|Sunday, 15 July 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-01-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 23 January 2010 Issue No: 3404
 PM appeals to protesting farmers' patriotismPrime minister George Papandreou on Friday appealed to the "patriotism" of protesting farmers to pull out of roadblocks they have set up for the 8th consecutive day throughout the country and to join in a dialogue called by the government on the country's new agricultural policy.
Speaking in parliament, Papandreou warned that the roadblocks were hurting Greece's image in the international economy, stressing that "there is absolutely no margin for satisfying the demands that are put forward sporadically and unplanned".
Replying to questions tabled by the leaders of the smaller opposition parties on the farmers' mobilisations, Papandreou noted that his government was putting an end to the "money for guild-like arrangements, temporary solutions hold up for only a few months, with roadblocks appearing again, and again trade-offs with the government".
"The time has come for radical changes that give certainty and a future to the Greek provinces, to the farmers, to the villates. This is the bold battle we call on the farmers to wage with us, together. We do not want the farmers as co-culprits in a petty political exchange between us, but as participants in the great change," the premier said.
Indeed, he added: "The roadblocks not only do not give solutions, but quite the contrary they create new problems. They cause immense damage also to the country's image, given that the biggest deficit is that in credibility. Greece can no longer withstand being dragged through the mud and being ridiculed. There is no more margin for harming ourselves.
The first to benefit from this situation are those who are speculating at our expense. I've toured the roadblocks, but blocking off the roads is not the solution," Papandreou said.
He explained that he was not invoking patrotism in order to hide the problems, "but it is a truth that our country's credibility is being judged every day".
"Everything said is transcribed and goes daily to the offices of every economic factor internationally. The photographs are making the round of the world. Greece is in the target sight. This means that we must be even more responsible. The lack of a patriotic effort will harm us all, expecially the weaker strata, the farmers," Papandreou continued.
"It is better that the roads are closed, than homes," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga retorted. She blamed the current PASOK government and its predecessor New Democracy (ND) government for the situation "because for years now you have been applying the (EU's) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) very well".
"Beyond the political blame, you also have the moral blame because you, too, allow your mouthpieces to slander the struggles of the farmers," she added.
Papariga proposed a ban on imports of products that are also produced in Greece, anti-monopoly legislation, and ridding the farmers of the "big-time industrialists who suck their blood", and instead linking agricultural production with the Mediterranean diet, "because agricultural production is primarily connected with the (food) processing industry".
Papandreou counter-replied that if Papariga's suggestions were implemented, then "not only the roads but also the homes will be closed".
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, in turn, said that the cooperatives' movement has degraded into a "source of corruption" and urged the prime minister to "start from scratch", since barely 10-15 farmers' cooperatives throughout the country were functioning properly, and gave a vote of confidence to agricultural development minister Katerina Batzeli, who he said "is perhaps the only agricultural minister to date who knows the procedures".
Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) leader Alexis Tsipras said there was a "deifict" in the democratic trade union representation of the farmers, and accused the country of "opting to hold a dialogue with bureaucracy, and those responsible for the problem, rather than with the farmers themselves".
"You say we have no money. But we can suggest 2-3 zero-cost interventions: Put a rein on the arbitrariness and the middle-men. Put a stop to the 'Hellenisation' of products, the abusive attitude of the banks towards the farmers, eliminate the partisan character and clientele relations in the institutional agricultural agencies, create new types of collective economic organisation of the farmers," Tsipras said, addressing himself to Papandreou.
"You say you have no money. Do you have the guts to introduce a different policy?" Tsipras asked the prime minister.
"Yes, Mr Tsipras. We are prepared to clash with the structures in the agricultural economy, the cooperatives movement, and we want you with us," Papandreou replied.
"I seek the right to make a new beginning. And don't be surprised if we do make a new beginning, as PASOK. We are a democratic movement. We will make a new beginning, a new agricultural economy in a new Greece," the prime minister said.
 Greek, Bulgarian PMs talk on phone about farmer protestsGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov spoke on the phone on Friday, in a call placed by the Bulgarian prime minister.
According to an announcement issued by the premier's office, Borissov informed Papandreou that he intended to visit the Greek-Bulgarian border in order to speak with Bulgarian truckers about the problems they were facing.
Papandreou agreed with the Bulgarian premier's initiative and suggested that he also meet a delegation of Greek farmers that have closed the border crossing at Promahonas, on the Bulgarian side of the border, in order to explain the problems created in Bulgaria as a result of the farmers' mobilisation.
