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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-01-26

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

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

Tuesday, 26 January 2010 Issue No: 3406

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou response to Erdogan covers gamut of Greece-Turkey ties, eyes framework for solutions
  • [02] Alternate FM Droutsas on Council of Ministers
  • [03] PM Papandreou to address Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly
  • [04] Papandreou, Cyprus' EDEK leader discuss Cyprus issue
  • [05] President Papoulias receives Cyprus' EDEK leader
  • [06] ND leader Samaras meets with EDEK leader, US envoy
  • [07] Deputy FM Droutsas invites Nimetz to Greece
  • [08] Farmers' roadblocks continue amid Athens con'f on farm sector issues
  • [09] Procedure for re-election of Karolos Papoulias next week
  • [10] ND leader addresses Women's Issues Secretariat
  • [11] SYRIZA submits proportional representation proposal
  • [12] Finance Minister Papaconstantinou meets with European Ombudsman Diamandouros
  • [13] Greece raises 8.0 bln euros from five-year syndicated bond loan
  • [14] FinMin signs decision on creation of 10 pc reserve
  • [15] Hellenic Petroleum eyes foreign expansion
  • [16] Greek trade deficit down 41.3 pct in Jan-Nov
  • [17] Stocks end 2.81% higher
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Greek bond market closing report
  • [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [21] Patriarch in Kalamata
  • [22] Unicef and Skai fundraiser for the earthquake victims in Haiti
  • [23] Gerekou meets DEMA delegation
  • [24] One of two US citizens wanted in Synagogue arson arrested
  • [25] Minor missing after falling in sea
  • [26] Man shoots his wife and commits suicide
  • [27] Guards to prosecutor over theft of car from police headquarters
  • [28] Subzero temperatures in NE Greece
  • [29] Greek composer wins int'l distinctions
  • [30] New book focuses on WWII war reparations issue
  • [31] Earthquake rocks the island of Zakynthos
  • [32] Two killed in car-train collision
  • [33] Cloud, snow or sleet on Tuesday
  • [34] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [35] Leaders focus on governance during second round of intensive negotiations Politics

  • [01] Papandreou response to Erdogan covers gamut of Greece-Turkey ties, eyes framework for solutions

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's response to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was delivered on Monday in Ankara by Greece's ambassador to the neighbouring country.

    In his response, Papandreou said he is encouraged by what he called his and Erdogan's joint volition to improve bilateral relations, noting that the Turkish people are well aware of his personal contribution to the inauguration of a new period in Greek-Turkish ties in 1999, "when bilateral diplomatic activity coincided with a significant decision: the granting to Turkey of the status of candidate country for accession to the European Union".

    In his letter, an expected reply to a high-profile letter sent by Erdogan early November, Papandreou cited several sectors where tangible progress has been achieved in bilateral relations, including trade, investments, energy, tourism, "citizens' diplomacy" and communication between the two countries' armed forces, among others.

    Along those lines, the Greek premier, who also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, said there was now a need to take into account the past 10 years in bilateral relations, "so that the remaining challenges can be ascertained in order to achieve a more viable and productive relationship and a permanent peace between the two countries."

    "Greeks and Turks, by cooperating, can develop into a force for stability and cooperation," he said, adding his hope that both countries can serve as a model for other regions of the world.

    Beyond the progress, however, Papandreou said Greece and Turkey must now focus on solving what he called "fundamental political issues that remained unresolved ... especially in the face of major global challenges that we are dealing with."

    Along these lines, Papandreou details a specific list of problems he said continue to plague Greek-Turkish ties, while at the same time describing a framework within which Athens is seeking solutions.

    Aegean

    In response to whatever differences in the Aegean region, Papandreou emphasised that Greece's primary priority is the creation of a secure environment and a climate of mutual trust.

    In repeating standing Greek positions, Papandreou reiterated the need for respect of territorial integrity, International Law and international treaties, as well as bilateral and multilateral treaties, "as these comprise a framework for the territorial status in the Aegean and a cornerstone towards ensuring continuous good-neighbourly relations."

    As per Turkey's official behaviour in the Aegean region, the Greek prime minister did not mince his words in referring to provocations such as a "casus belli" issued by the Turkish assembly vis-à-vis an extension of territorial waters; military overflights by Turkish warplanes and research activities in areas of the Aegean where the continental shelf has still not been delineated based on the universally applied provisions of the International Law of the Sea.

    Papandreou said these provocations in no way improve bilateral relations, while at the same time underlining that exploratory contacts must be revived, although such a process cannot take place indefinitely.

    In case of an inability to achieve an agreed to solution within a predetermined period of time, Papandreou proposes that Greece and Turkey take recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, based on the relevant provisions of the Law of the Sea. Moreover, he expressed Athens' readiness to examine measures aimed at reducing whatever tensions, under the condition that these measures do not anticipate political and legal positions of either side. He also noted that such measures will not provide a "real solution ... because they do not deal with the problem at its root".

