICYP (UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) for six more months.
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou told reporters Tuesday that the government considers the Resolution to be a balanced one, since it reaffirms all previous UNSC resolutions, especially Resolution 1251, which describes the framework for a solution in Cyprus.
Stephanou said that the Resolution notes that the responsibility for the achievement of an overall and lasting solution lays first and foremost on Cypriots.
"It also reaffirms the fundamental role of the UN for helping out the two communities of Cyprus and reaffirms the basis for the solution, which is a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality as defined in the relevant UNSC resolutions", the spokesman added.
He went on to say that "the resolution reaffirms that any new planning regarding UNFICYP's operations is linked with the solution of the Cyprus problem and calls upon the Turkish Cypriot side and the Turkish forces to restore the status quo at Strovilia as it was before the 30th of June, 2000".
Stephanou said that the resolution underlines the importance of the implementation of Confidence Building Measures, it positively notes the agreement for the opening of the Limnitis crossing point and calls upon the two communities to explain to all Cypriots the many and important benefits that would come as a result of the achievement of a Cyprus solution.
"The government of the Republic of Cyprus expresses its gratitude towards the UN and its Secretary General for their good offices in the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem", he went on to say.
Furthermore, he stressed the willingness of the Greek Cypriot side to continue efforts for the achievement of a just, viable and functional solution, that would end the Turkish occupation of Cyprus, that would reunify the country and its people, that would restore human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots and end Turkey's policy to illegally bring to the island Turkish settlers.
The spokesman was also asked about the government's announcement to start informing the people about the provisions of the agreed framework for a Cyprus solution.
''When we talk about a federation, we want our society to know the basic characteristics of a federative system, which are its differences from the unified state, confederation etc'', he said.
Asked when this campaign will begin, he said, the soonest possible, but he did not elaborate further.
 President concerned as remains of Papadopoulos still missingNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has expressed concern over the fact that as time goes by, the case of the theft of the remains of former President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos has not yet been resolved.
Asked about the violation of the grave of Papadopoulos, Christofias said "What can one think? I am thinking that time goes by and the case hasn't been resolved and this saddens me because there will be increasing speculation."
This, he pointed out, is not pleasant either for the family or for the Republic of Cyprus.
"Such acts do not honour us, but this does not mean that it is the Republic of Cyprus' fault. It is a profane act, which shocked everyone, no-one expected anything of the sort in our country and unfortunately the culprits who have committed this crime, took enough measures to make it difficult to solve this crime", the president remarked.
On his opinion as to the possible identity of the culprits, President Christofias said no-one should speculate anything. "This is the work of others. Speculation belongs to others. I can only speak on the basis of facts. We want the case to be resolved", the president added.
On 10 December, unknown persons violated the grave of Tassos Papadopoulos, who passed away last year, and removed the body, leaving only an empty coffin, which was found on Friday morning. The Police are investigating the case.
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