The Greek prime minister also informed Borissov about the message he addressed to farmers from Parliament on Friday, appealing to them to open roads and join in the public dialogue on the future of Greek agriculture, the announcement added.
 Bulgarian PM Borissov meets with protesting Greek farmersProtesting Greek farmers at the Promachonas border crossing roadblock spoke with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov Friday afternoon just inside the Bulgarian border.
The meeting has held on Bulgarian soil following a request by farmers from the prefecture of Serres, in northern Greece, who in a goodwill gesture, as they said, opened the border crossing from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. allowing the unhindered passage of vehicles.
Farmers' representatives said they will hold a meeting to decide on the course of their mobilisations.
The Bulgarian prime minister arrived at the Kulata border station, on the Bulgarian side of the borders, aboard a helicopter. He told a nine-member delegation of protesters that before leaving Sofia he had contacted Greek PM George Papandreou, who did not object to the meeting, as well as main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras.
Borissov welcomed the delegation, saying "you asked for me and I'm here" and called on them to lift the blockades and open the borders "in the name of the Greek-Bulgarian friendship".
Earlier, a Bulgarian state television crew crossed the border to interview protesting farmers.
 Bulgarian minister's visit to 'Koulata' border station cancelledSOFIA (ANA-MPA/B. Borissov)
The press office of the Bulgarian Finance Ministry announced on Friday evening that the visit Minister Traicho Traikov had scheduled to the "Koulata" border station on Saturday, January 23, has been cancelled.
The announcement said that the reason for the cancellation of the minister's visit to the border station was the lifting of the closure of the Greek-Bulgarian borders.
 ND leader Samaras briefed by N. Greece farmers on protests, problemsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras was briefed on Friday by the leaders of the agricultural associations of Northern Greece, as protesting farmers entered their 8th day of roadblocks throughout the country.
Federation of Agricultural Associations of Thessaloniki president Vassilis Kanakas said after the meeting that Samaras was well-informed on the issue, adding that they discussed what could be done for solutions to be found not only for the present but also the future.
Regarding the roadblocks, Kanakas said that the farmers need support due to both the crisis and competition, while expressing worry over the fact that farmers have to date received only half, at most, of the subsidies due to them.
Kanakas added that Samaras supported the farmers, but asked that they do not block off the country's roads.
The president of the Yannitsa umbrella farmers' associations federation Lakis Papadopoulos said the agricultural sector was it critical shape, adding that the ND leader was "better aware of the issues than we are, and told us things that we, as trade unionists, did not know".
He said that the farmers had received substantial subsidies last year, whereas today they still have not received the monies that should have been given to them in December. "We don't have money to pay the rents on our fields," he stressed.
ND agriculture "shadow minister" George Kasapidis said after the meeting that the main opposition party was keeping tally of the farmers' concerns, and will continue to put pressure on the government so that it will realise the problems and take decisions immediately.
As for the roadblocks and a warning by prime minister George Papandreou that the roadblocks are harming Greece's image, Kasapidis noted that ND had said last year (when it was in government and during similar farmers' protests), and says the same thing now, "that we do not agree with the blocking of the roads".
"This is the difference between ND and PASOK, which was saying something totally different last year," he added.
 Samaras: Gov't refusing 'real' dialogue with farmersThe government's refusal to begin "real" dialogue with farmers was leading the situation to a dangerous dead-end, main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said on Friday regarding the ongoing road blocks by protesting farmers.
After successive meetings with farmer representatives, Samaras said that ND had from the start expressed its opposition to the closing of roads, which created huge problems for people's daily lives and to the local and international movement of goods.
"We must also understand, however, as a society, why farmers are forced to resort to such methods of mobilisation and protest," he added.
"The truth is that the government has no comprehensive and effective policy for the agricultural economy sector," Samaras underlined.
 Commission watching Greek farmers protests, EU spokesman saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
The European Commission is in contact with Greek authorities regarding developments relating to the farmers protests in Greece, enterprise and industry spokesman Ton Van Lierop said here on Friday.
The spokesman said that Community services had asked Greece for clarifications regarding the protests after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov had sent a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, asking the Commission to intervene and ensure the free movement of goods across EU territory.
On the issue of Greece compensating Bulgaria for damages caused by the farmers' actions, the spokesman stressed that this was a bilateral issue that did not concern the European Commission.
