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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-01-19

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

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

Tuesday, 19 January 2010 Issue No: 3400

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cypriot, Greek leaders discuss Cyprus issue, Turkey
  • [02] PM: Kallikratis plan an essential reform
  • [03] Samaras cites concerns over Kallikratis plan
  • [04] Athens mayor, party leaders address KEDKE meeting
  • [05] Papoulias addresses World Future Energy Summit
  • [06] Papoulias-Erdogan meeting in UAE
  • [07] Deputy Environment minister on energy
  • [08] Austrian FM on Western Balkans
  • [09] Gov't sharply condemns latest arson incident at Hania synagogue
  • [10] Deputy Justice minister on detention conditions
  • [11] Gov't on farm policy issues, ND criticism
  • [12] Protesting farmers' roadblocks affect border crossings
  • [13] Greece participates in International Tourism Exhibition
  • [14] Marfin GAM says mutual funds' assets up 131 pct in 2009
  • [15] Hikes in toll rates
  • [16] Stocks drop 2.53% on Mon.
  • [17] ADEX closing report
  • [18] Greek bond market closing
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [20] Heavy rainfall causes extensive flooding on Crete
  • [21] Somali pirates set free Greek-flagged tanker
  • [22] Greek rescue team to Haiti
  • [23] Plessas concert for Ivory Coast AIDS orphans
  • [24] Greek nationals arrested in Italy on migrant-smuggling charges
  • [25] Migrant-smuggling arrests north of Athens
  • [26] Illegal immigrant traffickers arrested in Igoumenitsa
  • [27] Arrest for illegal trade of fuel in Corinth
  • [28] Moderate quake in western Greece
  • [29] Cloudy, rainy on Tuesday
  • [30] The Monday edition of Athens ' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Cypriot, Greek leaders discuss Cyprus issue, Turkey

    The latest developments in the Cyprus issue and Turkey's progress toward EU accession dominated talks held here on Monday between Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and visiting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.

    In joint statements afterwards, both men rejected the latest set of proposals for a solution put forward by the Turkish-Cypriot side, with Papandreou noting that these departed from the principle of setting up a bizonal, bi-communal federation and Christofias dismissing them as "unacceptable" and stressing that the Greek-Cypriot side had refused even to discuss them.

    Papandreou also announced the creation of a legal team that would assist in interpreting certain aspects of the Cyprus problem, an idea hailed by Christofias as useful and helpful in enhancing cooperation and coordination between the two sides.

    They said that meetings to begin carrying out this idea have already been held by Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou.

    The Greek premier reiterated Greece's active support of Greek-Cypriots and said the direct talks for the Cyprus issue should continue without deadlines or outside arbitration.

    "We want a solution that will end the occupation and division of the island. Because the Cyprus issue is primarily a problem of occupation by Turkey," Papandreou emphasised.

    Christofias said that their meeting had reaffirmed the good cooperation between Athens and Nicosia and also an identity of views regarding strategy, while he emphasised that close cooperation and joint action by the two sides was essential.

    The Cyprus president also noted his full agreement with Papandreou that the strategy adopted was leading in the right direction, saying that the result of this policy and the initiatives undertaken was that the international community recognised the Greek-Cypriot side's good will and desire for a speedy solution.

    He underlined, however, that Nicosia stood firm on certain principles concerning the form that such a solution could take, remaining committed to political equality within a bizonal, bicommunal federation that was a single international entity, with a single sovereignty, one nationality and one international identity.

    Asked to comment on the latest Talat proposals, Christofias termed these "intransigent, negative and unacceptable" and said they were essentially the same as positions put forward by the Turkish side before. He also spoke of a contradiction in the actions of the Turkish-Cypriot leader, noting that he could use a good result in the talks during the upcoming polls by the Turkish-Cypriot community but that this was in no way reflected in the "proposals processed in Ankara".

    At the same time, the Cyprus president emphasised that he was not yet ready to abandon the process of direct talks as hopeless but would persevere, hoping that the 2nd round of intensive talks would lead to real progress and more convergences.

    The Greek premier said they had agreed that the talks should continue, while the discussion with the Cypriot side had given rise to ideas regarding the next moves.

    "This setback does not mean that the game is lost. We need to be level-headed, to show consistency, self-restraint and self-confidence," Christofias added.

