|Friday, 15 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-01-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 30 January 2010 Issue No: 3410
 PM sees good result for Greece at DavosDAVOS (ANA-MPA)
Greece had obtained a good result and sent out a positive message during the two days of the 40th World Economic Forum in Davos, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said here on Friday.
In a statement after the end of the two-day power-fest, the Greek premier said that his team had waged a hard battle to restore the country's credibility on a political and economic level, sending a signal that Greece was ready to put its house in order and to overhaul its economy and institutions.
"The goal is to protect ordinary Greeks, to whom we want to give prospects, because it is not right that they should pay for the mistakes made by others," he said, adding that the government had made a first positive step in this direction at Davos.
During subsequent statements, Papandreou outlined Greece's position over the "Euro-bond" idea, initially noting that this financial tool was first tabled by European socialists two years ago when the international economic crisis first erupted, and when Greece's recent financial woes not on the horizon.
He added the issue may be broached by certain countries at a Summit in Brussels on Feb. 11.
"Greece will not take the lead in such a development, but if there are countries that pose it then Greece will support this," he noted.
 Papandreou contacts at WEF DavosDAVOS (ANA-MPA)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou briefly spoke with noted economist Nouriel Roubini on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum here on Friday, with the Greek leader expressing his stern condemnation of Roubini's his recent statement claiming that Greece was "already bankrupt" and seeking a loan from China.
Roubini made the eyebrow-raising statement to CNBC.
Also present during the encounter was Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, who spent much of Thursday denying press rumours of a Chinese or EU bailout for Greece as 'ludicrous', in statements to foreign media.
Roubini and Papandreou reportedly discussed the negative impact of former's statement and the economist said that he had not been aware that the rumour regarding the Chinese loan to Greece was untrue. The bail-out rumours led jittery markets to increase the spread on Greek bonds relative to German bond yields even further, earlier this week.
Earlier, Papandreou had met with UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband - to discuss European issues in relation to the economic crisis, the Cyprus issue and international security in connection with Afghanistan - World Trade Organisation director-general Pascal Lamy and the head of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Juan Somavia.
 Papandreou meets foreign press at DavosDAVOS (ANA-MPA - V. Mourtis)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday met a group of 25 journalists and foreign newspaper editors on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Papandreou said the hour-long discussion was "very good" and that the foreign journalists had shown understanding for the Greek government's efforts to reverse the climate against the country and carry out Greece's Stability and Growth Programme.
The journalists asked Papandreou for clarifications on how he intended to achieve the targets in the Stability and Growth Programme and how he would deal with the reactions within Greece.
The Greek premier referred extensively to the issue of corruption and the effort being made to stamp this out, particularly emphasising measures to make the Greek statistics service independent and changes in the state's structure, as well as reforms targeting the social insurance and tax systems.
Regarding possible reactions to the measures, Papandreou said that Greeks were aware of the problems and wanted to make radical changes.
"The citizens support me, they don't want half-measures because they are well aware that we have to change," he asserted, citing the findings of public opinion polls.
The Greek premier stressed that the government and the Greek people were determined to leave their 'bad past' behind them and turn a new page, adding that corruption "is not in the Greek DNA".
 PM in interview with Italian financial daily: 'Greece has not asked for help or rescue', warns that 'tomorrow it could be another country's turn'ROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis)
Prime minister George Papandreou reiterated that Greece is not seeking help and has made no request for rescue, stressing that "my government has clearly stated that we will solve our problems ourselves", but warned that what is happening in Greece today could happen in other country tomorrow, in an interview with the Italian financial daily "Milano Il Sole 24 Ore" appearing on Friday.
Asked whether Greece truly does not need an EU rescue plan or and IMF loan, as stated repeatedly by the Athens government, Papandreou replied that "Greece is not seeking help and has made no request for rescue".
"My government has clearly stated that we will solve our problems ourselves. It is true that the deficit is at 12.7 percent, much higher than what we expected when we took over the government. Although we inherited these problems from our predecessors (in the government) we are working fervidly to solve them. We started out by applying a series of deep reforms that will bring the deficit below the Maastricht levels over the next three years," he said.