Van Lierop said that Greek farmers had opened some roads across the Greek-Bulgarian border and would be making decisions on whether to continue road blocks and border blockades over the weekend. If farmers had not withdrawn from the road blocks by the start of next week, a meeting with Greek experts will take place in Brussels, he added.
"We are all working for the fastest possible solution to the problem, since the Commission's main concern is to ensure the free movement of goods and merchandise," he added.
Farmers continued to man their road blocks for a ninth day on Friday, in spite of rain and plunging temperatures that in some areas fell below freezing. They will hold meetings on Saturday and Sunday in order to assess the speech made by Prime Minister George Papandreou in Parliament regarding farming issues, but many seemed disappointed by the prime minister's stance, saying they had hoped for something that would defuse the situation.
Farmer union leaders also seemed determined to reject the government's invitation to take part in the dialogue on farming issues on January 25-26.
"We will not go. We have made this clear on all counts. We will not take part in a dialogue that leads nowhere," one unionist underlined, saying that a two-day conference with 700 delegates would gain nothing if another 200 farmers turned up as well.
Due to the very poor weather, however, farmers have relaxed several road blocks and allowed traffic through in many areas, especially where motorists were also facing a difficult drive through snow-laden mountain roads.
Farmers belonging to "independent associations" in the Serres region decided to close the Promahonas border crossing with Bulgaria, saying they were unconvinced by the prime minister's speech in Parliament, but finally decided to allow cars and trucks carrying perishable goods to go through. The last were unable to do so, however, because their fellow truckers refused to let them pass.
 Farmers to protest in AthensFarmers at the roadblock in Nikea, in central Greece, have taken their final decision to come to Athens on Monday to protest and not to participate in the dialogue at the Zappion Mansion.
On Monday, farmers will be coming to the capital in buses and will be staging protests outside the Zappion Mansion, where the government has called on farmers to participate in the national dialogue on their issue.
 Droutsas: Greece not afraid of direct contact with FYROMGreece will not abandon the UN process for resolving the name issue with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but neither has it any reason to shun direct contact with Skopje, Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said on Friday. He made the statement while briefing a joint session of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs and the Special Parliamentary Standing Committee on European Affairs regarding Athens' proposals for the accession course of Western Balkans countries in the European Union.
"Greece will not abandon the path of negotiations in a UN framework for a solution on Skopje's name, but it will continue to have direct contact with the neighbouring country, because it is not afraid and because it believes that this will help the process further," he said.
Droutsas was replying to concerns voiced by main opposition New Democracy MP Dora Bakoyannis, the previous foreign minister, regarding a recent meeting between Prime Minister George Papandreou and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Gruevski in which the name issue was discussed, expressing concern that "Greece will come up against renewed pressures from the European Union to hold direct talks with Skopje".
Droutsas admitted that Greece was under considerable pressure from the EU to find a solution through direct bilateral contacts, noting that these pressures were likely to continue, but insisted that Greece would not submit to these because its positions were absolutely clear.
"We have laid down the national 'red line', which is a solution based on a geographical qualification and a single name for all purposes," the minister emphasised. "There is only one solution, as this is laid out by our national red line: A definitive composite name with geographical qualification of the term Macedonia, for all purposes (erga omnes) and for all uses," Droutsas underlined.
So long as Greece's neighbour did not abandon its intransigent and obstructive stance at the UN, the further it would distance itself from its European future, the minister said, adding that Greece was now waiting to see how Gruevski would read Athens clear and non-negotiable message.
"This is our great difference with the previous government. We believe that Greece has no reason to hide and are therefore not afraid to take initiatives and go forward, though always with cautious steps," he said.
Droutsas particularly emphasised the importance of the government "2014 Agenda" for the accession of the western Balkan countries to the EU, saying that this initiative was once again giving Greece a leading role in the region.
He said this policy sought to enhance Greece's presence in Eastern Europe by actively promoting the Western Balkans with the aim of incorporating them into Europe, deepening economic growth, as well as preserving and reinforcing Greece's role in the region.
The minister also stressed a fourth goal that sought to make the Southeastern Europe Cooperation Process a more useful body for security and peace in the region, with a collective framework of principles that would allow Balkan countries to take their fate into their own hands.
While admitting that serious problems remained to be dealt with, such as organised crime, illegal migration, drug trafficking and environmental protection, he also pointed to the EU accession of Bulgaria and Romania and the new opportunities for growth thus created.