    Papandreou, on his part, stressed that the solution to the Cyprus problem, within the framework outlined by the Greek side, would be in the interests of all sides involved. He urged Turkey to "find the courage to release the Turkish-Cypriot side and thus contribute to finding a solution that will convert our region from one of tensions to one of peace and cooperation that is a model for both our region and the world."

    Asked about their stance and strategy toward Turkey following the results of the European Council in December, and the prospects of a visit to Greece by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Papandreou confirmed that he will extend an invitation to Erdogan to visit Greece in his reply to Erdogan's letter, due to be sent out some time this week, though a date for the visit had still to be set via diplomatic channels.

    He emphasised that Turkey's progress toward the EU would be one of the central issues discussed and that fundamental conditions for such progress would be to normalise relations with Cyprus and a solution of the Cyprus issue.

    Christofias, on his part, pointed out Athens and Nicosia had succeeded in having six chapters of the accession negotiations with Turkey frozen until these two conditions were met during the European Council in December, saying it was a mistake to consider that Turkey had emerged unscathed from its evaluation at that time.

    The Cyprus president went on to reveal that Papandreou had accepted an invitation to visit Cyprus and discuss the Cyprus issue with the leaders of the political parties on the island.

    Samaras

    Later in the day Christofias was received by main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, with the latter noting afterwards that what is now needed is national unity and a solution based on UN resolutions and Cyprus' acquis communautaire.

    Meetings with opposition party leaders

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking after holding talks with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on Monday, said that "unfortunately, things are developing badly not only because in the long run there are those, international officials, who do not desire a substantive solution to the issue of Cyprus and because the role of Turkey is being upgraded geostrategically with the latest developments and this longlasting international problem is being involved in the struggles of the pipelines, as well as with competition between European and American forces."

    Papariga added that "we support the efforts of the Cyprus presidency so that the solution which will be provided should secure a united state with one international personality, there should not be the sperm of the present or future partition in the solution of the Cyprus issue and in this direction we shall move with solidarity both towards the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots and on our part we shall give all that we can. For a just solution to be given at last. Being aware that the things are difficult, but we shall not lay down our arms."

    The Cyprus president also met with Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis, who stated afterwards "at this moment the President of the Republic of Cyprus is waging his own struggle in the ring. We must all be beside him to support, to call, to raise his spirit because I think that any other move of doubting does not create optimism for a good result."

    President Christofias also held talks with Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alexis Tsipras, who said after their meeting that "we had the opportunity of being briefed by President Christofias on the latest developments on the issue of Cyprus and the intensive talks with (Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali) Talat."

    Tsipras added that "we expressed our steadfast support for the efforts of the Cyprus government for the finding of a just and viable solution."

    The Cyprus president met at last with Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos who said afterwards that the Cyprus problem was still the "big national issue of Hellenism in its entirety."

    "The solution should be within the framework of UN's Security Concil resolutions and in accordance to European Union values and principles," Petsalnikos added.

    [02] PM: Kallikratis plan an essential reform

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday emphasised the critical importance of the "Kallikratis" plan for local government, saying this would bring about fundamental and much-needed reforms to public sector administrative structures.

    "Today, 100 days after the elections, we are in a position to proceed based on the Kallikratis plan, which will carry out all the major changes that the country's administrative system needs and all the necessary reforms for a new start that local government needs," he said while addressing the annual meeting of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).

    According to the Greek premier, the Kallikratis plan was an essential part the Stability, Development and Reconstruction Programme and its success was a "goal of national importance that requires the contribution of all".

    Describing the proposed changes as "greatly delayed", Papandreou said they would finally allow Greece to throw off the mantle of the European Union's most centralised state, bringing about long-awaited changes to local government while radically changing the operation of central government at the same time.

    He underlined that the changes were urgent, in order to free up human and other resources that were currently being wasted so that they might be more creatively invested, adding that they might be painful but also liberating.

    The premier emphasised that ordinary Greek men and women were tired of inertia and wanted to see their elected officials take action to bring about change.

    "The starting point and root of the economic, political and institutional crisis the country is experiencing lies in the way that the state operates," he added with emphasis.

    According to Papandreou, the Kallikratis plan would result in a new administrative architecture for local authorities that would be simple, functional and stable, leading to powerful and efficient municipalities armed with new powers and resources, and self-administrating regions with important responsibilities, such as handling the regional programmes of the National Strategic Reference Framework.

    With local authorities taking charge of their own responsibilities, central government could then fulfill its own role as the executive branch of the state, he added.