"However, our European partners must realise that these are common problems at a time of great difficulty for the international economy," Papandreou continued, adding that "today we are talking about Greece, but tomorrow it could be some other country's turn. It is important that we use this crisis as an opportunity to set out new ways with which the European institutions can contribute, averting a repeat of such kinds of problems," the Greek premier explained.
Asked if he believed there could be problems in Parliament regarding ratification of the Stability plan, Papandreou said that "the decisions of the preceding government led us to an impasse and now we must proceed with radical reforms to correct our course".
"This means sacrifices by everyone. The Greek people gave our party an unprecedented parliamentary majority. I have great confidence that there will be no problem in approval of the plan by Parliament," he added.
Papandreou further said that tax-evasion is perhaps the biggest problem in the country's balance sheet. "In the context of our effort to broaden the tax base we recently began a campaign calling on the citizens to ask for and keep receipts from every service. We are focusing on reducing unnecessary expenditures in the state sector, and also on cutting back public sector salaries."
Questioned how his party could be modernised when one was facing such a broad economic crisis, the premier explained that "such a big crisis was needed in order for the political institutions to be modernised".
"In good times, we cease to take tough decisions. The lesson we can draw from this crisis is that we all need to be more transparent and responsible, from the banks to the political parties. The politicians' views should contribute to the formulation of our policies. This process marks the beginning of a new kind of socialist governance, with a much more active role of the citizens," Papandreou explained.
Asked if greater coordination is necessary in the eurozone's tax policy, the Greek prime minister replied in the affirmative.
"Yes, the global recession has caused unprecedented economic instability and deficits. This requires a sense of responsibility and European economic governance. A closer coordination at European level is of fundamental importance. More solidarity is also needed," Papandreou said.
To another question, the premier said he believes that the Greek people have cognizance of the severity of the situation. "There is a vision we all share. We know that we cannot move forward this way. Although the reforms will be painful, the people know that in the long run we will all be better off," he said.
"We have a unique opportunity to put our country on this virtuous course, and we are determined not to miss this opportunity," the Greek premier concluded.
 Droutsas, Davutoglu explore further Greece-Turkey cooperation in London meetingLONDON (ANA-MPA)
There are major prospects for cooperation between Greece and Turkey on regional issues, in the Balkans and the Mediterranean, in European issues, and in bilateral relations, Greek deputy foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas and Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu noted in London late Thursday night, after a lengthy 3 1/2 hour working dinner.
"We have a common history, a common destiny and a common future, and cooperation between Greece and Turkey on European issues is a huge chapter," Davutoglu said after the working dinner.
Droutsas said it was a great pleasure to meet with the Turkish foreign minister, adding that the discussion took place in the spirit of cooperation that has been expressed by the prime ministers of the two countries and in the letters they recently exchanged.
He said they had the opportunity to further explore the path of cooperating that the two countries wish to follow.
"I wish to say again that we share precious experiences from the recent past, and I refer to the cooperation we had in the period 1999-2004 and the spirit of that cooperation prompts us now. I thank the Turkish foreign minister for our fruitful meeting, and look forward to continuing our cooperation," Droutsas said.
The deputy foreign minister further announced that "with great pleasure" he accepted an invitation from Davutoglu to visit Ankara "in the near future".
Davutoglu, in turn, said they had a "constructive discussion and friendly consultation", explaining that "I use the term 'consultation' because there are many things on which we can exchange advice".
"Our prime ministers recently exchanged letters with a very constructive content. There is a new horizon before us of friendship and cooperation. We have a common history, a common destiny and a common future. Our countries look to the future with an open spirit. There is a big cooperation potential to cooperate in regional issues, such as the Balkans and the Mediterranean, and Greece-Turkey cooperation in European issues is a huge chapter," Davutoglu said.
"I was impressed by Dimitris Droutsas' approach on the future, and our traditional friendship will be further enhanced," the Turkish foreign minister continued, noting that the invited Droutsas to visit Ankara, and adding that Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was planning to visit Greece soon.
 President meets central bank governor, outgoing EU CommissionerPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Friday received Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos and outgoing European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas.