"Even at this difficult economic juncture with road blocks on the highways, we are reminded of the inter-dependence of our economies," he noted.
The alternate minister also called on the Albanian government to respect the rights of the Greek ethnic minority in Albania and spoke of a "lack of progress in Bosnia-Herzegovina".
He repeated Greece's active, tangible support for Serbia's bid to join the EU and criticised the Community's "absence" on the issue of Kosovo, stressing that for Greece there was no question of recognising Kosovo.
 Alternate FM interviewed by Austrian newspaperVIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Deputy foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas outlined the priorities of Greece's foreign policy in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard published on Wednesday.
Droutsas said that the new Greek government of PASOK has already presented specific and serious proposals to the European Union with respect to the country's economic situation, which he expects will be assessed as positive by the international markets as well as the EU.
But the difficult economic situation does not mean that Greece cannot give valuable input in terms of international developments, especially in the Balkans and the Middle East that are its immediate neighbourhood, the minister noted.
Droutsas recalled that Greece, during its presidency of the EU in 2003 by way of the so-called "Thessaloniki Agenda", had for the first time given a specific accession prospect for the countries of the Western Balkans, but added that this momentum has abated in recent years.
The new PASOK government has now set 2014, the 100th anniversary of the breakout of WW1, as the target year, considering that symbolically the EU, as the most successful model of peace, should undertake the responsibility and see to peace and stability in the Balkans.
On the FYROM name issue, and asked why Greece does not accept the name of 'Macedonia' for its neighbor, Droutsas pointed out that the largest section of the region is in Greece and that Skopje was seeking for itself the representation of the entire region "from which no one can rule out territorial demands". The Greek government has from the outset shown a desire for cooperation, but the response to date on the party of Skopje has not been that which was anticipated, he added.
Greece, he continued, is the country that, in the context of "Agenda 2014", desires to lead FYROM to the EU, but at the same time makes clear that a prerequisite for that is prior solution of the name issue.
On Turkey's EU accession course, Droutsas noted that Greece supports the membership process, as it believes that, through that path, reforms may be made in Turkey rendering it a democracy along the European standards, after which there is no reason why Turkey should not accede the EU.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, he said he wished he could be a bit more optimistic, but unfortunately the latest developments do not allow that.
To a question on the differing positions of Athens and Vienna regarding Kosovo, Droutsas said that for a long time, only the voices of the US and Russia were heard on that matter, but not the true voice of the EU which, he noted, if it had at that time given a specific accession prospect for the region the developments that followed would have been avoided. This, he explained, was the reason why the Greek initiative "Agenda 2014" is of such very great importance.
 Cyprus DHSY party leader meets Papandreou, SamarasPrime Minister George Papandreou on Friday received visiting Democratic Rally (DISY) party president Nikos Anastasiades. After the meeting, the Cypriot party leader thanked the premier for his interest in the island and his initiative to set up a team of laywers to assist the Cyprus Republic's efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem.
He also hailed the Greek premier's decision for close cooperation within international fora and especially the EU in order to confront Turkey's positions, adding that the meeting revealed Papandreou's interest in the Cyprus issue and ways of confronting Turkey's intrasigence.
Anastasiadis welcomed Papandreou's decision to visit Cyprus in order to hold talks with Cyprus' political forces in order to create a new strategy.
Earlier, Anastasiadis met with main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and said that the meeting was extremely encouraging, adding that despite the problems Greece is facing in the recent period, its interest for Cyprus remains at the highest level.
The Cypriot party leader invited Samaras to visit Cyprus, which the ND leader accepted. Finally, Anastasiadis cited his interest in developing a closer relation with Samaras because they are both leaders of parties within the European Peoples' Party.
 Gov't on reopening of Tempi section hwy.Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas repeated in Parliament on Friday that the main Athens-Thessaloniki motorway at the Tempi Valley section of central Greece will be reopened before Easter, "under certain preconditions".
Responding to a tabled question by 12 main opposition New Democracy (ND) party MPs concerning the situation at the specific section of the main north-south national highway, Reppas underlined that construction works will get underway on Monday.
The Tempi Valley, essentially a narrow gorge through which the Pineios Rivers snakes its way towards the Thessaly plain, has been closed to traffic since Dec. 17, 2009 following a major landslide.