    Furthermore, the Greek premier underlined that the only effective way to buttress security in the Aegean is the avoidance of military activities that fuel tension.

    Cyprus

    Regarding the long-standing Cyprus problem, the Greek premier said the key to a viable solution is for the two communities on the island republic, i.e. Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, to be allowed to freely decide their common future, "without any foreign interference or pressure."

    Describing a prospective solution, Papandreou referred to a federal form with structures that will guarantee the effective functioning of the state, adding that the solution should be within the framework prescribed by numerous United Nations resolutions and one that will abide by the European Union's institutional framework, principles and values, as well as the Union's acquis communautaire.

    Papandreou further notes in his letter that the future of a reunited Cyprus lies in the EU and that this is a reality that cannot be ignored, given that the Republic of Cyprus is full member of the European Union since 2004.

    Ecumenical Patriarchate

    After expressing Greece's support to Turkey's EU accession prospects which, as he said, will contribute to the region's peace, security and stability by consolidating good neighboring relations, the Greek premier makes special reference to the importance of Turkey fulfilling its obligations vis-à-vis the now miniscule ethnic Greek minority in Turkey and the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    He also expresses Athens' readiness to offer to Ankara, on a bilateral level, any technical assistance and expertise in EU matters.

    Answering recent high-profile statements by the Turkish premier regarding the Muslim minority in western Thrace, Papandreou underlined that the respect of human rights of all Greek citizens -- regardless of their religious beliefs and cultural or ethnic origin -- is the exclusive responsibility of the Greek State as well as his personal commitment towards every Greek citizen.

    He also underlines that human rights cannot be the object of negotiations and cannot be dealt with in terms of reciprocity, a reference to on-and-off attempts by Ankara to link the Halki Seminary reopening with the Muslim minority.

    Illegal immigration

    As regards the now burning issue of illegal immigration, the Greek premier emphasised that cooperation, both on a bilateral level and within the European framework, including support, by Turkey, for FRONTEX's operations, is the only way for an effective handling of the problem.

    Papandreou's reference comes amid a wave of illegal immigration, mostly Third World nationals, using Turkey as a springboard to enter Greece and other EU territories.

    Papandreou again pointed to the importance of a full implementation of the existing 2001 Greek-Turkish Re-admission Protocol, apart from the resumption of talks on the conclusion of a corresponding agreement between Turkey and the European Union. He also expresses readiness for the shaping of a joint action plan to deal with illegal immigration.

    After referring to other aspects of bilateral cooperation, such as economic and commercial cooperation and the status of visas for Turkish citizens, the Greek prime minister terms the proposal by his Turkish counterpart on the creation of a High Level Cooperation Council considerable.

    In this framework, the Greek prime minister proposed the organising of an official visit at prime ministerial level, inviting Erdogan to again visit Greece, while stressing that the two countries' foreign ministries should set a suitable date possibly before the summer.

    In his letter, the Greek premier codified the preliminary work that must be done by the two foreign ministers for the suitable preparation of such a visit, as well as the sectors in which the two sides must focus their cooperation, with the involvement of the corresponding agencies of the two countries.

    Specific sectors of cooperation are referred to as being energy, commerce and investments, culture, illegal immigration, green energy, the environment, reforestation and green development, infrastructure and transportation and the combating of organised crime.

    Lastly, he cited several general areas of cooperation between the two countries, referring specifically to regional cooperation (in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Black Sea, Balkans, Caucasus), international issues (climate change, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the ongoing economic crisis and institutions), relations between Turkey and the EU, progress in exploratory contacts and measures to decrease tension and strengthen security in the Aegean.

    Concluding his letter to the Turkish prime minister, Papandreou reiterated a message of peace he conveyed to the Turkish people in October, and stressing that together with Erdogan they can change the course of Greek-Turkish relations and lead them to a bright future for the benefit of the two peoples.

    [02] Alternate FM Droutsas on Council of Ministers

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, speaking here on Monday after the end of the Council of Ministers' session, stressed that through his letter of reply to Turkish Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan, Prime Minister George Papandreou expresses Greece's desire for an improvement in relations between the two countries.

    The minister further said that a brief account is made in the letter of problems that continue to harass relations between Greece and Turkey, Greek positions are registered and the framework in which Greece seeks the solution is described.

    Droutsas also said that Greece proposes the intensification of the so-called exploratory contacts between Greek and Turkish diplomacy, underlining that these exploratory contacts cannot have an open timetable.

    "We must agree on a specific timetable through which we shall be able to find a solution to the issue of the continental shelf and, otherwise, to resort jointly to the International Court at The Hague," he said.

    Referring to the issues that preoccupied the council in Brussels, Droutsas said that a discussion was held on the programme of the Spanish EU presidency and in particular its plans to tackle the economic crisis and define the European Union's growth strategy until 2020.