As he left the president's office, Provopoulos stressed that Greece's creditors wanted the country's reforms to "move faster, more decisively and more boldly" and that this was reflected in the increased spread between Greek and German bond yields.
The central banker said he was optimistic that the necessary measures will be taken, however, following his recent encounter with Prime Minister George Papandreou and the prime minister's statements at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Replying to a question from the president regarding recent articles about Greece in the foreign press, Provopoulos stressed that the rumours targeting Greece had been officially denied.
"The ball is still in our court, however. How things go depends on us," he added.
During his meeting with Dimas, the president congratulated the outgoing commissioner on his work at the European Commission and his courage in standing up to the auto industry. The two men also discussed the agreement signed between Greece, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for protecting the Prespes Lakes region and climate change policy after the Copenhagen summit. Dimas stressed the need to build on the results of the Copenhagen talks in order to arrive at a legally binding agreement on fighting climate change within 2010 at Mexico.
 Samaras meets with President Papoulias'Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Friday reiterated to President of Republic Karolos Papoulias his party's confidence in the latter, during a meeting at the Presidential Mansion.
Samaras conveyed to Papoulias "our best wishes" for his second tenure in the country's highest office.
"You enjoy the respect of all the people, it will be good for the country," said Samaras.
Leaving the Presidential Mansion, Samaras said to reporters he had the opportunity to reiterate to the President his deep respect and conveyed him the people's wishes for a successful second tenure.
"As it is already known, ND is the first party that proposed Karolos Papoulias' candidacy for the country's highest office" said Samaras.
Papoulias' re-election to the Presidency has been ensured, following formal statements by the two largest parties in parliament, ruling PASOK and main opposition ND, endorsing the incumbent's re-election.
 Samaras with EU Commissioner DimasMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras met on Friday with outgoing European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas.
In statements afterwards, Dimas told reporters that they discussed climate change and environmental issues as well as issues concerning the economy and agriculture. He also stated that his term as European Commissioner ends on Feb. 10.
Responding to a question on the course of the country and the state of the economy, he commented that "we should work together to overcome the crisis."
Referring to Dimas, ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos referred to a major asset for the country and the party.
As regards former prime minister and ND party leader Costas Karamanlis, he stated that the latter's integrity and character as well as his service to the country are indisputable.
Panagiotopoulos stated that ND has nothing to fear and that an Parliamentary inquiry committee into the Siemens bribery case should also focus on the contracts signed.
 ND leader Samaras meets with ESEE boardMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met with the National Confederation of Hellenic Trade (ESEE) board of directors at the party's main offices in Athens on Friday.
ESEE President Vassilis Korkidis stated afterwards that the discussion was constructive and focused on wide-ranging market issues including fluidity, declining consumption, social insurance and taxation.
 Papoulias receives TsiprasPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader president Alexis Tsipras at the presidential mansion on Friday.
In view of Papoulias imminent re-election by a Parliament majority next week, Tsipras expressed a wish that his new term in office will coincide with a recovery for the country, stressing that "things are extremely difficult and we need desperately to recover."
Additionally, Tsipras expressed what he called his "great respect" for Papoulias and explained that the SYRIZA Parliamentary group will vote "present" during the election in Parliament on Wednesday and not against him.
 Gov't on merger of public sector agencies"The government sees positively a plan for the abolition or merger of 255 public sector agencies drawn up by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party when it was in office. When the relevant decision is made the number of agencies that will be merged or abolished will be much larger," Deputy Interior Minister Giorgos Dolios stated in Parliament on Friday in response to a current question by his predecessor ND MP Christos Zois.
"The abolition of agencies and managing boards that serve no purpose and lay a further burden on the country's financial situation is our main policy," Dolios underlined.
 Dep. FM briefs Parliament on Copenhagen summit resultsDeputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis expressed pessimism on Friday as regards the results of the upcoming Mexico Climate Summit to take place in Nov. 2010, stressing that "prospects are not auspicious".
Kouvelis told the parliamentary committees on foreign affairs, environment and European affairs that he is disappointed with the outcome of the Copenhagen summit. He stated that it did not live up to the expectations, pointing out that neither a binding agreement was reached nor the gap between developed countries and third world countries was bridged.