Reppas clarified that the duration of construction works will depend on the readiness of the concessionaire company and underlined that "safety will not be jeopardised".
 Military parades without mechanised unitsMechanized units of the Hellenic Armed Forces will not, beginning this year, participate in military parades, Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced on Friday, adding that President Karolos Papoulias was briefed on the issue.
The mechanized corps of the armed forces and their work will be presented during special inspections conducted on bases, according to a press release
 BoG chief: Greece will revive itself from within the eurozoneGreece must not be allured by the "Sirens" calling on it to withdraw from the eurozone, since it is from within the eurozone that it will be able to more effectively tackle its problems, Bank of Greece (BOG) governor George Provopoulos stressed in an article appearing on Friday in the Financial Times.
Responding to those who suggest that withdrawal from the single currency (euro) and devaluation of the new ensuing national currency "would be like waving a magic wand, thereby restoring competitiveness", Provopoulos said that they do not take into consideration the experience of the recent past.
Indeed, Provopoulos pointed out, Greece actually did "wave the magic wand" twice, with substantial devaluations of the then national currency, the drachma, in 1983 and 1985, but "the devaluations were followed by higher wage growth and inflation, with no sustained improvement in competitiveness", due to the absence of long-lasting structural adjustment and sustained fiscal contraction.
At any rate, such a choice would have the opposite results of those sought, as it would lead to a rekindling of inflation, further increase in lending interest rates, and a big increase in the cost of servicing the state debt, thus undermining the fiscal adjustment, Provopoulos warned.
The Greek economy, he said, is currently at a crossroads, and "the fact of the matter is that it will be immensely less costly for Greece to eradicate its problems from within the eurozone".
"Rather than a Greek tragedy, a more appropriate analogy for the Greek economy stems from Homer's Odyssey. In that epic, the enchanting sounds of the sirens enticed sailors to jump to their deaths in the sea. Those who suggest Greece might leave the eurozone are like Homer's sirens. Greece will not be tempted by these short-term options, but will undertake the necessary, bold adjustments. The future of its economy is unwaveringly tied to the mast provided by the euro," Provopoulos concluded.
 Gov't on assets of social insurance funds"The government promotes the immediate cooperation of social insurance funds in the form of a partnership that will allow a more effective utilisation of their real estate property and lead to a solution of their housing problems," Deputy Labour and Social Insurances Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis stated on Friday.
Speaking in Parliament, in response to a tabled question by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary spokesman Fotis Kouvelis on the assets of social insurance funds, Koutroumanis added that "we should not have the illusion that this will lead to a satisfactory solution for the social insurance issue."
Koutroumanis also stated that the social insurance funds will maintain their independence while sharing services and infrastructure.
 Gov't eyes oil, gas explorationThe government on Friday unveiled what it called a new policy for research and exploitation of domestic hydrocarbon fields (oil and natural gas), a policy it said aims to strengthen the country's energy security and ensuring economic growth.
The plan was presented by Ioannis Maniatis, the environment, energy and climate change deputy minister, who spoke during the 1st nationwide congress of Hellenic Petroleum group workers.
Maniatis said research and exploitation of hydrocarbon assets was a top priority for the government and that the first step towards this goal would be the creation of a state agency responsible for managing the state's rights in oil and natural gas exploration.
"This a national bet and we have to win it," Maniatis said, adding that the ministry's intentions are to hold a thorough study of the case, to consult with agencies and Greek petroleum companies, as well as to examine international practices in a strongly competitive environment.
Currently, the only oil and natural gas field operating in Greece is the Prinos field in the northern Aegean, with a daily production of 5,000 barrels.
The minister said it crucial to have concrete evidence of further oil fields in the country and stressed that Greek economy's dependence on oil totals 58 pct of primary energy consumption, up from the 40-pct average in the European Union.
Commenting on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project, Maniatis said it was a project of strategic importance and that Greek authorities are working systematically and responsibly to implement this endeavour.
 4th Greek Luxury Tourism & Property Road Show to be held in MoscowGreece's luxury tourism will be presented to Russian entrepreneurs and consumers at the 4th Greek Luxury Tourism & Property Road Show that will be held in a downtown Moscow hotel on March 16 2010. The event is organised by Real Events company in cooperation with Tour Operators Agency in Russia (ATOR).
The exhibition, organised for the 4th year, has a dual meaning and is addressed not only to Russian businessmen but also to people who want to travel to Greece and become acqainted with Greece's luxury tourism.
