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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-01-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Thursday, 14 January 2010 Issue No: 3396


  • [01] PM: New start, major changes now
  • [02] ND leader on PM's press conference
  • [03] EBEA president on PM's statements
  • [04] Alternate FM Droutsas visits Latvia
  • [05] Samaras confers with KEDKE on government's planned administrative reform
  • [06] ND leader Samaras confers with MP Meimarakis
  • [07] KKE on IKA, TEI, "Kallikratis" administrative reform
  • [08] ND official meets Environment minister
  • [09] Kyprianou winds up Athens visit
  • [10] Government spokesman attends Foreign Correspondents Association event
  • [11] Finance Minister Papaconstantinou met with IMF delegation
  • [12] Commission spokeswoman on Greek fiscal statistics
  • [13] Greece at the International Tourism Fair in Vienna
  • [14] Greece to participate in 54 intl travel fairs in Q1
  • [15] Greek stocks end 1.18 pct down
  • [16] ADEX closing report
  • [17] Greek bond market closing report
  • [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [19] Greeks to be honored as 'Righteous among the Nations' by Central Jewish Council of Greece
  • [20] City of Athens sends humanitarian aid to Haiti
  • [21] Prominent Palestinian Hasib Sabbagh passes away, condolences expressed by Abbas
  • [22] Teen found stabbed to death in his house
  • [23] Contraband cigarettes seized in Patras
  • [24] Cloudy, rainy on Thursday
  • [25] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM: New start, major changes now

    The year 2010 was the time for Greece to make a new start and major changes, Prime Minister George Papandreou underlined on Wednesday in a press conference held to mark the completion of 100 days since ruling PASOK was sworn in as the new government.

    "It is now or never for deep change and to this dilemma we answer now," he told reporters, stressing that Greece was experiencing a crisis of unprecedented proportions, with the public debt and deficit at levels never seen before, one that extended beyond Greece's borders and threatened the country's credibility abroad.

    He also underlined that this crisis was not just an external one but a symptom of deeper problems for which the way of governance was to blame.

    "It is time to change everything, to turn the crisis into an opportunity. We have already shown that we are capable of doing this, that we can be leaders and not laggards," Papandreou underlined.

    The prime minister identified the key problems facing the country as the "sick" state sector, rampant with corruption and wasteful spending, a system that undermined Greece's productivity, competitiveness and credibility, exposed the country to ridicule abroad and which was treated with helpless resignation by its own citizens.

    Papandreou underlined that the government was determined not to fall into the inertia of its predecessors and had already made important changes at every ministry, while several deep reforms were now in the process of being introduced.

    Among these he listed the effort to establish a new taxation system, currently the subject of dialogue, that was due to be unveiled in its final form early next month and was designed to drastically reduce tax evasion and ensure a fairer and more equitable tax system.

    Another major reform he cited concerned the social insurance system, where dialogue was due to end in April and sought to ensure the long-term viability of the system for next generations, and the public debate that was due to begin on a new election law that would address the deep problems of the political system and the undeclared money given to politicians.

    The premier additionally emphasised a recently unveiled draft bill altering the 'architecture' of local government, with fewer and stronger municipalities that would reduce the cost of public administration and have a positive impact on public finances, transparency and accountability, as well as a bill for the integration of migrants by allowing them to acquire Greek nationality.

    Reviewing his government's course during its first 100 days, he admitted that some mistakes had been made but stressed that the government was prepared to take corrective action when this proved necessary.

    "It's only when you make no moves that you avoid mistakes," he added, "but we will not make the even greater mistake of inaction that allows events to pass you by, like our predecessors did."

    Acknowledging that the issues the government intended to address would not be easy and would trigger reactions, especially among certain privileged groups, Papandreou promised that the government would not ignore these issues "like the previous New Democracy government had done out of fear of the political cost."

    Beyond such reactions, Papandreou continued, it was self-evident that Greeks were both ready and anxious to see changes made, to see a functioning state sector and that their money was not going to waste. He also stressed that the government was not afraid of criticism and welcomed debate as a chance for all voices to be heard.

    "We are determined to do the things for which we were elected by Greek men and women. It is this that gives us the strength to not back down," he underlined, and urged everyone to join the "democratic front" in order to democratically restructure the country.

    During replies to questions put to him by both members of the Greek press and foreign correspondents, Papandreou underlined his full support for Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, praising his abilities in the face of a very difficult situation, and denied that he was a 'weak' minister who was being constantly thwarted by other members of the cabinet.