    Droutsas also mentioned that the issue of EU enlargement was discussed and that he had the opportunity of reiterating the Greek proposal on the granting the prospect of a European accession to the countries of the Western Balkans by 2014.

    [03] PM Papandreou to address Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly

    STRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will be addressing the Plenum of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on Tuesday.

    Papandreou's address will be taking place at 1 p.m. (Greek time) and, according to the procedure, he will be replying to questions put to him by deputies at the end of his address.

    Earlier, the prime minister will be having a brief meeting with reporters.

    Papandreou will be welcomed by the Parliamentary Assembly's new president, Turkish deputy Mevlüt Çavusoglu, who was elected on Monday.

    It is the first time, 61 years after the founding of the Council of Europe, in May 1949, that Turkey assumes the presidency of the Parliamentary Assembly.

    PACE 318-member elected Mevlüt Çavusoglu (Turkey, EDG) as its new President at the opening of its plenary session in Strasbourg (25-29 January). Çavusoglu succeeds Lluís Maria de Puig (Spain, SOC) as the Assembly's 25th President. He is the first Turk to hold the office since Turkey's accession to the Council of Europe in August 1949.

    [04] Papandreou, Cyprus' EDEK leader discuss Cyprus issue

    Visiting Cypriot party leader Yiannakis Omirou, head of Cyprus' Movement of Social Democrats (EDEK) party, expressed deep disappointment with the results of direct talks between the Cyprus government and the Turkish Cypriot side to solve the Cyprus problem, after a meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou in Athens on Monday.

    "Unfortunately, what we see is that there are no worthwhile, positive results whatsoever. On the contrary, with the submission of the Turkish document of 'confederatist' ilk, the climate in the talks has been poisoned, despite the rejection on our side," Omirou told reporters as he emerged from the meeting.

    EDEK's leader said that during his talks with Papandreou they had made an overall assessment of the facts concerning developments in the Cyprus issue, in the light of the results so far of the direct talks between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    They also discussed the Greek prime minister's upcoming visit to Cyprus in order to hold talks and assess developments with all of Cyprus' political parties, with the aim of formulating a uniform national strategy for a solution.

    His talks with Papandreou had also touched on key issues that might be highlighted as part of a campaign to heighten international awareness of the Cyprus problem, Omirou added.

    "There are issues, such as the usurped Greek-Cypriot properties in the occupied regions of Cyprus and, in the light of the UK Court of Appeal ruling, we can much more convincingly present the correct position that the properties belong to their legal owners, there is resolution 550 of the UN Security Council for handing over the enclosed region of Famagusta to the legal residents of the city and, as a first good-will gesture, there is the major issue of the settlers and Turkey's continuing efforts to alter Cyprus' demographic character," Omirou stressed.

    The Cypriot party leader said he was fully satisfied with the positions outlined by Papandreou and stressed that relations with the Greek premier were more than just those of a Cypriot political party and the Greek premier, given that Papandreou was also president of the Socialist International and their two parties had relations with deep roots in the past, present and future.

    [05] President Papoulias receives Cyprus' EDEK leader

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received Monday Cyprus' Social Democrat EDEK party leader Yiannakis Omirou currently on a visit to Athens for meetings with the State and political leadership.

    Omirou expressed discontent because "Turkey does not appear ready to enter a serious discussion for the solution of the Cyprus issue."

    The EDEK leader spoke of increased "Turkish intransigence", commenting on the "recently submitted document (by the Turkish Cypriot leader) that has confederation characteristics."

    He referred specifically to the provision included in the Turkish Cypriot proposal, according to which the citizens of Turkey should have the right to move to Cyprus and enjoy the same rights with the citizens of Greece .

    He termed the provision "insolent", pointing out that "the Greek citizens are also EU citizens". He stated that the document "reflects the Turkish intentions", and added that its rejection was the right move.

    [06] ND leader Samaras meets with EDEK leader, US envoy

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras had successive meetings on Monday with visiting Cyprus EDEK party president Yannakis Omirou and US envoy in Athens Daniel Speckhard.

    Samaras, at his meeting with Omirou, discussed all issues concerning the Cyprus problem, which he said is in a crucial period and reiterated his party's steady position that ND stands by the people of Cyprus and seeks a just and viable solution for the island.

    Moreover, Samaras is preparing to visit Cyprus in the near future.

    The new ND leader also met with Speckhard for the first time since his election to ND's helm. During the ambassador's courtesty visit, the two officials discussed matters concerning the bilateral relations between Greece and the US and Samaras briefed the US envoy on his party's positions on the crucial national issues.

    [07] Deputy FM Droutsas invites Nimetz to Greece

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Sunday phoned from Brussels UN special meditator on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz, and invited him to visit Greece in the near future.

    Droutsas is in Brussels for the EU Foreign Ministers' council on Monday.