The Show on the theme "Hotels, Destinations, Holiday Homes, Yachting & Spas" will coincide with the international exhibition MITT in Moscow.
 Tourism sector damaged by roadblocks"Greek tourism is once more being hurt, today, by the farmers' roadblocks on national highways," the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) said in an announcement on Friday, adding that "despite the everyday objective problems, our country's image is also harmed in the international tourism market because serious disruptions have resulted, and schedules, itineraries and bookings from abroad are being cancelled, while every day the situation gets worse".
HATTA's announcement also stated tht "following the extremely difficult tourist year we faced in 2009, resulting the arrivals falling by 7.8 percent and profits by 11.4 percent, it is mandatory that a national effort be launched in order to reverse the adverse figures and for the recovery of Greek tourism".
"The right of a productive sector to protest is completely respected, but respect towards other productive sectors is also mandatory," HATTA concluded.
 N.Greece furniture makers threaten farmers with reprisalsFurniture manufacturers of northern Greece on Friday threatened to retaliate against the farmers' "sabotage" of the Furnidec furniture exhibition by preventing them from holding the 23rd Agrotica farming machinery exhibition scheduled to start on February 3.
In a unanimous decision, the furniture manufacturers agreed to block access to the exhibition premises with 250 trucks and by not removing their products from their pavillions.
At the opening of Furnidec Business on Friday, a representative of the sector stressed that the exhibition was threatened with failure because most of the furniture makers Balkan clients are cancelling their appointments, claiming that it is impossible to enter into Greece.
"We have been looking forward to Furnidec in order to get a financial breather but the farmers, indifferent to the consequences of their actions, are acting as an additional burden for our survival".
 Building materials' cost up 1.0% in Dec.The building materials' cost index rose 1.0 pct in December 2009, compared with the corresponding month in 2008, after an increase of 4.0 pct recorded in December 2008, the National Statistical Service announced on Friday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the index fell 0.7 pct on average in 2009, after an increase of 6.4 pct in 2008.
 Banks shares raise bourseStocks ended higher on the last trading session of the week at the Athens Stock Exchange, led by gains in bank shares. The composite index of the market rose 0.99 pct to end at 2,033.76 points, with turnover a moderate 221.158 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 1.66 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.71 pct down and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.80 pct. The Financial Services (2.96 pct) and Banks (2.47 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecommunications (1.73 pct) and Chemicals (1.64 pct) suffered losses.
Elfico (11.96 pct), Lanakam (10.0 pct), Paperpack-Tsoukaridis (9.52 pct), ELBE Clothing (8.43 pct) and Attica Publications (8.24 pct) were top gainers, while Desmos (18.18 pct), Compucon (11.11 pct), Altantic (9.23 pct) and Pairis (9.09 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 102 to 70 with another 62 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.91%
Personal & Household: -1.23%
Raw Materials: -1.46%
Travel & Leisure: +2.14%
Food & Beverages: -0.62%
Financial Services: +2.96%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 6.95
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.51
HBC Coca Cola: 16.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.43
National Bank of Greece: 16.60
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.44
Bank of Piraeus: 6.40
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 301 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, from 291 bps the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.21 pct and the German Bund 3.20 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 0.67 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.
 Greek mountaineer scales highest summits of all 7 continentsGreek mountain climber Nikos Magitsis is one of the select few summiteers throughout the world to have scaled the highest mountains on all seven continents. The mountain he holds dearest to his hear, however, is the magical Mt. Olympus of Greek mythology, home of the ancient Greek gods, in the province of Elassona on the borders of Macedonia and Thessaly.
The highest mountain range in Greece, Olympus is a landmark for not only Greek mountaineers but also climbers from all over the world.
The 41-year-old Volos-born Magitsis began mountain climbing in 1984 when he joined the local Mountain Climbing Group of Volos.
The first "Seven Summits" peak he scaled was Mt. Kilimanjaro on the African continent, in Tanzania. This was followed by the Vinson Massif in Antarctica in January 2003, Denali (Mt. McKinley on the North American continent, in Alaska, USA) in June 2005, Mt. Everest (on the Asian continent, in Nepal/Tibet, the world's highest peak) in May 2007, Aconcagua (South American continent in Argentina, on the border with Chile) in January 2008, Carstensz Pyramid (or Puncak Jaya, on the Australian continent, in Indonesia) and Mt. Elbrus (on the European continent, in Russia) in August 2008.