    He also underlined the government's commitment to a more participatory and democratic style of government, one that "provided oxygen" to democratic institutions, allowed a plurality of voices and wanted Parliament to play its role as a legislative body exercising control.

    "We want a 'lively' Parliament that does not simply set the seal on the government's decisions," he said.

    Replying to a related question, about whether the government would tolerate departures from party policy by ministers, the prime minister again stressed the importance of the consultation process in making decisions but that he expected all to serve the decision finally agreed upon.

    "When we are at the stage of consultation, all views and opinions must be heard. When we take final decisions, then all of us have an obligation to serve these," he said, adding that PASOK was seeking to introduce a different "ethic" in the democratic operation of the country.

    Papandreou also underlined that he considered decisions reached through a process of consultation and consensus to be "stronger" and more robust than those imposed from above, because they passed through filters and incorporated ideas that the government might not have initially considered. For these same reasons, he expected such decisions to be fully carried out and complied with, he added.

    Responding to suggestions that the government was taking too long to bring reforms and enact measures to bring much-needed cash into state coffers, thus prompting criticism abroad and outside pressures, Papandreou said that the lengthy processes were particularly important in the case of major reforms, like the planned overhaul of the tax system, and justified the additional time devoted to reaching a decision.

    "We could impose a tax plan but we would not achieve much because we would not have created a sense of responsibility in Greeks, who want the country to go forward, to know that the tax system is fair. To change the system requires deeper changes," he said.

    Doing this would take one or two months but the government sought to establish a sense of responsibility and trust among tax-payers that would be more long-lasting and lead to a viable economy, he said. He also pointed to more short-term action taken by the government to raise revenues, such as the recent increases on the tax for tobacco, alcohol and parental gift taxation.

    Regarding the state of the Greek economy, the prime minister categorically ruled out all possibility that Greece might have to exit the eurozone and give up the euro. Regarding the country's economic woes, he said these arose through a combination of its own internal failures and the global economic crisis, which had served to highlight the problems so that Greece was now paying for them "doubly".

    He also noted that part of the problem was a more fearful attitude in international markets after the global crisis, which he said were responding with a "mob mentality", and the blow inflicted to Greece's credibility by the policies of the previous New Democracy (ND) government.

    "Our aim is to generate new credibility so that we can put the country in order and place it upon the right path," he added, while he was particularly scathing about the previous government's "failure to reveal the size of the huge public deficit and debt", as well as the 'general state audit' with which it had begun its term, "which had called Greek statistics into question at the EU and undermined the country's standing."

    Regarding economic policy and whether this was responding to market concerns, the prime minister said the government was committed to reaching the targets in the state budget, with the primary focus on trimming the fat in state spending rather than squeezing small and middle incomes through more taxes, denying that a further rise in VAT was imminent. He also pointed to additional measures that would have economic impact, such as the local government reforms, and imminent announcements regarding the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and the Stability and Development Programme, emphasising that development policy was a priority issue for the government since it was the key to prosperity.

    Challenged over delays in appointing general secretaries at ministries and other key government positions, as a result of a new open application process introduced by PASOK, Papandreou defended the process by saying that the general secretary needed to be the right person in order to do a good job, not someone's friend or relation, and that it also served as a signal at all levels of public administration that everyone will be subject to evaluation.

    He underlined that the present operation of Greek government was outdated and had serious weaknesses, emphasising that ministries could not be treated like the 'feudal domain' of ministers.

    On the government's plan to allow migrants to acquire the Greek nationality, Papandreou denied having a 'relaxed' policy on migration and stressed that his government did not intend to give Greek nationality to illegal immigrants or throw open the borders. Once again accusing ND of 'inertia' in dealing with the migrant issue, with too little action taken too late, Papandreou said that PASOK was imposing order and giving those who had chosen to make Greece their home the chance to become Greek citizens, especially second-generation migrants that had been born, educated and lived in Greece without knowing any other country.

    The premier emphasised that marginalising these groups and turning them into second-class citizens did not protect Greek society and was also a question of human rights.

    Asked whether the government expected to come up against strong reactions and demonstrations to the measures it intended, Papandreou expressed hope that the process of dialogue and consultation would transmit a sense of urgency and the necessity for reform that would be accepted by all Greek people. He expressed conviction that all Greeks had understood the need for certain things to be done and that the position chosen by PASOK was a national imperative and not motivated by party interests.