Kouvelis also stated that the EU has addressed a letter to the UN executive director on Thursday stating that its 27 member states accept the commitments included in the Copenhagen agreement on the climate change as a basis until the next summit meeting is held in Mexico.
 Tsipras outlines environmental concerns to Deputy FM KouvelisCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras expressed to Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis his worry over the efforts for enviromental protection, "especially after the unsuccesful outcome of the Copenhagen Summit", during a meeting on Friday.
"The new diplomatic landscape greatly worries us," Tsipras said, adding that "the US and BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) secretly decided a Copenhagen 'pact', circumventing the other 188 countries and the UN, while the EU chose to play the role of 'film set extra'."
He said that the EU member countries were essentially 'absent' from the procedure, charging that "at the time when the negotiations were collapsing and the US and China were trying to reach an agreement between themselves on the sidelines, the EU succeeded in not doing even the rudimentary -- of raising its emissions reduction target from 20 percent to 30 percent and thus giving a new breath to the negotiations".
Tsipras charged that if the issue at hand had been reductions of salaries and pensions, "the European Commission would have been very strict".
The SYRIZA leader expressed hope, however, that "what we failed to do in Copenhagen will happen in Mexico", namely, reaching a global, legally binding, agreement.
 KKE reiterates will cast blank vote in Presidential electionThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Friday reiterated that its parliamentary deputies will cast blank votes in the election for a new President of the Republic.
An announcement by the KKE parliamentary group stated that its MPs will simply declare their presence in the roll-call vote.
The parliamentary group explained that the KKE's stance has nothing to do with the candidate, incumbent President Karolos Papoulias, but with the political system and the office of the President of the Republic in that system, noting that it was a well-known fact that, according to the Constitution, the President of the Republic must co-sign and agree to "the anti-popular laws and decrees".
Consequently, it added, regardless of who the candidate is and what his views are, the role of the President is pre-determined.
 Local Bahai group on arrests in IranThe local spokesperson for a Bahai religious group in Greece on Friday expressed the group's concern in relation to the arrest of 10 members of the faith earlier in the month in Iran.
Several Bahai groups around the world have expressed concerns over the safety of the men, their whereabouts and the charges leveled against them by authorities in Iran.
 Gov't unveils farm measuresThe government on Friday announced a package of measures in support of farmers' income, amid continuing and often crippling roadblocks by protesting farmers throughout the country's provincial highway junctures and at border posts.
Speaking at an agriculture-related conference in the northeast city of Komotini, Agriculture Development and Foodstuffs Minister Katerina Batzeli announced what she called the immediate settlement of overdue debts through the extension of a payoff period and the adoption of a grace period of two years, as well as a credit limit increase to cover 100 pct of cultivation expenses.
Also, one billion euros out of the 28 billion euros allocated to buttress liquidity in the domestic banking system will be channeled to the agricultural sector to cover long-term and medium-term farmer loans for the period 2009-2010, while a two-year "freeze" will be in effect for all farm loans, with no outstanding payments.
Batzeli stated the settlements mentioned will also be into effect for certain farmers' cooperatives that face problems due to the economic crisis.
In addition, the VAT refund will increase from 7 to 11 pct, while farmers will also receive funding from the Credit Guarantee Fund for Small and Very Small Enterprises (TEMPME).
The minister also said that the governmnet handed out a Social Solidarity Subsidy to farmers as well. "A total of 300 million euros will be given in 2010. We support all vulnerable groups of society, including farmers. This subsidy exceeds the so-called heating allowance," she added.
Batzeli stressed that this year's scheduled funding for the farm sector will reach 5.5 billion euros.
She also met with a farmers' delegation in the Evros Prefecture.
Earlier, representatives of protesting farmers active in 15 roadblocks across northern Greece and Thessaly decided to ask for a meeting with Batzeli over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Egnatia national motorway section in Chryssoupolis and Kerdyllia remained closed to traffic by roadblocks. Also closed is the Thessaloniki-Nea Moudania motorway at the Nea Triglia interchange, Nea Moudania-Sithonia, Kalyves (from 13:00-17:00) and Serres-Thessaloniki motorway at Strymoniko.