Magitsis, in an interview with ANA-MPA, spoke of the strength of heart need to perform such a feat,
"For a climber to reach so high and scale the hardest peaks, he must be in excellent physical condition, come to terms with the difficulties and risk, always seek something bigger and better, set high goals, and be determined and daring. Physical strength is an advantage and a requirement. But strength of heart is the beginning and the end. It is the most precious thing for a climber who stops at nothing and attains his goals," Magitsis said.
That, he added, is a lesson for life itself.
As for Mt. Olympus, "it is the highest and most beautiful mountain in Greece", Magitsis said. "It is the springboard and goal of every new mountain climber."
"When I started mountain climbing, my dream was to reach its summit. It has high and steep peaks and vivid scenery. Olympus is a mythical mountain, and its legendary routes attract climbers from all over the world every year. Olympus is the mountain with the highest in altitude shelters. It is a mountain to which hymns of praise have been sung by Greek and foreign writers and poets, and which has commanded respect and awe the world over," Magitsis said.
 Trial of policemen accused of pupil's fatal shooting resumesThe trial of two special guards charged in the killing of a 15-year-old pupil in the Exarhia district of Athens during an incident on Dec. 6, 2008 resumed on Friday in the provincial city of Amfissa, western Greece. The trial adjourned shortly after it opened on Wednesday due to an earlier engagement of one of the defense attorneys.
Addressing the court, both defendants denied the charges against them. Epaminondas Korkoneas, a 37-year-old father of three, faces charges of intentional homicide with possible malice and illegal use of a weapon, while his 32-year-old partner, Vassilis Saraliotis, is charged with complicity. The two are standing trial for the shooting death of pupil Alexis Grigoropoulos that sparked an unprecedented month of urban rioting in Athens and in major cities across the country.
A request by defense attorney Alexis Kougias' to call more witnesses to the stand and use video footage from a sports channel showing fans in violent incidents during a polo match will be examined by the court in the process of the trial.
Kougias maintained that the victim and his friends were present in the specific game.
The trial will continue with the testimony of the victim's mother Geena Tzalikian.
 President received group of diaspora youth adultsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias met with 150 young Greek adult expatriates from South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand on Friday at the presidential mansion.
The expatriates, aged between 18 and 25, are in Greece as guests of the general secretariat for Greeks Abroad, and within the framework of the Greek Language and Culture Programme.
Addressing the young expatriates, the president stressed that Greeks abroad have won the respect and admiration of their adopted countries.
Moreover, he urged them to study the Greek language and literature and stressed that they should always keep the homeland in their hearts.
 5.1R quake east of NafpaktosA moderate earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale jolted several regions of Western Greece in the early hours of Friday..
According to the Athens National Observatory's Geodynamics Institute, the quake was recorded at 3:00 a.m with its epicenter near Efpalio, east of the city of Nafpaktos.
No injury or damage was immediately reported.
 Local man, 2 Britons arrested in Hania arson case; 2 US citizens wantedThree people have been arrested and two more are wanted by police on the island of Crete, accused of participating in two arson attacks on Jan. 5 and 16 targeting the historic Jewish synagogue in the port-city of Hania.
In a press conference on Friday, police announced that a local man from the nearby city of Irakleio, aged 24, and two British nationals, aged 23 and 33, are in custody, while another two suspects, both US citizens, are wanted.
The 33-year-old Briton, who is accused of being the perpetrator of the second arson attack on Jan. 16, denied the charges against him. The two US nationals are accused of the first arson attack on Jan. 5, while in the three detained suspects are accused of involvement in that incident, too.
The Greek man and the 23-year-old Briton are accused of keeping watch in the second arson attack.
The three suspects were led to the synagogue on Thursday night where a crime reconstruction took place.
The first fire broke out at 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 5. The culprits broke into the synagogue's courtyard and set fire to an outdoor wooden ladder which leads to the library. The fire was extinguished immediately before it threatened the temple and the adjoining library, which features roughly 1,600 rare books and manuscripts. A bottle with a flammable liquid still burning was found at the scene by fire-fighters.
The second fire broke out at 4 a.m. on Jan. 16 and destroyed digital discs, four computers, tapes with Jewish music and books. Both attacks destroyed a total of 2,500 books.