    Reply to Erdogan

    Papandreou said that he would soon reply to a letter sent by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and that this reply would include a proposal for a meeting, which he said that Athens desired. Pointing out that the Turkish side often presented an agenda for talks that was quite different and even provocative for Greece, which had its own agenda and positions, he emphasised that he was not afraid of a meeting.

    [02] ND leader on PM's press conference

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras, commenting on the press conference given by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday, said that "the problem is not the first 100 days that were lost but the days that are coming."

    Samaras said that the Greek people remember exactly what the ruling PASOK had promised before the elections "and it is not necessary for us to show how quickly their promises were denied."

    He added that "the government itself is acting and denying itself on a daily basis" which, as he said, did not have the slightest plan.

    "Its ministers are proving this on a daily basis, they are contradicting each other and when they think that they agree with each other then they are annulled by their own Parliamentary representative," he said.

    "It is difficult for one to exercise opposition to a government that is opposing its very self so spectacularly and which shows such inexhaustible inventiveness in refuting itself every day, withdrawing in the morning amendments that it submits at night, as was the case today with the unbelievable fiasco with the amendment on parental grants," he added.

    The main opposition party leader said that in PASOK "they had promised increases in the salaries of civil servants and now they are preparing drastic cutbacks with the taxation of their bonuses, they had promised not to increase taxes and they are already announcing a tax raid, they promised to tidy up public administration and they have not yet finished with the appointments of general secretaries and with the duties of deputy ministers and Greece is in danger of losing tens of millions of euros from ESPA that have remained halfway and cannot be received."

    "Our problem is not the government of PASOK failing, it is achieving this by itself. Our problem is to support Greece, its economy, its social cohesion, its security, the morale of ordinary people and we want all the Greeks with us on this course," Samaras concluded.

    [03] EBEA president on PM's statements

    Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) President Constantine Mihalos, replying on Wednesday to a question by the press on the press conference given by Prime Minister George Papandreou, accused the prime minister of "vagueness".

    "We heard the prime minister today attempting to make an account of the first 100 days of the coucuntry's governance by PASOK. In no case did we emerge wiser. I believe that the business world and society have not understood which precisely are the practical, applicable and effective measures that the government intends to take for us to exit from the crisis. Theories and vague statements may be forgiven in election periods, but not when we are holding the helm of power in such crucial moments," he said.

    [04] Alternate FM Droutsas visits Latvia

    RIGA (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas stressed here on Wednesday that solidarity among the members of the European Union gives strength to the EU in its entirety, which is experiencing global challenges, as well as to each member-state. He added that this solidarity is meant in every aspect of relations and is mainly political.

    "The entire European continent is experiencing difficult times. The global economic crisis is not only dealing a blow at economies, but to our societies as well and solidarity between partners in difficult times is of great importance even if individual differences exist," Droutsas said in joint statements that followed his meeting with Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins.

    Latvia is Droutsas's first stop in his visit to the region and he will be arriving in Lithuania on Thursday for contacts with the local leadership and for a tripartite meeting between Greece-Lithuania-Ireland.

    It is an initiative by the Lithuanian side as the three countries will be having successive EU presidencies with Greece being the last in the first half of 2014.

    It was also announced during the two ministers' joint statements that they decided to deepen bilateral relations and intensify cooperation in the framework of the EU and in light of the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty.

    The Greek minister had the opportunity of analysing Greek positions on issues of national interest for which Latvia, as well as the rest of the Baltic countries, do not have the same sensitivities and extensive information.

    On his part, Droutsas listened from the Latvian side its interest in the eastern partnership relation and the EU's northern dimension.

    Droutsas also met with the Finance minister of Latavia, which is facing a serious economic crisis, and said in reply to a relevant question that the new Greek government is on a very good course and that Prime Minister George Papandreou has taken very specific measures that will bear fruit soon.

    He underlined that "the real image of Greece is that of the Olympic Games of 2004 and that the new government is proceeding with structural reforms that will not only bring about immediate results but longterm changes as well."

    [05] Samaras confers with KEDKE on government's planned administrative reform

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met on Wednesday with the presidium of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) headed by its chairman, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, and discussed the administrative reform being advanced by the government in the local administration.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kaklamanis noted that the necessary conditions for the success of the government's plan, code-named "Kallikratis", was institutional consolidation of the local governments, the transfer of substantive authorities, financial reinforcement, and objective criteria for the mergers of municipalities and communities foreseen under the plan.