    The prime minister promised that the new municipal and regional authorities created on January 1, 2011 would be able to operate in a regime of guaranteed meritocracy, transparency and accountability, having as an additional resource the participation of ethnic Greeks and legal migrants that lived in harmony with Greek society and contributed to the progress of the country and local communities.

    This, he added, would ensure social peace, social cohesion and give impetus to local developmental and regional prospects.

    [03] Samaras cites concerns over Kallikratis plan

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, speaking Monday at the annual Central Union of Municipalities & Communities (KEDKE) conference and immediately after PM George Papandreou detailed the government's plan to merge local government entities around the country, emphasised that his party will avoid a "direct intervention" in local societies, particularly the smaller ones.

    "What we heard from the government is merely a general outline on the situation at hand, yet we detected omissions," he said, charging that any discussion on local administrations' reform and modernisation should first be accompanied by the central government's allocation of 330 million euros it owes local governments from the last three-month period of 2009.

    In repeating his high-profile criticism of the government's intention to naturalise certain categories of non-EU migrants in the country -- i.e. second generation children of migrants -- and allocate voting rights to immigrants, Samaras said the government is rushing to give 250,000 migrants voting rights in the upcoming local elections "believing that it will serve petty party expediencies".

    The former minister decried what he called "interventions" by the government and called for a wide-ranging discussion on specific criteria and rules governing the granting of citizenship and voting rights to migrants.

    In returning to his criticism of the initiative to merge and modern local government entities, dubbed the "Kallikratis" plan, Samaras said the government should clearly spell out its positions ahead of the November local elections and not to create "foregone conclusions".

    "If you do not cooperate with the opposition, with KEDKE and ENAE (the union of prefectures); if you decide to proceed with a piecemeal intervention without funding and necessary resources, you will merely undermine the entire endeavour," the ND leader said during the conference, held at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron).

    Among one of his ideas, Samaras cited the possibility of one ballot box for the mayor's race and other for municipal councilors.

    "We, in ND, will follow the path of dialogue, fact-based proposals and responsibility. Let the government do the same, as every failure will fall upon its shoulders," he said.

    [04] Athens mayor, party leaders address KEDKE meeting

    Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklanmanis, addressing the annual meeting of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) on Monday, said that local administration "clearly desires a new administrative reform but also seeks what is owed by the central administration." He also referred to the programme concerning 20,000 jobs for the unemployed, that had been scheduled with the previous government's Employment ministry.

    Communist Party pf Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said that her party opposes the government's "Kallikratis" plan because such changes, as was also proved with the "Kapodistrias 1" plan, are not productive and requested that the mayor and the Regional Council be elected by the municipal councils with proportional representation.

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis called for the programme's postponement for four years since there is no money for its implementation and so that it can be examined better.

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group president Alexis Tsipras called for a united and integrated administrative reform of the state with radical tax reform for local administrative institutions.

    Lastly, Interior Minister Yiannis Rangoussis analysed the programme in detail. He stressed that it is a turning point in the history of local administration that is taking place after a long period of maturing of the local administration movement, as well as many changes, postponements, hesitations and delays on the part of the state.

    [05] Papoulias addresses World Future Energy Summit

    ABU DHABI (ANA-MPA/N. Megadoukas)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday stressed that a change of the energy and developmental model with the greatest possible development and exploitation of Renewable Energy Sources (RES), could decisively contribute to combating inequalities and advancing social cohesion at local, regional and national level all the way to European and global level.

    Greece's President was the keynote speaker at the World Future Energy Summit, which opened Monday in Abu Dhabi, UAE, at the invitation of the UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nayhan.

    Papoulias described the reality in environmental issues as sombre, following the failure of the Copenhagen global summit on climate change, and stressed the need for promoting green development in order to ensure a viable future.

    "Let's not let this chance, perhaps our last, go to waste," he urged.

    On the Copenhagen summit, Papoulias stressed that climate change is the biggest challenge faced by mankind today, warning that it threatens the viability of the planet and the future of the coming generations.

    The global leaders were obliged to respond to that challenge, he said. Instead of limiting themselves to a "least common denominator" agreement, they should have proceeded to a global, comprehensive and legally binding agreement with specific targets and timetables," the Greek President added.

    Papoulias said that the Copenhagen summit's failure "takes on dramatic dimensions if seen as an element of a bigger picture, that of a deep, multi-dimensional crisis -- an economic, social, energy and environmental crisis -- which is connected to the development model we, the 'developed world' adopted and followed in recent years".