Moreover, the Doirani customs post remained closed, while the Promahonas border crossing will be closed until 7 p.m. In western Macedonia province, farmers closed the Vogatsiko interchange on the Egnatia motorway and the Kastoria-Kozani old national highway.
 Protesting farmers' meeting in Malgara - Promachonas closes againProtesting farmers, in their 15th day of roadblocks, on Friday blocked again the Promachonas border post which, however, had remained open during the night. Egnatia motorway is also closed at the Kedryllia intersection while the Serres-Thessaloniki old highway is open.
Meanwhile, the coordinating body of farmers at the Promachonas roadblocks held a meeting in Malgara, Thessaloniki with protesting farmers from Macedonia and Thrace to specify the framework of their demands.
The talks among the farmers' representatives will continue on Saturday at Angistro, Serres, where a final decision will be reached. The farmers' demands will then be forwarded to Agricultural Development and Food Minister Katerina Batzeli.
 Grevena farmers to close Egnatia motorwayGrevena prefecture farmers will block for one hour (3:30-4:30 pm) on Friday, the Egnatia motorway at the Mersina intersection. Farmers will proceed with the closing of the road because, as they stated, they are not satisfied with the outcome of their coordinating body's meeting with Agricultureal Development and Food Minister Katerina Batzeli
 Credit growth at 4.25% in '09Credit expansion slowed sharply in Greece last year as a result of the economic crisis, the Bank of Greece announced on Friday.
In a monthly report, the central bank said net borrowing by enterprises and households totaled 3.768 billion euros in 2009, an annual growth rate of 4.25 pct compared with 15.9 pct in 2008. Net debt to banks totaled 253.4 billion euros (105.5 pct of GDP), up from 249.6 billion euros on 2008.
Specifically, new loans to domestic enterprises totaled 1.182 billion euros in December 2009, for an annual growth rate of 5.1 pct, down from 18.7 pct in 2008. Credit growth slowed in the construction, other financial institutions, electricity/natural gas/water and other sectors. Credit expansion in the manufacturing sector was a negative 3.5 pct last year, from 15.8 pct in 2008, which in the commerce sector credit expansion was 4.2 pct in 2009 from 19.5 pct in 2008. In the construction sector, credit expansion in the construction sector slowed to 2.7 pct in 2009 from 35.2 pct in 2008, in the shipping sector it fell to 4.0 pct from 17.2 pct, while in the electricity-natural gas-water sector credit expansion jumped to 14.7 pct.
Net loans to Greek households totaled 2.432 billion euros in 2009, for an annual growth rate of 3.1 pct, down from 12.8 pct in 2008.
Households' debt to banks totaled 119.635 billion euros, or 50 pct of GDP. Mortgage loans grew at an annual rate of 3.7 pct last year, from 11.5 pct in 2008, while consumer loans grew by 2.0 pct from 16.0 pct over the same period, respectively.
 Retail Turnover index falls 7.6pct in Nov. 2009The Turnover Index in Retail Trade, except automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 7.6% in November 2009 as compared to November 2008, according to provisional data released on Friday by the national statistics service ESYE, while the Volume Index in Retail Trade, except automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 8.5% in November 2009 as compared to November 2008.
According to the provisional results, the turnover index in retail trade as it was published until December 2008, except automotive fuel, in November 2009 as compared to November 2008, recorded a fall of 7.6% at current prices (in nominal terms).
Accordingly the turnover index in retail trade, including automotive fuel, in November 2009 as compared to November 2008,recorded a fall of 9.0%.
The volume of retail trade (i.e. turnover in retail trade at constant prices) as it was published until December 2008, except automotive fuel, decreased by 8.5% in November 2009, as compared to November 2008.
Accordingly, the retail trade volume index, including automotive fuel, in November 2009 as compared to November 2008,decreased by 10.9%
 Producer Price Index up 5.0pct in Dec. 2009The Producer Price Index in Industry recorded a rise of 5.0% in December 2009 as compared to December 2008, according to figures released on Friday by the national statistics service ESYE.