    [06] ND leader Samaras confers with MP Meimarakis

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) MP and former minister Vangelis Meimarakis said on Wednesday that his views fully coincided with those of ND leader Antonis Samaras, adding that he fully backs the party leader's positions on the economy, migration, the electoral law and administrative reform.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Samaras, Meimarakis noted that his disagreement with a change of the election law on the basis of the German model was well-known.

    On the planned administrative reform recently announced by the government, Meimarakis said he disagreed with the proposed abolition of the 42 percent minimum vote for election of a mayor in the first round of voting, warning that reinstatement of two rounds of voting (which would result from abolition of the 42 percent minimum as this would entail an absolute majority for election) reflected the petty party expediencies of the ruling PASOK party.

    [07] KKE on IKA, TEI, "Kallikratis" administrative reform

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Central Committee General Secretary Aleka Papariga visited on Wednesday the central offices of Social Security Foundation (IKA) in Athens.

    In statements she made as regards the country's social security system, Papariga underlined that billions of euros in contributions are owed by the state to the major pension and healthcare fund.

    Papariga also met with Technological Educational Institutes (TEI) presidents and stressed that the new targets set as regards life-long learning will not be allowed to further exacerbate old and current problems faced by technological institutes.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Political Bureau with a statement issued on Wednesday called on the people to reject the "Kallikratis" local administration reform plan, underlining that the reform in question will lead to greater commercializa-tion of public or municipal social services.

    [08] ND official meets Environment minister

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party Environmental Policy rapporteur Kyriakos Mitsotakis met on Wednesday with Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Tina Birbili and proposed the immediate reconsideration of the reapplication of the measure of the withdrawal of old cars.

    "From the moment that the Ministry itself admits that circulation dues particularly for old cars are unfair, the government should examine the offsetting decrease of circulation dues for 2011. It is not possible for the financially weaker classes to be burdened disproportionately without, indeed, being given any incentive to replace their old cars," Mitsotakis said.

    [09] Kyprianou winds up Athens visit

    Cyprus AKEL party leader Andros Kyprianou on Wednesday stressed that up until now proposals expressed by the Turkish Cypriot side do not provide conditions for a quick solution to the Cyprus issue.

    Kyprianou, who concluded his meetings with officials in Athens this week, said Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat's proposals are outside the framework of the UN resolutions and international accords, adding that such positions lead to the establishment of a confederation instead of a federation.

    "Turkey has set targets that do not comply with the agreed basis," he underlined.

    The Greek Cypriot side, he added, believes that the specific proposals cannot be accepted as the basis for negotiations because they lead to efforts for a solution that would be outside the agreed to basis, and this is not satisfactory.

    He reiterated that the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus desires the reunification of the island, and not its partition, "which would be a sell-out to Turkey".

    "We are trying to find ways to reunify our country; we have been giving struggling since 1977 for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, and we will not sign any bad solution. If the Turkish-occupied part will not permit a solution, we, on our part, will not permit the partition of the island," he emphasised.

    Asked about "elections" in occupied Cyprus next April and the possibility of Turkish Cypriot party leader Dervis Eroglu winning them, Kyprianou noted that "a significant difference exists between Messrs Talat and Eroglu, however, Mr. Talat does not have the same views on the issue he had a decade ago ... The positions of the Republican Turkish party have changed for the worse."

    "We may agree on the basic principles for a single sovereignty, a single nationality and a single international entity, but when they submit their views, officially, these do not lead to a solution," he elaborated.

    Finally, Kyprianou expressed his thanks to the Greek authorities for their support.

    [10] Government spokesman attends Foreign Correspondents Association event

    Government spokesman George Petalotis cut the New Year's cake (pitta) of the Foreign Correspondents Association in an event held at its offices on Wednesday afternoon.

    The event was attended by the Association's president Vassilis Triantafylou, vice president F. Pangalos, secretary general I. Karela and deputies such as Dora Bakoyannis, Dimitris Sioufas, Evangelos Antonaros, Liana Kanelli and Costas Aivaliotis, as well as ambassadors, diplomats and Greek and foreign reporters.

    Financial News

    [11] Finance Minister Papaconstantinou met with IMF delegation

    Tax policy and management, budget preparation systems as well as public spending control and assessment were the main issues discussed Wednesday during a meeting between Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and a visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation.