    "It was a model of greed and licence in the name of profit for the few, a model of over-consumption and waste of the natural resources, a model that constantly widens the old inequalities and creates new ones," Papoulias said, adding that "this 'bigger picture' is a sombre one".

    He noted, however, that every crisis also entails an opportunity, and this crisis entails an opportunity for the adoption of policies and measures for the promotion of RES and energy efficiency, which can play a decisive role in the global economy's exit from the crisis and in a speedier recovery.

    A social movement was also gradually forming in favor of clean energy, which in turn was prompting the political leaderships towards the path of green development, he said, noting that the EU has committed itself to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and increasing the proportion of overall energy consumption supplied by RES to 20 percent by the year 2020.

    This goal, however, was something even wider: "It is about maintaining the lead in the effort against climate change. It is a radical change of direction in production and consumption. It is linked with Europe's effort to enhance energy supply security and to limit its energy dependence on third countries. Finally, it is a structural change of developmental philosophy, in which sustainability, viability, becomes the prevalent concept. Viability not only of the natural resources, but also of the markets -- with the creation of new viable investment opportunities -- and viability of employment, with the creation of new, decentralised jobs," Papoulias continued.

    The Greek President stressed that RES can play a decisive role in the "democratisation of energy", because it is now not only the big and powerful countries or the large multinational energy giants that have a place on the global energy market. Small and medium size countries can now also have a say and a role on the 'energy chessboard', and not necessarily industries, but also small and medium-size enterprises, "which are the steam engine of Europe's competitiveness".

    But at global level as well, RES can contribute to the democratisation of energy because their potential is inexhaustible also in the developing countries, and especially in the most vulnerable countries, resulting in the opening of immense opportunities for the development and prosperity of the peoples of those countries, thus contributing to reducing the North-South chasm, he said.

    "In short, the poor countries may gain power and prospects for prosperity for their populations by taking advantage of the energy of the wind, the earth, the sun and the sea," Papoulias explained.

    The President further stressed that the development of RES is "the only credible alternative solution to the problem of depleting the reserves of mineral fuels and global warming. It is the only peaceful choice to ensure resources for global economic growth".

    Greece's orientation and priorities are in the direction of Green Development, Papoulias continued, adding that Greece has the manpower and the knowhow for the development of research and business collaborations in the sector of RES and environmental management.

    "Our aspiration is to take advantage of the specific abilities at regional level in order to render the country an important center of business and diplomatic activity. For this reason, we place special weight on the Greek initiative for Green Development and cooperation with the countries of the Western Balkans, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean aimed at confronting climate change," Papoulias said.

    "We can and must unite forces in order to ensure the transition to a new era in which growth will be to the benefit of the many and compatible with protection of the environment and the natural resources. And energy, from a means of imposition and power will evolve into a tool for the broadening of democracy, the promotion of prosperity of the peoples, and the ensurance of a viable future for our children," Papoulias stressed.

    "Let us not let this opportunity, perhaps our last, to go to waste," the Greek President concluded.

    [06] Papoulias-Erdogan meeting in UAE

    ABU DHABI)

    President of Republic Karolos Papoulias met here on Monday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Ergodan, on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit.

    Both Papoulias and Erdogan are keynote speakers at the summit. The two leaders held a private 40-minute meeting and exchanged views, while Papoulias informed the Turkish premier that an answer to his letter -- towards his Greek counterpart, Prime Minister George Papandreou -- will be forthcoming in the next few days.

    Erdogan also expressed a desire to visit Athens in the near future.

    Papoulias departed for Abu Dhabi on Sunday as the guest of United Arab Emirates President Khalifa bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan.

    During his stay in the UAE, Papoulias will have meetings with the president and his successor, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan.

    The World Future Energy Summit is taking place under the aegis of the crown prince. He will also have a meeting with Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, another speaker at the summit, and tour the Sheikh Zayed mosque in the city.

    [07] Deputy Environment minister on energy

    Deputy Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Ioannis Maniatis on Monday discussed the prospects of joint Greek and American activities in the region of Southeastern Europe and possibilities of closer cooperation between Greece and Egypt in the energy sector with American Deputy Environment Minister Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones and Egyptian Electricity and Energy Minister Dr. Hassan Ahmed Younes.

    The meetings took place on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit Conference in Abu Dhabi.