The Producer Price Index in Industry (PPI) in December 2009 as compared to December 2008 recorded a rise of 5.0%. A year earlier, the PPI decreased by 4.0%.
The PPI in December 2009 as compared to November 2009 recorded a rise of 0.2%. A year earlier the PPI decreased by 3.5%.
In the twelve-month period January 2009 - December 2009, the annual average rate of change of the PPI decreased by 5.8%. A year earlier the annual average rate of change of the PPI increased by 9.2%.
 Passenger, goods movement in Greek ports decline in Q2 2009Passenger movement in Greek ports fell by 5.0 percent in the second quarter of 2009 against the corresponding quarter in 2008, and compared with a 1.6 percent increase in the second quarter of 2008 against the same quarter in 2007, according to figures released on Friday by the national statistics service ESYE.
The movement of goods in Greek ports in the second quarter of 2009 fell by 4.5 percent against the second quarter of 2008, and compared with a 9.9 percent reduction in the second quarter of 2008 against the corresponding quarter in 2007.
 Eurobank Properties says profits up 3.0 pct in 2009Eurobank Properties on Friday said its net profits totaled 39.6 million euros last year, for an increase of 3.0 pct compared with 2008, reflecting a 7.0 pct rise in rent revenues to 42 million euros, a 28 pct decline in interest income to 8.0 million euros and a 10 pct fall in financial expenses to 3.4 million euros.
The company said its cash reserves totaled 167 million euros at the end of the year, while loans totaled 101 million euros. Eurobank Properties said it planned to pay a 0.55 euros per share dividend to shareholders (including a 0.15 euros per share pre-dividend distributed in December 2009).
 Stocks jump 3.15% on Fri.Stocks staged a dynamic recovery during the last trading day of a highly volatile week in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday.
Signs of stabilisation in the Greek bond market and positive trend in other international markets helped in encouraging buying activity. The composite index jumped 3.15 pct to end at 2,048.32 points, with turnover a strong 277.466 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index ended 3.85 pct higher, the FTSE 40 index rose 1.26 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.82 pct up. The Travel sector (0.04 pct) was the only one to suffer losses, while Banks (5.12 pct) and Financial Services (5.47 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 143 to 45 with another 46 issues unchanged. Mouzakis (13.89 pct), Desmos (11.11 pct), Tzirakian (10.0 pct), Medicon (9.83 pct) and Alpha Bank (8.80 pct) were top gainers, while Compucon (10.0 pct), CPI (8.33 pct), Space Hellas (6.25 pct) and Athina (6.25 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.59%
Personal & Household: +0.01%
Raw Materials: +3.11%
Travel & Leisure: -0.04%
Food & Beverages: +3.52%
Financial Services: +5.47%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.05
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.55
HBC Coca Cola: 16.60
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.93
National Bank of Greece: 16.01
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.25
Bank of Piraeus: 6.20
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 374 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, from 405 on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.94 pct and the German Bund 3.20 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 1.0 billion euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were almost unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.22 pct, the six-month rate 0.96 pct, the three-month rate 0.66 pct and the one-month rate 0.42 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.66 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover a low 76.852 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,294 contracts, worth 62.547 million euros, with 27,117 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,235 contracts, worth 14.305 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,063), followed by Eurobank (1,236), MIG (1,944), Piraeus Bank (1,022), GEK (1,433), Alpha Bank (2,167), Cyprus Bank (501) and ATEbank (409).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.407
Pound sterling 0.873
Danish kroner 7.503
Swedish kroner 10.320
Japanese yen 127.16
Swiss franc 1.477
Norwegian kroner 8.277
Canadian dollar 1.504
Australian dollar 1.576
 Road in Alexandria to be named after the poet CavafyCAIRO (ANA-MPA - N. Katsikas)
A street in the Egyptian city of Alexandria where Greek poet Constantine Cavafy once lived and worked is to be renamed after the renowned poet in a ceremony of February 10.
The street on which Cavafy's house stands is to be renamed from Sharm El Sheik street to Constantine Cavafy street in honour of the poet, who was born in Alexandria to Greek parents in 1863 and spent much of his adult life there in later years.