    [08] Farmers' roadblocks continue amid Athens con'f on farm sector issues

    The relevant government minister on Monday underlined that "the farmers' issue is a major national and economic issue that calls for immediate solution," speaking in the wake of a more than week-long mobilisation by protesting farmers around the country, with roadblocks of major highway intersections and border posts severely hampering trade and travel in the country.

    Addressing a two-day conference on agriculture sector problems, hosted by the Economic and Social Council of Greece (OKE) at Zappeion Hall in central Athens, Agriculture Minister Katerina Batzeli called on protesting farmers "to rise to the occasion, end the roadblocks and join forces with the government to materialise groundbreaking institutional reforms that are necessary for the sector's development."

    She announced that 2009 subsidies will be fully paid by the end of February, while the 2010 subsidies of 5.3 billion euros will be paid with no delays before the end of the year. In addition, VAT and special petrol tax refunds will be sped up and simplified. This year's state budget includes the amount of 150 million euros to cover an increase in refunds of 11 pct compared to the previous 7 pct.

    On her part, Economy, Development and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli stressed that "the market interventions will benefit consumers and boost the farmers' income," adding that "the country of origin measure will be put into effect for dairy products as well."

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party walked out of the conference pointing out that it cannot participate in a dialogue held without the presence of farmers. The ND representative called on the prime minister to meet with the protesting farmers and undertake the commitment for a solution to their problems.

    Meanwhile, the Exporters' Association of Northern Greece (SEVE) called for the immediate ending of the farmers' road blocks adding that confrontation and social conflicts should be averted.

    In a statement issued, SEVE underlined that it wishes to contribute to a substantive dialogue that will lead to the adoption of structural changes in the Greek agricultural sector aimed at making it more extravert and competitive and added that it has already submitted specific proposals to the competent government ministries.

    The farmers' mobilisations continued across the country on Monday. In northwest Greece, Grevena prefecture protesters and their tractors remained on the Egnatia motorway at the Mersina interchange on Monday without obstructing traffic, according to a decision taken earlier in the day by the local producers' coordinating committee. Their future stance will be decided in a meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning.

    Farmers from Serres prefecture blocked, with their tractors, the railroad tracks at the Promachonas site at noon on Monday, while the Promachonas border crossing with Bulgaria also remained closed.

    Protesting farmers at the Strymonikos intersection closed the Thessaloniki-Serres highway in the early afternoon, while the Serres-Kavala section on the Egnatia motorway also remained closed at the Kedryllia junction.

    In Evros Prefecture, farmers blocked the Ormenios checkpoint on the border with Bulgaria.

    Economy minister on policy for agricultural sector

    Outlining action being taken by the government to tackle chronic problems faced by Greek farmers, Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli on Monday said that it aimed at an overall reorganisation of the entire food supply chain from field to shelf, from the rationalisation of crops farmers chose to grow to ensuring proper competition at retail level and educating consumers.

    Addressing the two-day conference on farm issues that began on Monday at the Zappion building in central Athens, Katseli stressed that farmers were mobilising for a solution of accumulated problems at a time when the Greek government was having to take immediate measures to tackle the country's fiscal derailment, galloping public debt, a production deficit and a competitiveness crisis brought on by years of mistaken policy choices, inaction and the lack of a national programme for restructuring development and growth.

    She emphasised that dealing with these fiscal problems was imperative and that there was no margin for delays.

    The minister did not deny that the problems faced by farmers were real and major - noting that retail prices paid by consumers were often five times the prices paid to farmers - and said that one of the government's priorities was to support the liquidity of farmers and farming enterprises as much as possible, until the more long-term measures began to yield results.

    The measures outlined by Katseli moved along three separate lines: the first was to give farmers some immediate financial relief, such as through the TEMPME small loans programme, the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and developmental law.

    The second sought to ensure a policy of restructuring agricultural production and the third, designed to reduce fluctuations in the prices of agricultural products and drastically restrict the role of middlemen in setting final prices, was focused on ensuring the proper operation and monitoring of markets.

    One aim of government policy was to set up a system of recording national and world consumption trends and informing farmers, so as to mitigate the swings in agricultural production cycles, marked by shortages and high prices one year followed by a glut of the same products and a collapse of farm incomes the next.

    The minister said the government was setting up mechanisms and a systematic programme for checking and researching prices, along with more frequent price inspections in the secondary sector, that will allow the government to track the factors affecting production costs for agricultural products and foods.

    It was also taking steps to prevent imported meats and vegetables from being sold as Greek by increasing traceability by requiring food processors to keep accounting books and warehouse records, and introducing a register of importers/distributors, she said.

    Other planned measures cited the minister targeted open-air street markets and central markets for foods, ensuring better access to these for farmers, while she also pointed to additional data concerning quantities collected by the ministry's price observatory and expansion of an IT system at the central market in Rendi that will provide comprehensive data to all the market on available quantities, qualities and prices.