    The meeting was held at the invitation of the ministry of finance, which has requested IMF assistance on the above issues.

    During its 10-day visit to Greece, the IMF delegation will have contacts with government ministers and Bank of Greece (BoG) officials.

    [12] Commission spokeswoman on Greek fiscal statistics

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)

    Presenting credible statistics to the European Union is an obligation of member-states, according to the EU Treaty, and a procedure to resort to the European Court of Justice when these rules are breached is a standard procedure in the community, Amelia Torres, spokeswoman for EU Economy and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters on Wednesday.

    She was responding to reporters' questions about whether the Commission intended to take Greece to the European Court for its failure to present credible fiscal statistics.

    Mrs Torres noted that the European Commission, with its recommendations to EU member-states with excessive deficits, will propose ways to ensure a timely recording of fiscal statistics by the Greek authorities, while the Commission will also recommend deadlines for bringing Greece's fiscal deficit down. The spokeswoman said her comments referred to fiscal statistics presented for the period 2005-2008, while she noted that the fact that Eurostat did not ratify the country's figures for fiscal deficit and public debt in 2008 and past years should not be taken as a signal that these deficits and debts would be proven higher.

    Alcohol, cigarette, parental property transfers taxation amendment withdrawn, will be re-tabled in autonomous bill

    The finance ministry on Wednesday withdrew a controversial amendment calling for a hefty increase in taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and parental real estate transfers, in order for those provisions to comprise an autonomous bill that will be tabled in parliament under urgent proceedings.

    In an announcement, the ministry said that "given the obvious need for immediate regulation of those matters, but also given the government's desire for adherence to procedures that promote transparency in the legislative function, the finance ministry intends to replace the above amendment through the immediate tabling of a draft law on increasing the tax on alcohol and cigarettes and the regulation on taxation of parental real estate transfers, for a priority debate".

    The amendment in question was tabled in parliament last Thursday, incorporated in a bill that was unrelated to tax issues.

    According to the ministry, this had been done because the country's exceptionally adverse fiscal situation required the speediest possible activation of the measure to raise the tax on alcohol and cigarettes from the beginning of 2010, and thus it had been decided to incorporate the amendment into the first bill tabled and voted on in parliament "since every week of delay costs the state approximately 13 million euros".

    As for the provision on parental property transfers, the regulation was included in the same amendment in an effort to confront the flurry of mass transfers of large real estate holdings that occurred in December, in anticipation of the measure, in select areas, and mainly in Athens.

    [13] Greece at the International Tourism Fair in Vienna

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greece will participate in the Vienna International Tourism Fair with an impressive stall of the Greek Tourism Organization (EOT) and various regional tourism organizations. The fair, which is expected to attract roughly 150,000 visitors, opens here on Thursday and will run until Sunday with the participation of hundreds of exhibitors from roughly 60 countries.

    The Greek pavilion will host a number of events including meetings with reporters and tour operators, Greek music concerts, wine tasting and Greek cuisine presentations.

    Based on figures released by the Austrian statistical agency and tour operators, roughly 500,000 Austrian tourists visited Greece last year despite the negative impact of the global economic crisis on the tourist sector.

    Greece remains the most popular holiday destination for Austrians (18 pct). In 2009, roughly 400,000 Austrian tourists visited Greece by air, while 100,000 arrived by boat or by car.

    The increase recorded in commercial flight arrivals compared to chartered flights shows that Austrian tourists seek new destinations in Greece.

    [14] Greece to participate in 54 intl travel fairs in Q1

    Greek Tourism Organisation will participate in a total of 54 international travel fairs in the first quarter of 2010, Tourism Deputy Minister Angela Gerekou said on Wednesday.

    In a statement, the minister stressed that the country would participate in alternative and special forms of tourism fairs, for the first time. Selection of these fair was based on the criterion to maximize the country's tourist product combined with a drastic cut of expenses, compared with previous years. The ministry statement said that after talks with construction companies, costs were cut by up to 40 pct compared with 2009.

    [15] Greek stocks end 1.18 pct down

    Greek stocks lost further substantial ground in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, falling under selling pressure in the last half hour of trading. The composite index of the market fell 1.18 pct to end at 2,173.67 points, with turnover rising to 238.988 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index dropped 1.80 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.04 pct down and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.30 pct down. Most sectors ended lower, with the Banks (3.26 pct) and Constructions (2.31 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Telecommunications (5.91 pct) and Insurance (2.63 pct) scored gains.