    Maniatis also met with the General Manager of the International Renewable Energy Sources Organisation Helene Pelosse and cooperation was agreed in utilising experts for the implementation of renewable energy sources projects and the conservation of energy in the wider Mediterranean region.

    [08] Austrian FM on Western Balkans

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger , who is expected in Athens on January 21 for talks with Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, announced in an interview with the state Austrian television a clear support by Vienna for the Greek initiative for the European Integration of the Western Balkans, and its joint promotion with Athens.

    Referring to the "disengagement" that occurred at the end of 2009 in the longterm conflict between Croatia and Slovenia, Spindelegger expressed hope that in 2010 there would be specific acts regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as well.

    The Austrian foreign minister stressed that his country is willing to help in this issue as a mediator and believes that there can be solution to this difference over the name even in spring.

    Spindelegger further said that the joint "initiative for the Western Balkans" will be formulated officially during his talks in Athens.

    [09] Gov't sharply condemns latest arson incident at Hania synagogue

    The government on Monday categorically condemned the weekend arson attack at a historic synagogue in the Cretan port city of Hania, the second such heinous incident within the past month.

    In a later comment, Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis said the incident is "unequivocally condemned as an act that does not reflect the Greek people's attitudes, which abhor expressions of racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism."

    Kastanidis also conveyed the government's support towards the Jewish community, particularly in response to the destruction of some 2,500 rare publications.

    Meanwhile, the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, the largest in Greece, on Monday added its condemnation of the incident, expressing what it called its "sorrow and indignation".

    The fire that began in the early hours of Saturday morning was extinguished by the fire brigade, but not before it caused an estimated 30,000 euros in damage, burning through the building's wooden roof and floor, several books and archives, among others.

    A police announcement said the fire was set by one or more unidentified individuals that entered the synagogue's yard through an adjacent building and then broke in via a door on the ground floor. The method used to start the fire has not yet been determined.

    [10] Deputy Justice minister on detention conditions

    Deputy Justice Minister Apostolos Katsifaras held talks on Monday with the president of the European Committee against Torture Mauro Palma and his associates.

    According to an announcement by the Justice, Transparency and Human Rights ministry, the meeting was attended by secretary general George Dimitrenas and special secretary Marinos Skandamis. The issue of detention conditions at Greek detention centres dominated the discussion.

    The Deputy Justice minister referred to the special importance given by the new government to the role and work of the European Committee against Torture.

    Katsifaras committed himself to close cooperation between the two sides with the criterion being the improvement of detention conditions and respect for human rights.

    Financial News

    [11] Gov't on farm policy issues, ND criticism

    Farm-sector issues concern Greek society as a whole and are not a mere negotiation issue between the state and farmers, government spokesman Giorgos Patalotis said on Monday in response to repeated questions related to farmers' roadblocks on several regions.

    He underlined that the so-called "farmers' issue" cannot be solved through bilateral dialogue focusing on minor issues and underlined that the rural development and food ministry has entered an open dialogue with all production sectors.

    Speaking at a regular press briefing, Petalotis stated that an open dialogue will culminate in Athens later this month in cooperation with the Economic and Social Council of Greece (OKE) and the economy, competitiveness and shipping ministry.

    Finally, he referred to the relief steps made in support of the Greek farmers, namely, inclusion in the economic fluidity draft law, loan settlements, refundable VAT (from 7 pct to 11 pct), participation in the Credit Guarantee Fund for Small and Very Small Enterprises, a 30-euro increase in OGA farmers' pensions coupled with a further 20-euro increase in June, and participation in the Social Solidarity benefit. He also stated that payment of community subsidies will be completed by March 15.

    In an unrelated development, and responding to a question on whether the government intends to suggest the imposition of a special tax for social insurance funds -- in an attempt to ensure their financing -- Petalotis said the government is considering this option, adding that "it will become more specified when the relevant dialogue is underway."

    As regards statements made by main opposition New Democracy (ND) President Antonis Samaras on the issue of the Greek citizenship for migrants, Petalotis said the ND leader referred to the "German model", pointing out that this latest reference has no relation whatsoever with previously stated views.

    On another issue, Petalotis condemned the attack on Friday night targeting the Secretariat of Information and Communication in Athens, characterising it as "cowardly" and a representation of "political nihilism".

    Finally, in reference to state-run broadcaster ERT SA, Petalotis cited major spending cuts and more reforms by an upcoming new management.