    Promachonas checkpoint closed

    The Promachonas border post remained closed on Monday as protesting farmers entered the 11th day of their mobilisations and roadblocks. The farmers' mobilisation coordination body, after their meeting on Sunday with Agricultural Development minister Katerina Batzeli ended in an impasse, decided to escalate their protest and completely hut off the border passing. Moreover they decided to block on Monday the railway linking Greece with Bulgaria.

    However, on Sunday night farmers permitted the entrance to Greece to some trucks loaded with perishable goods.

    Protesting farmers at the Strymonikos intersection will close the Thessaloniki-Serres highway from 11.00 till 13.00 a.m. on Monday.

    The Egnatia motorway also remained closed on Monday along the Serres-Kavala section at the Kedryllia juncture.

    Farmers open rail line to Bulgaria at Promahonas

    Farmers at the Greek-Bulgarian border crossing at Promahonas withdrew their tractors from the Promahonas railway station on Monday afternoon. They had earlier blocked the rail line connecting Greece and Bulgaria since noon, preventing the passage of goods trains to and from Bulgaria.

    They are still blocking the road at the same border crossing, however, keeping it closed to all trucks and goods vehicles while allowing the passage of cars and buses.

    Ormenios checkpoint closed on Monday - Kipi open

    Farmers continued on Monday to block the Ormenios checkpoint on the border with Bulgaria, in Evros prefecture. According to Alexandroupolis police, farmers have also lined their tractors along both sides of the road at the Kipi border station, but without blocking the traffic.

    Grevena farmers will not disrupt traffic on Monday

    Grevena prefecture protesting farmers remained on the Egnatia motorway at the Mersina interchange on Monday, without obstructing the traffic, according to a decision taken earlier in the day by the local producers' coordinating commitee.

    Moreover the committee decided not to proceed with roadblocki on Monday and will decide on their further stance at a new meeting that will be held on Tuesday morning.

    [09] Procedure for re-election of Karolos Papoulias next week

    Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos disclosed on Monday, while speaking to reporters, that the procedure for the re-election of Karolos Papoulias to the Presidency of the Republic is expected to begin in the middle of next week.

    The specific date for the vote in Parliament will be determined at the Conference of Presidents this coming Thursday.

    According to Parliament's regulation, the election of the President of the Republic is registered in the agenda, whose announcement takes place five full days before the date set for the vote.

    [10] ND leader addresses Women's Issues Secretariat

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing an event on the cutting of the New Year's cake "pitta" of the Women's Issues Secretariat on Monday, stressed his determination to create the new New Democracy that will meet the demands of the times.

    "The climate in New Democracy has changed. Our party is also changing already. We are proceeding with our regrouping. With the 8th Regular Congress of Positions and Principles that we announced the day before yesterday, we shall also take the next step: We shall proceed with the rennaisance of our party," he said.

    Samaras outlined the problems facing the country due to the economic crisis and focused on his opposition tactic.

    "The economy is the focal and most dramatic problem that the country is experiening today. We cannot let the country collapse so that we shall come and rule among the ruins. We cannot let the Economy go bankrupt so that we shall come to manage a bankrupt state with tied hands," he added.

    "Greece can still avoid bankruptcy. It has great inert resources and a huge reserve of unused comparative advantages. In the Economy we need more competitiveness, the restructuring of markets, the combatting of inflexibilities, the release of the creativity of the middle class, the restoration of the credibility of the Greek economy in international markets, the attraction of productive investments and the immediate revival of economic activity. And two more things: the acquittal of entrepreneurship. And the immediate combatting of unemployment," Samaras stressed.

    The ND leader also referred to the party's restructuring, saying that the 800,000 voters who came to the ballot boxes "demand from us to regroup quickly and, overcoming the syndrome of defeat, to enter a power orbit again. So that we can return dynamically."

    Samaras also praised the role of women in modern-day Greece and added that he wants the women in the front line for the effort to regroup the party.

    [11] SYRIZA submits proportional representation proposal

    The opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group tabled a proposal in Parliament on Monday in support of its long-standing demand for a simple proportional representation system as the country's election system.

    The proposal is aimed at ensuring the representation in Parliament of all political movements and forces that run in general elections, SYRIZA claimed.

    Currently, any party that receives more than 3 percent of the general vote in an election enters Parliament.

    SYRIZA's proposal, which is not supported by the mainstream parties, would increase the number of parties represented in Parliament.

    [12] Finance Minister Papaconstantinou meets with European Ombudsman Diamandouros

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou met Monday in Athens with the European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros following the latter's re-election to the post.

    Papaconstantinou stated that cooperation with Diamandouros will continue, while on his part, Diamandouros briefed the minister on the prospects of the European Ombudsman institution in the near future.