The ceremony will be officiated jointly by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and Alexandria Governor Adel Labib, with Alexandria Patriarch Theodoros II and the president of the Greek community of Alexandria Yiannis Sokas attending.
Labib had first announced the decision to rename the road after Cavafy on October 27.
Cavafy was one of the most influential literary figures produced by Greece in the early 20th century and instrumental in establishing modern Greek poetry on the international scene. Counted among his most important poems are "Ithaca" and "Waiting for the Barbarians".
 Energy-sector public utilities to donate 30,000 euros to HaitiThe Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry on Friday announced that the country's three largest power and fuel production companies - the Public Power Corporation (PPC), Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) - will each donate 10,000 euros to support victims of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12.
 Arson attacks in Athens, ThessalonikiA number of arson attacks were recorded overnight in Athens targeting parked vehicles. A company truck parked in the district of Exarchia was set ablaze on Thursday night and was slightly damaged. Two propane canisters found intact at the scene are being examined by police.
A few hours later two UN vehicles parked in the Athens district of Nea Smyrni were completely destroyed when unidentified individuals doused them with flammable liquid and set them on fire.
Another truck parked in the district of Zografos was slightly damaged in a similar arson attack.
A few minutes earlier, at 1:05 am, a group of 8-10 individuals broke the glass façade of the local offices of main opposition New Democracy (ND) party in Nea Smyrni and set them on fire using flammable liquid. The damage caused was minor.
In Thessaloniki, a number of high-end cars parked in different parts of the city were set ablaze between 2:40 a.m. and 2:45 a.m. The arson attacks continued at 4:35 a.m. in the municipality of Kalamaria where firefighters quickly put out a fire before spreading to a fast food outlet. A nearby bank ATM was completely destroyed.
The "modus operandi" of the attacks points to self-styled anarchist youths mostly active in criminal mischief in central Athens and Thessaloniki.
 Macedonia university professor sentenced for taking bribesA Macedonia University associate professor was given a suspended sentence of 18 months imprisonment by a Thessaloniki appeals court on Friday, after he was found guilty of accepting bribes from students in order to let them pass his class.
Also sentenced in connection with the same case was an electrical engineer who was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for three years, for acting as a go-between that took the money from the students in order to give it to the professor.
The two men are accused of accepting bribes of 250 euros from each of two female students in September 2003, in exchange for a pass mark in the Mathematics paper given during the next examination period in October.
According to testimony given by one of the students, the then associate professor had referred her to his co-defendant, ostensibly for private tuition. The student said that the two men had even set a different 'price tag' for a good and bad pass, asking 200-250 euros for a pass mark of 5 and 400 euros for top marks or 10.
The electrical engineer denied the charges and claimed he was being framed from within the university. Both men were finally found guilty, the professor for accepting bribes and the engineer for acting as an accomplice in bribery.
The sentences imposed by the court were reduced by six months relative to those of the first-instance court, which had acquitted the two female students of offering bribes.
 Grigoropoulos murder trial postponed for Feb. 3The Amfissa trial of two special police guards on murder charges related to the shooting death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos was postponed until next week, specifically for Feb. 3 due to a scheduling problem with the main prosecutor in the case.
 Road accidents, deaths, injuries down in Nov. 2009Road accidents throughout Greece causing death or injury declined by 7.0 percent in November 2009 against the same month in 2008, according to figures released on Friday by the national statistics service ESYE.
More specifically, the number of road accidents causing death or injury fell to 1,180 in November 2009 from 1,269 in November 2008.
Further, road accident-related deaths declined by 15.6 percent in November 2009, totaling 92, while serious injuries fell by 14.9 percent, totaling 131, and light injuries fell by 6.8 percent, totaling 1,333.
 School teacher's car blown up on KalymnosThe car of a 35-year-old school teacher on the island of Kalymnos was blown up in the early hours of Friday morning by unknown parties using large quantities of dynamite. Police said the car caught fire and was completely incinerated, while the explosion was sufficiently powerful to cause damage to the house it was parked outside of.