    [12] Protesting farmers' roadblocks affect border crossings

    Rural Development and Food Minister Katerina Batzeli Monday said the "government opts for fair and viable solutions through a dialogue open to all and not for short-lived settlements," pointing out that the "payment of state subsidies, without a planning and lacking a structure in support of the agricultural economy, will have no real effect on the farmers' income."

    Inviting protesting farmers to a dialogue, Batzeli said the farmers' issue does not concern "two sides but the society as a whole and all social partners".

    Batzeli made the statement in response to the demands made by protesting farmers, who have set up roughly 20 tractor roadblocks along the national road network.

    Farmers continue their protests in northern Greece and in Thessaly, central Greece, with motorists being forced to use secondary provincial roads.

    Farmers in the prefecture of Kilkis blocked traffic at the Doirani border station on the border with fYRoM, while a decision will be made later in the evening on whether they will set up blockades at the Ormenio customs post with Bulgaria. Tractors remained at Nea Triglia site in Halkidiki, while traffic was obstructed at the Vogatsiko section in Kastoria and at the Krystallopigi intersection on the Greek-Albanian border.

    The border post of Promachonas with Bulgaria was closed by protesting farmers in Serres Prefecture.

    [13] Greece participates in International Tourism Exhibition

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greece participated in this year's four-day International Tourism Exhibition here, that came to an end on Sunday night after receiving 147,000 visitors.

    This was so despite the continuing consequences of the international economic crisis and the Austrian public's reserved stance towards planning and booking the next vacation and the decline in the tourist market in general.

    The Greek Tourist Organisation's (EOT) big pavilion and its dozens of exhibitors attracted most of the visitors of this year's exhibition, who showed an interest in vacations in Greece and specific destinations.

    Efforts by EOT's office to boost the market and the recovery of tourist travel to Greece will targret establishing new destinations in Greece and prolonging the tourist period.

    [14] Marfin GAM says mutual funds' assets up 131 pct in 2009

    Marfin Global Asset Management, a member of Marfin Egnatia Bank, on Monday announced its mutual funds' assets totaled 627 million euros in December 31, 2009, up 131 pct compared with the previous year

    The company said its market share jumped to 5.87 pct at the end of 2009, from 2.60 pct a year earlier. Net capital inflows in it mutual funds totaled 319 million euros, during a period when the Greek mutual funds market recorded net outflows totaling 600 million euros.

    Marfin Global Asset Management said it has established itself among the top five companies in the sector.

    [15] Hikes in toll rates

    Toll fees will rise by 10-20 cents as of midnight Monday on the Athens-Patras national highwayalong the Elefsis-Rio stretch of the highway . The price for cars is set at 2.90 euros. Increases in toll rates for certain buses and trucks went into effect at midnight on Sunday on the Athens-Thessaloniki highway from the Afidnes toll station to the Tragana toll station.

    Hikes in toll fees are also expected to be applied soon on the Corinth-Tripolis highway after the conclusion of ongoing road upgrade works.

    [16] Stocks drop 2.53% on Mon.

    Stocks came under strong selling pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 2,100 level. The index ended at 2,090.29 points, off 2.53 pct, with turnover a moderate 207.107 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index dropped 2.69 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell 2.93 pct and the FTSE 80 index fell 2.34 pct. The Health (6.79 pct) and Constructions (5.75 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Travel (1.06 pct) and Utilities (0.24 pct) scored gains.

    Elfico (16.22 pct), Fieratex (12.50 pct), Desmos (10 pct) and Lanakam (8.80 pct) were top gainers, while United Textiles (14.29 pct), Klonatex (12.50 pct), Lyberis Publications (10 pct) and Altantic (9.76 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -5.33%

    Industrials: -2.33%

    Commercial: -2.70%

    Construction: -5.75%

    Media: -2.90%

    Oil & Gas: -2.57%

    Personal & Household: -0.75%

    Raw Materials: -3.90%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.06%

    Technology: -2.63%

    Telecoms: -2.49%

    Banks: -3.11%

    Food & Beverages: -2.27%

    Health: -6.79%

    Utilities: +0.24%

    Chemicals: -2.11%

    Financial Services: -4.39%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 7.15

    ATEbank: 1.75

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.11

    HBC Coca Cola: 16.58

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.50

    National Bank of Greece: 16.70

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.28

    Intralot: 3.60

    OPAP: 14.54

    OTE: 10.20

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.16

    Titan: 19.10

    [17] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.07 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover falling to 63.450 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,933 contracts worth 52.696 million euros, with 25,562 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,952 contracts worth 10.754 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,287), followed by MIG (1,150), Piraeus Bank (528), Eurobank (598), GEK (412), Alpha Bank (1,947), Marfin Popular Bank (559) and Hellenic Postbank (392).