    Elfico (19.42 pct), Lanakam (18.06 pct), Taxapret (15.38 pct), Plias (10.0 pct) and Petzetakis (9.30 pct) were top gainers, while Klonatex (11.11 pct), Desmos (10.0 pct), Allatini Ceramics (9.46 pct) and Compucon (9.09 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 104 to 84 with another 48 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +2.63%

    Industrials: -0.02%

    Commercial: -0.15%

    Construction: -2.31%

    Media: +1.83%

    Oil & Gas: -0.88%

    Personal & Household: -0.70%

    Raw Materials: -0.73%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.80%

    Technology: +0.22%

    Telecoms: +5.91%

    Banks: -3.26%

    Food & Beverages: +1.78%

    Health: -0.15%

    Utilities: -0.27%

    Chemicals: +0.32%

    Financial Services: -0.40%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 7.68

    ATEbank: 1.83

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.36

    HBC Coca Cola: 16.22

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.50

    National Bank of Greece: 17.72

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.69

    Intralot: 3.74

    OPAP: 14.21

    OTE: 10.75

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.55

    Titan: 20.75

    [16] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.88 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 103.719 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,565 contracts worth 86.731 million euros.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,325 contracts worth 16.988 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,600), followed by Eurobank (1,162), MIG (1,453), OTE (1,405), Piraeus Bank (996), GEK (1,023), Alpha Bank (2,972), Cyprus Bank (430) and Hellenic Postbank (476).

    [17] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened sharply to 253 basis points on Wednesday, from 221 bps on Tuesday, in the Greek electronic secondary bond market. Turnover in the market totaled 1.237 billion euros, of which 375 million were buy orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 445 million euros.

    The Greek 10-year bond yielded 5.86 pct and the German Bund 3.33 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.24 pct, the six-month rate 0.99 pct, the three-month rate 0.71 pct and the one-month rate 0.47 pct.

    [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.468

    Pound sterling 0.901

    Danish kroner 7.5

    Swedish kroner 10.279

    Japanese yen 134.08

    Swiss franc 1.490

    Norwegian kroner 8.243

    Canadian dollar 1.518

    Australian dollar 1.585

    General News

    [19] Greeks to be honored as 'Righteous among the Nations' by Central Jewish Council of Greece

    On the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed on January 27, the Central Jewish Council of Greece (KIS) is organising a Tribute and Memory event on Monday, January 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Old Parliament building in central Athens, which will include a ceremony for presenting the Yad Vashem foundation's honorary "Righteous among the Nations" titles and medals, as well as the presentation of the Greek and English publications of the book "Youth in the vortex of occupied Greece - The persecution and Holocaust of Jews 1943-44" published by the Council and the General Secretariat for Youth Affairs.

    The Righteous among the Nations medals will be presented by Israeli Ambassador to Greece Ali Yahia, on behalf of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, to Greek Christians who helped Jews avoid arrest and death during the persecution.

    The title 'Righteous of the Nations' will be awarded posthumously to Constantine Rovolopoulos, his sister Virginia Rovolopoulou-Dimitriadou and her children Fani and Nicholas, to Pavlos Kalligas and his daughter Julia, and to Kalligas' brother Stefanos, for saving the family of Zack Modianos from Thessaloniki.

    The book, published by the Council with the support of the Youth General Secretariat, aims at sensitising youth on issues of racism, and is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust.

    The book presentation will be addressed by veteran Left leader and resistance fighter Manolis Glezos, Athens University professor Nikos Demertzis, and Greek Open University historian Odette Varon-Vassar, while the event will be coordinated by journalist Yannis Tzannetakos.

    The discussion will be prologued by Council president Moisis Constantinis, and Youth General Secretary Panagiota Dionysopoulou.

    The book presents the history of the persecution and annihilation of the Greek Jews during the German occupation of Greece through personal attestations of Jewish youth who survived either with the help of Christian compatriots who gave them shelter or the actions of resistance organisations, and also testimonies by Jewish hostages who survived the horror of the Nazi concentration camps.

    A detailed chronology and three accompanying texts supplement the testimonies.