The Dodecanese islands' police have been alerted, while they have sent for a team of experienced Greek Police detectives to take part in the investigation on the island.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe spreads' skyrocketing to over 400 points and new speculative attack together with Prime Minister George Papandreou's statements on Thursday from Davos, Switzerland on the Greek economy, which he characterized as the eurozone's weak link, and EU pressure to Greece to equalise the retirement age for men and women in the public sector, dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Public sector: Increase of women's retirement age final".
APOGEVMATINI: "Where did the farmers' money go? EU has given 60 billion euros since 1986 for Greek agriculture".
AVGHI: "Time for a Euro-answer to the speculators".
AVRIANI: "Speculators are striking us ruthlessly and openly blackmailing Prime Minister George Papandreou not to make agreements with Beijing".
CHORA: "Papandreou admits: We are Europe's weak link".
ELEFTHEROS: "EU 60-day deadline/ultimatum on women's and men's retirement age equalisation in public sector".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakoulou points the finger at Maximos mansion (government headquarters) - She blames government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos and Minister of State Haris Pamboukis for the delays in her ministry".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "George (Papandreou) - Jose Luis Zapatero (Spanish Prime Minister) against speculators".
ESTIA: "Income tax increase - The suckers will once again shoulder the burden".
ETHNOS: "EU sends ultimatum on the retirement age".
IMERISSIA: "EU support scenarios - Plans for Greece, Spain, Portugal".
KATHIMERINI: "Greece one step before supervision (excessive debt procedure) - ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet: We will safeguard the achievement of the Greek targets - Papandreou: I belie the rescue plans".
LOGOS: "EU demands from Greece men's and women's' retirement age equalisation in public sector".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Games against Europe, with Greece as the weak link".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Full social security for all may be attained through a united popular struggle".
TA NEA: "Uprising over the salaries' cutbacks - Barrage of strikes in public sector in the first days of February".
TO VIMA: "European aid with 'guarantor powers' - Papandreou: A eurobond must be issued".
VRADYNI: "Protective shield around the euro - Germany and France support Greek economy".
 Leaders achieve significant progress on governanceNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have achieved significant progress in the issue of governance, during their meeting on Friday, with which they concluded the second round of UN-led intensive talks, as part of their effort to find a negotiated settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Speaking on behalf of the leaders after the meeting, UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said that significant progress has been made in a series of areas of governance.
"The leaders have left the meeting feeling positive and there will be a bit more to say next week when the Secretary-General is here and the leaders meet with the Secretary-General", on Monday afternoon, he added.
Downer also noted that there will be a joint press conference at the end of that meeting with the Secretary-General, and Christofias and Talat will have a bit more to say then.
Asked whether the chapter on governance has been concluded or not, the UN official reiterated that the leaders will have more to say about this on Monday afternoon. "So, I am not going to go into any of the details here", he added.
Replying to a question about the future of the process, Downer said that the leaders are going to talk about future programming during the meeting next Monday with Ban Ki-moon.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with the aim to reunify the island. A first round of three-day intensive negotiations was held in early January. The second three-day round began on Monday and concluded on Friday.
 UNSG to hold separate and joint meetings with leaders in CyprusUN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon arrives Sunday evening to Cyprus and on the next day he will hold separate meetings with the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus as well as a joint meeting on the same day.
According to the program of his visit, the UN chief will hold meetings on Monday morning with the UN personnel and will visit the buffer zone in Nicosia. Later on, he will hold a separate meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and then with the Greek Cypriot leader and President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias.
In the afternoon, the UNSG will hold a joint meeting with the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus at the UNFICYP Chief of Mission's residence in the UN protected area in Nicosia, followed by a joint press conference.
Ban Ki Moon will depart from Cyprus on Tuesday morning.
 Chinese FM will pay official visit to CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Yang Jiechi, arrives in Cyprus Satursay on a three-day official visit.
He will be received on Monday by the President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.
He will also meet President of the House of Representatives, Marios Garoyian and have official talks with Foreign Minister, Markos Kyprianou.
Jiechi arrives in Paphos, on the western coast, and will visit archeological sites in Paphos, Limmasol and Nicosia.
The Chinese FM will departure from Cyprus on Tuesday.
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