    [18] Greek bond market closing

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 266 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 273 bps on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 5.94 pct and the German Bund 3.28 pct.

    Turnover in the market totaled 1.212 billion euros, of which 576 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 636 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover 310 million euros.

    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.

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.448

    Pound sterling 0.886

    Danish kroner 7.501

    Swedish kroner 10.210

    Japanese yen 131.37

    Swiss franc 1.486

    Norwegian kroner 8.208

    Canadian dollar 1.485

    Australian dollar 1.563

    General News

    [20] Heavy rainfall causes extensive flooding on Crete

    The search continueon Monday to locate a man missing since Sunday afternoon in the region of Perama, Rethymno Prefecture, on the southern island of Crete, after his vehicle was swept away by a torrent following heavy rainfall. A 12-year-old boy riding in the same car is safe after managing to get out of the vehicle.

    In a separate incident in the same region, firemen rescued two children who were trapped inside their car by flood waters.

    The Fire Brigade received roughly 50 emergency calls to pump out the waters from flooded stores and basements.

    In the region of Alikarnassos in Heraklion, also on the island of Crete, two passengers of a private car were rescued by emergency squad (EMAK) members, while a police officer was also rescued after being swept away by flood waters when his patrol car overturned.

    The Fire Brigade received 200 emergency calls on Sunday night and in the early morning hours on Monday to pump flood waters from private properties.

    A large part of the island was left without electricity for hours due to damage caused to the power network due to lightning.

    Several sections of the national and provincial road network are blocked by landslides, causing extensive traffic problems.

    [21] Somali pirates set free Greek-flagged tanker

    Somali pirates on Monday set free the Greek-flagged tanker ship "Maran Centaurus" they had seized in November. According to the Greek Coast Guard the 28-member crew, nine Greeks and 19 of foreign nationality, are safe and well in health.

    The Piraeus-registered vessel had been seized by pirates on November 29, 2009 while sailing 700 miles east of the Somali coast loaded with mazut enroute from Kuwait to the Gulf of Mexico.

    The ship's owner company has paid an unspecified ransom to the pirates and it was now sailing to Durban, South Africa, for refueling continuing its route to Mexico.

    International shipping companies and organisations have expressed their worry over the phenomenon of piracy, which have called on the international community to take increased measures off the Somali coasts, while also charging that the modern-day pirates have set up profitable 'industry' with the ship piracies.

    According to International Maritime Bureau figures, piracy attacks increased by 38.5 percent in 2009, during which 406 vessels were attacked, 50 percent of them were by Somalis. Although official figures of the total ransoms paid are not known, African countries' officials' estimate the overall total at 150-200 million US dollars in 2008 alone.

    [22] Greek rescue team to Haiti

    A 16-member Greek rescue team, including three nurses, unit will depart for Haiti on Tuesday to offer assistance in ongoing operations in the quake-devastated Caribbean country.

    "We are going to Port au Prince to offer telecommunications support to other rescue teams; the Greek team will set up a wireless web that will coordinate all the rescue teams operating in the area," team leader Alexandros Liamos said.

    Meanwhile, the Hellenic Red Cross on Monday issued a plea to Greek people for financial support towards Haiti. The organisation has already sent 50,000 euros to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations to cover immediate needs.

    [23] Plessas concert for Ivory Coast AIDS orphans

    The non-governmental organization "Greek Action in Africa" will host a concert in Thessaloniki on Jan. 25, the proceeds of which will be donated to the "Hellas-Macedonia" Orphanage in the Ivory Coast.

    The orphanage, which was founded by "Greek Action in Africa", is home to 240 children who lost their parents from AIDS.

    The concert "Plessas in New York", with world famous Greek composer Mimis Plessas playing the piano, will be held in cooperation with the Thessaloniki Prefecture's Cultural Center.

    The event has already been presented in New York following an invitation by the Lincoln Center and Dizzy's Club.

    [24] Greek nationals arrested in Italy on migrant-smuggling charges

    ROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis-Syggelakis)

    A 27-year-old Greek truck driver has been arrested on migrant-smuggling charges after authorities reportedly discovered would-be migrants crammed under a false floor in his vehicle.