    Financial News

    [13] Greece raises 8.0 bln euros from five-year syndicated bond loan

    The Greek government on Monday announced the successful completion of a five-year syndicated bond loan, raising 8.0 billion euros from a group of Greek and international banks.

    A finance ministry announcement said the syndicated bond loan's yield was set at 6.2 pct. Bids submitted during the book-building process totaled 25 billion euros, proof of investors' confidence in the Greek economy, the ministry said in a statement, adding however that increased cost of servicing the country's debt underlined the need to restoring credibility and consolidating public finances.

    [14] FinMin signs decision on creation of 10 pc reserve

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou has signed a ministerial decision by which the creation of a 10 percent reserve is anticipated aiming at decreasing the credits in the budgets of all ministries, with the exception of expenditures for salaries and pensions and expenditures serving the public debt.

    The decision is based on the commitment of the stability and development programme on the creation of a reserve amounting to 10 percent that will be used in the event of special needs for the implementation of the budget.

    According to an announcement by the Finance Ministry, the government for the better checking of expenditures will proceed with the release of credits on a monthly basis and the monitoring of expenditures and the assumption of obligations by joint groups of officials of the Finance Ministry and of other ministries.

    [15] Hellenic Petroleum eyes foreign expansion

    The Hellenic Petroleum group plans to strengthen its oil exploration portfolio in Egypt, Libya and Montenegro, the group's chairman Tassos Yiannitsis told a relevant EL.PE union conference on Friday.

    Addressing the event on research, development and production of oil and natural gas in the national and corporate level, Yiannitsis said the aim was the take advantage of opportunities beyond the country's borders, weighed the group's powers, competitive skills, risks and possible benefits.

    Hellenic Petroleum chief executive, I. Kostopoulos, underlined the need to set up a state agency to manage oil exploration and production rights as well as to attract investment capital by international oil companies.

    Any delays in the formation of this agency would have obvious negative consequences on the national economy and the group as well, he said.

    Development Deputy Minister Ioannis Maniatis announced plans last week to set up a state agency managing oil exploration and production rights.

    [16] Greek trade deficit down 41.3 pct in Jan-Nov

    Greece's trade deficit fell 41.3 pct in the 11-month period from January to November 2009 to 22.853 billion euros, from 38.904 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Monday.

    In a report on the country's merchandise trade in the period January-November 2009, the statistics agency said the value of import-arrivals totaling 36.005 billion euros, for a decline of 34.6 pct compared with the same period in 2008, while the value of export-deliveries totaled 13.151 billion euros, down 18.5 pct.

    The statistics service said the trade deficit fell by 13 pct in November, reflecting a 14.3 pct drop in imports and a 16.9 pct fall in exports.

    [17] Stocks end 2.81% higher

    Stocks recovered strongly at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market ending at 2,090.94 points, up 2.81 pct. Turnover was a moderate 237.793 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 3.39 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 1.87 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 2.38 pct higher. All sector indexes ended higher with the Financial Services (8.52 pct) and Health (4.02 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    ANEK (29.31 pct), Elfico (18.45 pct), Sound-Vision (18.18 pct), United Textiles (16.67 pct) and Lanakam (15.91 pct) were top gainers, while Alma-Atermon (13.33 pct), PC Systems (10.0 pct), Maillis (7.69 pct) and Balkan Export (6.33 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 157 to 40 with another 36 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +4.63%

    Industrials: +2.12%

    Commercial: +2.29%

    Construction: +2.66%

    Media: +2.36%

    Oil & Gas: +3.51%

    Personal & Household: +2.25%

    Raw Materials: +2.47%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.41%

    Technology: +3.47%

    Telecoms: +1.47%

    Banks: +3.69%

    Food & Beverages: +1.11%

    Health: +4.02%

    Utilities: +1.76%

    Chemicals: +0.43%

    Financial Services: +8.52%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 7.15

    ATEbank: 1.77

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.88

    HBC Coca Cola: 16.17

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.80

    National Bank of Greece: 17.10

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.69

    Intralot: 3.43

    OPAP: 16.11

    OTE: 10.35

    Bank of Piraeus: 6.82

    Titan: 20.39

    [18] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.30 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover easing slightly to 61.317 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 17,048 contracts, worth 45.060 million euros with 26,292 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,777 contracts, worth 16.257 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,081), followed by Eurobank (1,404), MIG (947), OTE (1,249), Piraeus Bank (1,620), Alpha Bank (2,250), ATEbank (1,335) and Cyprus Bank (949).

    [19] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank slightly to 297 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 301 bps on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.18 pct and the German Bund 3.21 pct.

    Turnover in the market totaled 1.677 billion euros, of which 957 million were buy orders and the remaining 720 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 571 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.24 pct, the six-month rate was 0.99 pct, the three-month rate 0.67 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.