The medieval synagogue in Hania's old quarter is amongst the most noted Jewish temples in Greece, functioning as both a cultural centre and a house of worship.
 Turkish aircraft leaves Thessaloniki airportA Turkish aircraft belonging to the Sun Express company that had made a forced landing at Macedonia airport in Thessaloniki on Friday afternoon, following a threatening call regarding the existence of an explosive device, left for its destination shortly before 10 on Friday evening.
After a necessary search was carried out and after nothing suspicious was detected the aircraft, that was flying from Stuttgart to Izmir with 62 passengers on board, continued on its voyage.
 Woman loses kidney due to purse-snatcher's attackA 25-year-old woman serving as first sergeant in the Greek Army lost one of her kidneys in an attempt to resist a purse-snatcher earlier this week.
The young woman had been walking down a street in the west Athens district of Ilion last Tuesday when a man on a motorbike tried to grab her bag. In her effort to hold onto the bag, the woman was dragged along the road and suffered lower back injuries.
She was taken to the 401 Military Hospital, where doctors found that her left kidney was ruptured and had to be surgically removed. The 25-year-old is now being treated in an intensive care unit.
The attack was reported on Thursday by the girl's father and a search to find and arrest the culprit has been launched by the Ilion police.
 Illegals detained on Samos, body discoveredThe body of an unidentified woman was found Friday morning on a Beach on the eastern Aegean island of Samos.
The woman and other 28 illegal migrants were reportedly on board a vessel that had sent out a distress signal on Thursday night shortly after leaving the opposite Turkish coast.
The boat and the body were found by the coast guard, while the rest of the illegal migrants were arrested in nearby villages where they had scattered after landing on the island.
 Heroin seizure, arrest at Kipi postNearly 10 grams of heroin were confiscated at the Kipi border post on the Greek-Turkish frontier on Thursday.
A sniffer dog reportedly detected the drugs hidden in the spare tire of a private car arriving from Turkey.
The vehicle's driver, a Greek national, was arrested.
 Container containing contraband cigarettes confiscatedThe Attica Special Audits Service drugs squad on Friday announced that it had confiscated the contents of a container that had arrived at the Piraeus Port container terminal after finding 512,000 packets of contraband cigarettes were found inside.
The goods were confiscated cigarettes on Wednesday by special audit service employees and Piraeus customs officials.
The container had been labelled "household goods" and had arrived at Piraeus port from Dubai.
 Cloudy, rainy on SaturdayCloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -5C and 12C. Cloudy with showers or sleet in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 3C to 8C. Cloudy with local snowfall in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -2C to 3C.
 ‘he Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe farmers mobilisations and government's stance, Prime Minister George Papandreou's call for acceleration of implementation of the Stability and Growth plan and government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos' statements that several public sector agencies will merge or close, dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Dozens of public sector agencies will be merged or abolished".
APOGEVMATINI: "Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras seeks associates from the party's grass roots".
AVGHI: "Greece a 'boxing bag' for speculators - Greek bonds' spread skyrockets, plunge on Athens Stock Exchange".
AVRIANI: "Freeze on building activity until Environment Ministry completes the map of the country's forests".
CHORA: "Economic and Industrial Studies Institute (IOBE) letter to prime minister: Take measures because social clashes are on the threshold".
ELEFTHEROS: "Wave of early retirements in Armed Forces".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Nepotism lives in Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos' 'court'."
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Operation 'hurry', with Pangalos as the supervisor".
ESTIA: "Greece's lamentable degradation - Even the Bulgarians reproach us".
ETHNOS: "New obstacle to 55-year-old public sector pensioners".
IMERISSIA: "Economic and Industrial Studies Institute's (IOBE) dramatic intervention: Last chance for immediate measures".
KATHIMERINI: "In search of a solution for the borrowing".
LOGOS: "Abolitions and merges...of dozens of public sector agencies".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "State in search of loans in USA and Japan".
NIKI: "The bankers govern - The banking cartel is above the law and continues the auctions (of properties for overdue debts)".
RIZOSPASTIS: "No to the fraudulent dialogue - Struggle, unity of the poor and the farmers - Farmers' mobilisations continue".
TA NEA: "Super austerity or else we will 'bankrupt' you - Financial rating companies and markets are blackmailing us".
TO VIMA: "Greek economy at the mercy of the lenders - Spreads skyrocket".
VRADYNI: "What surprises await 5.5 million taxpayers in the new income tax declaration form".
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