    The lorry was spotted by Italian police near the town of Cerignola on motorway A14 leading to Naples, a short distance from the port city of Brindisi where it had disembarked.

    Eight of the 10 illegal migrants managed to get out of the truck before the arrival of police only to be arrested shortly afterwards, Italian authorities said.

    The vehicle entered the motorway again and headed towards Aprilia, near Rome. When he was flagged down by police to check his papers, police heard two illegal migrants, who remained inside the hiding space, pleading for help. The crypt was so well-built that they were rescued following the intervention of the fire brigade, reports state.

    The driver denied the charges, claiming he was not aware of the presence of the illegal migrants.

    In a separate incident, a 42-year-old Greek man was arrested at the port city of Bari accused of smuggling two Afghan illegal migrants, aged 17 and 18.

    Italian police searched the car after it disembarked from a ferryboat arriving from the western Greek port of Patras. The 17-year-old was hidden in a suitcase inside the car's trunk while the 18-year-old was found under the backseat.

    [25] Migrant-smuggling arrests north of Athens

    Three foreign nationals and a local man were arrested on Monday following the discovery of 22 illegal immigrants crammed into a residence in the Agii Apostoli seaside village, north of Athens.

    According to police, the three foreign suspects will also be charged with assault and extortion, as they are suspected of beating the illegals in order to blackmail their relatives for money.

    The suspects were identified as two Iraqis and a Syrian national, while the detained undocumented foreigners are from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, among them nine minors, one as young as two years old.

    All of the illegal immigrants were ferried into Greece via Turkey, reports state.

    The local man was charged as an accomplice for leasing his property to a criminal ring.

    A handgun, ammunition and cruder weapons were also seized at the site.

    [26] Illegal immigrant traffickers arrested in Igoumenitsa

    Police arrested members of an international illegal immigrants trafficking gang in the city of Igoumenitsa, shortly before entering the port to board a ship sailing to Italy.

    Seven members of the gang were arrested for carrying 11 adults and six minors in four cars, all of Asian origin and holding forged travel documents, with the aim of forwarding them to European countries through the city's port.

    Investigations revealed that the traffickers are members of an international gang forwarding people of Asian origin from Greece to Italy, through the port of Igoumenitsa and supplying them with forged travel documents.

    Police confiscated eight forged identity cards of European Union countries, two forged passports, eight mobile phones, 1,530 euros found in the traffickers' possession and the four cars.

    [27] Arrest for illegal trade of fuel in Corinth

    A 46-year-old man, driver of a fuel delivery truck, was arrested in Corinth, southern Greece, on Monday in the process of illegally supplying a gas station with 8 tons of bio-diesel in violation of the customs office seal. The bio-diesel, originating from Patras, was being transported to a petrol company in Aspropirgos, near Athens.

    The suspect will be led to a prosecutor while a search is in progress for the arrest of the gas station owner. The tank truck with the remaining bio-diesel was confiscated.

    [28] Moderate quake in western Greece

    A moderate quake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale was recorded at 17:56 (local time) on Monday in western Greece.

    The quake's epicentre was located in the region of western Evpalio, 160 km west-northwest of Athens. The quake was particularly felt in the port city of Patras, Nafpaktos and the wider region.

    No damages were reported.

    Weather Forecast

    [29] Cloudy, rainy on Tuesday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -2C and 16C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 11C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 3C to 8C.

    [30] The Monday edition of Athens ' dailies at a glance

    Tax code hikes, the social security issue and main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras' criticism against the government over its electoral law and migrants' citizenship proposals mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens ' dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Shock measures for debtors to social security foundation (IKA)".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Samaras sends double message on party's course and ND's supporters".

    CHORA: "Antonis Samaras: End to leaders' fiefs - Criticism against PASOK for lack of governance".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Deputy Employment Minister reassuring over civil servants' fund".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Terrorists, robbers, hooligans on the loose while Citizens Protection Minister Chryssohoidis chases farmers".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Tax for wealthy will start from 400,000 Euros - All regulations in real estate tax system".

    ESTIA: "Public administration system outdated".

    ETHNOS: "Changes in new tax code - Government's final plan for incomes".

    IMERISSIA: "Social security tax - Decision taken on imposition".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "State property for sale in search of 2.5 billion Euros".

    TA NEA: "Early ... farmers' protest takes government by surprise".

    VRADYNI: "Samaras sharply attacks Prime Minister George Papandreou over Greek citizenship to migrants issue".

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