    [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.426

    Pound sterling 0.884

    Danish kroner 7.504

    Swedish kroner 10.289

    Japanese yen 128.76

    Swiss franc 1.484

    Norwegian kroner 8.267

    Canadian dollar 1.511

    Australian dollar 1.576

    General News

    [21] Patriarch in Kalamata

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Vartholomeos) on Sunday will begin a four-day visit to the Peloponnese city of Kalamata, in extreme southern Greece, following an invitation by the city's mayor.

    Bartholomew will visit the Metropolis of Messinia prefecture and attend celebrations on Feb. 2 for the port city's patron saint.

    [22] Unicef and Skai fundraiser for the earthquake victims in Haiti

    Unicef and Skai radio and television began a combined radiothon and telethon on Monday to raise money for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The fundraiser started at 6:00 a.m. on Monday will continue until the early morning hours on Tuesday.

    Donations will be received at a specially designed studio for radio and television broadcast in Athens' Zappion Building.

    The following bank accounts also accept donations for the earthquake victims in Haiti: National Bank of Greece 169/480023-04, Alpha Bank 115 002002 022472, Agricultural Bank of Greece 017 04 00593488, Bank of Piraeus 5049-045921-741, Emporiki Bank 66360008, Eurobank 0026.0102.13.0200612226, Attica Bank 069-54799691, Bank of Cyprus 000012163468, Geniki Bank 3603003908-9, Citibank 55 02 346484, Millennium Bank 519829, Aspis Bank 101-03-0006583, ÇSÂC 002-066694-130. Donations can be made via telephone by calling: 90111171717 (3.56-euro charge plus VAT). On-line donations can be made to: www.unicef.gr <http://www.unicef.gr>.

    Donations for the people of Haiti can also be made to the non governmental organization Greek Caravan of Solidarity: National Bank of Greece 159/480503-88.

    [23] Gerekou meets DEMA delegation

    Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou met on Monday with the members of the executive bureau of the permanent committee of the Meditarranean Games in the presence of Sports Genearal Secretary Panos Bitsaxis and the President of the committee (DEMA) Ammar Adadi.

    [24] One of two US citizens wanted in Synagogue arson arrested

    One of the two US citizens who were wanted in the recent arson attacks against the Jewish Synagogue in Hania, Crete, was arrested on Monday. The 24-year-old US citizen, who has been residing the last months in Chania and was making a living by doing odd jobs, was sent before a local prosecutor on Monday together with two British nationals aged 33 and 23 years old and another local 24-year-old who had been arrested last Thursday.

    The two British nationals and the Greek man will testify on Tuesday, while the US citizen was given a 48-hour extension to prepare his testimony.

    According to the the case file, the four suspects, together with another US citizen who is wanted and is claimed to have fled the country, are accused, in addition to the arson, with a felony charge of setting up a criminal gang.

    An announcement by the Police General Directorate of Crete said that, according to Greek suspect's testimony, all five suspects participated in the Synagogue's first arson attack on January 5, while only two of the Britons and the Greek took part in the arson attack on January 16, which resulted in the most serious damage. The 33-year-old Briton is believed to be the mastermind of the gang.

    [25] Minor missing after falling in sea

    Coast Guard vessels on Monday, assisted by a Super Puma helicopter, are searching the sea region of the Athens district of Alimos to spot a young Romanian who jumped into the sea to avoid arrest.

    The missing minor, together with two other Albanians aged 16 and 17, in the early hours of Monday attacked the guard of Alimos beach, hit him and took his wallet.

    Police rushed immediately to the site and spotted the three suspects, who jumped into the sea.

    Police and Coast Guard managed to rescue from the water the two Albanians, who were taken to a local hospital, but could not locate the third suspect.

    [26] Man shoots his wife and commits suicide

    Á Greek from the former Soviet Union on Monday shot his wife in the abdomen with a 22mm pistol, injuring her seriously, and afterwards committed suicide by shooting himself.

    The incident took place in front of the couple's underage child, in their home in the Athens district of Egaleo.

    The woman is hospitalised in a serious condition in Tzanio Hospital in Piraeus.

    A preliminary examination is being conducted by the local police station.

    [27] Guards to prosecutor over theft of car from police headquarters

    Three special guards and a police man arrested after a confiscated vehicle was stolen from the headquarters of the Greek Police in Athens were led before a public prosecutor on Monday.

    The car was taken from the building in the early hours of Sunday morning by a couple that police have identified and that may possibly have had keys to the vehicle. It had been confiscated in connection with a drugs case. The couple arrived in a taxi, took the car and this was later found abandoned in the district of Agioi Anargyroi.

    The public prosecutor ordered the release of the four police officers that were on guard duty around the building at the time of the theft and ordered an investigation into how the vehicle was taken and if there is criminal liability on the part of police.

    [28] Subzero temperatures in NE Greece

    The temperature in Evros perfecture, northeastern Greece, on Monday fell to -12C, and -6C in the city of Alexandroupolis. Due to the bitter cold the prefecture of Evros announced that schools will open an hour later, while the schools on the island of Samothrace will remain closed for the day.