    Yad Vashem was founded in 1953 in Jerusalem, as the official Authority for the remembrance of the martyrs and heroes of the Holocaust. More than 22,700 people have been honored to date with the Righteous among the Nations title, among them 280 Greeks, including Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens and All Greece (who was Archbishop during the occupation), then Chief of Police Angelos Evert, Bishop Chrysostomos of Zakynthos and Zakynthos Mayor Loukas Carrer, who stood up to the Nazi occupation authorities, as well as dozens of everyday citizens.

    [20] City of Athens sends humanitarian aid to Haiti

    The City of Athens has conveyed the first batch of humanitarian aid, comprising clothing and medical supplies, to the Consulate of Haiti and the Foreign Affairs Ministry for delivery to the Haitian people, on the initiative of Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.

    City of Athens Homeless Foundation volunteers collected and prepared the items.

    Mayor Kaklamanis expressed Athens' unreserved support for the victims of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, noting: "Thousands of our fellow humans are suffering in Haiti and we are obliged to act quickly to support them."

    The City of Athens conveyed its support via Haitian Consul Yvelt Lebrun.

    [21] Prominent Palestinian Hasib Sabbagh passes away, condolences expressed by Abbas

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with a statement issued on Tuesday in Ramallah expressed deep regret over the death of Hasib Sabbagh, 90, a prominent Palestinian figure, "a great patriot", who "enjoyed international prestige" and "set an example of creativity and entrepreneurship".

    The statement underlined that "despite his many business activities worldwide he always stood by the national struggle of the Palestinian people. He was one of the cofounders of the Palestine National Council and a member of the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Palestine was always in his heart, and he was always involved in the Palestinian cause."

    Hasib Sabbagh was cofounder and co-owner of Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC), among the major contractor companies worldwide with thousands of employees in tens of countries. The company headquarters is in Athens since 1976.

    Hasib Sabbagh was a national benefactor for the Palestinian people and a personal friend of Yasser Arafat. He was known in Greece for his work as a philanthropist supporting the Arab-speaking Churches and charitable organizations in Greece and abroad.

    He was decorated with the Jerusalem Medal, the supreme distinction of the Palestinian Authority, and was also the recipient of many medals in different countries.

    His funeral will take place in Beirut on Sunday, Jan. 17.

    [22] Teen found stabbed to death in his house

    An 18-year-old was found dead in his house in the district of Kaminia, Piraeus on Wednesday morning with stab wounds to his neck.

    The gruesome discovery was made by his parents, who were not in the house at the time of the assault.

    According to police, the 18-year-old was most likely killed by robbers who broke into the house.

    [23] Contraband cigarettes seized in Patras

    A 28-year-old truck driver, a foreign national, was arrested by Patras Port Authority officers on Wednesday after discovering 2,191 packs of contraband cigarettes hidden in his vehicle.

    The suspect is scheduled to appear before a prosecutor.

    Weather Forecast

    [24] Cloudy, rainy on Thursday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 4-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 0C and 16C. Cloudy and rainy in Athens, with easterly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 14C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 7C to 9C.

    [25] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    European Commission criticism of Greece for submitting untruthful data, the decline in the investor climate and the cost of public sector borrowing, and PASOK's first 100 days of governance, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government....has made a royal mess of things - PASOK members admit it".

    APOGEVMATINI: "100 days itch and loss".

    AVGHI: "Private insurance instead of social security".

    AVRIANI: "Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos' outburst: EU exerting suffocating pressure for armaments while at the same time demanding cutbacks in state expenditures".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Mammoth-fund in Armed Forces - Army, Navy and Airforce funds to merge".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "PASOK's first 100 days 'bubble' - Retractions, ministers' arguments, delays, weakness, austerity only little work done".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "100 days of pressure - Government's first 100 days in the shadow of the economic crisis".

    ESTIA: "Former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' mistake is repeated: Embroilment in senseless deliberations".

    ETHNOS: "Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou preannounces changes in taxation".

    IMERISSIA: "Pressure escalates - Greek stocks plunge".

    KATHIMERINI: "Retractions and irregularities cost - New pressure from EU and markets".

    LOGOS: "The new tax-free ceiling to be announced on Wednesday".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Hike in cost of state borrowing".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The new anti-social attack requires action".

    TA NEA: "Receipts and VAT for all - Doctors, lawyers and technicians targeted".

    TO VIMA: "New pressure on Greek bonds and stocks and recommendations for immediate recourse to harsh measures".

    VRADYNI: "100 days of lack of governance - Government sets a new world record".

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