    [29] Greek composer wins int'l distinctions

    Two international distinctions for two music compositions were won by Tina Tonia, a graduate of Thessaloniki's Aristotle University (AUTH) Music Studies Department.

    Tonia, who has received a postgraduate degree from the University of Edinburgh, won the third prize in the Golden Key International Piano Composition Competition with the work "Garden of Illusions" composed while studying at AUTH. She was distinguished among 46 competitors from the USA, China, Australia and Portugal, among others, and her award winning work will be presented in the International Festival of Vienna (July 12-19).

    The second award winning work titled "Prismatic" was distinguished for its modern and innovative music in the London Contemporary Orchestra competition and will be performed at Boston University on Jan. 27.

    [30] New book focuses on WWII war reparations issue

    The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) on Monday presented a book by university professor Konstantinos Magliveras entitled "The issue of War Reparations for Looting During the Nazi Occupation of Greece: The Case of the Monetary Gold of the Jews."

    Speaking at a book launch in the foreign ministry building, KIS President Moses Constantinis stressed that "the research conducted by the author proves that Greece was not adequately compensated by the Allies who handled the reparations paid by Germany."

    He also said the book again brings to light the fact that there were Greek laws in effect which "indirectly averted the punishment of war crimes".

    Additionally, he pointed out that the claims made by Greek Jews are still pending as regards their monetary gold and payment of damages caused by the widespread looting and pillage committed by Axis occupation forces.

    [31] Earthquake rocks the island of Zakynthos

    An earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale was recorded at 9:30 am on Monday morning in the sea region south of the Ionian Sea island of Zakynthos, western Greece.

    No injuries or damages were reported.

    [32] Two killed in car-train collision

    Two people were killed and two injured when a car collided with a train at a level crossing in Alexandria, Imathia prefecture on Monday afternoon.

    The dead and injured, all passengers of the car, were taken to hospital while no one aboard the train travelling from Thessaloniki to Florina was injured.

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Cloud, snow or sleet on Tuesday

    Cloudy weather with light snowfall or sleet and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -8C and 12C. Cloudy with light snowfall or sleet in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 1C to 8C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -3C to 2C.

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

    The ongoing farmers' protests as they enter the 11th day of roadblocks and reactions, and planned changes to the taxation and social security system were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Monday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Roadblocks toughen up after deadlocked meeting between farmers and agriculture minister Katerina Batzeli (on Sunday)".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Farmers' toughen up their stance, sealing off Customs houses, and blocking off borders, detours and railroad lines".

    AVRIANI: "The chaos in the country accelerates the bankruptcy - Greece and endless roadblock with the government...deliberating and the prime minister preparing for trips abroad".

    CHORA: "The state bonds blowing the social security funds sky-high - Investments in state titles exceed 9 billion euros".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Homicide attempt against Eleftheri Ora reporters - He went to cover an anti-racism event and was seriously injured in the head by SYRIZA 'well-wishers' and anarchists".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Louka Katseli (economy, competitiveness and shipping minister) hastily dumped a personal friend she had appointed as special secretary as a political favor, after its disclosure by Eleftheros Typos".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Blackout in dialogue, on the streets - Impasse in Batzeli's meeting with farmers".

    ESTIA: "We're heading to collapse - The politicians don't seem to realise this".

    ETHNOS: "Impasse and disagreement over the roadblocks - Batzeli: Yes to institutional interventions, no to benefits".

    IMERISSIA: "Crash test today on the borrowing - Syndicated issue of 5-year state bonds opens today (Monday)".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The changes to the taxation and social security systems being accelerated".

    TA NEA: "Blackout by 4,000 tractors - Farmers toughen their stance after the dialogue's shipwreck".

    VRADYNI: "Government in head-on collision with the farmers".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [35] Leaders focus on governance during second round of intensive negotiations

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus focused on governance and power sharing during their meeting on

    Monday, and had a ''very significant'' exchange of ideas, in the context of intensive talks to solve the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking after Monday's meeting, the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said ''the two leaders met most of today (Monday) in a tete-a-tete session and they have authorised me to say that they had a very friendly meeting or series of meetings.''

    ''They have had a very significant exchange of ideas. Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning they will be meeting again in a plenary session and they will be discussing these ideas more broadly with the plenary group,'' he added.

    Replying to questions, Downer said ''they focused predominantly on governance and power sharing issues'' and that ''they spent some time talking about the broader issue of the negotiations.''

    He added that by the time the leaders finish this intensive phase on Wednesday ''there will be of course more to say then and more clarity will be provided.''

    Asked about a possible visit to Cyprus by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Downer said ''visits by the Secretary General are announced when New York makes final decisions and at this stage no final decision has been made.''

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunify the island.

    A first round of three-day intensive negotiations was held in early January and the second three-day round began on Monday.

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